NYO Canada is pleased to announce John Burge as its 2017 Commissioned Composer. A Juno-award-winning composer, Burge has written a large body of vocal, choral, chamber, and orchestral compositions as well as showing a growing interest in music for the stage as demonstrated in his chamber opera The Auction with librettist Eugene Benson and the one-woman show One Last Night with Mata Hari with book and lyrics by Craig Walker. Burge has been a professor of Composition and Theory at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario since 1987. In recognition of his work as a composer he received one of the University’s 2013 Awards for Excellence in Research and in 2014 he was inducted as a Fellow in the Royal Society of Canada’s Humanities and Arts Division. Although Burge has written a number of concertos and symphonies, his most popular orchestral pieces tend to be those works that have a more obvious connection to Canada and include Snowdrift, Upper Canada Fiddle Suite, Rocky Mountain Overture, The Canadian Shield, and Flanders Fields Reflections.

Burge’s 2017 commissioned piece, Four Seasons of the Canadian Flag, certainly falls within this collection of Canada-inspired works. This musical work is itself based on artist Maxwell Newhouse's four canvasses of the same name.  Max created his images in 1975 for the 10th anniversary of the creation of our now very familiar Canadian Maple Leaf and again staged a one-day installation of his artwork in 2015, in honour of the 50th anniversary of the Canadian flag.  This latter event was covered nationally by the Globe and Mail and upon seeing the newspaper photo, Burge was immediately inspired to find a musical resonance for the images.  Max graciously gave his blessing to the project. A simple but resonatingly profound concept, the four large canvases of the flag present the central maple leaf of the flag in a state to match each season with "summer" being a full-sized maple leaf, "fall" a withering leaf, "winter" has a completely empty space in the centre and "spring" is but a small bud of a leaf. 

Additional information on John Burge: johnburge.ca
Additional information on Maxwell Newhouse: maxwellnewhouse.com

To view Maxwell Newhouse's piece that inspired this composition, please click here.


"Four Seasons of the Canadian Flag" is an NYO Canada commission supported by the Ontario Arts Council.