Classical Pianist Manabu Takasawa Opens 25th Anniversary Celebration of Shinn Study Abroad Fund

More than 100 people attended a commemorative concert by classical pianist Manabu Takasawa in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Ridgway F. Shinn Jr. Study Abroad Fund at Rhode Island College.

Takasawa, associate professor of music and co-director of graduate studies at the University of Rhode Island, is noted for sharing his passion for music with young audiences. He has taken his performances to elementary and secondary schools in Rhode Island, Japan, Taiwan and Vietnam.

The founder of the Shinn fund – the late emeritus professor of history Ridgway Shinn – was also a classical pianist and organist. He began his college career at Oberlin College as a music major, before opting for a “more practical major” in history. He earned degrees in history at Oberlin (BA) and at Columbia University (MA and PhD), but also continued to perform as organist in churches in Waterbury, Conn.; Reedley, Calif.; Mamaroneck, NY; and at Mathewson Street United Methodist Church in Providence

While teaching secondary school in Austria, where he lived with his wife Clarice from 1946 to 1948, he studied piano with Paul Weingarten of the Vienna Academy of Music. Ten years later, Ridgway would join RIC’s history department. He would also serve as the first chair of the department, the first dean of Arts and Sciences and vice president for academic affairs. And, of course, music was never far away. Chamber music performances with colleagues from the music department were a regular past time, as well as solo organ recitals.

After his experiences in Austria, travel also became a passion for Shinn. He and his wife took regular trips both within the United States and abroad and supported their children and grandchildren in foreign travel in order to inculcate in them an understanding of other cultures, traditions and governments, said Beth Shinn, his daughter. Upon his retirement from RIC in 1987, he established the Shinn Study Abroad Fund to extend this interest and commitment to RIC students. In the past 25 years, more than a quarter of a million dollars has gone to support 72 RIC undergraduates in 28 different countries on six continents.

Joy Fox ’99, director of communications for the Rhode Island general treasurer, a former Shinn scholar and former chair of the Shinn Fund Committee, said, “We are exactly what Dr. Shinn had in mind. He wanted to take ordinary RIC students out of the U.S. to explore the world. He wanted them to live abroad for the first time, to manage their own day-to-day affairs, to be exposed to new cultures and to people unlike themselves.”

Ridgway died in 2006 at the age of 84. Beth Shinn was recently made chair of the Shinn Fund Committee. Additional anniversary events have been planned for the fall and spring semester, including an International Film Festival on Oct. 1, a Fall Benefit on Nov. 15 and a Spring Benefit on April 26.