The School of Music, Theatre & Dance announced in late 2022 that Gavin Ryan has been awarded the Brehm Prize in Instrumental Composition for his work Opaque and Infinite. Ryan is simultaneously pursuing a DMA degree in percussion performance and a master’s degree in media arts.
The award includes a cash prize and the performance of Ryan’s work by the U-M Percussion Ensemble during the 2023–24 concert season. “I was surprised and thrilled to win this award,” Ryan said, “but even more excited to be able to perform it with my friends in the percussion studio.”
Inspired by the work of American artist James Turrell, Ryan’s composition, which is scored for eight percussionists, “uses stacked polyrhythms to achieve a variety of densities and textures,” he explained. “The effect is mesmerizing,” said Erik Santos, chair of composition and associate professor of music, “containing elements that are sometimes soothing as a soft breeze, sometimes edgy and persistent.” Santos further described the work as “ambitious and intricate.”
The Brehm Prize in Instrumental Composition, endowed in 2015 by William (BS ’50, MS ‘52) and Delores Brehm, was established to encourage the composition of instrumental works by SMTD students. “I am so grateful to the Brehm family for providing this opportunity and for recognizing this work,” Ryan said. “This composition wouldn’t have happened without their support.”
Gavin Ryan and his dog Marty