Evangelista was born in Valence (Spain) in 1943 ; there he studied misic with Vicente Ascencio. After studying physics and computor science, he settled in Montréal in 1970 where he studied musical composition with André Prévost and Bruce Mather.
After being founder member of the Evènements du Neuf (new music) and of Traditions musicales du Monde and advisor of the society of contemporary music of Québec, he now teaches at the Music Department of the Montreal University. In 1986 he was the guest composer of the Ferienkurse für Neue Musik at Darmstadt. He has received several prizes and awards, among which that of the Spanish Ministry of Culture, in 1982.
One of his works, Clos de Vie was recommended by the international tribune of composers of UNESCO in 1984 and his compositions have represented Canada at the Jounées SIMC four times since 1985. He has often received commissions, among them from the Itinéraire (Paris), the Society of Contemporary Music of Québec and RadioCanada, Esprit Orchestra (Toronto) and from the Kronos Quartet (San Francisco) ; his works have been played in Canada, in the United States and in Europe by ensembles such as the Ensemble Modern (Francfort), the Nieuw Ensemble (Amsterdam), Music Projects (London), the Symphonic Orchestra of Montréal, the Philharmonic Orchestra of Radio-France, the Chamber Orchestra of Lausanne, the Ensemble borealis (Oslo), New Music Concerts (Toronto) and the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne (Montréal).
José Evangelista pursues a personal research, independant from the main currents of contemporary music. He explores ways of making music based exclusively on melody. Thus he has developed a heterophonic language for small ensembles as well as for the orchestra, in which the melodic line generates echoes of itself, creating an illusion of polyphony. His music is based on a wide range of traditions : apart from his Spanish origins are to be found the influence of Javanese gamelan, Western avant-garde and medieval theories.