In Memoriam - Ryan Anthony
By Dean Holland
I am sad to announce that our friend and colleague, trumpet professor Ryan Anthony, passed away on Tuesday, June 23 at the age of 51 after an eight-year battle with cancer.
Ryan served as an adjunct lecturer at Meadows for several years, and became a full-time visiting professor of practice in trumpet and chair of brass and woodwinds in 2018. During his time at SMU he completely won the hearts of his colleagues and students. By being unassailably excellent in everything he did – whether it was orchestral performance or chamber music – he commanded respect by quiet presence. He was as natural and beautiful a teacher as he was a performer. Top students from around the world came to Meadows to study with him, and many have already gone on to important positions. His personal story inspires everyone who hears it and his passing is a grievous loss not only to musical art, but to humanity.
Ryan was principal trumpet emeritus of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, appeared as a guest artist with numerous major orchestras and presented master classes around the globe. He was a past member of the famed Canadian Brass, with whom he performed in over 100 concerts a year between 2000 and 2004, and was a member of other leading recording and performing ensembles, including the Center City Brass Quintet, Burning River Brass and All-Star Brass. As a 16-year-old prodigy he won the highly publicized Seventeen Magazine/General Motors Concerto Competition – the second person ever to win the Grand Prize after Joshua Bell. He earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Cleveland Institute of Music and received the school’s Alumni Achievement Award in 2001.
Ryan was diagnosed with multiple myeloma (cancer of the bone marrow and blood) in 2012 and, after a stem cell transplant, started The Ryan Anthony Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that uses music to promote cancer research. The concerts, called “CancerBlows,” became an important vehicle for musicians and audiences to unite in finding a cure. The success of CancerBlows and Ryan’s work with patients through music led the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation to recognize him as their 2016 “Spirit of Hope” honoree. In addition, the foundation recognized him with its “Courage and Commitment” award in October 2017.
Even though the cancer returned, Ryan persevered. Before the pandemic hit and all concerts were cancelled, he had hoped to perform with the Meadows Wind Ensemble this spring for the premiere of the wind ensemble version of Fujisan by Tony DiLorenzo, a work inspired by, and written for, Ryan. However, in April, Ryan was able to join more than 30 of the world’s most celebrated trumpet players to remotely perform “A Hope for the Future,” a new inspirational song written by Matt Catingub and dedicated to the health care workers worldwide dealing with the coronavirus. Ryan, who was the inspiration for the concert, performed from his hospital room, where he was undergoing treatment. The musicians represented 14 different countries, and included classical soloists, jazz artists, military personnel, educators, and rock stars from the Dave Matthews Band and Chicago.
Ryan is survived by his wife Niki; his daughter Lili, who is attending SMU this fall; his son Rowan, who will be in ninth grade; and the beloved family dog, Milo. Funeral arrangements are pending due to COVID-19.
Rest in peace, friend.