GARY KULESHA is one of Canada’s most visible musicians. Although he is best known as a composer, he is extremely active as a conductor as well, and has appeared extensively as a pianist.

His career has been an astonishing mixture of activities, taking him from the classical music world through broadcasting and theatre, film, and opera.

His first professional compositions date from the age of 15, and several of his early works continue to be in the repertoire of several ensembles. His String Trio, written when he was 16 years old, is one of his most performed works. His Divertimento for Brass Quintet (No.1) was written when he was 17, and continues to be performed and recorded extensively. His Sonata for Horn, Tuba, and Piano, written when he was 22, is currently featured on three commercial recordings.

As a young composer, he established a relationship with the Canadian Brass, and worked as a composer and arranger for them. The Canadian Brass continue to perform his work from this time in their many current appearances.

In 1987, after having been Principal Conductor for several years, he became the Artistic Director of The Composers’ Orchestra, a position he held until 2004, when he ceded in favour of a directorate of three young composers.

In 1988, Gary Kulesha became the first Composer in Residence in Canada through the Canada Council’s newly created programme. He was appointed Composer in Residence at the Kitchener Waterloo Symphony Orchestra, a position he held for 4 years.

Upon leaving the KWSO, Gary became the Composer in Residence at the Canadian Opera Company, a position he held until for 3 years. His opera “Red Emma” was premiered by the COC in the late fall of 1995.

In September of 1995, Gary Kulesha became the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s Composer Advisor, a position he continues to hold.

Gary’s work with the TSO has been extensive and exhaustive. In addition to conducting, he has advised Jukka Pekka Saraste, Sir Andrew Davis and Peter Oundjian on both Canadian and contemporary repertoire, and is continuing in this role with Gustavo Gimeno.

He successfully created significantly more access to the TSO for Canadian composers immediately after assuming the job. An examination of the list of composers featured during his tenure reveals an open minded representation of aesthetics of all types, and a significant broadening of the number of Canadian composers performed.

He successfully lobbied the orchestra to use unused services to read Canadian orchestral music, both by established and emerging composers. The reading sessions have been opened to the public.

He was the founding architect of the Massey Hall New Music Festival, the first important attempt to bring all Toronto new music groups into collaboration.

He was the founding co-architect of the TSO’s New Creations Festival, the most successful new music festival in the history of Canadian music (even if only judged on the basis of actual number of tickets sold.)

Gary created and managed the Composer Affiliate programme, and 10 emerging composers have taken part. After being mentored by Gary, all these composers have gone on to distinguished careers.

In 1996, he created the Young Composers’ Workshop at the Festival of the Sound in Parry Sound. Over the next decade, he supervised and conducted workshops and performances of the music of three young composers per year.

In 2000, he won the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra Prize for the best Canadian Orchestral Composition of the 1990s.

In 2000, Gary was appointed to the full time faculty of the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto. His former students now occupy several significant positions in the arts and education world, from the Beijing Central Conservatory, to the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan, to universities in Europe and the U.S.

In 2002, he was named by Pinchas Zukerman as one of three Awards Composers at the National Arts Centre Orchestra. He had five commissions from the NACO, including his Second Violin Concerto and Third Symphony.

In the summer of 2002, he designed and supervised the first ever NACO Young Composers’ Programme. He returned as Lead Composer in 2005 and remained until 2010, when the programme was discontinued.

In 2008 and 2009, he coordinated and directed the NACO’s Canadian Composers’ Reading Sessions, conducting music by Canadians in a public workshop setting.

His honours include two Juno Nominations (1990 and 2000), and the 1986 PRO Canada (which has since become SOCAN) Composer of the Year award. He was and remains the youngest composer ever awarded this distinction. Also in 1986, his work “Angels” represented Canada at the International Rostrum of Composers in Paris.

“Celebration Overture”, composed in 1986, is the most performed Canadian orchestral work.

His Third Symphony had no fewer than 20 performances between 2007 and 2010.

Gary Kulesha has had an unshakable commitment to his colleagues.

He served 6 years on the Council of the League of Composers.

He served 6 years on the Regional Council of the Canadian Music Centre.

He served 2 years as Classical Music Representative on the SOCAN Board.

He served an additional 2 years on SOCAN’s Classical Music Committee.

Gary has programmed, conducted, premiered, and recorded hundreds of works by emerging and established composers over many years. He conducted the Canadian Premiere of Gyorgy Ligeti’s Mysteries of the Macabre with Barbara Hannigan and the Toronto Symphony in 2000.

Gary has been a mentor to many young musicians who have gone on to make significant contributions to the musical life of both Canada and the world. He gave Barbara Hannigan her first orchestral performance with the KWSO, and brought her to the TSO for her debut with that orchestra. Other important artists he has mentored include Wallace Halladay, Andrew Staniland, Abigail Richardson, William Rowson, Scott Good, Jordan Pal, Kevin Lau, Emilie LeBel, and Owen Pallett.