Born and raised in Toronto, Aaron Schwebel is now at the heart of its classical music scene. His passion for chamber music and natural leadership qualities surely stem from growing up with innumerable siblings in a family of highly educated and strong-willed people. He spent his school years singing, playing violin and wrestling, a combination that was wholly displeasing to his violin teacher and his mother.
Now settled in a small but inviting condo in the Annex, Aaron has created and directs a beautiful and unique series of concerts combining chamber music and contemporary dance (Echo Chamber Toronto). On top of that, he plays with the Rosebud String Quartet, the LARK ensemble, and anything else that comes along, while maintaining his two jobs as Associate Concertmaster of the Canadian Opera Company and Concertmaster of the National Ballet Orchestra of Canada.
A few times a week he’ll put down his violin, pick up his boxing gloves, and head to Krudar in Kensington Market, where he practices the martial art of Muay Thai, alongside a surprisingly large number of other local classical musicians who also enjoy vigorous training sessions and occasionally getting punched in the face. He’s been known to crush the Saturday morning cryptic crosswords, written by his former high school math teacher Fraser Simpson (and somehow that never redeemed him for being late to class). Among Aaron’s most recent achievements, he has obtained his driver’s license, and dreams of one day buying a VW bus.
– biography by Sheila Jaffe
What ‘hood are you in?
I live on St. George street, which is the very east end of Toronto’s Annex neighbourhood. I love this part of Toronto because it’s downtown but it’s still quiet. Even the frat houses surrounding my little building are pretty quiet and give the neighbourhood a certain “youthful vibrance”.
What do you do?
I live a subterranean lifestyle in the pit of the Four Seasons Centre. I’m Concertmaster for the National Ballet of Canada and Associate Concertmaster of the Canadian Opera Company. I love playing music with others. I have two chamber music ensembles that keep me busy and happy – the Rosebud Quartet and the Lark Ensemble. I like to use my time off to travel – usually to visit one of my many siblings who are scattered around the globe.
What are you currently working on?
‘Echo Chamber Toronto’, the series I direct merging chamber music and contemporary dance, is presenting its next instalment, ‘Zingara’, February 22 and 23, 7:30 PM at the Enoch Turner Schoolhouse. There will be 8 musicians and 5 dancers teaming up to perform works by Corigliano, Kodaly and Enescu with new choreography by Brendan Saye and Hanna Kiel. It’s truly an all-star line up and these next couple weeks are really exciting seeing all the pieces come together.
Where can we find your work?