Steve Koven Jazz Trio performs in Barbados

The Steve Koven Trio enjoyed a moment in the sun, literally and figuratively, when they performed at the Holders Season Festival in Barbados in March.

Led by jazz pianist Steve Koven (BFA ’87), with Anthony Michelli on drums and Rob Clutton on bass, the trio has a close connection to York University. Both Koven and Michelli teach in the Music Department in the Faculty of Fine Arts and Clutton is working on a master’s degree in music composition.

Right: Steve Koven Trio

The annual Holders Season Festival at which these three veterans of the Canadian and international jazz circuit performed, showcases world-class music, theatre and comedy. The premiere performing arts festival in the West Indies, it takes place on the grounds of the 17th- century Holders House, one of Barbados’ historic plantation houses.

The trio also entertained patrons at the renowned Waterfront Café Jazz Club in Bridgetown while in Barbados.

It was not the first time the trio had travelled to this Caribbean island. In 2005, they performed in front of screaming fans in Trinidad, Barbados (see the Nov. 10, 2005 issue of YFile). Other stand-out travel moments included touring the UK, Mexico, Colombia, Japan and China (see the July 13, 2006 issue of YFile).

Koven is returning to Barbados July 7-21 to teach at Suzuki Music Barbados and JAL Strings Summer Camp, which is managed by fellow alumna Joy Knight-Lynch (BFA ’93, MA ’95), who also directs the Barbados National Youth Orchestra. Another “Yorkie”, Simon Jacobs (BFA ’86), a viola player with Orchestre Symphonique de Québec, will join Koven on July 15.

While in the Caribbean, Koven will be laying the ground work for return teaching visits and for benefit-concert performances in support of Suzuki Music Barbados and JAL Strings Summer Camp.

Suzuki Music Barbados, in partnership with JAL Strings Summer Camp, offers local music students of all ages and skill levels week-long opportunities to improve their performance skills through individual instruction and master classes by faculty who rank amongst the world’s best musicians.

Koven has a lot of expertise and experiences to share with young musicians. An accomplished musician, composer and educator, he has juggled his teaching gig of 5 years at York with a full-throttle performing and recording career.

His York responsibilities include teaching contemporary improv, jazz piano and FACS 3950, a course on developing self-employment business skills in the arts.

Right: The audience at the Holders Season Festival in Barbados

As a performer, Koven has shared the stage with such luminaries as Nancy Wilson, John Pizzarelli, T.S. Monk and John Williams meeting with critical acclaim. His discography includes the trio’s most recent CD, Resurgence, as well as All the Time in the World (2004), Lifetime (2002), Not by the Elbows (2002), Sandbox (1999) and Steve Koven Trio Live (1997).

Koven says he particularly enjoys his role as a teacher and mentor. “When you’re teaching, it’s not about you any more,” he says. “I want to inspire students to play with newfound freedom, sensitivity and unbounded joy.”

The upcoming summer-camp teaching gig is an experience he is looking forward to. Such camps benefit both students and instructors he says. “The air at music camps is usually charged with excitement and energy. By the end of the camp, the kids are beaming with pride and accomplishment,” says Koven. “Everyone feels like family.”

Will there be any time to throw down a towel on the beach? “Perhaps," chuckles Koven, “but it’s really all about bonding with the students and sharing my love of making music.”

For more information about Koven and his trio, visit the Steve Koven Trio Web site. 

This article was submitted to YFile by Mary-Lou Schagena, publicist, Faculty of Fine Arts.