Anthony Tan

Anthony Tan
Assistant Professor
Composition and theory

Diploma (ARCT), BMus (Calgary), MMus (McGill), Meisterklasse (Hochschule für Musik Carl Maria von Weber, Dresden), PhD (McGill)

Area of expertise



My principal areas of research are concert music composition for acoustic and electronic mediums, acousmatic and timbre theory, contemporary and improvisatory piano performance practice, music perception, and genre hybridity. I am an experimental composer in the sense that I often do not know the result of my composing until I hear it performed live. It is the possibility of failure which compels me artistically. I trained formally in contemporary classical composition and hold a special affinity for electronic music aesthetics and practices. I compose equally with drum machine as with a pencil and manuscript paper.

Brief biography

I was appointed at the University of Victoria in 2020 after 3 years of teaching at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. Born and raised in Calgary, Alberta I obtained my B.Mus. in Composition and Piano performance from the University of Calgary. I moved to Montréal for graduate studies where I completed a Master’s and Ph.D. at McGill University with a research focus on live electronics and the intersection of music perception and composition. Subsequently, I moved to Germany to complete the Meisterklasse program at the Hochschule für Musik Carl Maria von Weber, Dresden, then lived as a freelance composer in Berlin. I returned to North America and obtained a fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced studies at Harvard University. I am grateful to live on Vancouver Island where I generally lead a quiet life with my wife and son.


I believe in the teaching-artist paradigm, where artistic and mentoring practices influence each other. My teaching challenges students to question the traditional conceptions of how music may be defined and to search for personal approaches to sonic expression. I advise both undergraduate and graduate students and emphasize technical, and theoretical facility to communicate conceptual ideas effectively with the aim to develop the creative, thoughtful musician.

Courses Taught

  • MUS 105 – Introduction to Composition
  • MUS 205 – Composition I
  • MUS 305 – Composition II
  • MUS 405 – Composition III
  • MUS 555 – Individual Tuition in Composition
  • MUS 598 – M.Mus. Practicum Graduating Compositions
  • MUS 561 – Graduate Seminar in Composition
  • MUS 590 – Directed Study
  • MUS 101A – Language of Music (Tonality)
  • MUS 301B – Language of Music (1945 – Present)
  • MUS 462/562 – Interactive Creation/Performance of New Music 

Compositions & Recordings (select)


  • Pose VII: that which like a thread runs through (2022)
    • Amplified bass flute and multi-channel electronics, Maruta Staravoitava and SWR Experimentalstudio: Freiburg, Germany
  • Ways of Returning (2020)
    • String quartet and electronics, Quatuor Bozzini: Montréal
  • And/Or (2019)
    • Fourteen instruments and electronics, Turning Point Ensemble: Vancouver
  • An Overall Augmented Sense of Wellbeing (2017)
    • Piano, violin, saxophone, percussion and electronics, Hellqvist/Amaral/Hyde/Bierstone Project: Cambridge, USA
  • Horizontal and Vertical Forces II (2016)
    • Percussion quartet and electronics, Architek Percussion: Montréal
  • Un/divided (2015)
    • Voice, sextet and live electronics, Ensemble EXPERIMENTAL and SWR EXPERIMENTAL Studio: Freiburg, Germany

Writings (select)

  • Tan, A. (2020). "Appreciation vs. Appropriation of Cultural Musical Objects." In I CARE IF YOU LISTEN.
  • Tan, A. (2019). "Reality Sounding: Annesley Black’s 'not thinking about the elephants'.” Circuit: musiques contemporaines29(3), 73-90.
  • Tan, A. (2019), "Memory and Synchronicity: Two approaches to live-electronics." In Biró, D. P., Goldman, J., Heusinger, D., & Stratz, C. (Eds.) Live Electronics im/in the SWR Experimentalstudio (pp. 271 – 282). Wolke Verlag.
  • Tan, A. (2014, June). "Timbre as Vertical Process: Attempting a Perceptually Informed Functionality of Timbre." In Electroacoustic Music Studies Network Conference (EMS14), Berlin, Germany.