Formally Black Swan Music, Soundown, Inc. was founded and incorporated in 1991. It is a music publishing and contracting firm, managed in partnership by Ramon and Judith Ricker. The company produces a wide range of Ramon Ricker's jazz and saxophone pedagogy books, musical arrangements and original compositions. It also contracts musicians for radio and television commercials, recordings, live concerts and traveling Broadway shows. In 2009, Soundown, Inc. expanded to include a strategic brand consulting practice, specializing in research-based corporate and arts branding, marketing and fund-raising strategies.
Ramon Ricker, President
As a senior administrator at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, Ramon Ricker has been instrumental in shaping Eastman's innovative Institute for Music Leadership, with its arts leadership curriculum that offers courses in entrepreneurship, careers, leadership, performance, contemporary orchestral issues and musician's injury prevention and rehabilitation; and its Center for Music Innovation that helps student's inventions and ideas become realities. He is also editor-in-chief of Polyphonic.org, an Eastman-sponsored website for professional orchestra musicians. He has been a full-time Eastman faculty member since 1972 and was the first titled saxophone professor at the School. His former students comprise a virtual who's who in the saxophone world. For nine years he served as chair of the Department of Winds, Brass and Percussion (1989-98), and in 2000-01 chaired the department of Jazz Studies and Contemporary Media and co-chaired the same in 2001-02.
His association with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra first began as a clarinet soloist in 1972. In 1974, he won a position in the RPO as a member of the clarinet section, and continues to play in the orchestra today. He served on its Board of Directors from 1997-2005. Ricker frequently performs as a guest saxophone and clarinet soloist and clinician in high schools and colleges throughout Europe and North America, and his books on jazz improvisation and saxophone technique as well as many of his compositions are looked to as standards in the field, with more than 140,000 copies sold worldwide with translations in French and Japanese. He has performed and contracted the music for hundreds of television and radio commercials and themes, including national accounts for ABC, NBC, HBO and A&E. As a composer and arranger he has been honored by grants from the National Endowment, New York State Council on the Arts, Creative Artist Public Service, Meet the Composer and ASCAP. His musical arrangements have been commissioned by the Rochester Philharmonic, and the American, Atlanta, Cincinnati and North Carolina symphonies, and his works are published by Advance Music (Germany), Alphonse Leduc (Paris), ATN (Tokyo), Alfred (USA) and Jamey Aebersold (USA).
Judith Ricker, Vice President and Treasurer
Judith Ricker has spent her career straddling Rochester's arts and business worlds. After graduating from the Eastman School of Music in 1976, Judy won a position in the oboe section of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, which she held until 1991. She earned an MBA from the William E. Simon School, and went on to hold a variety of Business Research positions at Eastman Kodak Company, including one supporting both the Chief Marketing Officer and the Vice President of Public Relations with brand, reputation and advertising research. Her research on Kodak's Corporate Advertising Campaign contributed to the company's 1997 Gold Effie award for advertising effectiveness.
In 1998 Judy joined the Gordon S. Black Corporation as a Director of Research. The company grew to become Harris Interactive, a pioneer in the then fledgling area of Internet research, and the fastest growing firm in the industry. She founded the Marketing Communication Research practice in 2001 and became a Division President in 2005. Her group expanded to become the Brand and Communications Consulting group in 2008, and her responsibilities included leading teams in the development of innovative methods for understanding brands and the impact of their marketing strategies across industries, stakeholders and regions of the world. Over the years, the work was recognized with multiple Ogilvy Awards for Advertising Effectiveness. In 2009 Judy left Harris Interactive to pursue an independent Strategic Brand and Communications consulting practice, and as part of that practice, she is a consultant and development officer at Geva Theatre Center.Throughout her career, Judy has remained active in Rochester's music scene. She is a founding member of the Antara Winds, and continues to perform with this renowned woodwind quintet, which celebrates its 28th anniversary this year. She was a member of the faculty of the Hochstein Music School from 1979 until 1991, where she taught oboe and chamber music. She serves on the Boards of Directors for both the Hochstein School and Mercury Opera Rochester, and she leads the strategic planning efforts for both organizations. Judy is an active performer with the Rochester Oratorio Society, the Gregory Kunde Chorale Orchestra, the Broadway Theater League, the Greater Rochester Women's Philharmonic, and other local organizations. Judy holds both Bachelor's and Master's degrees, as well as the coveted Performer's Certificate from the Eastman School of Music, and an MBA in Marketing and Finance from the William E. Simon School of Business Administration of the University of Rochester. She is married to Ramon Ricker, an Eastman Professor and Senior Associate Dean for Professional Studies, and a member of the Rochester Philharmonic. They live in Perinton with their two Rhodesian Ridgebacks.