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Toronto Montreal

Q&A | 30 Questions For Adam Sherkin

By Michael Vincent on January 26, 2017

Composer/Pianist Adam Sherkin
Composer/Pianist Adam Sherkin

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.

Composer and pianist Adam Sherkin is a dynamic musician who commands a multi-dimensional approach his music. A native of Toronto, his works have been premiered everywhere from the Luminato Festival to The Warehouse and the National Portrait Gallery in London. Adam has appeared in performance all around the world, including St Martin-in-theFields, Covent Garden, and the Royal Albert Hall. Sherkin’s debut solo album, As At First, was released in November of 2012 on the Centrediscs label.

You can see Adam in Toronto on the first Thursday of every month at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts in Toronto.  Themed “Write Off the Keyboard,” this series highlights great pianist/composers of our not-too-distant past who not only interpreted with formidable mastery but wrote exceptional music from the piano’s vantage point: Haydn, Rachmaninoff, Mozart, Liszt, Brahms, and Chopin are all included.  For further details, visit:

Name the musical equivalent to junk food.

Jason Robert Brown

Default drink/cocktail of choice?

A classic Manhattan.

Name your favourite concert hall/venue in Toronto.

The St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts’ Jane Mallett Theatre.

Name your favourite concert hall/venue anywhere.

Southbank Centre, London.

Your role models?

Aaron Copand, John Adams, Leon Fleisher, Yannick Nézet-Séquin, Glenn Gould… oh and Jamie Oliver.

Your favourite sound?

A celesta.

Your least favourite sound?

A harpsichord.

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

A sense of place.

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

Nelson Mandela, Albert Einstein, Ernest Hemingway, Gustav Mahler, Catherine the Great, Domenico Scarlatti and Joan of Arc.

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

Frosted tips, circa 2007 — ouch.

Your first three record store purchases?

The Red Hot Chili Peppers, What Hits!?, Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos. 19 & 26 with Géza Anda (Deutsche Grammophon); Beastie Boys, Paul’s Boutique.

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

Winnipeg! to catch the Winnipeg New Music Festival in late January. This is a festival I’ve always wanted to attend.

The strangest place you’ve ever been to?

Dimmuborgir, North Iceland.

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

1) The Catcher in the Rye; 2) A Moveable Feast; 3) Fathers and Sons

Where did you go to school?

The Glenn Gould School (Toronto); subsequently, the Royal College of Music (London).

What did you major in as an undergraduate?

Piano Performance.

The strangest talent that you possess?

The odd ability to park my car anywhere in town, at almost anytime of day, often right in front of the intended destination.

The different career path that you could have gone on?

None other: a life in music is it! (this time round).

Your ancestry?

½ Russian Jewish + ¼ Welsh + ¼ Italian = very Canadian!

Your three favourite films?

Being Julia, Good Will Hunting and Shakespeare in Love.

What was the luckiest moment in your life?

I survived the capsizing of my little speedboat, aged 13. I was known thereafter as “Flip Sherkin.”

The talent that you wish you possessed?

Perfect pitch.

What sport did you give up and why?

T-ball. I started a food fight after we lost a tournament when I was eleven years old — not my finest hour.

The thing that makes you the happiest?

My dog, Orfeo.

The thing that makes you the angriest?

My dog, Orfeo.

The strangest road you’ve ever travelled?

The dark and sinister Devil’s Alley in King’s Lynn, Norfolk, (England). I travelled there for a celebration of Captain George Vancouver (at his birthplace) and a concert featuring my own music.

The first album that made you love music?

Vladimir Horowitz, Favorite Encores (CBS Records, Masterworks, 1987).

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

Beethoven’s Op.109; Richard Strauss’ Op.27; Iannis Xenakis’ Eonta.

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

Las Vegas.

The first three things that you do every morning?

1) Look west and thank my lucky stars; 2) Drink coffee: 3 shots of espresso, to begin with; 3) play a contrapuntal keyboard work by J.S. Bach.

To read more from our Q&A Series, click HERE.


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Michael Vincent

Michael Vincent is the Editor-in-chief Ludwig Van and CEO of Museland Media. He publishes regularly and writes occasionally. A specialist in digital media for over 15 years, he has worked as a senior editor and is a former freelance classical music critic for the Toronto Star. Michael holds a Doctorate in Music from the University of Toronto.
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