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Short Bio

Dr. John Burge was born in Dryden Ontario in 1961 and grew up in Calgary studying the piano with Dorothy Hare. He holds three degrees in Composition and Theory from the Universities of Toronto and British Columbia and since 1987, has been teaching at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, where he is a full professor. For his outstanding work as a composer over the years, in 2013 he was awarded a Queen's University Award for Excellence in Research and Scholarship. He has composed a large body of instrumental and vocal music in all genres and his work, Flanders Fields Reflections, for string orchestra, received the 2009 Juno Award for the Best Canadian Classical Composition. Burge loves working with young musicians and is in high demand as a music festival adjudicator. In recent years he has joined the Red Leaf Pianoworks collective and has been performing solo piano recitals of his own compositions. A passionate advocate for Canadian music he was an executive member of the Canadian League of Composers from 1993-2007 (President from 1998-2006) and currently sits on the board of Directors for the SOCAN Foundation and is Chair of the board for the Music at Port Milford Summer Music School and Festival. 

Adjudicator Bio [omit middle paragraph as needed]

Dr. John Burge was born in Dryden, Ontario in 1961.  He holds degrees in Composition and Theory from the University of Toronto (B.Mus. and M.Mus.) and the University of British Columbia (D.M.A.)  His composition professors included John Beckwith, Walter Buczynski, Stephen Chatman, John Hawkins and Derek Holman.  He obtained his Associate Diploma of the Royal Conservatory of Music in Piano Performance while still in high school in Calgary, studying with Dorothy Hare, and later continued his piano studies with Andrew Markov in Toronto.  Since 1987 he has been teaching at the School of Music, Queen’s University, where he holds the position of Full Professor and is also the Associate Director of the School.

Burge’s compositional reputation is based in large part on his choral music, which has been sung by some of North America and Europe’s finest choirs.  Many of his choral compositions have been published by Boosey and Hawkes Music Publishers.  His composition, Angels’ Voices, was awarded the 2006 Outstanding New Choral Composition Prize by the Association of Canadian Choral Conductors.  Most recently, his string orchestra work, Flanders Fields Reflections, as recorded by Sinfonia Toronto for Marquis Classics, received the 2009 Juno Award for Best Canadian Classical Composition.  With titles like, Snowdrift, Rocky Mountain Overture, and The Canadian Shield, it is obvious that a number of his orchestral tone poems draw their influence from a distinctly Canadian perspective.  Canadian orchestras and audiences seem taken with these pieces which have received numerous performances across the country.

Burge enjoys working with student musicians and, in addition to teaching at Queen’s University, he regularly adjudicates piano and composition classes at Music Festivals throughout Canada.  He was the Composer-In-Residence with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada during their annual summer rehearsals in Kingston from 2001-2003.  A passionate advocate for Canadian music, he has served as a member of the Executive Council of the Canadian League of Composers for fourteen years, holding the position of President from 1998-2006.

Long Bio

Dr. John Burge was born in Dryden, Ontario in 1961.  While still in public school in Calgary, he received his Associate Diploma from the Royal Conservatory of Toronto in Piano Performance.  He also holds degrees in Composition and Theory from the University of Toronto (B.Mus. and M.Mus.) and the University of British Columbia (D.M.A.).  Since 1987 he has been teaching at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario where he currently holds the position of Full Professor and has served as Director of the School of Music.  In recognition of his very successful career as a composer, John Burge was awarded a Queen’s University Excellence in Research and Scholarship Prize in 2013.  In 2014 he was inducted as a Fellow into the Royal Society of Canada.

John Burge has written a large body of vocal, chamber, and orchestral compositions.  He is particularly well known for his choral music, which has been performed by such choirs as The Elmer Iseler Singers, The BBC Singers, The Amabile Youth Choir, The Toronto Children’s Chorus and The St. Louis Symphony Children’s Choir.  Many of these choral works have been published by Boosey and Hawkes Music Publishers.  His composition, Angels’ Voices, for choir and orchestra, received the 2006 Outstanding New Choral Composition Award from the Association of Canadian Choral Conductors and was performed in New York City’s Carnegie Hall in 2005.  Burge also has a strong affinity in writing for string instruments, having composed over a dozen works for string orchestra. Flanders Fields Reflections is probably his most performed and broadcast work for strings.  Commissioned by Sinfonia Toronto, this group’s recording of the work on the Marquis Classics label received the 2009 Juno Award for the Best Canadian Classical Composition.  Notable recent successes include his chamber opera, The Auction, with the libretto adapted from a well-loved children’s story by Jan Andrews.  The work received a highly successful premiere at the Westben Summer Music Festival in 2012.

In selecting texts to set to music, John Burge has repeatedly turned to Canadian poets such as Bliss Carmen, Stephen Heighton, Dennis Lee, Dorothy Livesay and Eugene McNamara.  Deserving special mention however, is the long relationship he developed with Margaret Avison.  Burge was the first composer to set her words to music in his 1987 composition, Sunblue (First Prize Winner of Choral Category of the 1988 PROCAN Young Composers’ Competition).  Subsequent Avison inspired works include: That We May Not Lose Loss (solo soprano, choir and orchestra), One Sail (cello and string orchestra), Everything Waits For The Lilacs (solo piano), No Time (solo piano) and Winter Sun (choir and percussion ensemble). 

Over the years John Burge has had a long and productive relationship with the Kingston Symphony and their Music Director, Glen Fast.  Since 1991 they have commissioned and premiered many of his orchestral compositions, including a Clarinet Concerto, Trumpet Concerto three works for piano and orchestra (two Piano Concertos and Prelude Variations) and two Symphonies.  Since 1993, Burge has also written five chamber orchestra works for The Thirteen Strings of Ottawa.  With titles like Snowdrift, Rocky Mountain Overture, Upper Canada Fiddle Suite, and The Canadian Shield, it is obvious that a number of his works for large ensemble draw their influence from a distinctively Canadian perspective.  Orchestras and audiences seem taken with these works as they have received numerous performances across Canada and even as far away as Brazil and Russia.

John Burge greatly enjoys working with young musicians and in addition to his teaching duties at Queen’s University, he is in demand as an adjudicator at music festivals across Canada.  From 2001-2003, he was the Composer-in-Residence for the National Youth Orchestra of Canada during which time they premiered his work, Sonic Architecture.  A passionate advocate for Canadian music he was a member of the executive council of the Canadian League of Composers from 1993-2007, serving as President from 1998-2006.  He is currently a board member for the SOCAN Foundation and chairs the board of directors for the Music at Port Milford Summer Music School and Festival in Prince Edward County.