Monday, December 12, 2011

Karen Burke

Karen Burke

Karen Burke
By Francine Buchner

Karen Burke describes herself as a mother, conductor, educator, songwriter and performer. She is a full-time music professor at York University, but 22 years ago started with her husband, Oswald, in their spare time, what today has become the widely-acclaimed, Toronto Mass Choir (TMC). The TMC has toured North America and Europe, and of which Burke is the director.  In 2003, the TMC album titled, “Going Home” won a Juno award. “I love music. I need to hear music. Music makes sense. It is the soundtrack of your life,” said Burke.

Gospel music is a new phenomenon to the Canadian education system and the curriculum Burke teaches at York University is the first of its kind in Canada. She has been teaching The History of Gospel Music since 2005. 

The demand has been so great that Burke, when she can, visits the various high schools and universities teaching their choirs and conductors. Burke has taught OISE at the University of Toronto a course titled, “How to use Gospel Music in the Classroom.” She has been nominated for the prestigious Leslie Bell Conducting Prize. Burke realized at a young age that she has a gift for conducting, “conducting is showing the flow of breath,” said Burke.

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