Artist Spotlight: Ross Ipsen

Anna Hainze

Ross Ipsen is a pragmatist. When I asked him about his plans for post-Lawrence life, this aspiring conductor pointed out, “Since orchestral conducting is a very competitive field, my short term goal is to get into a Masters Program in conducting. From there, I want to pursue college-level teaching, as well as conduct professionally. If none of that works out, I can always sell shoes.”
But really, selling shoes would be a great waste of Ipsen’s immense talent as both conductor and violinist. And I can’t help but think that his parents would be awfully disappointed.
Hailing from a family of musicians, Ipsen was practically steeped in music growing up. “My mother was from the classical world and my father was from the jazz world, so, growing up I had a very substantial exposure to many forms of music-consequently, I don’t think I had the choice of not playing an instrument,” Ipsen said.
After an upbringing like that, there was no where to go but up. Ross settled on Lawrence after implied threats of disownment from a former orchestra director/Lawrence alum and with the desire to study with then LSO conductor Bridget-Michaele Reischl. Though a change in personnel has occurred since then — i.e. the triumphant entrance of David E. Becker — Ross remains passionate about his music career here.
Lately, however, music is not the sole art form on Ipsen’s mind. His honors project, entitled “Symphonic Poetry in Motion: Arts Collaboration in the Concert Setting” is an exploration of different artistic mediums and their interactions. “In this project, I tried to explore the many relationships between music and other forms of art. To aptly express this, I included elements of video, literature, theater, and dance, directly into the concert performance,” explained Ipsen.
Curious? Though the performance was this past weekend, in reference to his fellow students’ questions Ross replied, “I intentionally left most people questioning because I believe the experience of the concert is much more important than its description. You can put as many words in a person’s ear as you want, but you can never accurately represent what your artistic intention is unless they see the final product.” Wise words indeed.