Genge, Anthony

Anthony (Charles) Genge. Composer, pianist, teacher, b Vancouver 22 May 1952; B MUS (Victoria) 1979, M MUS (McGill) 1981, PH D (State U of New York, Buffalo) 1985. He began to play jazz piano professionally as a teenager. He studied composition 1976-9 with Rudolf Komorous at the University of Victoria, in 1979 with Jo Kondo in Tokyo, and 1979-81 with Bruce Mather at McGill. He first received recognition in 1978, when Eleven Steps won first prize in the CBC National Radio Competition for Young Composers. He also won the Robert Fleming Award for Young Composers in 1981, and the Canadian Federation of University Women Creative Arts Award in 1982. Genge returned to Asia in 1981 to study the music of Bali, Burma and Java. He studied 1982-5 with US composer Morton Feldman at the State U of New York at Buffalo. He taught jazz 1986-8 at the University of Victoria; in 1988 he taught composition, theory and history at the Victoria Cons, and was composer-in-residence at the Banff CA. In 1989 he began teaching music history, theory, and piano at St Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, NS. Genge has received commissions from Guitar '81 for Streams I (1980, rev 1984), the Ars Nova Ensemble for Time Shadows (1981, rev 1989), the Purcell String Quartet for Music for String Quartet (1981, rev for string orchestra 1988), the Vancouver New Music Society for Streams II (1984, rev 1987), the Canadian Federation of University Women for The River in Summer (1985), Magnetic Band for Quartet (On a Misty Night) (1987), and the Victoria International Festival for Three Trios (1988).

Genge composes more intuitively than systematically, avoiding the precompositional strategies of some avant-garde schools, and his habitual revising reveals a careful craftsman. Many of his works (eg, the Streams series) have been influenced by Asian music, some by specific instruments: several pieces for flute (Night Rain 1977, rev 1985; Kasa, 1978; Grey and White, 1981) recall the Japanese shakuhachi; In the Ocean of the Sky (1979, rev 1988), Linear Translations (1983), and Music for String Orchestra (1988) adopt the wide-spaced chords (with pizzicato interjections) of the biwa, a Japanese plucked lute; the percussion work Sunda (1989) suggests the gamelan orchestras of Indonesia. In 1985 Genge began to compose a series of works inspired by the seven anonymous hocket-clausulae in the 13th-century Bamberg Manuscript. These works include the two Duos (1989) and Preludium (1990), which bring an imaginative personal voice to this medieval genre. In all of his music Genge strives to create 'a musical environment that is always recognizable and yet at the same time always changing'. He tends to focus on subtle changes within relatively constant textures - usually spare, delicate textures that recall Feldman and the pre-serial Webern. His Tango (1985) for piano has been published by Quadrivium (1987), and Streams III (1984, rev 1987) for harp, guitar, and percussion has been published by Gensa (1984). Eleven Steps (1977) for tenor recorder has been recorded by James Kennedy (RCI 570). Genge also did six arrangements for Paul Horn's 1988 Christmas recording The Peace Album (Kuckuck 11083-2, CD).


Anthony Genge, 'Notes on my music,' Musicworks, 15, Spring 1981