Hometown: Edmonton, Alberta
Instrument(s): Double Bass
Age you began playing: 13
Year you joined the TSO: 1980
Who or what inspired you most to play your instrument? I went to “Music Education Laboratories” in Edmonton, a Saturday morning programme connected with the University of Alberta music education programme. It allowed Grade 9 kids to come and choose any string or wind instrument, and then get some basic instruction and play in an ensemble conducted by U of A students. When my dad dropped me off, I was fully expecting to come out with a flute. I was sent to various rooms to hear the instrument of our choice. On my way to the flute room, I stopped in and heard a cool dude playing “Country Gardens”, pizzicato, on the double bass. After wards, I left the room and continued to look for the flute room but we were all called back and lined up according to height so our embouchure, hands, and height could be examined. Being the tallest of the group, I was at the end of the row. When the programme organizers reached me, they looked me up and down, then at my hands, and asked if I wanted to play bass. Having just seen and heard one I said “Sure!” It was the easiest and best decision of my life. My dad was surprised when I walked out to the car carrying a bass!
Does your instrument have a story? I am most fortunate to own Thomas Monohan’s “Montagnana” double bass. This is a legendary instrument that Tom played in the TSO for 25 years. Before that it was played in the Philadelphia Orchestra.
What other ensembles have you played with/do you play with? I have been organizing chamber music concerts for 35 years. Two ensembles came out of this love of creating events: BASStiality (aka the Toronto Symphony Bass Quartet – it lasted 15 years) and The Bach Consort (20 years). The Bach Consort changed my life.
What is your favourite music to play? Anything with great bass parts – Mahler, Brahms, Beethoven, Mozart, Schumann, and Mendelssohn.
Were you raised in a musical family? My father was an amateur pianist who loved to sing. We would go to sleep at night hearing him play Brahms or singing from the family songbook. He loved to lead singsongs whenever we had people over. He LOVED music.
What music/piece/composer is your “guilty pleasure”? I share a birthday with Richard Strauss – his tone poems are among my favourite pieces.
Timothy Dawson joined the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 1980. At age 21, upon graduating from the University of Toronto, he became the youngest member of the TSO at that time. He has played under TSO Music Directors Sir Andrew Davis, Gunter Herbig, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, and Peter Oundjian.
Over the years, Timothy has been instrumental in starting several chamber music groups. One of them, The Bach Consort, continues to this day. This group now performs an annual presentation of J.S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio. This ensemble is inextricably linked with charitable causes, thus its mantra, “Giving Bach to the Community”. The Bach Consort has been an artistic success, performing with conductors such as Bernard Labadie, Nicholas McGegan, Dame Jane Glover, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and Harry Bicket. The Bach Consort has been an important community presence as well, and has raised over $400,000 for local charities over the last 20 years. Timothy also organizes concert series at two churches in Toronto’s East End: he is Music Director of the Kingston Road Village Concert Series and the Seicho-No-Ie Chamber Music Series.
Teaching is a big part of Timothy’s life. He is busy at the University of Toronto, the National Music Camp of Canada, and in his own home studio. For 20 years, he was involved with the TSO Adopt-a- Player programme, acting as its music director in its last three years.
Timothy lives with his wife Kim in The Beach, and together, they enjoy their active family life.
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