Leslie Dawn Knowles


Leslie Dawn Knowles

Eclectic is probably the best word to describe the rich artistic life of Leslie Knowles. Violinist, violist, mandolinist, singer and actress, you will find her performing a wide variety of material in all types of venues. Toronto Symphony Orchestra goers will know to look for Leslie as one of just a handful of TSO violinists permanently seated in the first violin section, where she has been a fixture since joining the orchestra in 1975. On occasion she has also played in the orchestra's viola section, and has played mandolin for the orchestra as well.

Born to musical parents in Los Angeles, she began playing the violin at the age of four, becoming active in the Los Angeles professional music scene while still in her teens. After moving to Baltimore, Maryland to study with Berl Senofsky at the Peabody Conservatory, Leslie auditioned for and was invited to join the Baltimore Symphony as its youngest member to that date. She continued her violin studies with renowned teacher Dorothy DeLay until joining the first violin section of the TSO. Leslie is also concertmaster of the Brantford, Ontario, Symphony Orchestra.

The fall of 2003 brought a whole new twist musically and saw the birth of bluegrass folk fusion band 'Roses In The Snow', setting Leslie on yet another musical adventure playing violin, viola and mandolin with them and singing as well. These four feisty and very entertaining women quickly gained an enthusiastic following for their unique mix of female voices and stringed instruments. Following the dissolution of the Roses in the spring of 2006, Leslie was invited to join the well known group Hometown Bluegrass and is now enjoying an even fuller calendar of festivals and events. The band's first CD, "Population 5" is now released; samples can be heard at hometownbluegrass.ca. And yes, she has played Nashville, representing Canada, performing at the International Bluegrass Music Awards Convention.

An enthusiastic teacher, Leslie is on the faculty of Andrea Hansen's wonderful and innovative programme, Strings Across the Sky. This entails travel to the Canadian north to inspire and teach violinists of all ages and backgrounds. Leslie also conducts master classes and workshops with young players from all around Ontario and beyond. Chamber music and solo playing also play a part in Leslie's musical life. She performs regularly with pianist Elizabeth Watts, in private and public venues, and is violist with the well known Amaro Quartet. Performances and recordings include many with the Toronto Symphony, Oscar Peterson, Michele Legrand, the Chieftains, Rod Stewart and Blue Rodeo, to name just a few.

As if she weren’t busy enough, Leslie has now found a passion for acting – and has already won roles in several films as well as a juicy part in History Channel’s TV Show, “Urban Legends”. 

Married to Toronto Symphony Principal tubist, Mark Tetreault, Leslie is proud mother to five children and three cats.

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