Yariv Aloni




Season 34

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Yariv Aloni
Music Director (Appointed 2010)
Associate Music Director (2002-2010)

János Sándor
Music Director (1996-2010)

Stuart Knussen
Founding Music Director (1986-1990)


Yariv Aloni, Music Director

“When the musicians are playing this well, the critic can pay attention to the interpretation and here Aloni pierced unerringly to the heart of the music.”

Deryk Barker, “Youth Orchestra Performs Brahms with Mastery,”
Victoria Times Colonist, Feb.14, 2005

Yariv Aloni has received praise for conducting “impassioned, inspiring” and “magnificently right” interpretations of major orchestral and choral repertoire. Reviewers also describe him as “a musician of considerable insight and impeccable taste.” He is music director of the Galiano Ensemble of Victoria, the Victoria Chamber Orchestra and the Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra, as well as being a principal guest conductor of the West Coast Symphony Orchestra in Vancouver. His other guest appearances include the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra, the Civic Orchestra of Victoria, The Victoria Choral Society and Prima Youth Choir.

As the violist of both the Penderecki string quartets and the Aviv piano quartet, he has performed in many concert halls around the world, including Lincoln Centre in New York, the Louvre in Paris, Tonhalle in Zurich, and numerous concert halls in Canada, the United States, Germany, Italy, France, Poland, Holland and Mexico. In 1985 he was invited to join Isaac Stern and Pinchas Zuckerman to play a gala concert at Carnegie Hall in New York. He was a finalist at the François Shapira competition in Tel Aviv. His awards included the Israel Broadcasting Authority award for chamber music performance and numerous awards and annual scholarships from the American-Israel Cultural Foundation.

Yariv Aloni has recorded for the United, Marquise, Tritonus and CBC labels as well as independent CD labels. He performs in numerous chamber music concerts, festivals and recital series. Victoria.

Born on a kibbutz in Israel, Yariv began studying the violin at the age of eight and turned to the viola when he was sixteen. He studied viola with David Chen at the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem, Daniel Benyamini, principal violist of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and Michael Tree and the Guarneri String Quartet. With an emphasis on chamber music, he also studied at the Jerusalem Music Centre with distinguished visiting faculty from around the world, including Isaac Stern, the Amadeus and the Guarneri String Quartets, and many others. He studied conducting under the tutelage of the Hungarian conductor János Sándor, former music director of the Budapest State Opera and the Györ Philharmonic Orchestra.


János Sándor, Music Director 1996-2010

“Sándor summoned forth from his players pure magic, from the hushed openings to the glowing climax. I was not surprised to find tears running down my cheeks.”

Deryk Barker, Victoria Times Colonist, April 19, 2004

Born in Hungary in 1933, János Sándor began his professional career at the age of 18, as principal timpanist and youngest member of the Hungarian Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra. He studied conducting at the Franz Liszt Academy, Budapest, where he graduated with distinction, and in Siena (Italy) with renowned conductor Sergiu Celibidache. A prize-winner at the Besançon (France) International Conductors Competition, he conducted major orchestras across Europe and North America, making over 30 recordings. His recording for Hungaroton of Bartók's Miraculous Mandarin, Dance Suite and Hungarian Peasant Songs, qualified as one of "the best five recordings of the year" in Hi-Fi News, and was awarded the Arthur Honegger Prize of the Grand Prix Nationale du Disque. Possessor of an extraordinary gift for encouraging young people, he was a founder and regular conductor of Jeunesses Musicales in Hungary, and invited guest conductor at International Youth Orchestra Festivals in Switzerland, Scotland, and Canada, where he conducted the Gala concert of the inaugural Festival of Canadian Youth Orchestras in Banff in 1974, returning frequently for 15 years.

After moving to Canada in 1991, Mr. Sándor was guest conductor with the Victoria and Edmonton Symphonies, the CBC Vancouver Orchestra, and the Sonor Ensemble of San Diego, and regularly returned to conduct in Europe. In 1995 he joined the University of Victoria as Artist-in-Residence, Music Director and Conductor of the UVic Orchestra and Chorus. He was appointed Music Director of the Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra in 1996.

In his native Hungary, János Sándor was awarded the "Franz Liszt" prize, the title "Merited Artist of the Hungarian Republic", and "Honorary Life Member" of the Györ Philharmonic Orchestra, which he founded as a professional orchestra in 1968.

After his death in May 2010, the GVYO produced a Special Edition Society Newsletter - June 2010 with tributes to János Sándor.

The Twenty Fifth Anniversary Season of the GVYO was dedicated to the memory of János Sándor in gratitude for fifteen years of musical mentorship.

A short film excerpt showing János Sándor conducting his last rehearsal with the GVYO was presented at his memorial service, and can be seen here: János in Rehearsal. This excerpt was taken from Asterisk Productions' documentary film A Work in Progress, commissioned by the GVYO to celebrate its 25th Anniversary Season.

A tribute to János by music reviewer Deryk Barker (Music in Victoria) can be read here.

The DVD GVYO: A Work in Progress , and the compilation 2 CD set The János Years are available through the GVYO office


Stuart Knussen, Founding Music Director 1986-1990

Born in Manchester, UK, Stuart Knussen received his musical training in England, Hamburg, and Chicago. His career took him to every corner of the globe, as an orchestral player, solo performer, recording artist, conductor, and broadcaster. Mr. Knussen was a founding member of the Academy of St. Martin-in-the Fields, and was Principal Bass with the London Symphony Orchestra for nineteen years, including five years as Chairman of its Board of Directors. Following associations with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony and the Canadian Association of Youth Orchestras at Banff, he moved to Victoria in 1983 where he taught at the Victoria Conservatory of Music and established the Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra.

Stuart Knussen devoted his years in Victoria to young musicians, encouraging, challenging and counseling them in their musical development. He shared with them his own profound and passionate love of music, and his conviction of the whole-hearted commitment which music demands from those who would pursue the art. His vision for the GVYO continues to inspire the orchestra and its players to this day.

The players of the GVYO dedicated their concert on March 10, 1990 featuring Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony to Stuart – the man who brought them together and guided them in what for many of them was their first experience of symphonic music.

The following obituary, written by distinguished critic Edward Greenfield, appeared in the Manchester Guardian in January, 1990.

Player or composer: the bass line counts

Stuart Knussen was one of the characters among orchestral players, a laconic sharp-spoken northerner who behind a rugged exterior was an original and sensitive musician. As principal double-bass and later chairman of the London Symphony Orchestra at a key period, he helped to consolidate – along with his friend the horn-player, Barry Tuckwell, and others – a new generation of players in London.

Tall and upstanding, with wavy red hair, he was a notable backrow forward of string players on a concert platform. In 1965 a television film illustrated his life as an orchestral player. That encouraged his son, Oliver, then a precocious 13, now celebrated both as a composer and conductor, to write his First Symphony, and memorably at the age of 15 to conduct the LSO in its first performance.

Stuart Knussen was born in Manchester in December 1923. His father – also called Stuart – was principal cello in the Hallé, his mother a professional singer. From an early age the boy was able to attend Hallé rehearsals under Sir Hamilton Harty, and that nurtured his passion for Berlioz.

Knussen’s parents did not want him to become a musician, but he insisted on teaching himself the double-bass. He developed his own system of fingering based on that of the cello, a technique that has influenced many players since. Latterly, rejecting orchestral routine, he turned to teaching, mainly working in the United States and Canada.

He first joined the Hallé as a player in 1945 under Sir John Barbirolli. But then, never one to settle for long, Knussen went off to America to study further, and to gain more playing experience – and find his wife, Jane. He joined the LSO in 1958, but also worked with the English Chamber Orchestra for Benjamin Britten at the Aldeburgh Festival. It was Knussen who first played the double-bass part in Britten’s church-parable, Curlew River. Oliver Knussen remembers how through the 1950s and 1960s the family was in regular contact both with Britten and with another hero of his father’s, Leopold Stokowski. Knussen’s period with the LSO spanned the end of Pierre Monteux’s conductorship, the brief reign of Istvan Kertesz and the first years of André Previn as principal conductor. But then in 1972, with his son an established composer, Knussen decided to go to America.

For a season he managed the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, but then concentrated on teaching and encouraging what became a great enthusiasm with him, the development of community orchestras. In this capacity he worked at the Conservatory in Victoria, British Columbia, where he died.

Vladimir Ashkenazy, in a recent letter to Olivier Knussen after conducting his Third Symphony in Moscow, asked to be remembered to “the greatest double-bass player in the world”.

Edward Greenfield - Stuart Knussen born December 7, 1923; died January 1, 1990.