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Queen’s Dan School of Drama and Music is known for its outstanding instruction and facilities in all facets of composition.

After completion of first year, students have the unique opportunity to study privately with an internationally acclaimed composition faculty within a number of compositional disciplines. Student effort in vocal and instrumental composition is supported by a number of outstanding chamber groups and large ensembles, which give the student composer an excellent opportunity for the performance of his or her works.

Check out this article by John Burge in The Conversation“Hiring a Student Composer for the Summer”

For the prospective composer who is interested in pursuing studies in the areas of jazz composition and arranging, multi-media, and film music, Queen’s presents many opportunities. For example, the Department of Film can provide experience in the scoring of student films. Courses and private instruction in the areas of jazz composition and arranging are supported by an outstanding jazz ensemble.

Electroacoustic Composition

Queen’s Dan School of Drama and Music has a tradition of excellence in the area of electroacoustic music composition and music technology. Dedicated faculty and well-equipped studio facilities provide the student with superb training in these fields. As a result, many former Queen’s students have received prestigious awards for their electroacoustic compositions.

An introductory electroacoustic composition course is offered, with the main focus being the production of electroacoustic music by students, using the studio facilities provided by the Dan School of Drama and Music. Course content includes lectures on technical, aesthetic and compositional issues of electroacoustic music, as well as practical work in the studios such as in-class assignments and workshops. Students are expected to produce electroacoustic music compositions on a weekly or biweekly basis, and to perform some of their work in a concert venue.

We offer courses in upper year electroacoustic composition for students who have completed the introductory courses in electroacoustic music or the equivalent. These courses allow students to meet with the instructor in small groups. As well, all composition students meet once a week in order to participate in a composition pro-seminar or technical seminar with composition faculty and other electroacoustic music composition students. Students enrolled in upper year electroacoustic composition courses are required to work on at least one major composition per term, the composition to be agreed upon by the student and the instructor. The student is required to perform at least one of the compositions once per term at a Mosaic concert or similar venue.

Mosaic Concert Series

The Dan School of Drama and Music hosts the Mosaic concert series which consists of three to four concerts per academic year. The purpose of the Mosaic concert series is to feature both Queen’s student and faculty composers’ compositions. This venue provides an excellent opportunity for students enrolled in both acoustic and electroacoustic composition courses to present their works to a larger audience. The concert series also provides students the opportunity to learn more about the technical processes involved in setting up for and performing electroacoustic compositions in a concert venue.

During the 2017/18 academic year, three video performances were made of compositions written by Dan School student composers that were initially premiered at a Mosaic concert.  These videos were recorded, filmed and edited by students enrolled in the St. Lawrence College, Music and Digital Media diploma program which is possible to take as a combined degree/diploma with a Queen’s Bachelor of Music degree.

Composition Faculty

John Burge

Dr. John Burge grew up in Calgary studying the piano with Dorothy Hare. Since 1987 he has been teaching at Queen’s University where he is a full professor. For his outstanding work as a composer over the years, in 2013 he was awarded a Queen’s University Award for Excellence in Research and Scholarship and was inducted into the Royal Society of Canada in 2014 for similar recognition and leadership in the arts in Canada. He has composed a large body of instrumental and vocal music in all genres and his work, Flanders Fields Reflections for string orchestra, received the 2009 Juno Award for the Best Canadian Classical Composition. Burge loves working with young musicians and is in high demand as a music festival adjudicator. In recent years he has joined the Red Leaf Pianoworks collective and has been performing solo piano recitals of his own compositions. A passionate advocate for Canadian music he was an executive member of the Canadian League of Composers from 1993-2007 (President from 1998-2006) and currently sits on the SOCAN Foundation’s board of directors.

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Dean Burry

Newfoundland-born and Toronto-based librettist, composer, and educator Dean Burry has written twelve nationally and internationally-performed theatrical works for young people, including The HobbitThe Secret World of OgThe Scorpions’ StingThe Bremen Town MusiciansLe nez de la sorcière, The Vinland TravelerAngela and Her SistersPandora’s Locker and The Sword in the Schoolyard. His opera The Brothers Grimm, commissioned by the Canadian Opera Company in 1999, has been presented over 600 times and is considered “the most performed Canadian opera in history” (Bill Richardson, CBC’s Saturday Afternoon at the Opera). From 2015 to 2017, Burry served as Artistic Director for the Canadian Children’s Opera Company. He has been a key player in the Education and Outreach Department of the Canadian Opera Company since designing the celebrated After-School Opera Program in 1997. As Program Leader and Music and Stage Director, he has created over fifty operas with young people in various Toronto communities and/or implemented many highly successful outreach programs for such organizations as the Canadian Children’s Opera Company, Ontario Arts Council, The Royal Conservatory of Music, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education and the Toronto District School Board.

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Cecilia Livingston

With her melody-first approach and her lyrical fusion of styles from minimalism to jazz, Canadian composer Cecilia Livingston has emerged as a leading figure of new music for the voice. She is composer-in-residence at Glyndebourne Opera, a position that builds upon her two-year fellowship at The American Opera Project in New York. Her opera Terror & Erebus earned Livingston the Canadian Music Centre Emerging Composer Award (2018), and Singing Only Softly was a 2020 Dora Mavor Moore Awards nominee for Outstanding New Opera. She is a recipient of the Mécénat Musica Prix 3 Femmes for women opera composers (2018), and her harp and vibraphone duo, Garden, is featured on Angela Schwarzkopf’s detach, the 2020 JUNO Award Winner for Classical Album of the Year.

In addition to performances by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, and the Kingston Symphony, Ms. Livingston’s music is programmed across Canada and internationally, notably with Glyndebourne, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Deutsche Grammophon Digital Stage, Tapestry Opera, Soundstreams, Thin Edge New Music Collective, Bang on a Can Summer Festival, Nuit Blanche, Vocal Arts DC, and the Royal Conservatory of Music’s 21C Festival. Upcoming projects include a song cycle for the Canadian Art Song Project, new work for Soundstreams, and recordings in Europe and the US.

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Michael Lukaszuk

Michael Lukaszuk is an electroacoustic composer from Kingston, Ontario. His work often incorporates improvisation and sound spatialization to explore new ways of thinking about presence, gesture and how we interact with algorithmic media in everyday life. Michael’s music has been presented at multiple International Computer Music Conference, SEAMUS (Society for Electroacoustic Music in the United Sates) and Toronto International Electroacoustic Symposium events. His writings on electroacoustic music can be found in publications such as Emille (the Korean Electroacoustic Music Society), Chroma (Australasian Computer Music Association), and eContact! (Canadian Electroacoustic Community). He has explored computer music performance as a live coding improviser and as part of the Cincinnati Integrated Composers Laptop Orchestra Project, a group that he directed from 2015-2017. He won 1st Prize in the Hugh Le Caine Awards – (electroacoustic music category) of the 2015 SOCAN Foundation Young Composer Awards. Michael holds a DMA in Composition from the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music.

Christopher Mayo

Christopher Mayo (b. 1980) is a Toronto-based composer of orchestral, chamber, vocal and electronic music. His work, variously described as “cogent, haunting and…desperately poignant” (The Times) and “a steampunk collection of gnarly machine-like noises, flashy timbres, and explosive rhythms” (Classical Voice North America), is characterized by its distinctive rhythmic language and wide range of diverse and eclectic inspirations.

Christopher’s works have been commissioned and performed by leading ensembles worldwide, including London Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Victoria Symphony, London Sinfonietta, Crash Ensemble, Alarm Will Sound, Aurora Orchestra, Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, Ensemble contemporain de Montreal and Manchester Camerata where he was the Composer-in-Residence from 2012-13. His music has been conducted by artists such as Susanna Mälkki, François-Xavier Roth, Nicholas Collon and Bramwell Tovey.  He has received performances at festivals including the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival, Aldeburgh Festival, Cheltenham Festival, Nuit Blanche Toronto, and the Marrakech Biennale.

Also noted for his work as a versatile orchestrator and arranger, Christopher has collaborated with artists including Grammy-nominated pop singer-songwriter Carly Rae Jepsen, R&B duo DVSN, throat-singer Tanya Tagaq, DJ King Britt, folk rock band Whitehorse, electronic artist Matthew Herbert and drum and bass star Goldie, among others.

Christopher’s music has been commercially recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra on their LSO Live label as well as by Aurora Orchestra for NMC Recordings. Christopher’s music has been widely broadcast on television and radio including multiple broadcasts on BBC 1 Television, BBC Radio 3, and CBC Radio 2.

Christopher holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Toronto, a Master’s degree from the Royal College of Music, where he studied with Julian Anderson and a PhD from the Royal Academy of Music, where he studied with Philip Cashian.

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Matt Rogalsky

Dr. Matt Rogalsky is a composer, sound artist and musicologist. Since 1985 he has presented work regularly in performances and gallery exhibitions across North America and Europe. Rogalsky’s areas of research include histories, reconstructions and new performances of late 20th century electronic and experimental music. He has given performances of the music of David Tudor, Alvin Lucier, Phill Niblock, John Cage, David Behrman, Rhys Chatham and Terry Riley, among others. His writing has been published in Leonardo Music Journal, Canadian Theatre Review, Social and Cultural Geography, Public, and Musicworks. An exhibition catalog with DVD, entitled When he was in high school in Texas, Eric Ryan Mims used a similar arrangement to detect underground nuclear tests in Nevada, is available from the Agnes Etherington Art Centre at Queen’s.

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Greg Runions

Canadian composer and arranger, Greg Runions has created original music for big band, jazz septet, orchestra, orchestra with big band and percussion ensemble. His works have been performed by the Kingston Symphony, Queen’s Jazz and Percussion Ensembles, the Greg Runions Big Band and Septet and by numerous jazz ensembles at colleges and high schools in Canada, the US and the Netherlands. In addition to composing, Greg has been fortunate to perform with some outstanding jazz artists. These include Brian Dickinson, Tim Hagans, Anthony Braxton, Don Thompson, Mike Murley, John McLeod, Tony Bennett and Kenny Wheeler. He has studied at Queen’s University (BMus), The Crane School of Music (MMus) and the Banff Centre (Jazz Workshop). Self taught as a composer, he has recorded 3 independent CD’s featuring his compositions, two with his septet and one with his big band. Greg currently resides in Kingston, Ontario.

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Michel Szczesniak

Michel Szczesniak’s diversified career as a pianist includes concerto appearances with the Winnipeg, Victoria, and Kingston Symphony Orchestras, the Aspen Festival Orchestra and CBC solo and chamber music recital broadcasts. His work as a solo pianist was also featured in conjunction with productions by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the Banff Festival Ballet. He has premiered a number of new and lesser-known Canadian works in concert and on recording including two self-produced compact discs: Bow & Ivory and Notes to Myself, both featuring his own compositions. Further to his work as a composer, Mr.Szczesniak is an Associate of the Canadian Music Centre having had works premiered by the Kingston Symphony Orchestra and in recital as part of the School of Music Faculty Artists Series.

Piano and chamber music studies were with Jeaneane Dowis, Martin Canin, Seymour Lipkin and Artur Balsam, with degrees from the Manhattan School of Music and State University of New York at Stony Brook. Prior to emigrating to Canada in 1983, Mr.Szczesniak was the pianist for the vocal studio of Adele Addison in Manhattan and the Aspen Music Festival, and on a chamber music fellowship at the Waterloo Festival, New Jersey where he met violinist Gisèle Dalbec, his partner in life and in music.

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Student Compositions on Band Camp


Due to the COVID-19 cancellation of the final Mosaic concert originally scheduled for April 2, 2020, Dr. Matt Rogalsky, with the assistance of Mike Cassells, has put together an album of 14 compositions that emerged from the Sonic Arts Studio this year.

This album documents musical creation in the Sonic Arts Studio of Queen’s University, Kingston Ontario Canada, in the Dan School of Drama and Music, between September 2019 and April 2020. Some compositions are studio works and others were recorded live in concert.

The Sonic Arts Studio, directed by Dr Matt Rogalsky, is a research facility for a diversity of experimental sonic practices. This album represents only some of what happens at the Studio: electroacoustic composition, sound art, sound installation, sound design for film, theatre and games, field recording, audio programming with MaxMSP, Supercollider and other platforms, multi-channel projection of sound, design of Arduino-based MIDI devices, podcast recording, research into queer hip-hop production, and more!


Kento Stratford (BMUS 2019) had his first orchestral piece premiered by the Kingston Symphony with Evan Mitchell, conducting, on Sunday, December 2, 2018 at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts.

Titled Il Pilastro (The Pillars), Kento was hired by the Kingston Symphony to compose the work as a summer job in 2018 through the Canada Summer Jobs program.  This position was advertised in the spring and following an interview process of short-listed applicants, Kento was selected by the Kingston Symphony and mentored by Dr. John Burge during the project.

Many thanks to the Kingston Symphony for providing a young undergraduate composer with their first professional orchestral performance.



Student Creativity and Performances:

Nocturne for the Left Hand in E Flat Major. Composed by: Chanheum Lee

Composed by: Kaitlyn Bentley-DeSousa

Ensnared, for snare drum and electronics. Composed by: Jeremy Kerr