Leslie Dawn Knowles, concertmaster

Leslie Dawn Knowles, concertmaster

Eclectic is probably the best word to describe the rich artistic life of Leslie. Violinist, violist, mandolinist, singer and actress, you will find her performing a wide variety of material in all types of venues. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she trained in Baltimore and New York with Berl Senofsky and Dorthy DeLay. While still a student Leslie won a position in the Baltimore Symphony, and in 1975 moved on to join the First Violin section of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra where she remains today. In addition to being Concertmaster of the Mozart Players, Leslie is also the long time Concertmaster of the Brantford Symphony. Chamber music and solo playing also play an important part in Leslie’s musical life, and round out a very full and exciting classical world.

An enthusiastic teacher, Leslie conducts master classes and workshops with young players from all around Ontario and beyond. 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.

In the early 2000s, being introduced to fiddling as part of her duties as an instructor for Strings started an exciting journey into non-classical areas of music. Returning from her first camp, it happened a friend was starting a bluegrass band and asked her to join in. That band, Roses in the Snow, was an immediate success and went on to perform around Ontario for several years. After the Roses dissolved, Hometown Bluegrass called, and Leslie enjoyed an 8 year run with them, including 2 popular CDs recorded with the band. Leslie continues to explore bluegrass with the newly formed band, The Grassheads, Being the daughter of a classically trained pianist who played jazz for a living, it was only natural that eventually Leslie would gravitate to that style as well, and in the past few years Leslie has become very active in Toronto’s live Jazz scene. A typical day often includes Beethoven, Bluegrass and Bebop – and always includes a love of music and sharing it with others.

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