Born in Los Angeles into a family of professional musicians, Ronald Royer grew up hearing live music and observing private music lessons. Besides wanting to be a cellist, he was interested in teaching, composing, and conducting. With a deep love and passion for music, all musical activities were meaningful for him. During university, Mr. Royer started teaching private cello lessons. While attending Immaculate Heart College on a full scholarship, he was also offered a position teaching cello at their community school.
He graduated from Immaculate Heart College in 1980 and started working as a free-lance cellist in Los Angeles. During the 1981-82 school year, he took his first composition class at California State University, Los Angeles. As his cello and teaching career became increasingly busy, composition studies were put on hold.
In 1983 and 84, he conducted and coached for the McMaster Summer Chamber Players (Hamilton, Ontario). In 1984, he started organizing, teaching and performing school concerts for the Glendale Unified School District (California), sponsored by the Glendale Chamber Orchestra. During the school year of 1985-1986, Mr. Royer did a Master of Music in Cello Performance at the University of Toronto. From 1986 to 1989, Mr. Royer and his wife, Kaye Royer, jointly taught classes (music theory and the history of jazz) for the McMaster University School for Continuing Education. In 1988, he conducted and coached for the Symphony Hamilton Summer Student Ensemble.
In 1990, Mr. Royer decided to change his focus, moving away from a free-lance lifestyle. During the school year of 1990-1991, Mr. Royer did his Bachelor of Education degree at the University of Toronto. Following graduation, he was offered a long-term occasional teacher position in music at Oakwood Collegiate Institute, Toronto Board of Education. Starting in the fall of 1991, he became a full-time music teacher at Oakwood C.I. teaching mostly string classes, but also a few wind classes. He conducted the Oakwood Senior Symphony, the Senior String Orchestra, and other ensembles. From 1994 to 1997, Mr. Royer taught music at Monarch Park Collegiate, Toronto Board of Education, this time teaching mostly vocal music. He conducted the Monarch Park Choir and was a member of the Monarch Park Chamber Players.
Having been inspired by working with a number of concert and film composers in the 1980’s and with the stability of a teaching position, Mr. Royer continued his studies in composition. Starting in 1993 with undergraduate classes in counterpoint and composition, he graduated with a Master of Music degree in Composition in 1997 from the University of Toronto. Also, in 1997 Mr. Royer was hired to be an instructor of music at the University of Toronto Schools (UTS), which were searching for a teacher who specialized in string instrument performance and composition. At UTS, he taught string classes and grade 11 and 12 music classes, which combined string and wind students. He conducted the UTS Senior and Junior Strings, and the UTS Orchestra. During his time as a teacher, he taught music theory, music history, composition and creativity as well as performance. His overall goal was to help students develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of music.
He was also involved with OISE/University of Toronto teacher training and did educational outreach. One special project was called the Hollywood Sound. In 2004, Mr. Royer was hired to be the composer-in-residence for the Mississauga Symphony, supported by a Canada Council for the Arts grant. As well, he was given a UTS Innovative Research and Development project grant, with support and participation of Leslie Stewart Rose, Arts Lecturer at OISE/UT, who served as project advisor. Study and teaching materials were developed with the goal of teaching music appreciation by demonstrating how music can affect an audience and enhance a motion picture. The Mississauga Symphony presented a student symphony concert for two years. The curriculum was presented to OISE/UT students for 20 years and continues to be taught at UTS.
Other educational projects include:
Mr. Royer has served as a composer-in-the-classroom for the Niagara Symphony, served as a clinician for Share the Music (sponsored by The Corporation of Massey Hall & Roy Thomson Hall), served as the composer-in-residence for the Southern Ontario Chamber Music Institute (summer 2004), and worked on educational outreach projects at UTS with Soundstreams, the Esprit Orchestra and the Canadian Music Centre. As the current music director of the Scarborough Philharmonic, he is involved with educational outreach in the Scarborough area.
Mr. Royer has composed and arranged music for young musicians, including one of his first compositions, Break, Break, Break (Text by Tennyson) for Two Choirs, Children’s Choir and Orchestra (1993). This work was performed by a massed choir and orchestra of over 600 Toronto District School Board (TDSB) students at Massey Hall. Mr. Royer went on to compose another piece for TDSB students at Massey Hall called The Tiger (Text by Blake), for Massed Choir and Wind Ensemble in 1996.
Composing for young musicians has always been special and important to Mr. Royer. A few of these commissions include:
Mr. Royer retired from UTS in 2018, but continues to compose, conduct, play cello, teach private lessons (cello, theory and composition), and engage in other musical activities. He continues to be an advocate for music education.