Project Description

Born and raised in Regina, Saskatchewan, Michael Bursey started playing the violin at an early age. He later switched to the viola after breaking his thumb and fingers playing football. Being of large stature, Michael always thought the violin was like a baby toy anyway.

Finally enjoying playing music for the first time, Michael enrolled at the Conservatoire de Musique de Quebec to pursue his dream of being a professional musician. At the Conservatoire, Michael obtained his Master’s in Viola Performance, studying viola with Francois Paradis and chamber music with Darren Lowe. He also had the opportunity to study with Pinchas Zuckerman and Steven Dann at the NAC in Ottawa (Young Artists Programme) as well as Roberto Diaz and Bruno Giuranna at Domaine Forget in Quebec. He was a member of NYO in 1995.

While in Quebec, he played regularly with the Quebec Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre de Sherbrooke, Orchestre Symphonique du Saguenay Lac St. Jean and Orchestre symphonique de L’Estuaire. While in Regina he was a member of the Regina Symphony Orchestra. Shortly after graduating in Quebec, Michael obtained his position with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.

Musician Q&A

Who do you think are or were the masters of your instrument?
Yuri Bashmet, Pinchas Zuckerman, Tabea Zimmerman, Steven Dann, Roberto Diaz, Wolfram Christ, Lawrence Dutton, Bruno Giuranna

Tell us a little about your instrument.
I commissioned my viola from a luthier in Ontario, John Newton. It is a very large instrument with a huge and great sound. Several of Newton’s violas are in the hands of current and former members of the CPO as well as other great violists throughout the world.

Do you play in any groups/ensembles outside of the orchestra?
I play with the Belle Arte string quartet here in Calgary as well as the Players Chamber Ensemble.

What kinds of music do you listen to when you’re “off-duty?” What’s currently on your iPod?
I like punk rock, jazz and silence.

How do you prepare for a concert? Any “pre-game” rituals?
I like to have a pasta meal, followed by chocolate and espresso.