Health & Safety updates from your Charlotte Symphony >> CLICK HERE

Sound of Charlotte Blog

Announcing Kwamé Ryan as the Charlotte Symphony’s Next Music Director

We are thrilled to announce that Kwamé Ryan, hailed as a "dynamic conductor" by The Baltimore Sun, will assume the role of your Charlotte Symphony's 12th Music Director, beginning in 2024-25, ushering in a new era for the Orchestra's 93rd season.
"On my very first visit to Charlotte, I felt instantly connected with the dynamic energy of the city and then profoundly inspired by the wonderful musicians of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra ... I very much look forward to discovering how this exciting new partnership can enrich the orchestra's legacy and the cultural fabric of Charlotte." ~ Music Director Designate Kwamé Ryan

Born in Canada and raised on the Caribbean island of Trinidad, Kwamé Ryan discovered his passion for conducting at the age of nine. He studied Musicology at Cambridge University and trained in conducting under the guidance of renowned composer/conductor Peter Eötvös. An active guest conductor, Ryan has led orchestras across the United States, UK, and Germany. In the fall of 2023, Ryan conducted the world premiere of Jake Heggie's Intelligence at Houston Grand Opera, and in 2024, he makes his debut with Opera Theatre of St. Louis and the New York Philharmonic.

When not on the podium, Ryan dedicates his time to educational and community engagement initiatives. He has previously served as Musical Director of the National Youth Orchestra of France and as Director of the Academy for the Performing Arts at the University of Trinidad and Tobago. Additionally, Ryan is the host of "8 Minute Idea," a podcast in which he offers insights, tools, and life hacks.

"As a dynamic leader who understands the full potential of the relationship between an orchestra and its community," said President and CEO David Fisk, 'Kwamé will undoubtedly deepen the Charlotte Symphony's service to Charlotte and the region, and, with his passion for music education, bring extraordinary, powerful music-making to a wider audience of all ages."

Ryan's selection was unanimous by the Music Director Search Committee, comprised of Charlotte Symphony musicians, staff, and members of the Board of Directors.

"From the outset, there was an incredible chemistry between Kwamé Ryan and the musicians which created an atmosphere of collaboration and inspiration," said Bassist Jeffrey Ferdon and Principal Violist Benjamin Geller, who served as co-leaders on the Music Director Search Committee. "Kwamé's dynamic performances, as well as his ability to connect with audiences in a meaningful way, truly distinguished him. We are thrilled to welcome this exceptional conductor to Charlotte!"

Looking Back

Ryan made his Charlotte Symphony debut in January 2023 leading the Orchestra in Copland's Symphony No. 3, John Adams's Short Ride in a Fast Machine, and Korngold's Violin Concerto featuring Bella Hristova as soloist. For Music City Review, critic Joseph Morgan described the performance as, "...exciting, optimistic, and almost manically utopian. When it ended, I realized I had been holding my breath!" 

Returning in November 2023, Ryan conducted Verdi's Requiem, earning acclaim from WDAV critic Lawrence Toppman who noted, "He's cheerfully animated on the podium, attentive to details, unlikely to linger in places where other conductors might do so ... yet unafraid to use silences to make emotional points. He can hold the orchestra in check carefully or let it roar, and it made a monumental sound Saturday."

Looking Ahead

Kwamé Ryan will return to Charlotte this spring to conduct the Orchestra in two performances of Wang Jie's Symphonic Overture "America, the Beautiful," Brahms's Symphony No. 1, and Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme, April 5-6. 

"On behalf of the Board of Directors, it is with great enthusiasm that we welcome Kwamé Ryan as our next Music Director," said Chair of the Board of Directors Linda McFarland Farthing. "His incredible talent and passion promises an exciting future for our orchestra and the greater community." 

Tagged as Music Director.