Professor (Theory and Composition)
B.Mus. Year 1 Advisor
Coordinator: Theory and Composition
John Burge was born in Dryden, Ontario in 1961. Since 1987 he has been teaching at Queen’s University where he currently holds the position of Full Professor. John Burge has written a large body of vocal, chamber, and orchestral compositions. He is particularly well known though, 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 the American firm, Boosey and Hawkes. 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.
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 has 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 Piano Concerto, Clarinet Concerto, Trumpet Concerto and a Symphony. 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.