Kwamé Ryan is a Trinidad conductor and music educator whose career has spanned the globe and has seen him practise his vocation with some of the leading orchestras and opera houses of Australia, France, Germany, South Korea, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States, and most recently in Trinidad & Tobago. At present, he is the Director of the Academy for the Performing Arts at the University of Trinidad & Tobago.
Born in Canada (1970) of Trinidad parentage, Mr. Ryan grew up on the island, but left at age 14 to pursue a career in classical music, as at the time, there was no means to do so locally. He attended Oakham School in the United Kingdom, originally to study piano, voice and violin, but switched from violin to double bass, becoming, after only three years’ tuition, Principal Double Bassist in the National Youth Orchestra, and in the National Youth Chamber Orchestra of England. His further education included studies at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he was awarded a BA and an MA in Musicology (1992/2002). He also studied Advanced Conducting at The Peter Eötvös Conducting Institute in Szombately, Hungary, while working as a Teaching Assistant at Tübingen University, Germany.
Having completed his education, Mr. Ryan worked most extensively in the United Kingdom, the United States and Europe. He has held positions as Assistant Conductor of the Stuttgart State Opera in Germany (1998-9), General Music Director, City of Freiburg, Germany (1993-2003), Musical Director of the National Youth Orchestra of France (2009-2011) and Musical and Artistic Director of the National Orchestra of Bordeaux, France (2007-2013).
Mr. Ryan has been the recipient of several awards. They include scholarships to Oakham School, and Cambridge University as well as his induction as an Officer in the Order of Arts & Letters by the Government of France. He has also sat as Member on several prestigious juries, including, The International Voice Competition in Montreal, Canada (2012), and the International Theatre Academy, Frankfurt, Germany (2011).
His career has resulted in an international network of institutions, promoters, and artists upon which Mr. Ryan continues to draw in developing innovative and original projects worldwide. It includes collaboration with such major U.S. institutions as the Symphony Orchestras of Baltimore, Atlanta, Detroit and Dallas; the Stuttgart, Freiburg, Baden-Baden and Bavarian Radio Symphonies in Germany; the Paris Opera; the English National Opera; the Stuttgart Opera, the Philharmonia Orchestra, London; and the Seoul South Korea Philharmonic.
Beyond such bastions of musical excellence in the professional realm, Mr. Ryan has cultivated ties with a wide range of national and municipal institutions dedicated to the development of talent among young people. Beyond his tenure as Music Director of the National Youth Orchestra of France, he has worked as Associate Conductor of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, Guest conductor of the Royal Danish Academy of Music, and enjoys close ties with the Youth Orchestra of the Americas, and the Music Conservatory in Freiburg, Germany.
Seeking to put this network at the disposal of aspiring musicians in his home country of Trinidad & Tobago, in 2012, Mr. Ryan first collaborated with the NGO The Heroes Foundation to create a music mentorship event, which saw young local musicians participating in workshops and concerts with members of international orchestras. Inspired by the success of this pilot, he then contacted the University of Trinidad & Tobago (UTT) in 2013 to propose the development of an international peer exchange programme in residence at its Academy for the Performing Arts. The UTT responded by offering him a full-time position, which he accepted while continuing to freelance worldwide.
By 2015 he had realized his vision, launching the musical youth exchange, CONNECTT, subsequently renamed – The Youth Music Exchange (YMX).
As newly appointed Director of the Academy for the Performing Arts (APA), Mr. Ryan intends not only to grow YMX as part of the Academy, but also to expand that institution’s range of offerings and international reach in Music Technology, Dance, Acting, Animation, as well as in Theatre Design and Production. His vision for performing arts pedagogy at the APA emphasizes the preservation of long-standing cultural traditions alongside ground-breaking innovation, all with the goal of building a world-class but uniquely Caribbean institution – a hub of excellence and achievement in the performing arts unlike any other in the Caribbean region.