A b o u t   R y a n

Ryan Suleiman was born in California to Lebanese and Mid-Western parents. His music engages with daydreams, the natural world, and the understated beauty of everyday life through resonant sonorities and lively shifting rhythmic structures. His one-act chamber opera, Moon, Bride, Dogs, was described by the San Francisco Chronicle as “a gem” with “an aesthetic that is at once so strange and so accessible.” While his artistic interests vary, much of his music engages with the natural world and the simultaneity of beauty and dread that characterizes our moment of ecological crisis. This issue is the subject of his dissertation, a piano concerto, currently in progress. He is also inspired by the music of Messiaen, Takemitsu, and St. Vincent. 

Ryan was three times a Finalist in the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards and has received two first prizes from the Festival of New American Music (FeNAM) Student Composers Competition. His music has been commissioned by numerous performers, including Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, Citywater, Rogue Music Project, Symphony d’Oro, the Sacramento State Symphonic Wind Ensemble, Camerata Capistrano, and the Hawkins School for the Performing Arts. He has collaborated with groups such as the West Edge Opera, the Calder Quartet, Ensemble Dal Niente, Empyrean Ensemble, and Uusinta Ensemble, and his music has also been performed on several festivals including SICPP at New England Conservatory (Boston), June in Buffalo (New York), NANOworks Opera Workshop (Atlanta), Oregon Bach Festival (Eugene), and HighSCORE Festival (Italy). His piano cycle, Under Moonlight, was recorded by Jai Jeffryes in his solo album, Amethyst, distributed by Naxos.

photo by Phil Daley


Past projects include concert-length pieces such as Heartstrings, a work for piano quartet and dancers commissioned by choreographer Jacob Gutiérrez-Montoya, and The Red Velvet Violin, for narrator, puppets, and orchestra, commissioned by Angelo Moreno at Davis High School. Recent projects include an orchestra piece called Burning and two one-act "sister operas" in collaboration with writer Cristina Fríes. The operas deal with the problematic nature of the French fairytale “Donkey Skin,” trauma, abuse, and lost memories, deeply important subjects in the era of #MeToo. 


Suleiman graduated with a B.M. from Sacramento State and a Ph.D. in Composition/Theory at University of California Davis, where he received a Provost Fellowship. In addition to an original piano concerto, his dissertation work is analysis of Unsuk Chin’s Cello Concerto through the lens of dreams that emphasizes the perspectives of performers. His teachers include Stephen Blumberg, Leo Eylar, Kurt Rohde, Mika Pelo, Ross Bauer, Pablo Ortiz, and Laurie San Martin. 

Ryan currently works as a Lecturer at Sacramento State's School of Music. He resides in Sacramento with his wife / musical collaborator Sakurako Kanemitsu, two cats, and one brown dog. There he composes, studies, daydreams, and teaches composition. He enjoys long walks, good food, and the films of Hayao Miyazaki. More information at www.ryansuleiman.com

© 2012-20 Ryan Suleiman


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