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Daniel Bolshoy


Daniel Bolshoy is a man on a mission: it’s impossible to have a conversation with the 35 year-old musician without observing that he is a passionate and compelling advocate for music in general, and the classical guitar in particular. In addition to his successful international career and praise for his “accomplished intelligence and technical skill” (Toronto Star), Bolshoy has new reasons to be enthusiastic these days as he begins his tenure as Head of Guitar at the newly launched Vancouver Symphony Orchestra School of Music. His debut ATMA Classique recording Soñando Caminos is entirely devoted to the music of 20th century Spanish composer Eduardo Sainz de la Maza.

Bolshoy was born in Moscow and moved to Israel with his family at the age of 3. He was enrolled in piano lessons at the age of 7, which he endured for four years before convincing his parents to let him drop them in exchange for guitar lessons.

Bolshoy’s reason for choosing the guitar? “At that age, I was starting to notice girls and I thought, ‘hey, this is a much better instrument for attracting girls!’ I didn’t want to be the guy playing piano tucked away in a room somewhere, I wanted to be the guy with the guitar in the hallway, strumming a few chords and flirting with the girls,” he says.

Luckily for music-lovers, Bolshoy’s early teenage motives gave way to a more serious commitment when he began attending the Israel Arts and Science Academy in Jerusalem. “Some of the people at that school were world-class classical musicians and I became friends with them. Once I saw their level of passion and commitment, it became a lot easier to enter that world, and I decided that classical guitar was what I wanted to do,” he says. “Despite my original motives, I turned out to be a lot nerdier than I expected! I ended up spending many hours in the practice room and discovered that I could be very serious and single minded about the guitar.” Bolshoy’s family eventually moved to Ottawa, and at age 17 he enrolled at the arts-focused Canterbury High School, whose alumni include members of Arcade Fire.

Does Bolshoy feel that classical guitarists have a tougher time establishing their reputations as bona fide virtuosos within the ranks of the classical music establishment? “It’s a funny situation. The classical music world is already a small one, and within that world, there is the prejudiced notion that the guitar belongs to the pop genre. But once people actually come to a classical guitar concert they hear that yes, it’s beautiful and romantic and intimate, but they also hear that the instrument makes huge technical demands and has really interesting repertoire. Composers love the guitar because there’s such a huge palette of tonal colours. 20th century classical composers have really discovered the instrument – just look at Benjamin Britten’s Nocturnal or at Takemitsu, who wrote so much great guitar music,” says Bolshoy.

At publication time, Bolshoy had just begun his tenure at the newly-launched VSO school. “The school is absolutely unbelievable and the concert hall is state-of-the art. Everything about the school was built with the primary idea of making and teaching music. It’s something that I’m really happy to be part of,” he says. He was especially excited about the school’s new concert venue in downtown Vancouver, next to the Orpheum. In fact, Bolshoy will be the first artist to perform a solo recital in Pyatt Hall. The October 1 concert will also serve as the official launch for his new recording.

In addition to the concerts he will be performing in the Vancouver area, Bolshoy’s upcoming engagements include performances in Whitehorse in October, and Israel in June 2012. He returns to Tel Aviv at the invitation of the Israel Chamber Orchestra, where the ensemble gave him carte blanche to choose his programme: Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez and a concerto by Mexican composer Manuel Ponce.

Unlike many musicians who see globetrotting as a necessary but exhausting part of their jobs, Bolshoy loves to travel and embraces the opportunity to enjoy what each city has to offer. The portability and relatively gentle timbre of his instrument means that he can practice almost anywhere. “I practice all over the place, including in airports. Once, I got upgraded to first class because the airline staff heard me practicing in an airport lounge and liked what they heard. So there are advantages to being able to carry your instrument anywhere!”

© Luisa Trisi, September 2011


Daniel Bolshoy to inaugurate new Pyatt Hall
On October 1, classical guitarist Daniel Bolshoy will give the inaugural solo recital at Pyatt Hall, the state-of-the-art concert venue at the newly-launched VSO (Vancouver Symphony Orchestra) School of Music.
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Daniel Bolshoy
In addition to his successful international career, Daniel Bolshoy has multiple reasons to be enthusiastic: he begins this fall his tenure as Head of Guitar at the VSO School of Music and his first recording with ATMA, Soñando Caminos, was released on Sep