Moshe Denburg (b. 1949) grew up in Montreal, Canada, in a religious Jewish family. His first musical influences were the singing and chanting of the Synagogue and his mother’s singing of Jewish and Israeli folksongs. His musical career has spanned over 3 decades and his accomplishments encompass a wide range of musical activities, including Composition, Performance, Jewish Music Education, and Piano Tuning. His compositions have been performed in many parts of the world and as a Performer/Composer he has recorded and toured with his ensemble Tzimmes all over North America.
Mr. Denburg has studied music extensively, both formally and informally. He has travelled worldwide, living and studying music in New York (1965-66), Israel (1966-73), Montreal (1973-78), Toronto (1978-82), India (1982-83; 1985-86), and Japan (1985). From 1986-90 he studied composition with John Celona at the University of Victoria, Canada. Since 1987 his compositions have reflected an ongoing and strengthening commitment to the principle of inter-cultural music making.
From 1982 until the present, Mr. Denburg has apprenticed himself to the study of World Music traditions, as much as possible in their native context. Living and working in India on two occasions, he studied Carnatic music (South Indian Classical tradition), both the rhythmic and melodic elements (Mrdangam and Voice). He began his studies with Trichy Sankaran at York University and contuinued in Madras with percussion master T.H. Vinayakram, and Carnatic vocal repertoire master the late Dr. S. Ramanathan. (Note: Mr. Vinayakram is known for his work with the original Shakti ensemble with John Mclaughlin, Zakir Hussain, and L. Shankar, as well as with Mickey Hart on the Grammy Award winning Planet Drum. Dr. Ramanathan was a practicing singer, Vina player, and renowned scholar who received his Phd in ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University.)
In 1985 Mr. Denburg lived in Japan for 6 months, studying, in Tokyo, a style of music called Naga-uta. Naga-uta is a song form accompanied by a three stringed fretless Lute called the Shamisen, and is derived from the Kabuki theatre. (Teacher: Ms. Naomi Muraishi).
In 1993 and again in 1994, Mr. Denburg travelled to Israel to research Arabic music, consulting with expert musicians and musicologists (Edwin Serussi and Amnon Shiloah, among others) in the field, including the conductor (Suhil Radwan) of an active, professional Arabic Music Orchestra in Haifa. In 1995, he participated in the World Percussion Intensive at Simon Fraser University, to further his understanding of the rhythms and rhythmic instruments of the world.
These studies of the music of the world are ongoing, and have always had as their purpose the creation of compositions which would help build a new inter-cultural lexicon for composers and musicians of the future. No less a challenge for the composer, this work challenges musicians of differing disciplines to work together across oral/written cultural divides, and to find a common musical aesthetic. Over the last three years Mr. Denburg has established the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra (VICO), a vehicle for the realization of his, and other Canadian composers’ inter-cultural work. In 2002 he was awarded a Canada Council grant to write a new work for the VICO. Entitled ‘Ani Ma-amin (I Believe)’ it calls for choir and a large array of instruments from musical instruments from all over the globe: China, India, Japan, Vietnam, Africa, South America, the Mid-East, & the Western world.