Gyan Riley


Gyan Riley


About the Piece

Our democracy is both strong yet fragile, at its core backed by the will of our people yet always prone to sabotage. This piece is built on the first 4 notes of the original song’s opening melody, which reflect both this delicate and powerful nature.

About Gyan Riley

“Gyan Riley is a one-man American-music machine, amicably ranging across the fields of jazz, world music, and post-minimalism." (The New Yorker)  

At the age of 6, Gyan began learning to play the violin.  Good fortune struck 5 years later when he won a guitar in a raffle, liberating his parents from having to listen to him squeaking his way through his Suzuki method book.  He immediately took to the guitar, practicing long hours and eventually being admitted to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, becoming the first full-scholarship guitar student.  Gyan toured internationally with various ensembles throughout his twenties, including the World Guitar Ensemble, the Falla Guitar Trio, the Modern Mandolin Quartet, and his own Gyan Riley Trio.  Upon moving to New York City in 2010, he joined the electric guitar quartet Dither, a boundary-pushing band that boasts collaborations with Nels Cline and Lee Ronaldo.  He also formed the duo Probosci with violinist Timba Harris, a project that released two albums and toured extensively in Europe, South America and the US.   He cofounded the acoustic trio Eviyan, with virtuoso clarinetist Evan Ziporyn and the iconic singer/violinist Iva Bíttova.  In 2015 Gyan began his collaboration with renowned guitarist Julian Lage, performing music by John Zorn. In the last two years, that duo expanded to include the legendary guitarist Bill Frisell, recording four albums on the Tzadik label.  Gyan has also performed extensively and released two albums with his father, the composer/pianist/vocalist Terry Riley.  Gyan has six of his own CD titles and dozens of collaborative recordings, presently focused on staying home, composing, and recording his own works.

"Beautiful and enigmatic"…"an alluringly intimate vibe created from the first note."
-The New York Times -

About Discovery Composers

As the artistic director of Center for Musical Excellence, I am always on the look out for new and undiscovered talents.  They come to me, sometimes, by my colleagues’ recommendations and other times through young artists’ own research about our organization.  Tyson Davis and Andrew Bambridge are currently on our roster of CME Young Artists, whom we mentor.  Patricio Molina is a CME alumnus. Theo Chandler, Ji-Young Ko, and Daniel Newman-Lessler applied for our Grant program, and I got to know their work through that process. I decide on young artists when I notice a deep passion and drive within them, plus a certain kind of sparkle in the personality and lots of humility.  In addition to musical talents, I believe these are the qualities that will take the young artists far.  CME’s motto is "Moving Musicians Forward".  I’ve chosen our Discovery Composers based on these qualities,  whom we felt we could easily move forward.

- Min Kwon