Kwamé Ryan Is The Next Charlotte Symphony Music Director

Kwamé Ryan will be the next music director of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra in a four-year contract which is set to begin in the 2024-25 season.

The 53-year-old succeeds Christopher Warren-Green, who ventured down after the 2021-22 season, his twelfth as music director. Ryan will act as music Director until the end of this season and afterward commit 10-to-12 weeks for each season to the ensemble.

Kwamé Ryan was born in Toronto to parents from Trinidad and Tobago who were studying in the country. He moved to Uganda with his parents as a little baby and burned through the greater part of his childhood in Trinidad. After seeing “Star Wars” in 1977 and hearing the score by John Williams, his goal was to become a musician.

According to Ryan, just the sound in the film took his breath away. He was captivated by the conductor when his parents took him to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra one summer.

“I just leaned over to my mom, still single digits of age and said, i want to do that. whatever that guy is doing, that’s what i want to do. astonishingly, she believed me. she took me seriously even at that age. and she said:OK, let’s get you a piano. Let’s get you singing lessons, violin lessons”, Ryan recalled.

He attended boarding school in England and then Cambridge, studied with Britain’s National Youth Orchestra and worked with conductor Mark Elder and composer/conductor Peter Eötvös. Ryan conducted contemporary music exclusively, often with the Ensemble Modern, before he became general music director of the Freiburg Opera and Freiburg Philharmonic Orchestra in Germany from 1999 to 2003.

Kwamé Ryan said, he entered there with no collection, no drama collection at all; thus all that he did, was a learning and developmental cycle.

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In October, Ryan led the Houston Grand Opera’s world premiere of Jake Heggie’s “Intelligence,” and he will soon make his New York Philharmonic debut. He served as music director of the Orchestre Français des Jeunes from 2008 to 2011 and the Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine from 2007 to 2013.

Ryan had been director of The Academy for the Performing Arts in Trinidad since 2013, when he was hired in February 2021 by Carrie Graham, its manager of artistic planning, and John Clapp, Charlotte’s vice president of artistic operations. Ryan, who has a cousin in Charlotte and an auntie and a cousin in Raleigh, made his Charlotte debut last January and returned in November.

“The orchestra liked him so much that we wanted to invite him back to make sure he was a great fit,” Charlotte Symphony president David Fisk said. “Pretty much immediately after that second visit, we made the decision that he was the one that we wanted to offer the position to. He is a just a terrific musician and a very persuasive communicator, both with what he does on the podium, but also in the way that he engages audiences through his words.”

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