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Owen Underhill: Biography

Owen Underhill
1954 -
Region: British Columbia

Owen Underhill

Owen Underhill lives in Vancouver where he is active as a composer, conductor and faculty member in the School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University.

As a composer, Underhill writes for diverse combinations including orchestra, voice and choir, and a wide variety of chamber music. Among his most recent compositions are “Ten Miniatures” (2013) for flute, cello and piano, “The Curio Box” (2014) for solo cello and ensemble and “String Quartet #4: The Night” (2011). His music has many different expressions and has been described as dense and interesting, colourful, lyrical in inspiration, exuberant and witty, subtle, and thoughtful. His music is on several recordings including his recently released disc “Still Image” on the Centrediscs label.

As a conductor, Underhill is a member of the Turning Point Ensemble, one of Canada’s most distinctive and accomplished large-size chamber ensembles. Underhill has been especially active in contemporary music and music of the early twentieth century and has conducted well over 150 premieres by Canadian composers.

Active as a programmer and promoter of contemporary music, Underhill was Artistic Director of Vancouver New Music from 1987 to 2000. He is currently Artistic Co-Director of the Turning Point Ensemble. He has been active for many years with the Canadian Music Centre, serving as the President from 2010-2014.

Underhill has been an SFU faculty member since 1981, teaching music composition and conducting, and serving as Director of the School for the Contemporary Arts. In 2013, he was inducted into the Royal Society of Canada.


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