Jeffrey Ryan

Jeffrey Ryan

Jeffrey Ryan was almost an accountant. Three months into his first semester at Wilfrid Laurier University, he begged to transfer into the Music Faculty to become a composer. Which, after growing up training his ear with Petula Clark, The Partridge Family, and Captain and Tennille, playing saxophone and flute in high school bands, singing in two choirs, and writing his own songs for voice class, surprised absolutely no one.

Now, as a freelance composer based in Vancouver, Canada, Ryan finds inspiration in the world around him—nature, science, literature, visual art, even the stock market or an interesting word stumbled across in the dictionary—and creates music that runs the gamut from orchestral and chamber works to opera, art song, and choral music.

Praised for his “strong personal voice” (Globe and Mail), “masterful command of instrumental colour” (Georgia Straight), and “superb attention to rhythm” (Audio Ideas Guide), and recipient of SOCAN’s Jan V. Matejcek New Classical Music Award, Ryan’s music engages audiences in concerts and broadcasts around the world. His many commissions include works for the Cleveland Orchestra, Vancouver Symphony, Toronto Symphony, Montreal Symphony, Victoria Symphony, Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, Arditti Quartet, Tokyo String Quartet, Tafelmusik Chamber Choir, the Canadian Art Song Project, and Kokoro Dance.

Along with individual projects, Ryan enjoys working with artists from other disciplines. Recent major collaborations include Seasons of the Sea with Coast Salish/Sahtu Dene storyteller Rosemary Georgeson for Vetta Chamber Music; Afghanistan: Requiem for a Generation with poet Suzanne Steele, for the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra; and Scar Tissue with poet Michael Redhill for Nordic Voices and the Gryphon Trio.

Recordings of Ryan’s music have garnered four JUNO nominations and five more from the Western Canadian Music Awards. His discography includes the portrait CDs Fugitive Colours (Vancouver Symphony/Gryphon Trio) and the chamber collection Quantum Mechanics, along with many individual works recorded by musica intima, the Canadian Chamber Choir, clarinetist Cris Inguanti, pianists Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa and Yoko Hirota, the Thunder Bay Symphony, the Hannaford Street Silver Band, the Penderecki String Quartet, and more.

Ryan was the Vancouver Symphony’s Composer-in-Residence (2002-2007) and Composer Laureate (2008/09). He was an Affiliate Composer with the Toronto Symphony (2000-2002), and is currently Composer Advisor for Music Toronto. He holds degrees from Wilfrid Laurier University, the University of Toronto, and the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he studied with the acclaimed composer Donald Erb.


This page was last updated in September 2020.