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Q&A | 40 Questions For Matt Haimovitz

By Michael Vincent on November 16, 2015

Matt Haimovitz (Photo: Stephanie Mackinnon)
Matt Haimovitz (Photo: Stephanie Mackinnon)

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.

Montreal-based Matt Haimovitz has become an in demand cellist and musical pioneer. He brings a dazzling technique and visionary approach to concert halls and nightclubs alike. Not only a master of traditional repertoire, Haimovitz regularly champions new music. He has collaborated with pianist genre-bending pianist Christopher O’Riley, composer Philip Glass, conductor James Levine and countless others.

Besides a busy touring schedule, he teaches at McGill University’s Schulich School of Music in Montreal and regularly records with his own label, Oxingale. Since 2015 has released his recordings under the PENTATONE Oxingale series. Readers can hear his most recent release “Bach: The Cello Suites, According to Anna Magdalena” available for download at iTunes or Amazon.com.

Haimovitz joins the McGill Symphony Orchestra at Koerner Hall on Nov. 17, 2015. Don’t miss it.


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

Amazing, authentic Chinese food. Chinese food. Chinese food.

Name the musical equivalent to junk food.

Rachmaninoff. And I like junk food.

Default drink/cocktail of choice?

Ice tea or a glass of Bordeaux.

Name your favourite concert hall/venue in Toronto

Koerner Hall.

Your role models?

Antonio Vivaldi, Miles Davis, and Golda Meir.

Your favourite sound?

Cello’s C-string.

Your least favourite sound?

A good violist.

First thing that comes to your mind when you think about Toronto

Chinese food.

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

J.S. Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Carlo Gesualdo.

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

As a practical joke, a friend of mine sent me to a Japanese hairdresser in Paris. After several hours of straightening, from the back, I looked like Maestro Kent Nagano.

Your first three record store purchases

Pablo Casals Bach Cello Suites, Jaqueline Du Pre Elgar Concerto, Glenn Gould Goldberg Variations (1st set).

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

Kauai, Hawaii.

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

New York City.

What is your biggest phobia?

That I’ll miss a rehearsal.

Where did you go to school?

Harvard University.

What did you major in as an undergraduate?

Musicology. My thesis focused on Beethoven’s Sonata Op. 102 No. 2.

The strangest talent that you possess?

Infinite patience for random questions.

The different career path that you could have gone on?


Your ancestry?

Romanian, Russian, and Abraham.

The television show that you could tolerate re-runs of?

Breaking Bad.

Under what circumstances would you join the army?

Last man standing.

How do you know when you can trust someone?

Get married.

What was the luckiest moment in your life?

Same one.

What was the unluckiest moment in your life?

Before that.

The relatively normal piece of clothing that you believe you’d look the most ridiculous in?


The talent that you wish you possessed?


What are you listening to as you answer these questions?

Total silence.

What musical instrument do you secretly long to play?

Viola da gamba.

What sport did you give up and why?

Soccer. Games on Saturday conflicted with rehearsals for the San Francisco Youth Symphony.

What is the game that you’re best at?


What is the one animal that scares you the most?

Human beings.

Your favourite word?


Your least favourite word?


Your favourite curse word?

Fuck, Fucken, Fucking, Mother fucking, and other permutations.

The thing that makes you the happiest?

Good intonation.

The thing that makes you the angriest?

Bad intonation.

The strangest road you’ve ever travelled?

Road to Marfa, Texas along the Mexico-US border.

Your first memory?

Walking with my grandfather in Bat-Yam, Israel.

The first three things that you do every morning?

Press the snooze button on my alarm three times.

The best way to die?

On stage.


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Michael Vincent
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