Since returning to New Zealand in 2017 after several years living in Mombasa (Kenya) and Singapore, Tony Ryan has resumed a very busy music schedule as a composer, conductor and reviewer.
Tony’s most recent compositions include a Sonatina for Violin and Piano (2017) and several short orchestral pieces (2018-2020) premiered by various groups including The Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, Resonance Ensemble, The Christchurch School of Music (CSM) Sinfonia, and the CSM Intermediate Symphony Orchestra.
In 2020 he also fully revised his 1998 Tuba Concerto for a scheduled performance by the principal tuba player of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. He is currently working on a second string quartet and a revision of his Saxophone Concerto.
The Christchurch Symphony Orchestra premiered Tony’s NZ Christmas song, It’s Christmas Here As Well, at their 2019 Christmas Concert, after it was selected as one of the finalists in RNZ National’s NZ Christmas Song competition. This song also featured in a more recent Resonance Ensemble programme, along with several other of his compositions.
Since 2018, Tony has been principal conductor of Christchurch’s Resonance Ensemble as well as conductor of the Christchurch School of Music’s senior orchestra (Sinfonia) and, in 2020, the Intermediate Symphony Orchestra. In 2019 he was appointed conductor of the Christchurch Schools Music Festival Orchestra and will also conduct the combined CYO and CSM orchestras in a newly commissioned work by Gareth Farr at the Christchurch School of Music’s Showcase concert in September 2021. His spectacular arrangement of the African song, Siyahamba, was performed at the 2019 CSM Showcase by the combined orchestras and choirs of the Christchurch School of Music.
Tony has been RNZ Concert’s Christchurch reviewer on Upbeat for many years, and has regularly contributed reviews in The Press, and for Theatreview. He also reviews all of the Christopher’s Classics chamber music series.
Born in Timaru, Tony graduated from the University of Canterbury with a MusB (Hons) in composition. After qualifying as a teacher, he briefly led Music and Drama at Heretaunga College before his thirty-three years as Head of Music at Linwood College, culminating in the hugely successful Linwood College Orchestra’s Phoenix Tour of Europe and the UK in 2011. From 2012 to 2017 he lived and worked in Kenya and Singapore.
Tony has been a sought-after composer, conductor, pianist, lecturer and reviewer. Past conducting engagements have included assignments for many companies including the Christchurch Symphony, Court Theatre, Canterbury Opera, NASDA and others. His many compositions include musical theatre works for schools, scores for professional theatre productions, particularly for Court Theatre, (Much Ado about Nothing, The Merchant of Venice, Alice!), song cycles, chamber works and orchestral pieces such as HAKA!, which has received several performances in New Zealand, Australia and the USA. The acclaimed season of his opera The Musicians of Bremen in 1996 remains one of the highlights of his career, as was the premiere of his first String Quartet which has been played by several groups including a single movement by the New Zealand String Quartet. His commissions also include a work for the Christchurch Symphony in 2012 to celebrate the ninetieth birthday of John Ritchie, and his Linwood March has become a popular annual feature of Linwood College events and ceremonies. Lectures for University of Canterbury Continuing Education and U3A along with guest conducting, adjudicating and Creative NZ Assessment Panels have also been occasional aspects of his music work.
Tony has composed prolifically since his student days when early performances brought him critical recognition in The Press as “the most gifted and fluent” of a new generation of composers.
The most gifted and fluent of a new generation of composers - Christchurch Press 1975
for four unaccompanied solo voices, 12m
for voice and piano, 12m
for soprano saxophone and orchestra
for tuba and orchestra, 20m
for two female voices with piano, 12m
for voices and orchestra, 3m
for full orchestra, 6m
for voice and piano, 10m
for orchestra, 7m
for SAB choir and piano, 3m
for three solo voices, 3m
a song cycle for voice and piano, 12m
for voice, french horn and piano, 22m
for full orchestra, 1h 20m
for saxophone quartet
for voice and piano, 15m
for voice and piano, 23m
for string quartet, 37m
comic opera in one act, 1h
for full orchestra, 1h 30m
for orchestra, 10m
for large chamber ensemble, 10m