“As we put together this Season, the Orchestra musicians and I reflected on our game-changing musical moments. In my early childhood I spent time listening to my father play his trumpet while his printing press worked away in the basement, making a strong rhythmic sound. I soon picked up the trumpet myself, and have since enjoyed a rewarding musical career.”


“My game-changing moment happened a little later in life. All throughout my childhood I was certain I would become a musician, having been born into a musical family. It was not until my last year of high school that I began to think differently. I had developed a fascination and an affinity for math and I decided to pursue that as my career. I quit music entirely when I turned 18. But despite my newfound passion for math and academics I began to sink deeper and deeper into depression. Over the Christmas holidays of my first year of university I picked up my viola for the first time in 18 months. I fell in love all over again, began to practise daily, my depression evaporated, and I played my entrance audition at the University of Toronto two months later. The rest, as they say, is history.”


“When I was 10 years old, I performed with a group of young violinists at an anniversary reception for our music school. We were just background entertainment while the adults ate and talked amongst themselves. But then there was a sudden hush in the room as Isaac Stern, the late violinist, told everyone there to listen to us play because we had worked hard and deserved their attention. Hearing this revered musician tell a large room of people that the music I was playing mattered was really special — a moment that made me want to pursue playing violin as a career.”


“I am often asked why I chose music. In fact, my game-changing moment happened one day in 1974 when music chose me. Throughout elementary and junior high school I played clarinet, but when I began high school I asked the music teacher if I could switch to the bassoon. He was so thrilled that someone actually wanted to play this unpopular contraption that he immediately gave one to me to take home and try. The second I opened the case and put my hands on it, I was struck with a feeling of certainty that I would be playing this noble and beautiful instrument for the rest of my life. Forty-five years later, I still look back on that moment as the day I won the lottery.”


“My game-changing moment came the summer before my final year of high school, when I auditioned to study with the principal horn of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Gregory Hustis. When he notified me that I had been accepted into his studio, he also told me the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra was performing Anton Bruckner’s fourth symphony for their opening concert and he had recommended me for the principal part! At the time I was not familiar with the piece and had no clue that it featured the horn so prominently. The experience of preparing and performing this substantial work gave me my first glimpse of what life might be like as a professional musician.”


“I was born into a family of musicians in Russia. We had no TV and no Internet — my family said we didn’t need it. My father was a brass band conductor and trombone player. His brass band was always playing outside when it wasn’t raining and from a very early age I remember marching to his music. My mother was a violin teacher. When I was about three years old, she had a dress rehearsal for a concert and my heart was just melting as I listened to the violin ensemble. The piece was Romance by Shostakovich and I still remember it like it was yesterday. That moment changed me. And I consider myself lucky.”


“My game-changing moment happened shortly before my first year of college. I had been playing bass for about eight years, but never took it seriously or considered a career in music. I was actually set to major in mathematics — it’s crazy to think about that now. At the insistence of my bass teacher, I spent the summer before college at a student- orchestra festival in Powell River, B.C. For the first time in my life, I was totally surrounded by music. Every day was filled with rehearsals, musical conversations, and the sounds of people practising. I loved it. I returned home less than a month before the start of my undergrad and changed my field of study to music performance.”


“When I was a small child, my grandmother asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. After I told her “A conductor!” she smiled and said, “Oh, a bus conductor! What a noble aspiration for a young boy.” Music is such a force that we don’t just connect to it emotionally; we use it as a means of self-identification. I can’t remember the precise moment when I realized I had to pursue music forever, but I do remember the first time I heard a Mahler symphony – his fifth. Unfortunately there is no piano in that piece, so I figured I would just have to become a conductor.”

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