Greg Byers, M.M. uses his talents as a performer, composer, educator and producer to share the wisdom and beauty of great music with a diverse range of audiences. His relationship with music began at 2 1/2, when he first studied cello in the Suzuki method. In 2008 Greg became the first person in the history of University of Miami to graduate Summa Cum Laude with a double major in Instrumental Performance/Studio Music & Jazz on cello and bass.
Since then he has performed on BBC Two (Later... with Jools Holland) and Univision (Latin GRAMMYs); he has also been a featured artist/clinician at New Directions Cello Festival, Creative Strings Workshop, and Mark Wood's Rock Orchestra Camp. The winner of the International Journalists Award at the 2020 Seifert International Jazz Violin Competition, Greg was named a Global Music Initiative 2021 Artist-in-Residence at MacPhail Center for Music. He is also the recipient of numerous grants, including the 2017 Artist Initiative Grant, the 2020 Next Step Fund and 2022 Creative Support for Individuals.
"Easily one of the top improvising cellists on the planet today."
"Byers’ looping and layering of his instrument was wonderful... In the space of an hour, he urged so much versatility from the strings.”
"Byers carved an enticing solo that struck a balance between lyricism and technical facility."
Ian Patterson, All About Jazz
"A promising young musician... with a light and spry attack"
In his lifelong pursuit of music, Greg Byers has overcome countless obstacles in order to become an idiosyncratic performer, composer, educator, and producer. Using improvisation, modern styles, and music technology Greg will redefine what you thought was possible on the cello!
Greg started playing cello at The Family Suzuki School of Rochester, NY at age 2.5. By age sixteen, he was a talented cellist, but was frustrated with the lack of personal expression he found in youth orchestras. This led Greg to explore the possibilities of the cello in a jazz context.
After beginning the undergraduate program at University of Miami, Greg wanted to officially switch his major to Studio Music & Jazz, which was initially denied because he was a cellist. Shelly Berg, the current Dean of the Frost School of Music, took over in 2007 and saw Greg’s perseverance. A year later Greg became the first person to graduate with a double major in Instrumental Performance/Studio Music & Jazz on cello and bass; Summa Cum Laude.
After working in the Miami music scene, Greg decided to explore opportunities in Los Angeles. LA taught the importance of viewing music from the perspective of not only the performer, but also the composer, music engineer, and business person, so he applied these skills to his debut EP Some Dark, Beautiful Morning.
Greg then decided to continue his higher learning at McNally Smith College of Music in Saint Paul, where he graduated with a Master of Music Performance. Now a resident of the historic A-Mill Artist Lofts of Minneapolis, Greg maintains a busy schedule; juggling original and freelance performances, a private cello/bass studio and recording & production services.
Recent career highlights include performing with Terence Blanchard & the Turtle Island Quartet, becoming a faculty member at Carleton College, and receiving the 2022 Creative Support for Individuals grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board.
As a performer, Greg astonishes audiences with his technical prowess and improvisation freedom. Hefty recording experience coupled with perfect pitch allows Greg to work fluidly with any composer or producer.
As a composer, he strives for emotive melodies and harmonies that challenge the stereotypes of Western popular music. As a producer, Greg endeavors to tell the stories embedded in every piece of music with clarity and precision. Greg has trained his music engineering skills while embracing the vibrant sonic palette only available in the mixing process.
As an educator, Greg is passionate about helping students avoid the pitfalls of traditional music instruction, with the student truncated from any sort of creativity or expression. Rather, Greg works to bring out the creative potential residing in every student by integrating improvisation, theory, and ear training into his pedagogy.