Interview with Daniel Bolshoy

Daniel Bolshoy is one of Canada’s best known classical guitarists, with half a dozen CD’s to his credit, and appearances in two documentary films about his performances and career. Over the last decade, he has been touring Canada and the world, performing with most of the leading orchestras, giving solo recitals in some of the country’s most prestigious halls, but also many outreach concerts in remote communities in Canada’s far north, and in schools where he performs and gives workshops for young audiences and aspiring guitarists. Daniel Bolshoy has been a guitar professor at Concordia University in Montreal, and has given master classes all over the world at universities and for guitar societies and festivals.

Taste and Sip had the opportunity to sit down with Daniel Bolshoy to learn more about his career and the projects that bring him to Vancouver.

ET: What got you into music?

DB: I am originally from Jerusalem, where I started playing guitar. I was in a very unusual school that combined arts students and science students. I went originally as someone who was very serious about science and was quite amateur about music, but then I saw the passion of my friends who were very serious classical musicians and I got inspired by them and became very serious about music instead.

ET: How did you break through the Canadian music scene?

DB: When my family moved to Canada, I went to university and studied classical guitar performance. I started participating in music competitions and festivals, including concerts for the CBC, summer music festivals, orchestras, and so on. So I discovered that there is a huge world of concerts out there.

Where have you performed?

DB: I have played all over Canada and all over the U.S. Also, I have performed in China, in Europe, Germany, Russia, and I play in Israel at least once a year with different organizations there. In Canada, this summer alone I have participated in 6 music festivals, like the Summer Festival in Tofino, the Music Ambience Festival in Ottawa, the Abbey Bach Festival in Oregon, and the Guitar Fest in Calgary, as well as the Chamber Music Festival in the Sunshine Coast where I played with the great Canadian violinist James Ehnes.

ET: Out of all your instrument options, how did you decide for classical guitar to make it your professional career?

DB: Classical guitar is sort of an unusual instrument. The guitar itself is so popular, almost everyone even has a guitar at home or knows somebody who plays guitar. But classical music on the guitar is a little bit more unique, a little rare. So when I discovered that, I really fell in love with it and I decided that what I really want to do is to share it with people, I love to play classical guitar music for anyone who will listen.

ET: What’s your inspiration to move to Vancouver?

DB: I’ve been to Vancouver and to BC many times on my tours, where I’ve performed solo concerts here as well as with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Vancouver Island Symphony Orchestra, the Vancouver Philarmonic. I have also played in festivals here during summer and winter. So I really enjoy being in Vancouver, i find it to be a very exciting city with great lifestyle.

ET: What professional projects will you be undertaking in Vancouver?

DB: I got invited to participate in a new job, as the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra is opening a school of music, which will be located right downtown on Seymour Street. I will be teaching there, and I really like the idea to be able to teach there people from all levels, from young kids to adult amateurs.

ET: What will you be offering to your students?

DB: Students who will come to learn will get a lot of serious learning. For example, I have a bachelor in music and a master in music, and I’m basically done with my doctorate in music. That’s well over 15 years of studies in music, in addition to all the conservatory training that I had before that. Then our students not only be learning a few songs that they could have heard on the radio, but they will be receiving the tools to be their own teachers. They will be learning also from someone who has been actively performing all over the world, so students will also learn how musicians think like and how music is created.

 ET: You will be participating at the music school funded by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. Does that mean that the the school you will be teaching exclusively classical music?

DB: The way I look at it, there is only one kind of music: Music is music. The different musicians can give you different tools; for instance a jazz musician will teach you a lot of improvisation. But what classical musicians are really strong at is reading, so we have the ability to play music from all the periods and all the different styles.

ET: What’s the vision of the school?

DB: The school is a resource where you will have the opportunity to take lessons, hear concerts, make music with other people such as chamber music, and also a place to explore some music theory, like how to compose, music history, and so on. It is in fact a resource for the people of Vancouver so they can learn and immerse in the world of music.

ET: When will the school be open for operation?

DB: The school is already in operation, you can go there and tour the school to see the concert hall and meet the people already working there. However, the official beginning of courses is September 6.

What other musical projects are in the future for you?

I am about to release a new CD, my fifth or sixth in my career. This one will be released in late September, and will be entirely devouted to one Spanish composer named Eduardo Sainz de la Maza. His music is unique, a bit impressionistic with jazz influences but very Spanish in other ways as well. It is great to devout a whole album to the music of just one composer. In October I will be releasing that CD at the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra school of music, where I will also be playing a concert with pieces of the CD in (October 1st or October 8th) at 8 pm.


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