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Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

Q&A | 58 Questions For Jordan de Souza

By Ludwig Van on February 13, 2017

Jordan de Souza (Photo: Brent Calis Photography)
Jordan de Souza (Photo: Brent Calis Photography)

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.

Jordan de Souza is a fast-rising conductor with an impressive international career. He was recently named one of CBC’s Top 30 Classical Musicians Under 30, and Kapellmeister of the Komische Oper Berlin starting in 2017. During the 2016-17 season, de Souza will lead thirteen performances of a new production of Carmen with the Vienna Symphony at the Bregenz Festival (Austria), and conduct Il barbiere di Siviglia, Don Giovanni, Eugene Onegin, and symphonic programs at the Komische Oper Berlin. Closer to home in Canada, he takes the podium for Don Giovanni with l’Opéra de Montréal and l’Orchestre Métropolitain, and appears in a return engagement with Symphony Nova Scotia.

Coming up in May 2017, de Souza will give the world premiere of Tapestry Opera’s Oksana G.

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

Friends and Family; Multiculturalism; Food Scene

Name the musical equivalent to junk food.

Puccini (I like junk food)

Default drink/cocktail of choice?

Scotch, single malt (preferably in a quaich)

Name your favourite concert hall/venue in Toronto

Four Seasons Centre and Koerner Hall

Name your favourite concert hall/venue anywhere

Philharmonie in Berlin and Musikverein in Vienna.

Your favourite sound?

Laughter of children

Your least favourite sound?

Custom cell phone ring tones… and candy being slowly unwrapped during a concert

Your favourite smells?

Bakery at 6AM; lavender; a fresh, clean baby diaper

Your least favourite smells?

Bad smells make me more squeamish than anything: I can’t even bear to type them out…

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

Family (… and that weird smell that comes out of the subway grates)

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

Mozart, da Ponte, Gesualdo, Socrates …

What are the three things you’d like to change about Toronto?

Music in the schools; affordable rent; a sports championship in the last 24 years (Argos aside)

Is there a local music store that could sell you anything?

Robert Hartwig’s Antiquariat in Berlin!

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


The strangest place you’ve ever been to?

My imagination

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

The Prophet (Gibran); From Socrates to Sartre (Lavine); Voltaire’s Bastards (Ralston Saul)

Whose musical style do you covet?

Not my neighbour’s wife’s

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

Nova Scotia

What is your biggest phobia?

Acro- (Fear of Heights)

Where did you go to school?

McGill University; before that, St. Michael’s Choir School

What did you major in as an undergraduate?

Organ Performance

The clichés that you overuse?

Semicolons; “Apologies for the delay in writing you back”

The strangest talent that you possess?

Immunity to Jetlag

Shoe of choice?

Fluevogs and Air Jordans

The different career path that you could have gone on?

Stay-at-home Dad

Your ancestry?

My family comes from a beautiful town in India called Goa

Television show that you could tolerate re-runs of?

Seinfeld (and much more than tolerate!)

Under what circumstances would you join the army?

If war ceased to be

Your most regrettable purchase ever?


Your major character flaw?

Misanthropy; impatience

The character flaw in others that you can’t abide?

Passive aggression

What was the luckiest moment in your life?

The healthy birth of our beautiful daughter Beatrice (I have limitless respect for mothers everywhere: it’s obvious why the most important duty in life was not trusted to men…)

What are you the least proud of?

Requiring GPS to get most places

What is the best thing about your work?

You never stop learning

What is the worst thing about your work?

You never stop working

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

Capri pants

The talent that you wish you possessed?

The ability to draw

What are you listening to as you answer these questions?

Absolute silence (I almost never listen to music outside work)

What musical instrument do you secretly long to play?

Viola da gamba

What sport did you give up and why?

Basketball and volleyball: to practise piano and organ!

What is the game that you’re best at?

Ping pong

What is the one animal that scares you the most?

The rampant wild boar that are taking over Berlin (they made an appearance last week en masse in a public park, tusks and teeth bloody…)

If you had a motto, what would it be?

“He who sticks to his plans is destined to become the man he used to want to be.” (Richardson)

Scariest situation you’ve ever been in?

Standing on the podium conducting an opera on two weeks’ notice in a language I don’t speak (Russian) without rehearsal: it went well!

Your favourite word?


Your least favourite word?


Your favourite curse word?

Shiza Minelli / Sheyser Köze

The thing that makes you the happiest?

Waking up every morning beside my girls

The thing that makes you the angriest?

Having a mouth and eating rice by the nose

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

Drake; Pachelbel Canon; Drake

The strangest road you’ve ever travelled?


Your first memory?

Floppy disk

The first album that made you love music?

Oscar Peterson

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

Wie Melodien zieht es mir leise (Brahms); Erbarme dich (or anything by Bach); Winterreise (Schubert)

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

Times Square (once was too many times)

The first three things that you do every morning?

Give thanks for my family; 2. study a score; 3. leave for work late

The best way to die?

On the podium: conducting Strauss, or Wagner, or Mahler (or Act IV Bohème, like many conductors before!)

The piece of music you want played at your funeral?

“Ding dong, the witch is dead”

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


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