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Q&A | 20 Questions for Jeffrey Beecher

By Michael Vincent on October 7, 2015

Jeffrey Beecher, TSO Principal Double Bass, and member of The Silk Road Ensemble.
Jeffrey Beecher, TSO Principal Double Bass, and member of The Silk Road Ensemble.

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.

Jeffrey Beecher is the Principal Double Bassist of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and a member of the Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma. Along with a busy schedule of recording and touring, he serves on the faculties of the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory of Music and the University of Toronto.

Beecher began his career in New York at the Juilliard School of Music and the Manhattan School of Music and completed his studies at the Curtis Institute of Music. He has also moonlighted as a film composer and produced music for an internationally broadcast television show entitled Travels to the Edge with Art Wolfe.

He plays on one of the worlds most prized Italian basses, by Giovanni Battista Rogeri made in 1690.


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

Toronto’s diversity and multiculturalism. TO’s obsession with food. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

What are three things that Toronto doesn’t have (yet) but should?

A more accessible, vibrant, and pedestrian-friendly lake shore. Beer sold in corner stores. A 2015 World Series Championship.

Default drink/cocktail of choice?

Bourbon.  I was on tour in Kentucky a few years ago and still have a few rare bottles that I save for special occasions.

Your first three record store purchases?

So, Peter Gabriel; Graceland, Paul Simon; Songs in the Key of Life, Stevie Wonder.

If you could board a plane this afternoon, where would it be taking you?

José Ignacio, Uruguay.

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

The Little Engine That Could,  Watty Piper; Narcissus and Goldmund, Hermann Hesse; Wherever You Go, There You Are,  Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Where was the last place you traveled to for work or pleasure?

I was recently in New York recording a new album with the Silk Road Ensemble.  It’s a “Songs” album featuring traditional tunes from all around the globe. We worked with some incredible guest artists, including Rhiannon Giddens – big fan of her album Tomorrow Is My Turn.

Shoe of choice?

Converse low tops

The different career path that you could have gone on?


Your ancestry?

English and Scottish.  I am related to the author and abolitionist, Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Your three favourite films?

The Big Lebowski, The Princess Bride, The Usual Suspects

Television show that you could tolerate re-runs of?

Sadly, Key and Peele will only be reruns from now on.  Genius sketch comedy.

What sport did you give up and why?

Basketball.  I played pretty well until breaking my arm during a game in grade 9.  I still have a decent jump shot.

What is the game that you’re best at?


What is the one animal that scares you the most?

Wasps.  I was stung by an entire nest when I was 6 years old.  Still not a fan.

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

Schubert’s Schwanengesang sung by Thomas Quasthoff,  either of Bach’s Passions with John Eliot Gardiner and the English Baroque Soloists, Gracias a La Vida by Mercedes Sosa.

The first three things that you do every morning?

Make a pour over coffee, stream BBC World Service, yoga.

What are the best things about your work?

Doing what I love for a living, meeting and working with incredible people, travelling.

How do you know when you can trust someone?

When someone shows a willingness to be vulnerable.

The strangest place you’ve ever been to?

The Grand Hi-Lai Hotel in Kaohsiung has a Hello Kitty themed room. Did not sleep well.


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Michael Vincent
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