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john gzowski


John Gzowski has had the good fortune of a career that's allowed him to follow his very particular and varied interests.

Some were instilled by studying with Alexina Louie, James Tenney, Ann Southam and Trichi Sankaran. Originally studying classical guitar, John switched to electric after developing a taste for rock and jazz. He played in many groups in the Queen Street scene in Toronto in the 80’s, most notably the Garbagemen. Around the same time he began playing with some more experimental jazz groups, like Graeme Kirkland’s groups, Tom Walsh’s N.O.M.A., Paul Cram’s early groups and doing free improv work across the country, at jazz festivals in Montreal, Halifax and Vancouver.

He then started listening to and playing world music’s, performing Romany Gypsy music with the Altin Yildiz Orkestar, South African pop with Siyakha, Greek and Arabic music with Maza Meze, and North Indian flavoured jazz with Tasa, on instruments such as oud, tambouritsa, cumbuc, cello, and mandolin. He has studied further with U Shrinivas and Ali Akbar Khan and performing shows in folk festivals across the country and Europe. His work in New Music includes playing with Hemispheres for over 6 years, concerts with New Music Concerts and the Canadian Electronic Ensemble. He has written for Array Music, the Evergreen Club Gamelan Ensemble and Hemisphere’s. HIs chamber opera, The Machine Stops is scheduled for a 2022 premiere at the Citadel Theatre in Toronto.

An interest in tuning and temperament lead to the building of several instruments designed for higher resolution tunings, including guitars in 19 and 31 tone equal temperament, 31 tone 5 limit just intonation and a study of Harry Partch’s 43 tone just intonation system known as Monophony. He has lead the microtonal group Critical Band, with concerts across North America, and built replica’s of Partch’s instruments for the performance of newly commissioned music and performances of several of Partch’s early works. Recently he has been beta testing the new microtonal keyboard, the Lumatone.

His theatre work has won him 6 Dora Mavor Moore Awards, from 18 nominations. His work has been seen in over 250 productions, across the country, with companies like the Stratford Festival, Shaw Festival, Luminato, National Arts Centre, Mirvish, CanStage, Soulpepper, Tarragon and Factory Theatre. For dance, he has written for Dancemakers, Kaeja D’dance, Hanna Kiel, Gadfly and Julia Aplin, using acoustic instruments, electronics, bicycle bells, homemade instruments, found sound and multi speaker systems. His installation pieces have been shown at the AGO, Nuit Blanche and New Adventures in Sound Art.