College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Prof. Ryan to Release New CD on January 29

Date: January 8, 2013






Composer Bill Ryan is known to many as the force behind the Grand
Valley State University New Music Ensemble, the student group that
gained widespread praise for recordings of Steve Reich’s Music for 18
Musicians (2007) and Terry Riley’s In C with remixes (2009). With Towards
Daybreak,the sophomore release from Ryan’s ensemble Billband, the focus returns
to his own work. Towards Daybreak comes out Tuesday, January 29 on Innova.
The music – by turns contemplative, roiling, elegaic, and aggressive –
reflects experiences in Ryan’s life, from the birth of a child to the loss of his
parents. In its latest incarnation, Billband includes cellist Ashley
Bathgate, pianist Vicky Chow, and percussionist David Cossin of the Bang on a Can All-Stars;
violinist Todd Reynolds (Outerborough); bass clarinetist Michael Lowenstern;
and cellist Pablo Mahave-Veglia and saxophonist Jonathon Nichol from GVSU.
Cellist Paul de Jong (formerly of The Books) appears as a special guest.

Bill Ryan and Billband celebrate the release of Toward Daybreak with shows at
Grand Valley State University on Saturday, February 2, 8:00 pm (free admission,
details here) and at New York's Le Poisson Rouge on Sunday, February 10, 7:30 pm (doors at
6:30, tickets are available at www.lepoissonrouge.com). Ryan’s post-minimalist musical language is personal and expressive, poised on a knife edge between lushness and reticence. This is a music that reveals itself gradually, working its way deeper with each listen.

His previous record with Billband, Blurred, was released in 2004; Gramophone
called it “gritty and funky.” Says Ryan, “A lot has happened in my life [since
then] – another beautiful child, relocating to the Midwest. New friends,
strengthening connections with old ones. Teaching my son to drive, teaching my
daughters to play. Watching my students become young adults while my own
teachers begin to retire. All of these experiences impact my music, but
none greater than the sudden loss of my parents – my mother in an automobile
accident, my father from cancer. While I was initially paralyzed by these
losses, life did continue, and eventually, the music did too. This CD comes out
of these experiences – it is about loss, it is about grieving, it is about
moving forward. It is also a celebration, an appreciation, and a thank

Towards Daybreak is bookended by a pair of elegies. It opens with Simple Lines,
in memory of Ryan’s father, and ends with a live version of Blurred, written
after the passing of his mother. The ravishing Simple Lines, played by
Bathgate on multi-tracked cellos, is built on lengthening, wave-like figures
that are simultaneously yearning and consoling. Blurred captures the
brittleness of grief with a pinging, raindrop-like piano figure and frail
harmonics, deepening into insistent, obsessive chords. Throughout the disc,
Ryan compels attention through the cunning opposition of elements: hesitancy and forward motion in Toward Daybreak; somber tonalities and playful rhythms in Rapid Assembly; turbulence and control in Solitude in Transit and Friction. As a whole, Towards Daybreak blends the precision and craft of the best minimalism with the humanistic interplay of a
small chamber group. Grammy-winner Silas Brown engineered and co-produced the
album with Ryan, and the attention to sonic detail shines through. The
strings are rich and woody, the percussion viscerally captured, the winds
vividly present. The tracks are:

1 Simple Lines (6:20)

2 Towards Daybreak (9:32)

3 Rapid Assembly (7:30)

4 A Simple Place (8:11)

5 Solitude in Transit (8:10)

6 Friction (6:36)

7 Sparkle (3:45)

8 Blurred (9:36)


For the past twenty years Bill Ryan (b.1968) has been a tireless advocate of
contemporary music. Through his work as a composer, conductor, producer and
educator, he has engaged diverse audiences throughout the country with the
music of our time.

Bill’s own music has roots in minimalism and jazz, the latter, undoubtedly
connected to playing trumpet in jazz bands throughout his youth. His
compositions are energetic, evocative and deeply personal, and have 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

Bill’s music has been performed in major cities and venues across the country
including at (le) Poisson Rouge, Galapagos, Symphony Space, and Lincoln Center
(New York), Woodruff Arts Center (Atlanta), the Atlas (Washington D.C.),
Initman Theater (Seattle), and the Hobby Center (Houston), and internationally
in Europe, Asia, South America, and Australia. His music has received awards from
Meet the Composer, ASCAP, and New Music USA. In addition to the concert stage,
Bill’s music is regularly used by choreographers and dance companies throughout the country. As a conductor, Bill has commissioned and premiered dozens of works by such notable composers as Phil Kline, Marc Mellits, Belinda Reynolds, Jad Abumrad, Evan Ziporyn, and David Lang. In 2006 he founded the Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble, who have
been profiled in numerous publications including Newsweek, the New York Times,
and Billboard Magazine, and featured on NPR's Weekend Edition, All
Things Considered, and WNYC's Radiolab. Beyond their many campus events
they have performed concerts in Detroit, Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia,
Baltimore and Washington D.C., at New York’s Bang On a Can Marathon, as
members of the all-star ensemble assembled by the Kronos Quartet to perform on
the In C 45th Anniversary concert at Carnegie Hall, at (le) Poisson Rouge, and
at the Make Music New York summer festival.

Bill has produced three critically acclaimed recordings by the 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 first CD, Steve Reich's
Music for 18 Musicians, was recently named one of the top five classical
recordings of the decade by WNYC’s John Schaefer. Bill resides in West Michigan
with his wife and three children. When not working on music Bill can usually be found in the woods, washing his truck, or watching the Detroit Tigers.


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