Early history and education
Ryan is the son of Selwyn Ryan, a university professor, and Joya Gomez, a school teacher and actress. He had his primary and early musical education at the University School, St Augustine, Trinidad. A month after his birth, the family moved to Uganda. Several years later, the family moved to Trinidad.
Ryan moved to the United Kingdom, where he attended Oakham School, in Rutland, England, and then studied at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. His UK mentors included Lynn Binstock and Mark Elder. In Germany, Ryan attended the University of Tübingen for one year, for language and culture studies. Ryan later studied conducting with Peter Eötvös in Freiburg on a university exchange program. Other conducting mentors included Lothar Zagrosek. From 1999 to 2003, he served as Generalmusikdirektor (GMD, General Music Director) of the Freiburg Opera and Freiburg Philharmonic Orchestra. His work there included a commercial recording of Luigi Nono's Prometeo, as second conductor.
Ryan made his professional UK conducting debut at the 2004 Edinburgh International Festival. He subsequently returned to the Edinburgh Festival in 2005 as conductor of ballet performances with the Scottish Ballet and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.  His UK opera conducting debut was in October 2005 with English National Opera, in a production of Salome.
In 2007, Ryan became music director of the Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine (ONBA), for an initial contract of 3 years. He held the ONBA post until June 2013. In July 2008, he was named music director of l'Orchestre Français des Jeunes, beginning in 2009. He held this post for 2 years.
Currently, Ryan conducts worldwide as a freelancer. He also works on educational and community development projects at Trinidad and Tobago's National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA) at the University of Trinidad and Tobago.
Ryan's recordings include Simplicius Simplicissimus by Karl Amadeus Hartmann from Stuttgart (2005, DVD), works by Salvatore Sciarrino with Ensemble Recherché, Prometeo by Luigi Nono, Neither by Feldman, and Schubert's Symphony No. 9 (with the Bordeaux orchestra).
- Kerry Peters (2004-09-14). "University School feeling good at 50". The Trinidad Guardian. Retrieved 2009-03-29.
- Colin Eatock (2008-06-22). "Kwame Ryan". Opera Canada. Toronto: Opera Canada Publications. www
.operacanada .ca. ISSN 0030-3577. Retrieved 2009-03-29.
- Charles Ward (2008-04-02). "Ryan makes Houston debut". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2011-01-06.
- Charlotte Higgins (2004-08-10). "Black conductor fears he will remain exception". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-03-29.
- Andrew Clements (2008-01-04). "Nono: Prometeo, Hoffmann/ Otto/ Mayer/ Schell/ Solistenchor Freiburg/ Ensemble Recherche/ Soloists of the Freiburg Philharmonic & SWR Symphony Orch/ Baden Baden/ Hirsch/ Ryan". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-03-29.
- Kelly Apter (2005-03-19). "Return of three of the best". The Scotsman. Retrieved 2009-03-29.
- Kelly Apter (2005-03-19). "You shall go to the ball". The Scotsman. Retrieved 2009-03-29.
- Edward Seckerson (2005-10-24). "Salome, Coliseum, London". The Independent. Retrieved 2009-03-29.
- "Nommé directeur artistique et musical de l'Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine, Paul Daniel prendra ses fonctions en septembre 2013" (PDF) (Press release). Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine. 15 July 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 July 2013. Retrieved 2012-07-19.
- Thierry Hillériteau (2010-12-14). "Les jeunes et Kwamé Ryan". Le Figaro. Retrieved 2012-07-19.
| Generalmusikdirector, Freiburg Opera and Freiburg Philharmonic Orchestra
| Music Director, Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine