Dr. Michael Tenzer

Professor, Ethnomusicology

B.A. (Yale), Ph.D (Berkeley)

Old Auditorium 206a
Tel. 604-822-3405

Current courses
Curriculum vitae (pdf)


My home in the School of Music is in the Ethnomusicology division, and my musical interests span the globe, but my activities cover all of the kinds of things musicians do: performance, composition, research, teaching and mentoring, analyzing, thinking and writing about music, promoting interest in fine music, and envisioning what can be done to best shape our future world of music.

I grew up in New York CIty and studied at Yale University (BA 1978), then completed a PhD in music composition at University of California, Berkeley (1986). Since 1977 I have lived on and off for five years (or more, I’ve lost track) in Bali, Indonesia, studying gamelan traditions. In 1988-89 I learned drumming and singing in South India. I doff my hat to many treasured teachers: composers Martin Bresnick, Andrew Imbrie and Gerard Grisey, mrdangists Frank Bennett and N. Govindarajan, and too many Balinese musicians to name. From 1986-1996 I taught music theory and composition at Yale University, and since 1996 have been professor of music at UBC.  In 1988 I married Pam Hetrick, an elementary music specialist. Our children are Molly and Maya, born in 1990 and 1994.



WATCH: The Cudamani Arts collective of Pengosekan village, Bali, along with musicians from the Vancouver-based Gamelan group Gita Asmara, perform  Prof. Tenzer's "Unstable Centre" at the Bali Arts Festival. Watch Part 2 here.



My work in all its dimensions is a source of deep satisfaction. I love to teach and interact with students and have had the pleasure of advising some excellent doctoral candidates. My long connection with Bali has been an immersion in a dynamic, deep tradition and increasingly international world of musical fascination, innovation and challenge. It is full of stellar musicians and personalities spanning eras and generations, whom it continues to be my privilege to know.

I direct Gamelan Gita Asmara, a 25-member ensemble devoted to performance of traditional and contemporary Balinese music. We concertize throughout the region and did a tour of Bali in 2013, performing in temple rituals and secular venues . My most recent composition is a new piece for that tour. Much of my music is available on CDs from New World Records, including the 2009 release Let Others Name You.

Among the courses I offer are the graduate Ethnomusicology seminar, courses on Balinese and Indian music, composition workshops, Musical Periodicity (a world music analysis course team taught with Prof. John Roeder), and the general studies course Musical Rhythm and Human Experience.