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Celebrated violinist returns to Victoria, where he got his start

Celebrated violinist Jonathan Crow will join the Victoria Symphony for a performance of Jean Sibelius’s Violin Concerto in D minor at the Royal Theatre on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023.
Toronto-based violinist Jonathan Crow returns to Victoria for a performance Sunday with the Victoria Symphony. HANDOUT


Where: Royal Theatre, 805 Broughton St.
When: Sunday, Sept. 17, 2:30 p.m.
Tickets: $29-$108 from the Royal McPherson box office (250-386-6121) or

Victoria has been a sympathetic starting point for many prodigious classical musicians and singers over the years, from pianist Cary Chow to tenor Richard Margison.

Celebrated violinist Jonathan Crow is also on the list of local-kids-made-good. His family still lives in the area, and though Crow is based in Toronto, he returns often and maintains deep ties to Victoria’s music community.

“I’ve got so many musical connections there,” Crow, 45, said. “I’ve had a relationship with the Victoria Symphony since I was about 15 years old, and I still visit the Victoria Conservatory of Music and all my teachers there. There’s a lot for me in Victoria, and I’m always happy to come back and catch up.”

Crow, who is currently concertmaster of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, will join the Victoria Symphony for a performance of Jean Sibelius’s Violin Concerto in D minor at the Royal Theatre on Sunday. Conductor Christian Kluxen will lead the symphony through the season-opening program, which also includes Richard Strauss’s Don Juan and Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.

“This is the longest relationship by far that I’ve had with any professional arts organization, so it’s really meaningful for me every time I get to come back and work,” Crow said.

“Touring with the Victoria Symphony when I was a teenager was an incredible experience. I got to know what it was like to function as a professional.”

The Prince George native has made all of his real world opportunities count, to say the least. He’s currently an associate professor of violin at the University of Toronto, having moved there in 2011 following seven years in various positions with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra.

He initially moved to Montreal to study at McGill University, after graduating from Victoria’s Mount Douglas Secondary School in 1995. Crow received his degree in honours performance in 1998, and quickly joined the Montreal Symphony Orchestra as associate principal second violin. Between 2002 and 2006, he was concertmaster of the MSO — the youngest concertmaster of any major North American orchestra at the time. Later, he joined the staff at McGill University and was appointed associate professor of violin in 2010.

Despite his experience, Crow said he still calls on skills he learned while in Victoria, which has enabled him to blend into a range of professional scenarios. “I get to play in an orchestra regularly. I get to play solo. I do chamber music. I run a chamber music festival, and I teach. I feel really lucky that I have the opportunity to do lots of different things.”

His teaching schedule informs his own playing, Crow said. “When I get on stage, it usually reminds me of the stuff that I probably should be doing more of when I’m in the practice room,” he said with a laugh. “I remember that what I tell my students I should apply myself.”

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