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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 14 Interlochen Band, Storyville

Feb 27 University of Maryland, Three Places in Jazz: Congo Square, Storyville, Minton's Playhouse

Feb 27 University of Louisiana, Congo Square

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

Mar 28 University of Louisiana, Congo Square at the Louisiana Band Invitational

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, Northfield, MN, Artaria String Quartet, String Quartet No. 1

October 17 University of Illinois - Chicago, Three Places in Jazz: Congo Square, Storyville, Minton's Playhouse

November 17, Coastal Carolina University, Hymn for Emanuel premiere


In July I received a very special call from conductor Dr. Richard Johnson at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina to write a new work commemorating those who died in the June 17 shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. This commission was a challenge. I hope it honors the victims and gives consolation to the living. The work will be premiered November 17 by the Coastal Carolina University Symphonic Band. The piece will be for sale after November 17 and all proceeds will be donated to the Emanuel AME Church. Please consider purchasing it, programing it, and in return helping the church through your purchase. 


I'm happy to report three new commissions are in the works. First, is a large 8 movement VESPERS work for chorus and piano. It is a work of consolation rooted in the Evensong and Vespers tradition using a mix of Latin and English texts. Duration 30'. If you're interested in the consortium commissioning this please contact me. 

Second, is a consortium of high schools and colleges that are commissioning a new work for two percussion and band. Titled WU XING, it is inspired by the traditional Chinese concept of the five phases - metal, water, wood, fire, and earth. Written at the grade 3 level, premieres will begin next Spring 2016. Duration 8-10' 


And last is a VIOLA CONCERTO being commissioned by a consortium organized by Dr. Matthew Schlomer, conductor at Interlochen Arts Academy. The work will be scored for viola, winds, and percussion and premiered at Interlochen in Spring 2017 with viola faculty member Renee Skerik. Duration 15-20' This consortium is just getting started and if you would like be involved please contact Dr. Schlomer at:


Check out this new entry in Wikipedia. 

James Syler


for African Drums and Wind Ensemble

Listen to full recording at:

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. Because of the commissioning contract, it will be available to all next Spring 2016. Congo Square was commissioned by a consortium of 12 universities. 

It begins by quoting an authentic Konkoba war dance in 3/4. The polyrhythms of the quartet 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 as the drummer plays a traditional New Orleans "Second Line" style groove, both of which suggest the new music that will eventually grow out of Congo Square. These three musics - the African drums, a Creole song, and early jazz styles - overlap and sound at the same time to produce the emotional zenith of the work. From the point-of-view of the past, we hear that past, its present, and future music simultaneously. My hope is that it will produce a reflective moment that gives the listener a deeper understanding of the multi-layered realities of Congo Square. Duration 12'



for Chorus and Winds

Listen to full recording at:

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. 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.

Many thanks 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 Texas A&M University Commerce wind ensemble  led by Phillip Clements. 

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). 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. The music is filled with drama, sensuality, horror, and strangely enough, joy. Duration 17'


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