For the first time, music by a Kurdish composer has taken centre stage during Canada Day celebrations in Toronto. On 1 July this year, Nauroz Tanya’s Kurdish Dance delighted patrons at the renowned Harbourfront Centre, following the Canadian National Anthem. Performed by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in a dazzling free outdoor concert, it offered listeners a taste of authentic and cutting-edge Kurdish artistry, and Tanya the chance to showcase his culture to the Canadian public.
For Tanya, this kind of cultural exchange has always been significant in his practice. Having taken music lessons since the age of 6, he moved from Kurdistan to Gothenburg to train at the Academy of Music and Drama, and then on to Ontario to complete bachelor’s and master’s degrees. It was there, at Wilfrid Laurier University, that he specialised in composition, and the themes of migration and the diasporic experience that are now synonymous with his work found voice.
In the intervening years, Tanya has been recognised for his contribution to Canadian musical life. He has been recipient of The Cynthia Johnston Award and Meta Voss Music Award, and in 2019 became the first Kurdish composer to be performed at the prestigious Roy Thompson Hall. Kurdish Dance was also performed by the San Francisco Symphony in 2020 and his first piano concerto, Per Te, was premiered by the Wilfrid Laurier Symphony Orchestra.
Recently, Tanya has been collaborating with major institutions on scores for ballet and film. In 2021 his piano piece Vicino Alla Costa was recorded with the Hollywood Scoring Orchestra at Warner Bros, and in 2022 he produced a full-length contemporary ballet with the Wenn wir nu rein Leben Hätten in Zurich. Since then he has composed on a number of films variously showcased at the Academy Awards and Cannes Film Festival.
Beyond composing, Tanya is a current PHD candidate in Community Music and experienced teacher, but has also worked as a volunteer. It was on one such trip with Doctors Without Borders, that he helped save the life of a young boy on the Aegean Sea and this experience inevitably found its way into his art when he composed a piece inspired by children fleeing war. His is the practice of a brave and conscientious artist, using their music to deepen consciousness of world issues and little understood cultures.