Ryan Jesperson is a composer whose music is steeped in the modern practice of blurring genres and skewing expectations. Ryan holds degrees from Washington State University and The Hartt School and earned his doctorate from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where he was a Chancellor’s Doctoral Fellow and recipient of the 2011 Outstanding Dissertation Award. Ryan’s compositions have won multiple awards and prizes, most recently being the 2013 Verismo Trio Composition Award, the 2011 Gerald Kemner Prize for Orchestral Composition, and the 2010 Beethoven Club/Belvedere Festival Composition Contest. His compositions have been performed across North America, South America, and Europe, with recent performances in Hartford, Boston, New York, Montreal, Sweden, Romania, the U.K., and Bolivia.
Ryan is published through Sound Music Publications, Warwick Music, and his own imprint, Jazzperson Music, and his music is available on Navona Records. His composition, Icarus, performed by Joseph Abad on alto saxophone and Marko Stuparevic on piano, is a powerful element of SPECTRA VOL. 2, the latest release by the Connecticut Composers, Inc. on Navona Records.
Today, Ryan is our featured artist in “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalities of our artists. Read on to hear the story of Ryan’s lesson learned about showing up to gigs early…
Who was your first favorite artist growing up?
Oscar Peterson. I was given his “Night Train” album when I started playing jazz piano in high school and he’s remained a favorite ever since.
When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist?
I thought I wanted to be a music teacher, but it was about halfway through undergrad when I really found that my passion was writing music.
What was your most unusual performance, or the most embarrassing thing that happened to you during a performance?
In undergrad I made a bonehead mistake and thought my jazz band was playing second at a local pub (it was Jazz Band II and they were listed second on the bill), and showed up late and was able to play just the last song. One of those college “time to be an adult” lessons that now makes me show up very early to gigs…
What is your guilty pleasure?
I really like craft beer, and have waited in line at breweries for can releases.
If you could make a living at any job in the world, what would that job be?
It’s everyone’s dream, but I wish I could make enough money to just compose.
If you could spend creative time anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
France or Italy. I don’t know how much time I’d spend being creative, but it would definitely be something that would fuel my creativity for a good amount of time.
If you could instantly have expertise performing one instrument, what instrument would that be?
Cello. My daughter just started cello lessons, so I wish I could just whip out a Bach Suite when needed.
What was your favorite musical moment on the album?
I really like the cacophony that proceeds the cadenza on my work Icarus. It’s some amazing playing by Joey and Marko and really builds the tension well.
What does this album mean to you personally?
Sadly, this album is a result of the end of CCI. So it’s great to have, but also a little bittersweet.
Is there a specific feeling that you would like communicated to audiences in this work?
Don’t worry too much about the story…just enjoy the amazing playing of Joey and Marko.
SPECTRA VOL. 2 is now available through Navona Records for streaming or purchase. Click here to explore this new album.