Ray Nurse. Lutenist, builder and restorer of period string instruments, bass, b New Westminster, BC, 1 Feb 1947. His teachers included Diana Poulton (lute, 1967-8) and Ian Harwood and John Isaacs (string instrument building, 1967-8) in Ely, England; French Tickner (voice, 1968-70) at the University of British Columbia; and Eugène Dombois (lute, 1972) in Switzerland. Nurse also studied voice 1974-6 with Jacob Hamm and 1976-8 with Luigi Wood, both in Vancouver. He was a member 1973-80 of the Vancouver Chamber Choir and in 1976 was a winner of the Vancouver Metropolitan Opera auditions. In the 1970s he sang in opera productions with the Vancouver and Edmonton Opera and appeared as vocal soloist on the CBC and with various groups in British Columbia. In the 1980s his vocal interests turned to early music practices and small ensembles; he founded the chamber vocal group Spectrum in 1982.
Nurse has performed as a lutenist in recital and on the CBC with the early music ensemble Hortulani Musicae, of which he was a founding member in 1968.In 1984 he became the founding musical director of its successor, New World Consort. The New World Consort has appeared in the London Early Music Festival (1985) and the Holland Festival Utrecht (1986), and in 1985 it made its first recording, Au verd boys/To the greenwood (Collegium Records COL-8407 LP). In 1969 Nurse was a founding member of the Vancouver Society for Early Music, of which he was president 1978-9. He joined the early music program at the University of British Columbia in 1976, began teaching lute there in 1977, and was director 1985-8 of its Collegium Musicum vocal ensemble.
Nurse had built more than 30 lutes by 1977 and in the 1980s continued to build and restore period instruments. He was craftsman-in-residence 1980-1 for the Vancouver Museum's 'The Look of Music' (see Exhibitions). He has developed a significant reputation for his technical skill and is in demand in North America and Europe as an instructor and symposium panelist. His instruments have been commissioned by performers in Canada, the USA, and Europe and have also been displayed in exhibitions. He is also the author of many articles on early instruments and performance practice in Canada Crafts, the newsletter of the Lute Society of America, and other periodicals.
Nurse is drawn by the relationships between performance practice, design of instruments, techniques of building, and developments in related arts. His considerable versatility and energy have underscored his success in a wide variety of endeavours.