Recipient of many awards, John Rea has been frequently commissioned and has written works in several genres: chamber music, music-theatre, electroacoustic music, and compositions for large ensemble such as orchestra, ballet, choral, and opera. Orchestras across Canada and in Europe have performed his music.
Since 2001, his re-orchestration for 21 players of Alban Berg's operatic masterpiece Wozzeck, commissioned and first performed by the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne (NEM) in 1995, has been performed in a dozen new productions around the world. Most recently, his re-orchestration for 28 players of Berg's Three Pieces for Orchestra was premiered in Winterthur (Switzerland) and Montreal.
Since 1973, he has taught composition, music theory, and history at McGill University where he served as Dean of the Faculty of Music (1986–1991), today the Schulich School of Music. He co-founded two musical societies in Montreal—Les Événements du neuf and Traditions musicales du monde—and for 25 years was a member of the artistic committee of the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ).
For the 2015/16 season, he was named Composer of the Year by the SMCQ in their Homage Series.
Biography courtesy of canadamosaic.tso.ca.