John Rea (b. Toronto 1944) 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.
Among his creative projects (and premieres) over the last few years: an orchestration of Seven Early Songs by Gustav Mahler (Montreal, 2003); Man Butterfly, for small orchestra and Disklavier (Montreal, 2002); Sacrée Landowska, music theatre (Montreal, 2001); Music, according to Aquinas, for chamber choir12 voices, two clarinets and cello (Vancouver, 2000); incidental music for the play Urfausttragédie 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); 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 (Festival de Liège, Belgium, 1994); Débâcle, for the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, (Radio-Canada television, 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 Canadas 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, the Festival Musica, the Présences Festival 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 - musiques contemporaines, and is on the artistic/programming committee of the concert organization, Société de Musique Contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ).