Toronto-born Binnie Brennan received her earliest musical training at age five. A graduate of Queen’s University’s School of Music, Binnie also pursued studies at the Vienna Musik Hochschule. Her teachers include Tibor Vaghy, Susan Lipchak, and Siegfried Fuehrlinger.
Binnie also plays the Swedish nyckelharpa, a project that came about during the lockdown of 2020 with the help of her colleague and nyckelharpist extraordinaire, Kirsty Money.
Binnie is the author of three books of fiction, and is an enthusiastic chamber musician. She has been a member of Symphony Nova Scotia since 1989.
Q&A with Binnie
How long have you played the viola?
I’ve been playing viola since I was 14 years old.
Why play the viola?
I love the sound, and I love playing the inner voice. It’s a thrill to be in the middle of everything.
How did you get interested in classical music?
I was born to it; I’m the youngest in a family of musicians.
What are your outside interests?
Gardening’s fun, and travel. I love to read, particularly Canadian fiction but also biographies. I write fiction also; and I enjoy watching movies.
What kind of music do you enjoy (other than classical)?
Jazz, blues, Motown.
What’s your favourite piece of music?
Usually it’s whatever I’m listening to. One of my favourites to play is Mozart’s “Jupiter” Symphony.
Who’s your greatest musical influence?
My parents, my viola teachers, J.S. Bach, and Ella Fitzgerald.
What’s your favourite movie of all time?
You can’t beat a great silent comedy, for example Buster Keaton’s two-reeler One Week, and his feature film Sherlock Jr. Not only are they wicked funny, but they’re groundbreaking works of art from a pioneering time, and they’re surprisingly modern.
What’s your favourite book?
It’s a tie between Margaret Laurence’s The Diviners and Alistair MacLeod’s Island, the Collected Stories.
Visit Binnie’s website at binniebooks.com.