Violinist, violist and entrepreneur, Brenna Hardy-Kavanagh has created an exciting career around her love of orchestral and chamber music. As a founding member of the Toronto-based Amarok Ensemble, Brenna delves into both the rich strings and piano chamber music repertoire and the ever-evolving landscape of contemporary composition and performance practice. Appointed to the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony in 2018, Brenna is also a member of indie opera company Against the Grain Theatre. A long-time business owner, she has managed the Canadian music agency Cadenza Strings with finesse and imagination for over 15 years (with the help of her best friend and co-founder, cellist Sonya Matoussova). Outside the world of classical music, Brenna’s interests are diverse and range from photography, travel & progressive metal to interior design, cooking & animal husbandry. Brenna has a special fondness for draft horses, large dogs, and guinea pigs. She resides in Toronto with her rescued tabby cat Juniper, proudly adopted from Loulou’s Rescues.
PROFESSIONAL BIOGRAPHY (500 words)
Violinist-violist Brenna Hardy-Kavanagh’s passion for chamber and orchestral music has taken her all over the world, with performances in Canada, the United States, Brazil, Ireland, England, Wales, Germany, Italy, Poland, and Romania.
Performer and orchestra manager for Toronto indie opera company Against the Grain Theatre, Brenna was hailed as “heroic – [one] of Toronto’s best young chamber musicians” (John Gilks, bachtrack) for her role as violinist in the company’s 2019 production of Claude Vivier’s opera Kopernikus. Recently appointed to the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony’s viola section, and violist of the Toronto-based performance project Bach from the Heart, Brenna appears frequently with Pocket Concerts, Tapestry Opera, and the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra. She served as interim principal second violin of the Regina Symphony for the 2017-2018 season.
Well-versed in a variety of musical styles, Brenna has performed with such groups as the Art of Time Ensemble, Soulpepper, Belle & Sebastian, and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. She has recorded for The Wooden Sky, Delbert & The Commotions, and Little Bullhorn Productions, among others.
As founding violinist of the Toronto-based Amarok Ensemble, Brenna attended the 2015 St. Lawrence String Quartet Chamber Music Seminar at Stanford University, where the ensemble was one of three groups featured in the seminar’s International Showcase at Bing Concert Hall. In 2016 the Amarok Ensemble participated in the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival’s inaugural Career Development Residency, which included several main stage appearances.
Brenna is a former concertmaster of the University of Montreal Orchestra and The Orchestra Now, and assistant concertmaster of the Royal Conservatory Orchestra. She was principal second violinist of Orchestre de la Francophonie for four seasons between 2007-2013, and has been a member of l’Orchestre Nouvelle Génération and the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra. Brenna has participated in the prestigious Britten-Pears Orchestra, the Domaine Forget Summer Chamber Music Institute, the Orford Arts Centre Music Academy, and the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra Academy.
Two-time prizewinner in the Glenn Gould School Chamber Music Competition, Brenna’s extensive study of chamber music has been guided by a plethora of mentors, among them Bryan Epperson, Yuli Turovsky, Johanne Perron, Mark Fewer, Yegor Dyachkov, and Rennie Regehr. Her exploration of the violin sonata repertoire has included many lessons and public master classes with Peter Longworth, Martin Beaver, Vivian Weilerstein, David Perry, Leon Fleisher, and Robert McDonald. Brenna has also played in solo master classes for Zakhar Bron, Mark Kaplan, Sergei Khatchatryan, and Regis Pasquier, among others.
Recipient of numerous awards and bursaries, among them the Stephen & Jenifer McDonald, A. Victor Madge Memorial, Thomas Logan, and Stephen Staryk violin scholarships, Brenna completed the Artist Diploma Program at the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory of Music in 2015, under the direction of Erika Raum. She also holds a Bachelor of Music degree (2010, studio of Vladimir Landsman) and an artist diploma (2013, studio of Laurence Kayaleh) from the University of Montreal.
Brenna is the owner and co-founder of the agency Cadenza Strings, which has provided live music for hundreds of private and corporate events since 2004. She plays on a 2002 violin by Ottawa luthier Guy Harrison, a bow by Ottawa luthier Bernard Walke, and a 2005 viola by Toronto luthier John Newton.