Gary Burgess made his American debut as a tenor in 1973 with the San Francisco Opera Company singing seven roles in the same season, in productions including Die Zaubeflöte, L’Incornazione di Poppea, La Boheme, Electra, Pique Dame and Boris Godunov. Debuts followed at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, Philadelphia Opera, Houston Opera, and many other companies in the United States. In 1973 he also made his European debut with the Greek National Opera, singing the leading tenor roles in The Rake’s Progress, the Rape of Lucretia and Ariadne auf Naxos.
Along with his many opera performances, Dr. Burgess appeared with an extensive list of major orchestras, including The New York Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Symphonies of Indianapolis, Syracuse, Toronto, San Francisco, Denver, Long Island, Jackson MS, and Niagara Falls, the Greek National Orchestra, the Bermuda Philharmonic, the Marlboro Festival Orchestra, the Little Orchestra Society of New York, and others, plus a long list of smaller orchestras.
In opera and orchestral works, major conductors Gary has appeared under include Leonard Bernstein, Kurt Herbert Adler, Richard Bonynge, Raymond Leppard, Mstislav Postropovich, Julius Rudel, Maximiniano Valdes, Eugene Ormandy, David Effron, and Christopher Macatsoris, and he has appeared alongside a long list of outstanding colleagues including Joan Sutherland, Leontyne Price, Tatiana Troyanos, Cristina Deutekom, Luciano Pavarotti, Maureen Forrester, and Barbara Hendricks, among many others. Gary has appeared in over 45 major operatic roles, including most of the major tenor roles in the standard repertoire, as well as over thirty major oratorios and orchestral works, and he directed or conducted over 35 operas, along with a number of operettas and broadway musical productions. He has performed in the premieres of a number of new works, including John Cage's Europera 5.
Gary has always kept his love for lieder and chamber music alive, having performed many seasons with the Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont under the leadership of the late Rudolf Serkin. Other festivals he has appeared in include the Aspen Music Festival, Bermuda International Music Festival, Central City Opera Festival, Athens Festival (Greece), Corfu Festival (Greece), North American New Music Festival, Ice Breaker New Music Festival (Netherlands), Music Factory New Music Festival (Norway), Contemporary Music Festival (Belgium), and the Grand Teton National Festival in Wyoming.
Through the years he has been the recipient of many awards including the Prix Claude Debussy in 1984 at the Concours Henri Duparc in Paris, the Polish Arts award for Performing and Promoting Music of Polish Composers, The Distinguished Award from Opera America, and the Legacy Award from the National Opera Association, to name but a few.
Dr. Burgess has been a master teacher in Bratislava, Prague, Sao Paulo, Ottawa, and most of the major universities across the United States. Notable students he has worked with include Vinson Cole, Renée Fleming, Laura Aikin, Valerian Ruminski, Jeffrey Halili, and Eva Garajová. While a professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo (SUNY @Buffalo) he was the director of the Opera Department, music director of the Department of Theater and Dance and professor of voice.
During his tenure in Buffalo, New York, Gary was General and Artisticl Director of the Greater Buffalo Opera Company, staging and directing more than forty (40) operas.
On first retiring in 1998, he returned to Bermuda to take a post with the Ministry of Culture as Programme Director and Musical Director of the Bermuda Philharmonic Society and during this time Dr. Burgess wrote and premiered two symphonies for the Bermuda Philharmonic Orchestra - Dawn of a New Day, and The Bermuda Symphony, based on the discovery of Bermuda. He also founded and directed the Boys Choir at the Bermuda Cathedral for six years until he retired for the second time. Always one to encourage singers both old and young, Gary provided voice lessons to many of Bermuda’s up and coming singers.
Never one to retire "permanently", in 2008 Gary was enlisted by the Chinese Government to be one of the directors to open the new Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing, directing Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. He returned again in the fall of the same year to be part of an esteemed panel of international judges for the Ningbo International Vocal Competition.
Dr. Burgess still travels over the world, performing and directing, giving master classes and recitals, including appearing as the guest soloist with The Ensemble Singers during their tour of Barbados in 2008.