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Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

Q&A | 21 Questions for Jonathan Crow

By Michael Vincent on November 15, 2014

TSO Concertmaster Jonathan Crow. Photo: Sian Richards
TSO Concertmaster Jonathan Crow. Photo: Sian Richards

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.

Hailing from Prince George, BC, Jonathan Crow has become one of Canada’s leading violinists. After his studies at the Victoria Conservatory of Music, he moved to Montreal to attend McGill University. At age nineteen he graduated, and was made Concertmaster of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal – making history as the youngest concertmaster of a major North American orchestra. He joined the Toronto Symphony Orchestra as Concertmaster in 2011.

Besides his duties at the TSO, he also the founding member of the New Orford String Quartet, a project-based new ensemble dedicated to the promotion of standard and Canadian string quartet repertoire throughout North America.

Most recently, Jonathan has curated a TSO pre-concert series featuring the TSO Chamber Soloists paired with four orchestral works throughout the season. They will perform on-stage, facing the choir loft where the audience will be. The first one starts Thursday, 20 November . Details are at TSO.CA/Chambersoloists


What are three things about Toronto that make you want to live there?

Great people, great restaurants and an incredibly vibrant arts scene.

Name three drinks/cocktails you’ll never have again?

I had a bad experience with tequila once in the Canary Islands…

Where is your favourite local patio?

The Mugshot tavern on Bloor. It doesn’t look like much from the street, but it has a great hidden away patio on the roof.

The dumbest thing that you’ve ever done to your hair?

Too many to mention…

The strangest place you’ve ever been to?

As a musician, I’ve had the chance to go to many strange places! I once did a chamber music festival in Maui –  sounded great until I realized that we had to drive on dirt roads around the base of a volcano during monsoon season to get to the venue. The road washed out while we there and we had to be evacuated by boat.

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

Catch-22, Catcher in the Rye and Indivisible by Four (a Guarneri Quartet memoir).

Where did you go to school?

McGill University

What did you major in as an undergraduate?

I majored in music, but started off doing a double degree in Mathematics as well. I wasn’t able to finish my math requirements before graduating unfortunately.

The strangest talent that you possess?

I can whistle and hum in harmony, and actually control what pitches come out. At one point I could do the whole second theme of the first movement of the Schubert cello quintet!

The different career path that you could have gone on?

I love math and I love building things. I’m thinking electrical engineering.

Your ancestry?

My parents are British. We found out recently that my great-grandfather was Polish and changed his name before my grandmother was born.

Television show that you could tolerate re-runs of?

Seinfeld! And Arrested Development (not the fourth season of course…)

Your major character flaw?

Nothing I’ll admit to in print! Unless that accidentally answers the question…

What is the best thing about your work?

The people who I get to work with.

The talent that you wish you possessed?

This is like the superpower question! I’d love to be able to teleport and avoid Toronto to traffic.

What are you listening to as you answer these questions?

I’m backstage between rehearsals of Nielsen symphony number 2, so I’m hearing all kinds of practicing over the speakers. I should be out there too – the violin parts are so hard!

Describe your tattoos?

Have you ever seen a tattoo parlour in Prince George? Kind of puts a damper on the whole idea…

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

I’d say the Beethoven Violin Concerto but you’d only get one full play in an hour anyway! How about the third movement of Brahms’ Piano Quintet, any slow movement played by Yehudi Menuhin and (to keep my kids happy) the Frozen soundtrack.

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

Mt. Everest. Cold, windy – too much like home.

The first three things that you do every morning?

Coffee, get my kids up for school, and coffee.

The piece of music you want played at your funeral?

Strauss Four Last Songs of course – what other choice is there?

Michael Vincent
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Michael Vincent
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