Syler, James (1961-) | Special Collections of the ODU Libraries
James Syler (b.1961) was born in Hyde Park, NY and raised in New York and Florida. In 1983 he received a B.M. degree from Northern Illinois University and in 1988 a M.M. degree from the University of Miami. In 1991 he continued his studies at the University of Texas at Austin. He has studied 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 and drama. He has developed a personal style that is eclectic, energetic and innovative, yet able to communicate with diverse audiences.
Recent commissions include Gearbox for the San Antonio Symphony premiered in March 2009 with James Judd conducting and Tattoo, which was commissioned by a consortium of ten university wind ensembles. Other recent premieres include American Dances for string orchestra by the Houston Chamber Symphony. Awards include a 2002 commission from the American Composers Forum in New York to compose the String Quartet No. 1 for the Artaria String Quartet of St. Paul, MN and the 1993 National Band Association Composition Award; two grants from the American Music Center in New York, and the 1993 Arnald Gabriel Composition Award.
Recent publications include Dear Sarah for chorus and piano by Santa Barbara Music in California and he is the author of a new web-based e-textbook for college Music Appreciation courses titled The Concert Hall: A Listener’s Guide To Appreciating Music published by Great River Technologies and Kendall Hunt Publishing in Dubuque, Iowa. In 2001 he was the subject of a doctoral dissertation by Dr. Gregg Gasuline titled The Wind Ensemble Works of James Syler. He was also one of twelve composers featured in a new book entitled A Composer’s Insight: Thoughts, Analysis and Commentary on Contemporary Masterpieces for Wind Band published by Meredith Music. In 1998 he established Ballerbach Music (www.ballerbachmusic.com) a music publishing company specializing in wind music which he serves as owner and editor.
Mr. Syler has been on the adjunct faculty at the University of Texas at San Antonio since 2001 and teaches private composition lessons, American Music & Culture, Masterpieces of Music, Contrapuntal Techniques, History of Jazz and American Roots Music. From 1998-2001 he was on the faculty at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida and from 1995-1998 at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida. Mr. Syler is married to pianist Elizabeth Gutierrez and resides in San Antonio, Texas.