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"You really write exactly what you want to write and that is excellent. The pieces are full of energy and musicality ..."

~ Samuel Adler, The Juilliard School 

"His orchestral work entitled 'Gearbox' is a brilliant showpiece that surges with energy from beginning to end. Throughout the piece, his gift of lyricism within a dramatic framework is apparent to all who listen." 

~  San Antonio Symphony Program Notes


"He writes with heart and has the musical and technical abilities to realize his conceptions. He is one of the few young composers whose music has moved me."

~ Michael Colgrass, Composer

"One thing that is particularly effective about the work 'Minton's Playhouse' is that one feels it is a piece for jazz ensemble, 'framed' by the colors and textures of the full wind ensemble."

~ Fanfare Magazine

“James Syler’s ‘Symphony No. 1’ ... is a major addition to the wind ensemble repertoire. What immediately strikes the listener about this composition with a title ‘Blue’ is the depth of the text and music and the absence of all of the possible stereotypes ..." 

~ Leon Bly, World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles 














Jan 28 Wayne State Honor Band Festival, NE Wu Xing Concertino

Jan 28 Siam Sax Qt and Mahidol University, Thailand International Jazz Conference, Bangkok, Minton's Playhouse

Feb 08 Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand Minton’s Playhouse

Feb 17 University of North Carolina Greensboro, NC Congo Square

Feb 24 Chabot College Wind Symphony, CA Wu Xing Concertino

Feb 24 Emory University, GA Love Among the Ruins

Mar 09 University of Texas at San Antonio, TX Love Among the Ruins

Mar 12 University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, WI Wu Xing Concertino

Mar 15 University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, WI Wu Xing Concertino

Mar 30 University of South Carolina, SC Love Among the Ruins

Apr 20 University of Connecticut, CT Congo Square

Apr 22 Interlochen Arts Academy, MI Love Among the Ruins

May 07 University of the Incarnate Word, Dear Sarah

May 13 Adolphus Gustavus College, MN Sinfonietta


WU XING Awarded CBDNA Young Band Composition Award

Wu Xing was recently awarded the 2016 College Band Directors National Association Young Band Composition Award. The official announcement from the CBDNA will be made soon. Many thanks to the consortium members who made the music possible and the CBDNA for this honor. 


Love Among the Ruins is a new work for Viola and Wind Ensemble commissioned by a consortium of 14 universities organized by Dr. Matthew Schlomer, conductor at the Interlochen Arts Academy. The 17 minute work will have premieres this Spring at Interlochen Arts Academy, Emory University, University of Texas - San Antonio, and the University of South Carolina. More premieres coming next Fall. The work will be available to all after May 30, 2017.

WU XING Concertino for Two Percussion and Band

The Wu Xing (pronounced wu-hsing) are the traditional Chinese five phases - Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. “Wu” refers to the number 5 and “Xing” the phases.The work features two solo percussionists playing a variety of sounds organized by instruments made of, or representing, metal, water, wood, fire, and earth. The final "Earth" section uses two bass drums playing a 5-note rhythm, in five phrases, of five rhythms each, that grows in power to the end. Very unique and playable by high schools and above. Winner of the 2016 CBDNA Young Band Composition Award.

"Wu Xing is a versatile, colorful work that fills a much-needed spot in the wind band repertoire. Musically enriching and technically accessible, our ensemble has had a wonderful time collaborating on the piece. Through its thoughtfully constructed sections and inherent energy, Syler has created yet another composition of real value."   

~ Dr. John Zarco, The University of Texas at San Antonio

Wu Xing has it all! The energy and colors that Syler includes appeal to the performer and audience member alike. This work is highly accessible to a wide range of groups, yet offers a collaborative experience that musicians of all ages can’t help but to grow from. Wu Xing is a truly worthy addition

~ Dan Harbaugh, Mt. Vernon High School, Mt. Vernon, Missouri

Grade 4, 10 minutes, Score & Parts $150, Extra Score $30

See a performance on YouTube at:


Winner of the 1993 National Band Association Award and the 1993 Arnald Gabriel Award sponsored by the United States Air Force Band. For many years only available in manuscript on rental. Now available for purchase with a newly engraved score and parts.  A  programmatic symphony in six movements based on the poem of the same name by poet Francis Thompson. Features a solo antiphonal trumpet and an eclectic mix of styles to emphasize the poem's drama. Minimalism, 12-tone writing, post-romanticism, tonality and atonality exist side by side and are held together by the work's melodic through-line.

Grade 5, 17 minutes, Score & Parts $195, Extra Score $60


In addition to recordings on this website you can also hear them at my SoundCloud page at:


for African Drums and Wind Ensemble

This latest work had the first of 12 premieres at The University of Maryland on February 27, 2015 in a performance of the trilogy "Three Places in Jazz". The concert will feature Congo Square, along with its companion pieces Storyville and Minton's Playhouse. Congo Square was commissioned by a consortium of 12 universities. 

This work uses four hand drummers playing Bata, Djembe, and Boula drums (substitutes recommended in the score if not available) in front of the ensemble. The opening music quotes an authentic Konkoba war dance in 3/4. The polyrhythms of the drums grow in intensity. The middle section quotes Salangadou, an old Creole song about a mother in search of her abducted child. Near the end of the work an early jazz style song emerges in a stomp style to suggest the new music that will eventually grow out of Congo Square. These three musics - the African drums, a Creole song, and early jazz - overlap to produce the emotional zenith of the work as you hear the past, present, and future simultaneously. In the end, the drums get the last word. Very playable by high schools and above. 

“A marvelous composition that successfully combines history, a palpable sense of place and time, and musical evolution. The chance to incorporate authentic African drumming with very playable wind writing is novel and effective. Audiences were moved and enthusiastic after hearing this fine new work.” 

~ Dr. William J. Hochkeppel, University of Louisiana 

Grade 5, 12 minutes, Score & Parts $170, Extra Score $50


for Chorus and Wind Ensemble

On March 25, 2014 the Texas A&M University Commerce premiered this new work for chorus and winds titled The Temptation of Saint Anthony at the beautiful Meyerson Symphony Hall in Dallas. Led by Phillip Clements, the work was commissioned by the music department of Texas A&M University Commerce, Phillip Clements, Director of Bands and Randall Hooper, Director of Choral Activities.

Anthony of Egypt (251-356) was a 3rd century hermit, saint, and father of monasticism in the early church. His life and account of being tempted and tormented in the Egyptian desert were popularized through the first hand account of Athanasius (296-373) in his book The Life of Antony.  I’ve approached the Temptation of St. Anthony as an analogy for the process of temptation - approach, doubt, temptation, torment, relief, and joy. The music is filled with drama, sensuality, horror, and strangely enough, joy. SATB chorus and standard wind ensemble instrumentation.

Duration: 18', Parts Rental $400, Score for Sale $60

Listen at: