Rich Barnet Interview
(Shipstad's and Johnson "Ice Follies")

Rich Barnet has a different kind of job. He's part of Shipstad's and Johnson "Ice Follies" - but he's not a skater. Rich Barnet is the "Ice Follies" musical conductor and it's his job to coordinate the music with the skaters' routines.

To find out more, we spoke with Rich about his "Ice Follies" involvement.

Q. Rich, what is your background?
A. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Masters Degree in Performance. I studied music privately, on my own, for 14 years.

Q. How did you get this job?
A. I was the Assistant Dean at Ohio State University and I was sick of the academic scene. When the "Ice Follies" would come to town I'd perform in the orchestra. One day Paul Walberg, the "Ice Follies" musical director, asked me if I would like to conduct for Holiday International (owned by the "Ice Follies") and I accepted. After that I came here to the "Ice Follies."

Q. How much traveling do you do in a year's time?
A. We fly from city to city, once a week, for 48 weeks out of the year.

Q. What's the special appeal of the "Ice Follies"?
A. It's the closest thing to having Broadway or Vegas in your hometown.

Q. How far ahead is the music written for the show?
A. One year. Actually, we will write all the way up to opening night.

Q. What happens if a skater doesn't like the music you've scored for his/her number?
A. Every skater has to be satisfied with the music or it will be changed.

Q. What does the music copyist do?
A. He's the guy who takes the scores and writes out the side parts. It's a good job. You get to work at your own pace in the "Ice Follies" West Coast studios.

Q. What are you looking for in the music the "Ice Follies" use?
A. Music that can be used to choreograph each performer's number as well as the production numbers. We have to keep the music current but we try to avoid the Top 40.

Q. What advice would you give someone who'd like to be a conductor?
A. Preparation is the main thing, polishing your own axe, playing your own axe well. You need to know the instruments and the problems of the instruments for rehearsals. And the rest is diplomacy.

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