I've always been fascinated by sound. Maybe that’s why in the fourth grade I signed up for percussion knowing I would get to make lots of sounds. This fascination would grow into my formal study of music, first in jazz, then classical music, and eventually a wide variety of styles. I didn't realize it at the time, but growing up in Hyde Park, New York and then South Florida allowed me to hear and experience a deep diversity of music and people. This wide mixture proved to be fundamental to my future as a composer.
After graduating from Northern Illinois University I began a gradual transition from performing to composing. More study at the University of Miami and the University of Texas at Austin led to realizing my own compositional voice and artistic values. Studying with composer Michael Colgrass also proved to be life changing in terms of craft and expanding what I thought was possible. Over time, I've noticed a reliance on structure, rhythmic energy, lyricism, and harmonic color that all strive to communicate timeless elements found in the expression "the good, the true, and the beautiful". Yet, at the same time recognizing that "beautiful" doesn't have to mean pretty and "true" can embrace questions and ambiguities. For me, this comes out in a creative aesthetic that is a kind of eclectic expressionism.
It's been quite a journey from where I began. My hope is to continue writing music that has something to say; music that is committed to the full spectrum of emotions and reflects the human experience in all its diversity. I hope you find music here that speaks to you and our shared commitment to the listener.
- James Syler