JOHN REA, born in 1944 in Toronto, leads a triple career as composer, teacher, and concert producer. Recipient of many awards, he has been frequently commissioned and has written works in several genres: chamber music, music-theatre, electroacoustic music, and compositions for large ensemble such as orchestra, ballet, choral, and opera. He studied composition at Wayne State University, the University of Toronto and at Princeton University (Ph.D., 1978).
Among his creative projects (with their premieres) over the last few years: Sacrée Landowska, music theatre (Montréal, 2001); Music, according to Aquinas, for chamber choir—12 voices, two clarinets and cello (Vancouver, 2000); the incidental music for the play Urfaust—tragédie subjective (after Goethe and Pessoa) for Théâtre UBU (Montreal/Weimar, 1999); a septet, Plus que la plus que lente for the Ex Novo Ensemble (Venice, 1998); a reorchestration for 21 musicians of Alban Berg's opera Wozzeck, for the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne (Banff/Montreal, 1995; this new orchestration is published by Universal Edition, Vienna); Alma & Oskar (melodrama from beyond the grave), for voice and piano, written for the National Competition for Young Performers of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (Ottawa, 1995; the version for two voices and orchestra was premiered in Toronto, 1996); Zefiro torna, for the Esprit Orchestra (Toronto, 1994); Einer nach dem Andern!, for chamber orchestra (at the Festival de Liège, Belgium, 1994); Débâcle, for the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, (Radio-Canada television network program, "Les Beaux Dimanches"; 1993); Canto di Beatrice, for two sopranos and two cellos (Italy, 1992); a staged melodrama, Une Fleur du mal, for soprano Marie-Danielle Parent, clarinet, cello and percussion (Montreal, 1992); a string quartet, Objets Perdus, for the Arditti Quartet (Toronto, 1992); this work earned for John Rea Canada’s governor-general prize (Prix Jules-Léger) in 1992, the second time he has won this prize.
In 1979-80, John Rea lived in Berlin, and later in 1984, he was composer-in-residence at Mannheim; elsewhere in Germany, performances of his music have taken place in Cologne and Stuttgart. His compositions have also been presented in a number of important events around the world such as the New Music America Festival in Philadelphia; L'Itinéraire and the Festival Musica in France; in Hungary; the Festival de Liège in Belgium; at the Holland Festival as well as at the Festivals of the Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM) in Denmark, Canada, and Sweden.
Besides his activities as a composer, John Rea has lectured and published articles on 20th-century music and, since 1973, has taught composition, music theory and music history at McGill University where he was Dean of the Faculty of Music (1986-1991). Rea was also a founding member of the Montreal new music society, Les Événements du Neuf (1978-1989). He also currently serves on the editorial board for the French-language new music journal, Circuit, and is on the artistic/programming committee of the concert organization, Société de Musique Contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ).
PROCAN, Canadian League of Composers