Gary Kulesha, The Boughs of Music

GARY KULESHA: Born in Toronto, August 22, 1954; now living in Toronto

Gary Kulesha enjoys a multi-faceted career as pianist, organist, conductor, choir director, teacher, CBC producer, broadcaster, musical journalist and composer. His works have been performed across North America as well as in Europe and Australia, including by such prestigious artists and ensembles as Maureen Forrester, James Campbell, the Cleveland Orchestra and the Toronto Symphony. Kulesha served as Composer-in-Residence with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra from 1988-91 and as Composer-in-Residence with the Canadian Opera Company from 1993-1995. He is currently Composer-Advisor to the Toronto Symphony and teaches at the University of Toronto.

In March, 2002, Kulesha was named one of three recipients of the National Arts Centre Composers Awards ($75,000 each; Alexina Louie and Denys Bouliane were the others), which initiated a close and extended relationship with this orchestra. Works composed for the NAC Orchestra under this program include the Second Violin Concerto (2003), The Boughs of Music (2005) and the Third Symphony (2007). Recent compositions premiered in 2008 include the Sonatina for Organ by Thomas Annand in Ottawa; Fugue and Postlude by pianist Andrew Burashko in Toronto; the Concerto for Trumpet, Horn and Trombone with Brass Band in Toronto; and The Greatness of the New-Found Night by the Toronto Wind Orchestra. In 2009, Kulesha provided the required work for the Montreal International Musical Competition (voice), entitled Darkness Comes.

Kulesha’s conducting activities are extensive, and he has premiered hundreds of works. He has guest conducted frequently with several major orchestras throughout Canada, and has recorded for radio and CD. Although well-known as a specialist in twentieth-century music, his repertoire ranges from little-known Baroque music through the music of our time.

The composer writes of The Boughs of Music:

“The title is taken from a line from The Waves (1931) by Virginia Woolf. For me, this is the most beautiful novel in the English language. It is a set of interior monologues from six characters, following them through their lives from birth to death. The complete line is given to Rhoda, and comes as the characters are entering their post-middle-age years: ‘I parted the boughs of music and saw the house we have made …’ There is an autumnal strength in this, a suggestion of both the sadness of time passing and the satisfaction of having lived a productive life, which speaks to me very clearly as I enter my 50s. It is serendipitous that the line specifically refers to music.

“The work is scored for a solo trumpet with string orchestra and two concertante flutes, which act as the mediator between the trumpet and the string orchestra. The composition is in three parts: a slow and meditative opening, followed by a fast and rhythmic dance-like section, and closing with a return to the opening material. The trumpet is used in a slightly unusual way, as the solo part is lyrical throughout. There are no fanfares or brassy exhortations; the trumpet sings all the way through.”
Robert Markow

© 2010, Robert Markow.

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