Gratia Stryker, pianist
It was after having won several piano competitions and the first-chair flute positions in numerous state ensembles and accepting an invitation to give a solo debut performance with the Colorado Springs Young Concert Artists Chamber Orchestra that Gratia Stryker, who began studying piano at age five and flute at age nine, discovered music as her driving passion. Stryker began her performance studies at Texas Christian University with pianist John Owings and flutist Karen Adrian. She went on to attain her bachelor's and master's degrees in flute performance at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music with Michel Debost and the City University of New York with composer and flutist Robert Dick while continuing her studies in piano with Robert Shannon and Sanford Margolis.
Just after being selected as substitute flutist for the New World Symphony in 2004, however, Stryker suffered a severe car accident, and the injuries that were to ensue left her unable to play the flute. She began agonizing over her next steps as she turned to her love of the written word, delving into the world of German-English translation in Berlin. While completing works for award-winning publications by numerous cultural institutions and major artists - among them Bärenreiter and Ricordi publishers, the Goethe Institute and the State Opera of Berlin - Stryker established her Berlin-based piano studio and began concertizing solely on the piano. Among Stryker's current collaborations is a duo with mezzo soprano Sylvia Klein.
The international venues in which Stryker has performed include the Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland, the BAM theater in Brooklyn, St. Martinskirche in Vevey, Switzerland, Winchester College in England, the city concert hall of Fujiyoshida, Japan, and various halls and sacred spaces throughout Germany. Stryker has also studied and taken masterclasses with pianists Linda Skaret, Jose Feghali, Steve Perry and Alvin Chow and flutists Kathie Lynn, Kathleen Chastain, Paul Nagem, Pam Adams, Chris Kantner, Alexander Murray, Karen Adrian, Angela Jones-Reus and Jim Walker. Paula Robison, who once remarked to Stryker, “We need your flute-voice!” has also been a particularly great mentor figure within her life and career.
Throughout her musical career, Stryker has consistently striven to embrace a wealth of genres, from baroque, classical and romantic music to sacred music, improvisatory music and the innumerable “roads less traveled” of musical traditions across the globe. Her interest in new music has led to numerous collaborations throughout the U.S. with eminent composer and chef Brandon Pettit, giving the world premiere of numerous pieces such as his “Quarum” for twelve cellos, flute and tape recorders. Stryker has participated in masterclasses and received ensemble coaching from Bailo Bah of Fula Flutes, Indian music guru Hasu Patel, ethnomusicologist Roderic Knight, Michael Lipsey of the Talujon percussion group, historical performance artists Michael Lynn, Kathie Lynn and Lisa Crawford, musicologist Raymond Erickson, clarinetist Charles Neidich, horn player David Jolley, bassoonist George Sakakeeny and guitarist Stephen Aron.
Stryker maintains a private studio in Berlin, Germany. She has also taught privately and given masterclasses and classroom workshops in New York City, Oberlin College, Kuyper College and various other cities and institutions across the U.S.