THE TORONTO INSTITUTE FOR THE ENJOYMENT OF MUSIC

Steven Abra

Brass, Trumpet, Trombone, French Horn

About Instructor

If you had to only listen to 2 albums for the rest of your life, what albums would you choose?

I never know what to say to this question, because as soon as I pick two favourites, so many other things immediately come to mind. But, if I really could only take two, it would probably be The Beatles – Abbey Road, and J.S. Bach – B Minor Mass.

What artist would you most want to collaborate with?

I have, for years, hoped that the sometimes mysterious and circuitous path of musical life could somehow lead to me playing with Sarah Harmer. It hasn’t happened yet, but hope springs eternal.

Last great concert you saw?

Easy choice – the Lemon Bucket Orkestra, a “Balkan-gypsy-klezmer-party-punk-super-band.” They had just gotten back from a tour of Romania, and even with some mixing problems, they were totally irresistible and irrepressible. They were great while they played on stage, but even better when they wandered out into the audience to play raw, up close, and acoustic.

What is your favourite piece of musical equipment?

Actually, this is one of the things I love about the trumpet – no equipment is needed. The sound is created by one’s own living, breathing tissue, and nothing else is required. I think the plethora of options that loop pedals, phasing effects, and harmonizer pedals give a performer is neat, but, at the end of the day, what I’m most satisfied by hearing is the pure and simple tone of an organically created sound.

What is your most memorable musical experience?

This is a tough one. I’m not sure about “most memorable”, but certainly among them would be when I played the Last Post at a ceremony at the Cenotaph in Ottawa for a remembrance ceremony with an audience of WWII veterans, politicians, and media. It was one of those times where everything stopped for a moment of musical reflection. It was a bit of an intimidating thing to play all alone for a serious event like that, but it was definitely a memorable experience.

What do you love most about music?

If I could only pick one thing, I think it would have to be the simple endlessness of music. I spent a fair amount of time in school learning about playing orchestral music, and even just in that specific field, I’m always finding composers and pieces that I’d never known about, and am suddenly totally in love with. And that’s just in the orchestra field, to say nothing of music at large. It’s incredible, and inspiring that there’s just so much incredible music out there – it’d be enough to fill many lifetimes.

What would you say to someone who is interested in studying music?

I’d say to jump in with both feet. Really, it’s the best way to find out what you like, and what works for you.

What do you like to do when you are not playing music?

Try to figure out how fit in all the other stuff I’d like to do! Aside from the two other instruments I practice, and the other instrument I’d like to practice, if I just could get one (a hurdy gurdy), the leftover time gets divided between sourdough bread baking, running, learning German, homebrewing beer, wilderness canoe tripping, watching more movies than is probably healthy, and trying to read all the books I wish I could have studied, had I done an English degree instead of a music degree.

What is your favourite film of all time?

I’m a big Tim Burton fan, and if I were to pick a favourite, it’d probably be Corpse Bride.

What part of the world would you like to travel to most?

Right now? Iceland. It seems like a great combination of interesting culture, beautiful landscapes and wilderness, and just simply a place which is really different.

Teaches

  • Brass, French Horn, Trombone, Trumpet
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