Gary Ryan is one of the world’s leading exponents of the guitar and has pursued a highly varied international career as an acclaimed solo performer, composer and teacher. In 2011 he became the first guitarist since John Williams in 1983 to be awarded a Fellowship of the Royal College of Music in recognition of his contribution to the instrument (and only the fourth guitarist ever to receive this honour, other recipients being Andres Segovia and Julian Bream).
Renowned for his compelling live performances, he regularly appears as a recitalist and concerto soloist at major international venues, winning universal praise for his formidable technique, outstanding musicianship and entertaining concert programmes. He is also in great demand as a chamber musician, orchestral player (including the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London) and recording artist for film.
Ryan studied from the age of 8 at the Guildhall School of Music Junior Department, later winning a scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Music in 1987. In 1991 he graduated with first class honours and a host of awards, including the Julian Bream Prize for guitar, the John Mundy String Prize and the Dorothy Grinstead Prize for an outstanding all-round student. He then pursued his postgraduate studies at the RAM with an award from the Fleming Trust and was later made an Honorary Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in 1997 in recognition of his achievements.
Ryan made his London recital debut for the Park Lane Group Young Artists Series at the Purcell Room in 1994 (declared one of the highlights of the series by the Telegraph, Independent, 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.
In 1996, at the age of 27, Ryan was appointed Professor of Guitar at the Royal College of Music, London, where he is an instrumental and academic teacher and became Assistant Head of Strings in 2009. He has worked extensively as an adjudicator (including for the BBC Young Musician of the Year and at music festivals and conservatoires throughout the UK). He appeared for BBC television in the 2011 Proms Spanish Night and also regularly performs on BBC Radio and has been the Director of Guitar France since 2006, an annual international summer school in Southern Normandy.
Ryan’s celebrated and innovative guitar compositions (regularly broadcast on Classic FM) have broadened the instrument’s appeal by combining traditional classical guitar technique with more contemporary guitar styles and a rich variety of musical influences from around the world. His recent solo work, Benga Beat, was premiered to great acclaim in 2011 and can be seen on YouTube in HD, alongside other performances of his own compositions and works by Dowland, Bach, and Piazzolla.
Gary Ryan’s publications by Camden Music – London include: Scenes from The Wild West, Scenes from Brazil, City Scenes, Songs from Erin, Easy and Intermediate Scenes for Guitar for solo guitar; Generator and Dreams Rest and Motion for guitar duo and Latin Cabaret for guitar trio. He has also composed three guitar ensemble works; Flower of the Field (National Youth Guitar Ensemble), Cariocas (Corinium Players) and The Tree on the Moor (City of Derry Guitar Festival 2012). Recent works include Bazaar (guitar duo), Hot-Club Francais (solo guitar) and Nairobi Rhythms (for guitar and percussion) which was premiered at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall in January 2013. He has also written a set of Piazzolla arrangements for solo guitar, Easy Piazzolla (Boosey & Hawkes), popular student pieces for guitar and piano which are regularly included in Trinity College London’s graded exam syllabus and has composed several scores of electronic music for theatre. Ryan is also an accomplished pianist, having performed as a piano accompanist, jazz and rock keyboard player and church organist over the years.
Gary Ryan’s guitars are cedar-top lattice-braced instruments made by the English luthier Stephen Hill (based in La Herradura, Spain). In 2012 Ryan had a series of instruments made in his name by Hill to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Gary Ryan performing on Stephen Hill guitars.