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Steven Dann

Steven Dann
Steven Dann photo
  • Faculty, The Glenn Gould School



Steven Dann was born on Canada’s West Coast in Burnaby, B.C. His foremost teacher and mentor was the late Lorand Fenyves. Other significant influences along the way have included William Primrose, Robert Pikler, Bruno Giuranna, and Anner Bylsma. To this list must also be added a long list of remarkable colleagues.

Upon graduation from university he was named Principal Viola of the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, a position he subsequently held with the Tonhalle Orchestra in Zurich, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam, the Vancouver Symphony and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. He has served as guest principal of the Luzern Festival Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Seiji Ozawa, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Sir Simon Rattle and, in both performance and recordings, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe under Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Paavo Berglund and Pierre Boulez. He also led the viola section of the Canadian Opera Company for the opening of Toronto’s Four Seasons opera house in performances of Wagner's Ring Cycle.

Steven Dann has collaborated as a soloist with such Maestri as Sir Andrew Davis, Rudolph Barshai, Jiri Belohlavek, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Vladimir Ashkenazy and Oliver Knussen.

Since 1990 Mr. Dann has been a member of the Smithsonian Chamber Players in Washington D.C. and was a founding member of the Axelrod String Quartet. He is currently violist of both the wonderfully eclectic Zebra Trio (with violinist Ernst Kovacic and cellist Anssi Karttunen) and Toronto's multi-Grammy-nominated ARC Ensemble. Mr. Dann has recorded for Sony, Naxos, CBC Records, Marquis Classics, Centrediscs, RCA Red Seal, Ondine, Kairos, Chandos, ATMA Classique and Toccata Classics. The Stereo Record Review described his recording of the viola works of Brahms (ATMA Classique) as "without doubt, one of the most beautiful viola recordings I have ever heard". A second CD of rare French repertoire is also available on ATMA.

As a soloist Mr Dann has a diverse repertoire which includes works by Peter Lieberson, Giya Kancheli, Bela Bartok, Alexina Louie, Christos Hatzis, Mark- Anthony Turnage, Jonathan Harvey, Peter Oesterle, William Walton and Morton Feldman. Following a passion for contemporary music, Mr. Dann has premiered works of Alexina Louie, Peter Lieberson, R. Murray Shafer, Christos Hatzis, Michael Oesterle, Kaija Saariaho, Friedrich Cerha, Mirek Srnka, Rolf Wallin, Asbjorn Schaathun, to name a few.

As both a performer and teacher, Mr. Dann is a regular guest at many international festivals and arts schools. He teaches viola and chamber music at the Glenn Gould School in Toronto's Royal Conservatory of Music, and is the coordinator of chamber music programs at the Domaine Forget in Québec and the Music by the Sea Festival in British Columbia. With his colleagues in the Zebra Trio a new chamber music seminar entitled Creative Dialogue will begin this coming August, Covid-willing, involving composers and performers. This will take place in the Loire, France.

Mr Dann alternates between two instruments. An early 19th century viola from the Gagliano family, his companion since the 70s, and a wonderful new viola commissioned from Joseph Curtin in 2019.

You can email Professor Dann at: [email protected]