Lena Turofsky was born in Toronto and studied bass with Jeffery Stokes at the University of Western Ontario and graduated from the University of Toronto studying with Thomas Monohan. While in university she played with the National Ballet Orchestra, the Hamilton Philharmonic, the London Symphony, and the Thunder Bay Symphony.
Lena became a member of the Atlantic Symphony in 1978, was a founding member of Symphony Nova Scotia, and has been playing orchestral music in Halifax ever since. Lena also works in the Charlottetown Festival playing Anne of Green Gables.
Lena loves teaching. She has a private studio and works with the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra. Her most successful student is her daughter Hilda Cowie, a member of the National Arts Centre Orchestra. Lena’s younger daughter Aurora Cowie is a pop/rock/indie vocalist and multi instrumentalist with the group Triple Gangers in Toronto.
Lena spent the 2006/07 and the 2010/11 season on a job swap with the Adelaide Symphony in South Australia.
Q&A with Lena
How long have you played the bass?
Since I was in Grade 7.
Do you play any other instruments?
Can you tell us a humorous anecdote about your experience with Symphony Nova Scotia?
Not that I’m willing to share.
Do you teach music? Where, and why?
I love teaching. I have been very lucky and had some very talented students.
How did you get interested in classical music?
My parents listened to jazz. I always loved classical music.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Travel, visit my kids, hike, swim, read, go to antique auctions, movies, see friends, and rug hook.
What’s the best gig you’ve performed at?
While playing with the Adelaide Symphony. Herbie Hancock. Amazing!!
What’s your favourite piece?
Hard to say. Maybe Transfigured Night — Schoenberg. I played it first with Georg Tintner when I was 18 in the National Youth Orchestra.
What’s your favourite music group?
My daughter’s band, Triple Gangers.
What’s your favourite indulgence?
Who is the person who most influenced you, and how/why?
My teacher Tom Monohan. He once said “If you’ve got it, flaunt it” and I’ve never looked back.
What would be your dream vacation?
There are so many places I’d love to go. I’ve never been to Italy, or South America.