Biography

The British classical guitarist Gary Ryan currently pursues a busy and highly varied international career as a performer and composer and is Professor of Guitar at the Royal College of Music, London.

Ryan is regularly invited to perform all over the world with recent appearances in Australia, China, Denmark, Germany, India, New Zealand, Malaysia, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the UK. He is also in great demand as a chamber musician and regularly performs with John Williams and John Etheridge in the Guitar Trio 6 Hands at UK venues including St George’s Bristol, the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, King’s Place in London and the Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh.

As a composer Ryan has numerous best-selling publications to his name. His most recent, Guitar Star, (ABRSM), is a highly entertaining book for young guitarists to help inspire the next generation of players.

Ryan was awarded a Junior Exhibition at the age of 8 to study the guitar and piano at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. Whilst there he studied with the lutenist and guitarist David Miller, leaving with the coveted Director’s Prize at the age of 18. 

In 1987 he was awarded a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, London, to study the guitar with Timothy Walker, graduating with first class honours and a host of awards including the Julian Bream Prize, the John Mundy String Prize and the Dorothy Grinstead Prize for the most outstanding all-round musician (Ryan is also a highly accomplished pianist). He then pursued his post-graduate studies at the Royal Academy with an award from the Fleming Trust, becoming an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in 1997.

Ryan made his London recital debut for the Park Lane Group Young Artists Series at the Purcell Room, London, in 1994 to exceptional critical acclaim (declared a highlight of the series by the TelegraphIndependent, Observer, Times and Sunday Times) and was subsequently invited to perform a series of recitals for the Kirckman Concert Society at London’s South Bank Centre the following year.

In 1996, at the age of 27, Ryan was appointed Professor of Guitar at the Royal College of Music in London where he has also been Assistant Head of Strings since 2009. Widely respected as an adjudicator and juror, he is regularly invited to the join the panel for instrumental competitions including the BBC Young Musician of the Year. He is also in great demand to give guitar masterclasses at conservatoires and music festivals throughout the world.

Ryan’s celebrated guitar compositions have broadened the instrument’s appeal by combining traditional classical guitar techniques with more contemporary styles and a rich variety of musical influences from around the world.

It was in 2001 that Ryan started to compose his ground-breaking Scenes from The Wild West. This six-piece suite for solo guitar continues to be immensely popular for the way it portrays the classical guitar in a new and refreshing way whilst being hugely entertaining at the same time – a common feature of Ryan’s work which would later lead to the iconic Benga Beat in 2011.

Following this success Ryan has continued to compose many solo and ensemble works for his instrument and now has 13 publications of his guitar repertoire to his name, including the international best-selling books Scenes for Guitar, Songs from Erin and Play Piazzolla.

Ryan’s compositions are now performed and recorded by guitarists all over the world. His music is published by Boosey & Hawkes, ABRSM, Camden Music and Publications d’Oz.

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