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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 


















Feb 19 Yale University, Hymn for Emanuel

Feb 27 University of Dubuque, IA, Hymn for Emanuel

Mar 03 University of Connecticut, Hymn for Emanuel

Mar 10 University of Texas at San Antonio, Wu Xing Concertino 

Apr 09 Triangle Wind Ensemble, NC, Minton’s Playhouse 

Apr 13 University of Texas at San Antonio, Wu Xing Concertino

Apr 14 Coastal Carolina University, Congo Square

Apr 28 University of Indianapolis, Wu Xing Concertino

May 01 Mount Vernon HS, MO, Wu Xing Concertino

May 01 Blinn College, TX, Wu Xing Concertino

May 15 Hempfield HS, PA Wu Xing Concertino

May 17 Fremont HS, CA, Wu Xing Concertino

May 17 CT Johnson HS, TX Wu Xing Concertino

May 19 Granite Bay HS, CA Wu Xing Concertino


Feb 14 Interlochen Band, Storyville

Feb 27 University of Maryland, Three Places in Jazz

Feb 27 University of Louisiana, Congo Square

Mar 27 Lyceum Series Speaker, U. of Louisiana, Creativity Techniques

Mar 28 University of Louisiana, Congo Square 

Apr 06 University of Nevada Reno, Storyville

Apr 20 University of Louisiana, Tattoo

Apr 22 University of Nebraska, Congo Square

Apr 23 Boston University, Congo Square 

Apr 23 Northeastern State University (OK), Storyville

May 01 Texas A&M Commerce, Storyville

May 05 Miami University (OH), Congo Square

Jun 01 Northwestern University Singers, Dear Sarah

Aug 25 Bridge Chamber Music Festival, MN, String Quartet No. 1

October 17 University of Illinois - Chicago, Three Places in Jazz

November 17, Coastal Carolina University, Hymn for Emanuel premiere


NEW COMMISSION for Viola Concerto

A new Concerto for Viola, Winds, and Percussion is being commissioned by a consortium organized by Dr. Matthew Schlomer, conductor at the Interlochen Arts Academy. The first premiere will be at Interlochen in Spring 2017 with viola faculty member Renee Skerik. The duration is expected to be between 15-20 minutes, at the grade 5/6 level, with careful scoring of standard wind ensemble instrumentation. If you are interested in the consortium please contact Dr. Schlomer at:


Check out this new entry at JAMES SYLER

WU XING Concertino for Two Percussion and Band

This new work was recently completed in January. 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. These five phases also have traditional pitch associations in solfege that produce a pentatonic scale and these corresponding harmonies. 

          Metal - Water - Wood - Fire - Earth   

             re          la         mi       sol      do

              ii           vi          iii        V         I 

in Bb:  Cm        Gm      Dm       F        Bb

The resulting chord progression of Cm Gm Dm F Bb is used throughout, as is the number 5. The work feaures 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. Will be available for sale after May 30, 2016.

"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 July I received a special call from conductor Dr. Richard Johnson at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, SC to write a new work commemorating those who died in this past summer’s tragic shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. The work was premiered November 17, 2015 by the Coastal Carolina University Symphonic Band and is now for sale. The hymn-style work builds to the end as nine student narrators read the names of the victims. All proceeds from the sale of the work will be donated to the Emanuel AME Church. 

Grade 3, 7 minutes, Score & Parts $95, Extra Score $10


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. Will be available for sale after May 1, 2016

“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:


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