National award makes sweet music for GVSU's Music Ensemble Director Bill Ryan

By Sharon Hanks

Ever since Bill Ryan started the New Music Ensemble at Grand Valley State University in 2006, it quickly gained national attention for its music. Now, the melody got even sweeter for the ensemble director himself.

The American Composers Forum, the national leader in new music services, has awarded its 2009 Champion of New Music Award to Ryan for his exceptional work of bringing music in the lives of so many.

Ryan's work with the New Music Ensemble "is an outstanding example of bringing the music of our time into the lives of young students and spreading the news to a wider public," the organization's President John Nuechterlein wrote in a letter to GVSU President Thomas J. Haas.

"I was shocked, frankly, and honored of course," Ryan says. "I honestly love what I do so it's easy to be enthusiastic about it."

Under the direction of Ryan, the New Music Ensemble has released two critically acclaimed CDs. Its most recent CD, "In C Remixed" was picked as a top-10 classical release of 2009 by the Washington Post and Time Out Chicago. Its first CD, "Music for 18 Musicians" was just named one of the top five classical recordings of the decade by WNYC public radio after reaching #1 on the iTunes and Amazon classical charts and spending 11 weeks on the Billboard charts. Earlier this month the group was featured on National Public Radio's Weekend Edition.

"From landmark compositions of the Twentieth Century, to the most recent works of this new century, their concerts are stimulating, entertaining and unpredictable," the ensemble's website says, in describing its music, adding it "is dedicated to bringing audiences the most significant music of our time."

The public can enjoy a free performance of the New Music Ensemble when it collaborates with other music and dance students for a presentation at 5 p.m., Feb. 28, in the Performing Arts Center at GVSU's Allendale campus. Another performance will be held 7 p.m. March 30 when the ensemble will perform several works by Houston composer Rob Smith in Allendale's PAC.

Sources: Bill Ryan, Director of GVSU's New Music Ensemble; GVSU's New Music Ensemble website; John Nuechterlein's notification letter to GVSU President Thomas J. Haas.

Sharon Hanks is the innovations and job news editor at Rapid Growth Media. She can be reached at
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