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Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

Q&A | 20 Questions for Aaron Gervais

By Michael Vincent on October 15, 2014

Aaron Gervias Photo: Stella Kim

Every so often, MT poses 60 questions to a local or visiting artist in Toronto who has made our classical music community that much more interesting. They pick and choose. The minimum response is 20 answers. A kind of Rorschach personality test, if you will.

Announced last week, Soundstreams has unleashed their second SoundMakers Composer in Residence. This year Edmonton-born, Aaron Gervais will be joining the Toronto-based contemporary music presenters and writing a new commission for four digitally prepared vocalists. No stranger to Toronto, Aaron has worked with Tapestry New Opera, G27 Orchestra and Toca Loca. He’s also a great blogger, and will be writing about his progress with Soundstreams here and here.


Default drink/cocktail of choice?


The historical personalities, both good and bad, that fascinate you the most?

Machiavelli, Tesla, Ives, Mozart, the 19th-century robber barons, Sidney Farber

The three books that you read that made an impact on you in your formative years?

In 8th grade, on a dare, I actually wrote a 400-page fantasy novel. It was a piece of shit, but the process of writing it did more for my literary development than any of the books I read growing up.

Who’s musical style do you covet?

John Oswald, Andy Hamilton, Jamie Stewart (Xiu Xiu)

Where did you go to school?

Grant MacEwan College, University of Alberta, University of Toronto, University of California San Diego, Koninklijk Conservatorium, and several summer programs (I know, seriously…)

The strangest talent that you possess?

Musical composition

The different career path that you could have gone on?

I probably should have been a chef. Being a chef is a lot like being a composer, except that people actually like it when you bring your work to parties, and some chefs have their own TV shows.

Under what circumstances would you join the army?

Midlife crisis.

Your major character flaw?

Stubborn. And conflict avoidant. You’d think those would be mutually exclusive…

How do you know when you can trust someone?

I usually trust everyone until they give me a reason not to.

The biggest mistake you’ve ever made?

Trusting everyone until they give me a reason not to…

The talent that you wish you possessed? 

Small talk, especially re: sports and cars (two things I just don’t get)

What are you listening to as you answer these questions?

The pieces for the “on repeat for an hour” question.

What musical instrument do you secretly long to play?

I’m so jealous of anyone who can play stringed instruments.

What sport did you give up and why?

All of them. I’m no good at sports. I like cycling but that’s about it.

Name three pieces or composers that you never want to hear again.

Boulez, Dowland, Liszt

Three pieces, songs, or arias that you could listen to on repeat for an hour?

Bartok – Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta

David Bowie – Sound and Vision

John Oswald – Kissing Jesus in the Dark

The one place that you have the least interest in ever visiting?


The first three things that you do every morning?

Put on my robe, make coffee, go to the bathroom.

The best way to die?                                                                                                      


Michael Vincent
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