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Ryan Zawel

SMA Klezmer Experience

Man with trombone and tuba smiling

Ryan Zawel has been an instructor at Ithaca College Summer Music Academy since its inception. For 15 years, he has been making music with his own three children- and hundreds of others- as Music Director of the Elizabeth Ann Clune Montessori School of Ithaca.

Born in the Bronx in 1975, raised by a cabaret pianist, and educated by trombone masters, Ryan’s low brass playing is rooted in funk, klezmer, Broadway, marching band, new music, jazz, and the symphonic repertoire.

After graduating from Northwestern University School of Music in 1999, Ryan began his professional career on the road as lead trombonist with the Tommy Dorsey Band. Settling afterwards in NYC, he subbed in the pit for Broadway’s Miss Saigon, led the eccentric Cover Me Badd with his vocalizing trombone, and married the love of his life, band director Nicki Schantz Zawel.

They moved to Ithaca in 2003, where Ryan earned his Masters at Ithaca College School of Music. While a student, he began directing the Cornell University Klezmer Ensemble, joined the venerable dance band, The Destination, cut an album with Joel Rubin’s Jewish Music Ensemble, and performed as a soloist at the 2004 International Trombone Festival.

Ryan has remained engaged in many of these and other projects ever since, including co-founding El Rumbon salsa band, arranging and recording David Gould’s reggae album, “Feast of the Passover,” and mentoring student-teachers at Ithaca College.

SMA Klezmer Experience