JAMES SYLER was born in Hyde Park, NY and raised in New York and Florida. He was educated at Northern Illinois University (B.M.), the University of Miami (M.M.) and the University of Texas at Austin. He has studied composition privately with composers Alfred Reed, Karl Korte and Pulitzer prizewinner Michael Colgrass. Equally at ease with modern and traditional techniques, his compositions have been noted for their lyricism, energy and drama. He has developed a personal style that is eclectic and innovative, yet able to communicate with a variety of audiences.
His works have been performed throughout the world. International performances include the Chinese Youth Choir, State Symphonic Band of Sao Paulo, Brazil, Lisbon Portugal Jazz Festival, Symphonic Wind Orchestra Mittelbaden of Germany, McGill University Wind Ensemble in Montreal, Canada and more. Other notable performances include Symphony No. 1 “Blue” at Carnegie Hall, Bridge Chamber Music Festival, Santa Fe Desert Chorale, New York Choral Festival at Lincoln Center, Turtle Island String Quartet, Henry Mancini Institute in California, Tanglewood Institute in Massachusetts, Interlochen Arts Academy, Palm Beach Chamber Music Festival, and more.
Awards include two grants from the American Music Center in New York, the 2016 College Band Directors National Association Young Band Composition Contest for Wu Xing: Concertino for Two Percussion, the 1993 National Band Association Composition Award and the 1993 Arnald Gabriel Composition Award for The Hound of Heaven, and more than 35 guest composer residencies at colleges and universities in the US, Canada, and Brazil. To date he has completed more than 30 commissions in chamber, choral, orchestral, and wind ensemble forms. He was been featured in numerous articles, dissertations, and books including A Composer’s Insight: Thoughts, Analysis and Commentary on Contemporary Masterpieces for Wind Band published by Meredith Music.
For 15 years, between 1998 and 2013 he owned and operated Ballerbach Music, a music publishing company specializing in contemporary music. Since 2001, Mr. Syler has been a lecturer at the University of Texas at San Antonio and the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio where he teaches composition. He is married to pianist Elizabeth Gutierrez and resides in San Antonio, Texas.