Ryan Whittier is composing and compiling a small collection of short solo piano works. Some are brand new, and some are from recent years. The moods of the pieces are generally nostalgic, wistful and contemplative – some with a touch of mystery – and the compositional style is exceptionally sparse. Some of the pieces create a feeling of moving in slow motion.
Ryan created the music for History of Memory, a series of four short documentary films by Redglass Pictures and the Garage by HP. Each film celebrates the power of a printed photograph to change our lives.
From Florida to India, Beijing to New Orleans, the series explores stories of real people whose lives were forever altered by the discovery, creation, or preservation of a photograph. In At First Sight, a deep connection is made across continents following the exchange of two images. The Secret Album tells of a woman who discovers her true self after the uncovering of a hidden family photo album. China Lost & Found reconnects an elderly man with a favorite long-lost image from decades past. And in It’s a Boy, a young man poses for an unconventional photo shoot, and then feels a part of a family for the first time in his life. In each History of Memory film, we are reminded that the most important memories are those which we cherish, share, and protect.
The films screened at Sundance 2019, the series won the Tribeca X Award for Best Episodic Short Series at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival, and a 2020 Webby Winner for Best Branded Entertainment/Series Video.
Ryan created the score music for a teaser scene from “The Color of the Sun”: the first live action feature film adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s timeless classic “The Little Prince”. This video is an excerpt from the longer scene. The Kickstarter campaign successfully funded in November 2018. Follow the progress of the feature film’s development.
Ryan is the music composer for two separate short films that are part of the New-York Historical Society’s Vietnam War Exhibition. One of the films features Nic Ut and Kim Phuc discussing the now-iconic, 1973-Pulitzer-Prize-winning ‘Napalm Girl’ image of a girl running toward the camera – away from a recently napalmed village. Ut was the photographer, and Phuc was the girl; they are both still alive, and offer a moving narrative of the events surrounding the taking of that photograph. The other film Ryan scored for the exhibition features FedEx founder Fred Smith discussing his experience as a marine officer serving in Vietnam, and how he witnessed first-hand how the military’s coordinated ground/air logistics could save lives. The exhibit ran at NYHS from October 4, 2017 – April 22, 2018, is in Pittsburgh at the Heinz History Center from April to September, 2019, then will be at the National WWI Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, MO from Veterans Day 2019 to Memorial Day 2020. Produced by Redglass Pictures.
Ryan composed and recorded the music score for this short film released on Neil deGrasse Tyson‘s Facebook page, as well as StarTalk Radio‘s YouTube channel. In the video, Tyson speaks about the fundamental importance of science to the United States and human civilization at large; he also advocates for science to be neither ignored nor politicized. Here’s what he typed when debuting the video on his Facebook page:
“Dear Facebook Universe
I offer this four-minute video on “Science in America” containing what may be the most important words I have ever spoken.
As always, but especially these days, keep looking up.
—Neil deGrasse Tyson”
Ryan’s music for the film opens with a string ensemble, pipe organ, and upright piano, then evolves into a sequence of cues that add sub bass, low brass, cellos, flutes, taiko drum, and a reversed Rhodes piano. The video was produced by Tom Mason and Sarah Klein at Redglass Pictures, and has been viewed more than 54 million times on Facebook. SOUNDTRACK NOW AVAILABLE on iTunes, Bandcamp, and Spotify.
A new series from the National Academy of Sciences explores the broad role of how social science research can benefit society. This episode profiles a man named Fielding Daniel and his wife, Amy, who were told to wait years so that Daniel could get a kidney. This led them to Harvard-based market economist Alvin Roth, whose research and redesign of the kidney marketplace saved countless lives. Roth pinpointed the main problem: There were lots of people who wanted to give kidneys but couldn’t because their loved ones weren’t a match. “As an economist that’s not the way an orderly market works,” he explains in this short film. “So, I got together with some colleagues and said let’s think how we would trade kidneys.” This short film premiered on the Atlantic’s website in November 2016. Video by Redglass Pictures. Music by Ryan Whittier.
The University of Washington commissioned Ryan to create a triumphant opening score for their major live multimedia event, TOGETHER, which was held in a packed Alaska Airlines Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion at the Seattle campus on October 21, 2016. Ryan’s score celebrates the inspiring pioneering spirit of the Pacific Northwest, and specifically the myriad achievements by past and present individuals at the University of Washington. These achievements include: the historic men’s 8-man rowing gold medal at the 1936 Berlin Olympics (the exciting story of which is told in Daniel Brown’s book The Boys in the Boat), numerous Nobel Prizes, and the inventions of color television, vinyl, ceramic tiles for the space shuttle, the Hepatitis B vaccine, long-term dialysis, Doppler ultrasound, synthetic rubber, and many others.
Ryan created the score music for “The Story of Cancer – The Emperor of All Maladies”, a series of short documentary films for PBS supporting the larger three-part, six-hour “CANCER: The Emperor of All Maladies” feature documentary. The feature film is based on Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee’s 2011 Pulitzer Prize-winning nonfiction book “The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer”, and premiered by airing on every PBS television station in America on March 30, 31, and April 1, 2015; Executive Producer: Ken Burns, Director & Producer: Barak Goodman. Subjects of the short film series Ryan scored include Suleika Jaouad, Dr. Jose Baselga, Terrence Howard, Angelo Merendino and many others. Find out more about the project here. The short documentary series was created by Redglass Pictures and won the Best Reality/Documentary Series award at the 2015 Brooklyn Web Fest, in addition to being named a 2016 Webby Awards honoree: “Honorees like Redglass Pictures are setting the standard for innovation and creativity on the Internet,” said David-Michel Davies, Executive Director of The Webby Awards. “It is an incredible achievement to be selected among the best from the nearly 13,000 entries we received this year.”
Sesame Street’s “Autism: See Amazing in All Children!” series has received a 2016 Emmy nomination for Outstanding Interactive Media – Original Daytime Program or Series. Ryan created custom music scores for four of the featured films in the series, all of which were directed by Matt Bockelman. Three of the segments are hosted by Abby Cadabby (Thomas’s Story, Nasaiah’s Day, A Sibling Story), and the fourth (Family Friends) is geared more towards a parent’s perspective. All four videos, along with lots of other content, can be found at http://autism.sesamestreet.org/.
Ryan created the score for this short film “The American City” written & directed by Matthew James Thompson, which was selected as a Vimeo Staff Pick. Here’s what Thompson says about the film: “I’ve always been inspired by the Depression Era photography of Walker Evans and his portrayal of a changing America. Today many American cities are in a similar stage of transition and I was struck by how different the landscapes must have looked just a few years ago. As the trees and plants grow up from the crumbling foundations it’s as if they’re being swallowed back up by the Earth.”
Production Company: North of New York [northofnewyork.com]
Written by: Adam Cote & Matthew James Thompson
Produced by: William Crouse
Directed by: Matthew James Thompson [matthewjamesthompson.com]
Director of Photography: Mikey Van Buren [mikeyvanbeuren.com]
Starring: Jonathan West
Editor: Cory Zapatka
Color: Carlos Flores [carlosfloresfilms.com]
Music: Ryan Whittier [ryanwhittier.com]
Sound Design: Josh Wilson
Archival Footage: The Prelinger Archives
The USA Pavilion at the 2015 Expo Milano in Italy (May 1, 2015 – October 31, 2015) featured two short films scored by Ryan; the films played 24/7 on a loop, and the USA Pavilion had over 4 million visitors. The Expo Milano 2015 theme was ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’. Produced by Redglass Pictures.
Ryan created custom score music for this 60 second Oreo Thins commercial in August 2015, which was subsequently featured in this AdWeek article. The commercial was produced by North of New York. Post production by Whitehouse Post.
The New York City Ballet premiered this short film at their Lincoln Center Fall Gala in September 2014 to celebrate the commencement of the season and its new costume designers and choreographers. Directed by Matt Bockelman, Fly’s Eye Films. Music by Ryan Whittier.
The official Ken Burns iPad App is now available at the iTunes store. Ryan Whittier provided score music for multiple segments within the app. From the app description on the iTunes Store: “This app is not a collection of Ken’s filmography—it’s an entirely new way of looking at American history, only available on iPad. Ken has been producing documentaries for over three decades, including such films as The Civil War, Baseball, Jazz, The National Parks, Frank Lloyd Wright, Prohibition and Mark Twain. Now, he has returned to this body of work and selected scenes illustrating recurring themes in American history.”
Here’s a link to the short documentary film ‘Miracle on 22nd Street’, as featured on The New York Times home page on Christmas Eve & Christmas Day, 2010:
Miracle on 22nd St from Redglass Pictures on Vimeo. Ryan Whittier composed and recorded all the music in the three days leading up to the debut of this true story of a genuine Christmas mystery by Sarah Klein and Tom Mason of Redglass Pictures. Vimeo creator Blake Whitman generously gave a personal shout-out to the documentary, as well as to the music in its own right. Selected as a Vimeo Staff Pick.
Ryan Whittier provided the music score for a Crayola commercial that aired on national TV during the 2012 and 2013 Christmas seasons.
Ryan Whittier composed, performed, and recorded the music for 14 short films at the National Museum of American Jewish History’s Only In America Hall of Fame exhibit in Philadelphia. The museum’s grand opening to the public was November 26, 2010, and the Only In America biographical films are located on the museum’s first floor. The permanent exhibit was conceived and produced by Local Projects, and the films were directed, shot, and edited by Redglass Pictures. Biographies include Irving Berlin, Leonard Bernstein, Louis Brandeis, Albert Einstein, Mordecai Kaplan, Sandy Koufax, Esteé Lauder, Emma Lazarus, Isaac Leeser, Golda Meir, Jonas Salk, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, Rose Schneiderman, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Steven Spielberg, Barbra Streisand, Henrietta Szold, and Isaac Mayer Wise.