Purchase began his musical studies at the age of ten in Regina, Saskatchewan’s Lions Band marching and concert band program as a trombonist. He went on to become a key member of Campbell Collegiate High School’s renowned concert and big band programs. He received many awards and scholarships from both these programs, as well as from local music festivals. When a position in the Regina Symphony Orchestra became available, Ryan auditioned and won the spot, and chose to remain in Regina to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in music performance at the University of Regina, studying with Richard Raum.
It was while studying theory with renowned composer Dr. Thomas Schudel that Ryan first began writing music, setting the brewing information on a bottle of his favourite beer for string quartet and voice (fortunately, this piece (Maudite) is no longer available). Ryan continued studying composition privately with Schudel while working toward a performance degree, and in the end was only two courses shy of the requirements for a composition degree. He also had a number of casual lessons in composition with noted Canadian composer Elizabeth Raum. During his time in Saskatchewan, Ryan had several of his works performed by fellow students (including some commissioned for their recitals) and by the Regina Symphony Chamber Players. Ryan's 1999 setting of John V. Hicks's 'Where You Begin Like Rivers' was chosen as a finalist in a CBC Saskatchewan composer competition, and a performance was subsequently broadcast on CBC Radio. Richard Raum frequently performs Newf, Ryan's piece for solo trombone and CD, during orientation for new music students, to demonstrate what former UofR students have achieved.
In 1999, Ryan moved to Toronto to pursue a Master’s degree in performance. He continued to compose, and had works performed by Toronto Symphonic Brass and Niagara Brass. Upon completion of his degree, he moved to Edmonton, where his future wife was studying medicine at the University of Alberta.
Ryan quickly established himself as a performer and instructor, and eventually got his foot in the compositional door. This was facilitated by Wendy Grasdahl, artistic director for Festival City Winds, when she heard a read-through of a brass band piece (Mr. Witten's Victory March - August, 1990) that Ryan was submitting to a competition, and commissioned him to write a march for the tenth anniversary of the FCW. With assistance from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, the resulting march (Ascent) was performed in 2005, and has led to increasing interest in Ryan’s skills as a composer.
Recently, Apparatus Inconcinnus was commissioned by trumpeter Amy Horvey for her 2006 recital tour of Canada. It has been extremely well-received by many audiences. Other recent commissions include Prelude and Fugu; Something Missing In My Heart Tonight Has Made My Eyes So Soft, My Voice So Tender; and a work-in-progress for flugelhorn, alto voice, and celli. Devorah Nigun, Ryan's klezmer tribute to his wife, has just been recorded by The Lithuanian Empire.
Ryan is a member of the Society of Composers, Authors, and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN) and the Edmonton Composers Concert Society (ECCS).