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John Burge's background and interests as an adjudicator:

I greatly enjoy working with younger students and musicians of all ages especially as an adjudicator of piano and composition classes at music festivals. For the past decade I usually find that I cannot fit in all the requests to adjudicate and it is not uncommon to have a festival make a booking a couple of years in advance. Indeed, there are a number of festivals that seem to plan on a return visit by John Burge every five or six years as is the case with the Calgary Festival of the Arts where he adjudicated in 2015 after having worked there in 2003 and 2009 (when it was the Calgary Kiwanis Music Festival).

Recently I has spent time in November each year, adjudicating and providing workshops sponsored as Canada Music Week events.  As both a composer and pianist, these kinds of Canadian music events seem to be natural fits, especially as I am now bringing out some of his easier piano music with the RED LEAF PIANOWORKS group. As a past-President of the Canadian League of Composers I also know many of the composers of the music being performed personally. Although it hasn't happened yet, I would love to include a short recital of my own piano music at one of these events.

What John Burge strives to accomplish as an adjudicator:

  • Make sure that everyone is having fun and is at ease and able to perform to the best of their ability.  Sometimes this requires a brief introduction of myself and a few smiles to all the performers before the start of the class. This often involves the telling of a rather lame joke which often makes the moment pathetically funny but we all try.
  • Make sure that all performers leave wanting to come back and perform again really soon.
  • If a student plays twice for me then I make sure that I memorize their name.
  • While it is important to write a concise and detailed written adjudication, I never read an adjudication outloud but instead, summarize the main points from memory always trying to get to the piano for demonstration purposes whenever possible.
  • If it is the performer's last time playing at the festival and there is extra time available in the class (perhaps because another performer hasn't shown up) I will sometimes invite the pianist to return to the keyboard to have a short masterclass if it would be advantageous.  These are often the most constructive and entertaining moments for the audience.
  • If the class is devoted to one composer (such as Bach or Chopin) I include historical information that helps to bring the music alive with meaning and purpose.  In more advanced repertoire, I don't hesitate to dwell on points of analysis or performance practice that can help to broaden the performer's perspective and musical insights.
  • Students must always bow after a performance (and preferrably annouce their name and the composition they are going to play before sitting at the piano).  I have been known to get an entire class up to practice bowing at the very first session and then it is miraculous how word spreads that I like to see performers graciously acknowledge the audience's applause with a bow.
  • Although I seem to often by assigned the adjudication of senior piano classes, I do really enjoy working with younger musicians. My wife and I raised two boys who devoted much of their time to music studies and performance. I repeatedly draw upon the experience that I gained as a parent and watching other adjudicators work with a wide range of children. I also coached soccer for my kids' teams when they were ages 5 to 10 and learned that getting the attention of a festival class of young pianist is not so far removed from making sure that a whole field of soccer players are focused on what you are saying and moving in the right direction.  The younger the children, the more they appreciate a story first and then get to the details.

Music Festivals where John Burge has adjudicated:

  • Edmonton Music Festival, Edmonton, AB, 2017
  • Newmarket Lions Club Music Festival, Newmarket, ON, 2017
  • New Brunswick Provincials (Composition), 2017
  • Canadian National Music Teachers' Association Composition Competition, 2016
  • Alberta Provincial Music Festival, Edmonton, AB, 2016
  • New Brunswick Provincials (Composition), 2016
  • Peel Region Festival, Mississaga, ON, 2016
  • Toronto Contemporary Showcase, Toronto, ON, 2015
  • Kingston Canada Music Week Festival, Kingston, ON, 2015
  • Brampton Music Festival, Brampton, ON, May 2, 2015
  • Calgary Festival of the Arts, Calgary, AB, 2015
  • Burlington Music Festival, Burlington, ON, 2014
  • Alberta Piano Teacher’s Association Creative Writing Competition, 2014
  • Ontario Registered Music Teacher’s Provincial Instrumental Competition, Toronto, ON, 2014
  • Peterborough and Region Music Festival, Peterborough, ON, 2013
  • Orillia Music Festival, Orillia, ON, 2013
  • Peel Region Music Festival, Mississauga, ON, 2012
  • Kingston Canada Music Week Festival, Kingston, ON, 2011
  • Ottawa Canada Music Week Festival, Ottawa, ON, 2011
  • Alberta Provincial Music Festival, Edmonton, AB, 2011
  • Edmonton Music Festival, Edmonton, AB, 2011
  • North York Kiwanis Music Festival, Richmond Hill, ON, 2010
  • Calgary Kiwanis Music Festival, Calgary, AB, 2009
  • Kitchener-Waterloo Music Festival, Kitchener-Waterloo, ON, 2009
  • Burlington Music Festival, Burlington, ON, 2008
  • Edmonton Kiwanis Music Festival, Edmonton, AB, 2008
  • Sunderland Music Festival, Sunderland, ON, 2007
  • Peel Region Music Festival, Mississauga, ON, 2007
  • Ontario Provincial Music Competition Finals, London, ON, 2007
  • Bancroft Music Festival, Bancroft, ON, 2006
  • St. Thomas Music Festival, St. Thomas, ON, 2006
  • Oshawa-Whitby Music Festival, Oshawa, ON, 2005
  • Edmonton Kiwanis Music Festival, Edmonton, AB, 2004
  • Pembroke Music Festival, Pembroke, ON, 2004
  • Toronto Kiwanis Music Festival, Toronto, ON, 2003
  • Calgary Kiwanis Music Festival, Calgary, AB, 2003
  • Burlington Music Festival, Burlington, ON, 2003
  • Kitchener-Waterloo Music Festival, Kitchener-Waterloo, ON, 2002
  • Peterborough Music Festival, Peterborough, ON, 2001
  • Oshawa-Whitby Music Festival, Oshawa, ON, 2000
  • Cobourg Music Festival, Cobourg, Ontario, 1999
  • Oshawa-Whitby Music Festival, Oshawa, ON, 1998
  • Ontario Registered Music Teachers’ Association Provincial Competition, Kingston Area, 1998
  • Stirling Music Festival, Stirling, ON, 1997
  • Ontario Registered Music Teachers’ Association Provincial Competition, Kingston Area, 1997
  • Ontario Registered Music Teachers’ Association Provincial Competition, Oshawa-Whitby Area, 1996
  • Belleville Music Festival, Belleville, ON, 1995
  • Bancroft Music Festival, Bancroft, ON, 1992
  • Perth Music Festival, Perth, ON, 1991.
  • Ontario Registered Music Teachers’ Association Provincial Competition, Kingston Area, 1991