Composer / Conductor

Gary Kulesha

Last updated: May 15, 2024

Gary Kulesha is one of Canada’s most active and most visible musicians. Although principally a composer, he is active as both a pianist and a conductor, and as a teacher. His works have been performed across North America as well as in Europe and Australia.

In March 2002, Mr. Kulesha was named one of three recipients of the National Arts Centre Composers Awards ($75,000 each). He was commissioned to write three works for the NAC Orchestra and work closely with the Orchestra on a number of educational and outreach programs. The first commission was hisSecond Violin Concerto which premiered in July 2003 performed by NAC Orchestra principal second violin Donnie Deacon followed by The Boughs of Music first performed in October 2005. In May 2007, the NAC Orchestra premiered Kulesha’s Third Symphony. It has since been performed by the National Academy Orchestra and the Kitchener Waterloo Symphony Orchestra in 2007, and is scheduled for performances in 2009 by the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra in February, Symphony Nova Scotia in April, and the Calgary Philharmonic in May.

The National Arts Centre Orchestra presented Syllables of Unknown Meaning in September 2002 and performed it in every city of the November 2002 Atlantic Tour.The Boughs of Music was performed during the Orchestra’s Alberta-Saskatchewan Tour in November 2005. Mr. Kulesha joined the Orchestra for both tours participating in a number of composition workshops and other educational activities.

In summer of 2003, Gary Kulesha was the Lead Composer for the inaugural edition of the NAC Composers Programme (CmP) assisted by his Affiliate Composer under the NAC New Music Plan, Andrew Staniland. He returned as the Lead Composer of the CmP for the 2006 and 2007 editions of the NAC Summer Music Institute and will return in the same capacity for the 2008 CmP.

In past years the NAC Orchestra has also performed Kulesha’s Serenade for String Orchestra in 2003, and The Drift of Stars and Concerto for Recorder and Orchestra(both in 1994).

In 1988, Gary Kulesha was appointed Composer in Residence with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra, a position he held until 1992. In 1993, he was appointed Composer in Residence with the Canadian Opera Company, a position he held until the end of 1995. Red Emma was premiered on Nov. 28, 1995. On Sept. 1, 1995, he was appointed Composer-Advisor to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, where his duties include composing, conducting, and advising on repertoire. Kulesha will return for the second time to the Brott Summer Festival as Artistic Advisor in summer 2008.

Gary Kulesha’s music has been commissioned, performed, and recorded by musicians and ensembles all over the world. His Angels for Marimba and Tape has become a standard repertoire item for percussionists, and receives over a hundred performances per year. His works for Danish recorder virtuoso Michala Petri are toured by her throughout the world each year, and have been recorded on RCA Red Seal. Over 15,000 copies have been sold in Europe alone. Celebration Overture is one of the most performed orchestral pieces written in Canada. Four Fantastic Landscapes has entered the repertoire of several noted pianists from Canada and Europe.

In 1990, Mr. Kulesha was nominated for a Juno award for his Third Chamber Concerto. He was nominated again in 2000 for The Book of Mirrors. In 1986, he was named Composer of the Year by PROCanada, the youngest composer ever so honoured. Also in 1986, he represented Canada at the International Rostrum of Composers in Paris. In the summer of 1990, he was the first composer ever appointed to the position of Composer in Residence with the Festival of the Sound in Parry Sound, Ontario. He has returned every year since 1996 to direct the Young Composers programme at the Festival. Currently, he teaches at the University of Toronto.

For more information visit www.garykulesha.com.

Upcoming events

NAC media featuring Gary Kulesha