Praised for “superb” performances by The New York Times as well as his ability to “show off the instrument’s malleability and freakish extended range as well as its delicacy and refinement” by The Chicago Reader, Ryan Muncy is a saxophonist who performs, commissions, and presents new music. His work emphasizes collaborative relationships with composers and artists of his generation and aims to reimagine the way listeners experience the saxophone through contemporary music. He is a recipient of the Claire Rosen and Samuel Edes Foundation Prize for Emerging Artists as well as a Fulbright Fellowship in France and has participated in the creation of more than 125 new works for the instrument. His debut solo album Hot was released by New Focus Recordings in 2013 to critical acclaim, praised as “absorbing” (Alex Ross) and “one of the year’s best albums” (Time Out New York).
Before joining the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) as saxophonist and Grants Manager, Muncy was, from 2010 to 2014, the executive director of the Chicago-based new music collective Ensemble Dal Niente, a 20-member contemporary music collective described by the Chicago Tribune as “super-musicians” and “a model of what contemporary music needs, but seldom gets, to reach and engage a wider public”. Under his leadership, Dal Niente was named the first-ever ensemble recipient of the Kranichstein Music Prize in 2012, awarded at the 46th International Summer Courses for New Music in Darmstadt, Germany. Muncy is also a founding member of Anubis Quartet, a multi-faceted chamber group established in 2007 with the aim of reshaping the saxophone quartet genre. During that time, the quartet has commissioned more than 40 new works and remains one of few worldwide in which all four players perform regularly on the entire battery of saxophones.
Muncy has built collaborative relationships with many composers whose works he has premiered, including Chaya Czernowin, George Lewis, Christian Wolff, Marcos Balter, Raphaël Cendo, Evan Johnson, Gregory Saunier, Nathan Davis, Sabrina Schroeder, Sam Pluta, Morgan Krauss, and Monte Weber. His goal of bringing new music to new audiences has led to US premieres of works by Georges Aperghis, Beat Furrer, Olga Neuwirth, Mark Andre, Liza Lim, Giorgio Netti, Enno Poppe, Pierluigi Billone, Dai Fujikura, and Hans Thomalla.
He performs frequently at international festivals and series, including Wien Modern, Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik Darmstadt, Ecstatic Music Festival, MATA’s Interval Series, Liquid Music at the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra Center, Unruly Music, Festival Internacional Chihuahua, The Fromm Concert Series at Harvard, SALT New Music Festival, MusicArte Panamá, World Saxophone Congresses in Bangkok and Montreal, and the Ear Heart Music Series in New York as well as classical radio stations WQXR (New York) and WFMT (Chicago). Muncy performs regularly with the Talea Ensemble and the Grant Park Symphony, and has held numerous residencies and conducted arts management workshops at universities and cultural institutions across North America and abroad.
In 2012, Muncy received the Doctor of Music degree from Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music, where he studied with Frederick L. Hemke. His past teachers include John Sampen, John-Michel Goury, Jean-Yves Fourmeau, George Wolfe, Caroline Hartig, and Ron Jones. A devoted educator and pedagogue, Muncy previously served on Northern Illinois University’s School of Music faculty as an instructor of saxophone and music business.