Cohan Named as 8th Annual George Duke Winner by SJO

The Symphonic Jazz Orchestra is pleased to announce Ryan Cohan as the recipient of SJO’s 8th Annual George Duke Commissioning Prize. This prize was created to honor the legacy of George Duke, SJO’s Co-Music Director from 2004 until his passing in 2013. George was a jazz luminary known for his groundbreaking compositions and exceptional keyboard prowess, who left an indelible mark on the symphonic jazz landscape with his “Bass Concerto for McBride,” commissioned and recorded by the SJO, and his “Muir Woods Suite.”

Renowned pianist and composer Ryan Cohan is celebrated for his versatile expertise, equally adept as a musician and a visionary composer. His career boasts a rich portfolio ranging from solo piano pieces to symphonic orchestrations and film scores. With six original albums under his belt, including “The River,” a sixty-minute suite inspired by African travels, and the critically acclaimed ‘Originations,’ which seamlessly blends Middle Eastern themes, classical elements, and jazz improvisation, Cohan’s musical prowess is widely recognized. He has embarked on global tours representing the U.S. Department of State, fostering cultural connections through music across Africa, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East. Hailing from Chicago, Cohan has collaborated with esteemed jazz artists and elite large ensembles as Freddie Hubbard, Randy Brecker, Joe Locke, Kurt Elling, Andy Narell, Jon Faddis, Paquito D’Rivera, Gregory Porter, Victor Lewis, Bob Cranshaw, Jeff Hamilton, Steve Wilson, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, MusicNOW Ensemble, Orbert Davis’s Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, The Chicago Jazz Ensemble, The Grant Park Symphony Orchestra with Otis Clay and The Chicago Chamber Musicians, among others. As an accomplished educator, he has held artist-in-residence roles and mentored at numerous music institutions, imparting his vast musical knowledge to aspiring talents globally.

The SJO is looking forward to premiering Ryan’s new work during next year’s concert season.

The Actors' Gang