Steven Dann was born on Canada’s West Coast in Burnaby, B.C. His foremost teacher and mentor was the late Lorand Fenyves. Other significant influences along the way included William Primrose, Robert Pikler, and Bruno Giuranna.
Upon graduation from university he was named Principal Viola of the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, a position he subsequently held with the Tonhalle Orchestra in Zurich, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam, the Vancouver Symphony, and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. He has served as guest principal of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra under Horst Stein and Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos, the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Seiji Ozawa, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Sir Simon Rattle and, in both performance and recordings, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe under Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Paavo Berglund, Ivan Fischer, and Pierre Boulez. He also led the viola section of the Canadian Opera Company for the opening of Toronto’s Four Seasons opera house in performances of Wagner’s Ring Cycle under Richard Bradshaw.
Steven Dann has collaborated as a soloist with such Maestri as Sir Andrew Davis, Rudolph Barshai, Jiri Belohlavek, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Vladimir Ashkenazy, and Oliver Knussen.
Since 1990 Dann has been a member of the Smithsonian Chamber Players in Washington D.C. and was a founding member of the Axelrod String Quartet. He is also violist of both the wonderfully eclectic Zebra Trio (with violinist Ernst Kovacic and cellist Anssi Karttunen) and Toronto’s multi-Grammy-nominated ARC Ensemble. In solo and chamber music, Dann has recorded for Sony, Naxos, CBC Records, Marquis Classics, Centrediscs, RCA Red Seal, Ondine, Kairos, Chandos, ATMA Classique, and Toccata Classics. The Stereo Record Review described his recording of the viola works of Brahms (ATMA Classique) as “without doubt, one of the most beautiful viola recordings I have ever heard”. A second CD of rare French repertoire is also available on ATMA.
Dann has a diverse solo and chamber music repertoire born of both the researcher’s joy in uncovering forgotten treasures, and a love of taking part in new creations. To name a few, important solo works with large ensembles by Mark-Anthony Turnage, Christos Hatzis, Morton Feldman, Giya Kancheli, Alexina Louie, and Jonathan Harvey. Unearthed gems from the past, some recorded for the first time, by Rebecca Clarke, Julius Röntgen, Jerzy Fitelberg, Pierre de Breville, Pierre Tournemire, Paul Ben-Haim, and Alberto Hemsi. And commissions including works from Peter Lieberson, R. Murray Schafer, Kaija Saariaho, Alexina Louie, Magnus Lindberg, Friedrich Cerha, and Hans Abrahamsen.
As both a performer and teacher, Dann is a regular guest at many international festivals and arts schools. He teaches viola and chamber music at the Glenn Gould School in Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music and is the coordinator of chamber music programs at the Domaine Forget in Québec and the Music by the Sea Festival in British Columbia. With his colleagues in the Zebra Trio, a contemporary music seminar entitled “Creative Dialogue France” involving young and established composers and performers happens each August in the Loire Valley, France.
Dann plays a viola commissioned from Joseph Curtin, based on the “Primrose” Guarneri.