B i o g r a p h y
My earliest clear memory is being asked if I wished to take violin lessons. The initial answer was a resounding no, but a minute later that no warmed to a cautious yes. Fortunately for me, a Suzuki program had just been started in Regina, Saskatchewan, and at four years old I joined a violin class.
Ernest Kassian was my first teacher. Ernie was a serious and disciplined teacher who gave me so very much. Memories of his studio include every great composer staring down from the wall during lessons, and study books filled with directions followed by "or S.K.!" S.K. stood for swift kick, which was the threatened punishment for not remembering the rules of the viola. Ernie switched me to the viola at age 11, thinking it better suited my nature.
Ernie guided me towards my second major teacher, Gerald Stanick, who taught at the University of British Columbia. The first lesson with Mr. Stanick was a revelation, and to this day I have not heard more beautiful viola playing than came out of this man. Mr. Stanick guided me towards much success in Vancouver, including appointment to Associate Principal Viola of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.
I fell in love with early music while at the University of British Columbia, and I pursued this to become a member of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra, and later to frequent concerts and tours with Toronto's Tafelmusik.
I served for eight seasons as Principal Viola of the Kitchener Waterloo Symphony and as violist with the Canadian Chamber Ensemble. In that time, an itch developed to become a better musician, so I took a leave and went back to school to meet my third formative teacher, Atar Arad, viola professor at Indiana University.
Atar is a poet of the viola, and taught me many things, but the most lasting was not to be afraid. Atar guided me towards a greater love for teaching, and towards serving as the acting assistant principal viola of the San Francisco Symphony, and finally to my current position of Associate Professor of Viola at the State University of New York in Fredonia.
I've given many workshops and masterclasses, most notably at Wilfrid Laurier University, the University of Montreal and also the University of Toronto.
Like many musicians, my heart is close to the music of J.S. Bach, and I present a workshop on Solo Bach here and there, as well as teach a course on Solo Bach at Fredonia.
I love movies, reading, practicing, board games (Settlers of Cataan!) and hanging out with my wife Ann and two boys, William and Emmanuel.