THE FACTS: Born in Toronto, Canada. Bachelor’s degree from The Curtis Institute of Music; master’s and doctorate from The Juilliard School; diplomas from Royal Canadian College of Organists and Royal Conservatory of Music. Prior to the Philharmonic: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Fashion Week, conducting appearances on NBC’s Today, inauguration of Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Currently: associate director of music at St. Bartholomew’s Church, directing the Boy & Girl Choristers and playing one of the world’s largest pipe organs. At the Philharmonic: Joined in December 2011 (regular substitute since 2001)
EARLIEST MUSICAL MEMORY: As a boy chorister I was awestruck when I heard Bach’s Christmas Oratorio come together. The first time I heard how my piece of the puzzle fit into the whole was miraculous.
FIRST PIECE YOU FELL IN LOVE WITH: It’s a tie: Beethoven’s Fifth and Messiaen’s Transports de joie.
WHEN DID YOU BEGIN PLAYING? I started piano at age five, but I’m glad the harpsichord only found me at 18. It was love at first sight, but I wouldn’t have been prepared before that.
HOW DID YOUR INTEREST IN CONTEMPORARY MUSIC BEGIN? I was very lucky as a young person to have mentors who took me to hear — and meet! — Berio, Carter, Penderecki. Playing new music always seemed to me a normal part of functioning in the present. It fascinated me and was exciting! One Sunday during my first year of organ lessons, at age 12, Mr. and Mrs. Messiaen showed up to Mass. It was a kind of “holy” experience for me, and I beheld his music, then and now, with wonder and admiration.
TELL US ABOUT PERFORMING THE WORLD PREMIERE OF UNPUBLISHED MENDELSSOHN PIECES IN 2008: When performing any piece, you’re handed a message from the composer and asked, “Could you please pass this on?” In this case the message was handwritten from Mendelssohn, which was humbling and transporting.
WHAT WOULD YOU BE IF NOT A MUSICIAN? A professional gourmand or the postman at Moose, Wyoming, 83012 (inside Grand Teton National Park)
TELL US ABOUT YOUR NAME: It’s Italian: Mom’s from Abruzzo and Dad’s from the Veneto.
WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? A music collection is a kind of closet: mine has everything from “Sunday best” to unmentionables.
WHAT ARE YOU READING? I’m an incurable bibliophile. Currently: Diderot, Kabat-Zinn, Christoph Niemann, Granta, a book about bookshelves. And usually something on wine.
WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR FREE TIME? I live for food and (especially) wine. I also love languages, running, exploring NYC, and laughing.
As of September 2012