NSU part of statewide group commissioning new composition


NATCHITOCHES – Member schools of the Louisiana Chapter of the College Band Directors National Association have teamed together to commission a new composition for wind ensemble from celebrated composer James Syler.

Northwestern State University is among the Louisiana colleges and universities participating in the commissioning project along with Louisiana College, Louisiana Tech University, University of Louisiana Monroe, McNeese State University, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Louisiana State University, University of New Orleans, Loyola University, Nicholls State University and Southeastern Louisiana University

The members of the College Band Directors National Association are devoted to the teaching, performance, study and cultivation of music, with particular focus on the wind band medium.

“For years, we have provided our student musicians with the opportunity to come together in performance of high-level musical literature in our inter-collegiate band. Now the directors of our great university band programs have come together to provide for the creation of new and exciting music,” said Jay N. Jacobs, CBDNA Louisiana state chair. “This is music not only for our Louisiana students, but for students and audiences around the world. We are truly excited to commission new music from James Syler.”

The piece will have a distinct Louisiana flavor as Syler has chosen to utilize folk, indigenous and religious music associated with the state to create the composition. The piece will be premiered by the Louisiana Inter-Collegiate band in January.

“Louisiana is famous for its abundance of traditional ethnic music, including the state’s Native American tradition,” said Syler. “My job will be to weave together this diversity and richness into an exciting new symphonic work. Writing music that celebrates the people and their roots is for me the essence of American music.”

Syler was educated at Northern Illinois University, the University of Miami 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, he has developed a personal style that is innovative, yet able to communicate with a variety of audiences. His compositions have been noted for their lyricism, energy and drama. Syler’s awards include the 2016 CBDNA Young Band Composition Contest Winner, the 1993 National Band Association Composition Award, and the 1993 Arnald Gabriel Composition Award for “The Hound of Heaven.” He has received two grants from the American Music Center in New York, more than 35 guest composer residencies and more than 30 commissions in chamber, choral, orchestral and wind ensemble forms.

He has been a lecturer at the University of Texas at San Antonio teaching composition since 2001. For more information visit jamessyler.com.