Meet Keith Hamm, Canada's next viola superstar. Hamm is one of CBC Music's Next! artists for 2013, which is a series that presents eight rising Canadian stars in classical music, recorded for broadcast on CBC Radio 2's In Concert. Below you can learn about Hamm, watch him perform and read our interview with him.
A native of Rosebud, Alta. (a hamlet of fewer than 100 people just outside of Drumheller), Hamm studied in both Calgary (at the Mount Royal Conservatory) and Toronto (at the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory). He is an alumnus of the International Musicians Seminar at Prussia Voce, the Sarasota Music Festival, Morningside Music Bridge and the chamber music program at le Domaine Forget. He is also a winner of the Stratford Symphony’s Emerging Artists Competition and the Glenn Gould School Chamber Music Competition.
Although he is the principal violist in the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra, Hamm doesn't limit himself to only performing their repertoire. He is also a dedicated soloist and chamber musician, having been invited to perform at the Ravinia Festival as guest violist with the Royal Conservatory’s ARC Ensemble, the Sweetwater Music Festival (in Owen Sound, Ont.) and Music by the Sea Festival (in Bamfield, B.C.).
Watch CBC's exclusive video of Hamm's Dec. 8 performance at Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto:
We wanted to know more, so we spoke with Hamm.
What must you do before heading onstage to perform?
I can’t go onstage without first checking my fly.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a professional violist?
That’s a hard one. I always get asked, and I really don’t know. Probably working as a truck driver or in the oil sands.
Who is your favourite composer?
I usually try to think of an obscure answer for this question, but in the end it’s always Bach. I love playing and listening to Bach. No matter what the venue or who is playing — whether it’s a violist, a jazz band, a choir, a rock band or Tafelmusik — it always sounds amazing to me.
What is your greatest fear?
I can’t think of any.
What is your idea of happiness?
When I go home for Christmas, my dad will be flooding the rink in the backyard. We’ll play hockey every day, there's snow all over the ground, and family and friends all over the place. I think that’s a pretty good idea of happiness.
What is the most unusual thing on your iPod?
Bluegrass music, and lots of it. Particularly Tony Rice and some of the great American bluegrass musicians of the last century.
What is a talent you’d most like to have?
I’d love to be able to throw an 100 m/h fastball. I don’t know how that’s done with so much accuracy.
What is a guilty pleasure of yours?
Food, particularly all the worst foods you can eat: the most deep-fried, fatty, meaty foods. Definitely food.
This summer, Hamm organized the Rosebud Chamber Music Festival in his hometown. For details, click here.
Hamm's performances with the COC Orchestra can be found here.
Check out Hamm's complete CBC Glenn Gould Studio session here.