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Bill Ryan


For the past twenty-five years Bill Ryan has been a tireless advocate of contemporary music. Through his work as a composer, conductor, producer and educator, he has engaged audiences throughout the country with the music of our time. He has won the American Composers Forum Champion of New Music Award, the Michigan Governor’s Award in Arts Education, the Distinguished Contribution to a Discipline Award at Grand Valley State University, and was a finalist for the Michigan Distinguished Professor of the Year award.

Bill’s compositions have roots in minimalism, jazz and popular music. His music is energetic, evocative and deeply personal, and has been described as “…constantly threatening to burst at the seams, were those seams not so artfully structured…rarely has music this earthy been so elegant.” [Gramophone Magazine]. His music has been performed in major cities and venues across the country and has received awards from Meet the Composer, ASCAP, and New Music USA.

Also active as a concert producer, Bill has presented 73 events in his Open Ears and Free Play concert series, gaining national recognition with three ASCAP/Chamber Music America Adventurous Programming Awards. Notable guests have included eighth blackbird, Prism, So Percussion, Ethel, Ashley Bathgate, Todd Reynolds, Julia Wolfe, Robert Black, Michael Lowenstern, and the Michael Gordon Band.

With new music ensembles he founded at Suffolk Community College (New York) and then Grand Valley State University (Michigan), Bill has commissioned and premiered 77 compositions by such notable composers as Sarah Kirkland Snider, Marc Mellits, David Lang, Anna Clyne, Zoe Keating, Nico Muhly, Rachel Grimes, and Mason Bates. Founded in 2006, the GVSU New Music Ensemble has been profiled in numerous publications including Newsweek, the New York Times, and Billboard Magazine, and featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition, All Things Considered, WNYC’s Radiolab, and Performance Today. With awards from New Music USA and the National Endowment of the Arts, they have performed concerts at major cities and venues throughout the country including fourteen national parks, the Bang On a Can Marathon, the New Music Gathering, and as members of the all-star ensemble assembled by the Kronos Quartet to perform on the In C 45th Anniversary concert at Carnegie Hall.

Bill has produced four critically acclaimed recordings by the GVSU ensemble, named to top year-end lists by the New York Times, Washington Post, LA Weekly, Time Out Chicago, and many others. Music from their second CD, In C Remixed, was heard on MTV’s hit series Teen Wolf, as well as in the film As I AM: The Life and Times of DJ AM, which played in theaters across the United States as well as on the Showtime network. Their first CD, Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians, was named one of the top five classical recordings of the decade by WNYC’s John Schaefer, and has been heard at over 75 film festivals worldwide as the soundtrack to Michael Langan’s award-winning film Choros.

Bill resides in West Michigan with his wife and three children. When not working on music he can usually be found trail running, home brewing, or watching the Detroit Lions or Tigers lose. 

Articles by Bill Ryan:

Headlines November 2 2006 | By Bill Ryan
The Field Trip to End All Field Trips

Concerts celebrating Steve Reich's seventieth birthday are being staged around the globe this year so I thought it would be fitting for western Michigan to contribute to the party. But...