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JAMES SYLER

COMPOSER

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COMMENTS


"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

  

  

 

VIDEO


FANTASIA ON SILENT NIGHT

 

A BLUE STREAK

 

IN FLANDERS FIELDS

 

 

GEARBOX 

 

 

DEAR SARAH

 



RECENT PERFORMANCES


Feb 12 University of Michigan, The Hound of Heaven

Mar 22 Southwestern CBDNA Conference, University  of Central Missouri, Gearbox          

Mar 25 Texas A&M Commerce, The Temptation of Saint Anthony

Mar 08 NE CBDNA Conference, West Chester State University, Minton's Playhouse

Apr 04 Univ. of Texas at San Antonio, Gearbox

Apr 24 Univ. of North Carolina Greensboro, Sinfonietta

Apr 26 Trinity University, Symphony No. 1 "Blue"

 

NEWS

THE TEMPTATION OF SAINT ANTHONY

New Choral/Winds Work Premiere


On March 25 the Texas A&M University Commerce premiered this latest work for chorus and winds titled The Temptation of Saint Anthony at the beautiful Meyerson Symphony Hall in Dallas. It was a very memorable night. 

 

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. Their ability to work together and trust my musical instincts was particularly encouraging.

 

Many thanks also to the 180 singers of the combined choruses of Texas A&M University Commerce Chorale & Singers, (Randall Hooper, Conductor), Kilgore College Chorale (Jim Taylor, Conductor), Richland College Chamber Singers (Michael Crawford, Conductor), and the Tarrant County College Northeast Chorale (Bobbie Douglas, Conductor) and the wind ensemble of Texas A&M University Commerce all led from the podium by Phillip Clements.

 

The dedication of these students and their conductors to bring this work to life was inspiring. The work is now available on rental. A CD recording is in production - stay tuned!

 

Photo: Finale of the "Music at the Meyerson" #TAMUC #Music Texas A&M University-Commerce

 

Program Notes:
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. Anthony’s dramatic and supernatural reports of temptation and torment have been a source of inspiration for visual artists and writers from the 10th century to the present. The six musical sections of this work are titled by phrases I found memorable from my reading of The Life of Antony (trans. Robert Gregg, Athanasius, Paulist Press, 1980). By avoiding a direct depiction of his experiences, I’ve approached the Temptation of St. Anthony as an analogy for the process of temptation - approach, doubt, temptation, torment, relief, and joy. Whatever our temptations may be they can be powerful and full of consequences. I found it interesting that Anthony’s resistance to his temptations caused so much torment, yet in the end his resistance resulted in joy, or as Athanasius wrote “he felt his body contained more might than before.” The music is filled with drama, sensuality, horror, and strangely enough, joy.

 

 

FEATURED COMPOSER at Chicago College of Performing Arts


In April of 2013 I had the distinct honor of visiting, teaching and presenting my work at the Chicago College of Perfoming Arts at Roosevelt University. Under the direction of Stephen Squires, the wind ensemble performed Fields, The Hound of Heaven and the Illinois premiere of Sinfonietta.

 

 


SINFONIETTA 

New Work for Wind Ensemble


Completed  in 2012 this one movement,13' abstract work was commissioned by a consortium of 20 colleges and universities. Several premieres have already taken place and the work is now available on rental. The work is in one movement consisting of three sections. It begins with a motive in the timpani that contains the intervallic and rhythmic ideas to be developed - most notably the m3rd and m6th. A lyrical 12-tone theme in 12 measures follows that is developed by way of a fugue, but not a traditional tonic-dominant fugue. Each answer to the subject enters at the m7th, not the 5th. This spiral fugue begins in the clarinets and grows in volume, complexity, and weight to its culmination in the brass. The B section is slower and features oboe and bassoon solos that are developed from the original 12-tone theme. Static woodwinds and keyboard percussion provide background to simple melodic lines. The final C section is Allegro and begins with a traditional fugal treatment in 7/4 of the opening theme featuring the m6th. The music develops and restates the opening themes as it grows in intensity, power, and weight to the end.

  

 


 

OTHER RECENT WORKS


3x3 FANFARES was composed for the innaugural concert of the University of Texas at San Antonio New Music Ensemble. This is a flexible instrumentation work that is to be performed in a spatial performance space. The score and parts are one page and is a hybrid of graphic, aleatoric, and minimalist notational techniques. Intended to be conductor-less, it is celbratory music that sounds like multiple fanfares happening simultaneously from multiple locations.

(see the Chamber Music page above)

 

  

HOCUS POCUS for band was published this fall by FJH Music. It is a very playable grade 3.5 work featuring a tarantella-styled march and devilish waltz feel. Recently selected as a JW Pepper "Editor's Choice"

(see the Wind Ensemble page above)

 

 

FANTASIA ON SILENT NIGHT for band is very playable grade 3 work suitable for holiday programs. Reflective and rich in harmony, it was commissioned by a consortium of 11 community bands.

(see video to the left, and the Wind Ensemble page above)