Assistant Professor of Jazz; Director of Jazz Studies; Affiliate Faculty for the Center for Latin American Studies
Ryan Middagh is the director of jazz studies at the Blair School. Middagh is an innovative educator, composer, arranger, saxophonist, band leader and clinician who has traveled the globe sharing his unique blend of talents and musical influences with audiences and music students. A passionate advocate for jazz education at all levels, he pursues creative programming and is devoted to reaching diverse communities through jazz.
An active jazz composer and arranger, Middagh has received numerous commissions from musicians and ensembles throughout the United States. He has written for numerous Grammy-winning artists, DownBeat award-winning educational ensembles, and his work has been recorded by prominent collegiate and professional ensembles. Some notable collaborations include arranging for Victor Wooten, Wycliffe Gordon, David Paich, Caleb Chapman’s Crescent Super Band, the Nashville Jazz Orchestra, and Middagh’s Blair School of Music colleague Jeff Coffin. Several of his works are published by UNC Jazz Press.
Equally skilled as a soloist, collaborator and band leader, Middagh performs at jazz festivals around the world, including tours and performances on behalf of the U.S. State Department. While at home, he is a top-call studio musician in Nashville and performs in a wide array of genres. Middagh has music directed, arranged and performed for two educational chamber concerts for the Nashville Symphony. In addition to leading his own jazz small groups, he has recently started the Ryan Middagh Jazz Orchestra, which features some of Nashville’s finest musicians and acts as a vehicle for his new compositions and arrangements. He has released two albums as a leader and is currently of writing and recording his first professional big band project.
A scholar of jazz, Middagh has presented his research at multiple universities and conferences, hosted panel discussions on jazz composition and arranging, and presented at the International Jazz Composers’ Symposium. At Vanderbilt University he was the recipient of a 2017 Provost Research Studio Grant, and in 2018 received a Research Scholar Grant. Middagh is affiliate faculty for the Center for Latin American Studies.
Since Middagh's arrival at Blair in 2014, the school's jazz program has received national and international recognition, including invitations to the 2017 Jazz Education Network Conference in New Orleans and performances overseas. In addition to creating a new jazz curriculum, Middagh has recruited an all-star jazz faculty and installed the Nashville Jazz Composers Collective as the Blair School’s jazz ensemble in residence. Guest performers have included Wycliffe Gordon, Rashawn Ross, Socrates Garcia, Vijay Iyer, Dave Liebman, Jim White, Chuck Owen, Dynamo and more.
Middagh pursues creative collaborations with the Blair School faculty and student ensembles; a product of which is the Blair Big Band’s first studio album, Such Sweet Thunder, which features Blair faculty Jeremy Wilson (trombone), Christina Watson (voice), Jerry Kimbrough (jazz guitar), Roger Spencer (jazz bass), Jeff Coffin (jazz saxophone), and also features Nashville jazz piano legend Beegie Adair.
Many of Middagh’s former students have successfully gone on to enter graduate music programs, win performance and composition competitions, and begin significant, fulfilling careers in the music industry in Nashville and around the world.
Middagh is an artist and clinician for Conn-Selmer Saxophones and D’addario Reeds.