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For the love of music and McGill

World-renowned composer and Professor Emeritus, John Rea, continues to help shape future-ready students by supporting a travel award for budding composers. 

John Rea, Professor and composer at Schulich School of Music at McGill University

For more than four decades, aspiring young composers set their sights on studying at the Schulich School of Music, to benefit from the guidance and mentorship of the award-winning composer, Professor John Rea. Many of them went on to forge noteworthy careers around the world.

Rea arrived at McGill in 1973, in the midst of his PhD studies at Princeton. He went on to pursue a triple career as a composer, a concert producer, and a professor. In 2019, just a few months before retiring from the Faculty, he was named as a Member of the Order of Canada for his innovative work as a composer and a writer on the topic of music.  

In 1986, he took on a leading role in shaping the Schulich School of Music: he was named Dean, a position he held until 1991. “During those five years, my goal was to open the School’s door to the world, and to promote the achievements of our students,” he recalls with pride.

Rea harbours a deep affection for the University. “McGill has been perhaps the greatest single important event in my life,” he says. His association with McGill runs in the family; his wife, Lina Uberti, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History in 1998, while his daughter, Beatrice, graduated in 2012 with a BA in French and Italian Studies.

A loyal donor who supported McGill and its students since 1974, Rea established the John Rea Travel Award in Composition, which enables music composition students to visit noteworthy concert halls, listen to cutting-edge compositions at festivals, attend a summer course at another university, or even work at a music research centre to broaden their perspective.

“Young music scholars, particularly composers, need to see the world and meet people. Such experiences enrich their studies and help them progress towards their goals,” says Rea.

In addition to this thoughtful and generous gift, made in 2016, Rea made a provision to provide future support for music students through a planned gift, in which McGill will be the beneficiary of a life insurance policy. “At this point, I wanted to do something a little more significant.”

“Over the course of my long career as a professor and a Dean, I have had the good fortune to interact with wonderfully talented, imaginative, creative and dynamic young music scholars, researchers and artists,” says Rea. “I am pleased to share with students what the University offered me, and it is gratifying to know that this support will continue into the future.”

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