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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

Oct 01 Univ. of North Carolina - Greensboro, Love Among the Ruins 

Oct 04 University of Michigan Concert Band, Congo Square 

Oct 25 University of Louisiana - Lafayette, Storyville 

Nov 01 Texas A&M University - Kingsville, Love Among the Ruins 

Nov 12 Youth Orchestra of San Antonio Symphonic Band, Wu Xing 

Nov 14 University of Georgia, Love Among the Ruins

Nov 16 University of Colorado at Boulder, Love Among the Ruins 

Nov 29 Florida Atlantic University, Love Among the Ruins 

Dec 02 Elizabethtown College, Wu Xing Concertino


Feb 21 U. of Miami Frost School of Music, Love Among the Ruins

Mar 11 University of Louisiana - Lafayette, Storyville, Congo Square 

(1st performances in New Orleans)

Mar 18 Symphonic Wind Orchestra Mittelbaden in Rastatt, Germany, Minton's Playhouse with the FineFones Sax Quartet

Mar 25 University of Louisiana - Lafayette, Storyville at the Louisiana Concert Band Invitational Festival

May 20 San Antonio Choral Society, El Camino de las Misiones premiere 


LOVE AMONG THE RUINS Viola Concerto Now Available

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 title is from the poem Love Among the Ruins by Robert Browning. The music features the viola for its color, expressivity, and voice within a narrative. More performances are already programmed for this fall and winter. Now available for sale. See the "Wind Ensemble" page for details.

“Love Among the Ruins seems to achieve the impossible with a perfect orchestration for viola soloist and wind ensemble. This wonderfully patient work takes the audience to an intimate sense of introspection that is incredibly rare in our repertoire. Our audience was talking about it for weeks after the premiere.”

~ Matthew Schlomer, Interlochen Center for the Arts

“… a richly textured work that probes the wonderful sonic possibilities of the winds/solo viola combination. This music is personal, heartfelt, and full of sustained lines, and, above all, beautifully melodic."

~ Paul Bhasin, Emory University

“... a moving and poignant work full of beautiful colors and evocative melodies. Distinctive in its scoring and musical content, the piece is a most welcome addition to the repertoire and will fit very nicely into virtually any concert program.”

~ Scott Weiss, University of South Carolina

Duration: 18'  Score & Parts for Sale $250.  Extra Score 30.

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WU XING Concertino for Two Percussion and Band 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. 

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. 

"... 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 3/4 10'  Score & Parts $150.  Extra Score $30.

See a performance on YouTube at:

THE HOUND OF HEAVEN Newly Engraved Score & Parts

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.

“The Hound of Heaven” is a masterfully crafted work...  It is a challenging composition destined to enrich the contemporary repertoire with its imaginative and innovative effects."    

~ Arnald Gabriel, Conductor Emeritus United States Air Force Band

“I listened to your work and I like it!  I think it’s imaginative and evocative and hope it receives many performances.” 

~ Morton Gould, Composer


Grade 5, 17'  Score & Parts $195.  Extra Score $60.

CONGO SQUARE 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 overlap at the end to produce the emotional zenith as you hear the past, present, and future simultaneously. 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.” 

~ William Hochkeppel, University of Louisiana at Lafayette

“... a kaleidoscope of powerfully evocative musical elements. Syler has a unique talent for distilling the spirit of a place and time into sound, and overlaying and juxtaposing various eras to create a three-dimensional sonic portrait. The result is imaginative, compelling, and deeply moving.”

~ Carolyn Barber, University of Nebraska

Grade 5, 12'  Score & Parts $170.  Extra Score $50.


for Chorus and Wind Ensemble

Texas A&M University Commerce premiered this new work 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 stranay 20gely enough, joy. SATB chorus and standard wind ensemble instrumentation.

“The vocabulary ranges from thorny tone clusters to soaring vocal lines to beautiful traditional harmonies. The effect of the combined choral and instrumental forces is sonically powerful and intensely emotional.”

~ John Silantien, The University of Texas - San Antonio

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

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