Music, Theatre, Dance Faculty & Staff

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Composition, Director of New Music Ensemble, Professor


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2757 The Haas Center for Performing Arts

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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 including at le Poisson Rouge, Galapagos, Symphony Space, and Lincoln Center (New York), Woodruff Arts Center (Atlanta), the Atlas (Washington D.C.), Constellation (Chicago), DIA and the Max M. Fisher Center (Detroit), Initman Theater (Seattle), 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 used regularly by choreographers and dance companies throughout the country. Most recently he composed the music for DEEP: Seaspace, an evening-length collaboration with acclaimed Houston choreographer Karen Stokes. This followed their first evening-length collaboration, The Secondary Colors, and several smaller-scale projects.

In 2004 Bill formed his own ensemble, Billband, to perform his compositions. Made up of today's most exciting and in-demand performers, the group has released two recordings on the Innova label to critical acclaim. Their 2013 release Towards Daybreak was a featured release on NPR, the Huffington Post, and iTunes Classical.

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, 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 the Make Music New York summer festival, and as part of the large ensemble that premiered Sila, by John Luther Adams, at the Lincoln Center Out of D