Notable Canadian Jewish Musicians: Steve Koven. Jazz Pianist, Documentary Film Maker, Educator, Producer

CJNonline Steve Koven Jan 2 2022

Steve Koven


Music Online

Welcome to our weekly Sunday music section called

“Notable Canadian Jewish Musicians.”

By David Eisenstadt

TORONTO. Jan 2, 2022 – Friend Bobby Koven told me that “my baby brother Steve exemplifies the phrase – love what you do and do what you love.” 

A talented jazz pianist, Steve Koven performs, composes, and produces.  His plate is full “as an educator and documentary filmmaker.  That pretty well sums it up”, Bobby says with pride.

Steve Allen Koven was born on November 11, 1963, to Dr. Irving and Florence (nee Epstein) Koven.   “Dad Irv was a great pianist who had a huge influence” on Steve’s career as a pianist and performer. The Kovens moved from Atlantic Canada to Toronto in 1959.   Parents and sibs Bobby, Laurie, and Jeff also played musical instruments.

 A 1987 York University, Toronto, BFA grad,  He received a Masters degree in Composition from York in 2012.  His thesis – ‘Music Inspired By Visual Art’.

While continuing to play solo, he formed The Steve Koven Trio in 1993 achieving to date, 15 critically-acclaimed albums, including the most recent “Love Too” released in September 2021.  The Trio’s premiere performance in 1997 was at The Senator, a well-known downtown Toronto jazz venue; their CD was aptly titled – “Live At The Senator”

“Growing up in a Jewish home, from the time I was five,” Steve explained, “exposed me to wonderful traditions.  (Yet) Jewishness never really influenced my musical body of work.” 

But there are two exceptions. “The Sound Of Songs” in 2008, was inspired by my late Father’s book about my Grandfather’s 1914 journey from White Russia to North America”, he said.  That album was nominated for Best Jazz CD at the Toronto Independent Music Festival.

Steve Koven The Sound of Songs - YouTube

The Sound of Songs

>>> Click HERE to hear this video <<<


A second and instrumental tribute album to his Dad titled “Songs My Father Played” includes classics like “Ain’t She Sweet” “The Man I Love” and “Bei Mir Best du Schon”.  The tune “Ain’t Misbehavin” features Irv, singing a short and poignant vocal.  

Koven’s first international performance happened in 1998 when his Trio (with bassist Rob Clutton and drummer Anthony Michelli) opened for Nancy Wilson at the Barbados International Jazz Festival. For over two decades, the Steve Koven Trio has toured Canada and the world playing gigs in the Bahamas, China, Colombia, Dubai, Ecuador, England, Jamaica, Japan, and Mexico.

Many of Koven’s compositions have been licensed for national and international film and TV productions, including “Mr. Springer”, “Lolaland”, “Lifetime”, “My Sweet Lily”, “Blues For You”, “Mrs. Sarnicky”, “Une Nuit Dete”, “Valley Road”, among others. 

Steve Koven - YouTube

Mist-ic

>>> Click HERE to watch this video <<<


In 2003, Koven returned to his alma mater’s Faculty of Music, where he teaches Contemporary Improvisation and Jazz Piano Studies.  He also teaches at Toronto’s Centennial College Music Department.  As an educator, he presents masterclasses and clinics in Canada and various countries around the world.

An award-winning filmmaker, Koven has produced five documentaries and received the top prizes for two of them – titled “20”, which takes the viewer on the Trio’s 20-year journey awarded at the 2015 Toronto Independent Film Festival short doc award, and for “Improvisation” at the 2018 Toronto Short Film Festival.  

Koven said that during the pandemic he has continued to focus his creative energy “on producing two albums remotely using musicians from around the world as well as continuing to practice and compose by spending lots of time in my home studio. My long-term plan is to get back to international touring with my Trio and to produce and release future albums.  Since the advent of Covid in mid-2020, I have been teaching my York and Centennial College students remotely. 

“In 2019, I started working with people suffering from dementia and/or memory loss at the Bitove Academy (part of the University Health Network in Toronto).  I use my music to help connect and create an engaging environment.  I call it ‘The Power Of Music’.  In 2020, this program went online virtually and is now called The Bitove Method.” 

In 2021, he brought his talent, knowledge, and his Bitove experience to Baycrest@home.   Continuing to assist both organizations, Koven is excited about “this is very gratifying work.”

Music notesCredits: Steve Koven Photo Courtesy David Williams; CDBaby/YouTube; Steve Koven/YouTube


A complete list of David Eisenstadt’s articles can be viewed under Music Online in the Category section.

Do you have comments or questions about this article? Contact David Eisenstadt at cjnonline@protonmail.com

David Eisenstadt

David Eisenstadt is Founding Partner of tcgpr.com the Canadian Partner of IPREX Global Communication and a graduate of Carleton University’s School of Journalism and the University of Calgary.

Reader’s Comments

-Thank you for including the article in the CJNonline! Happy New Year to all and may 2022 be a healthy, positive, creative, loving year! – SK, Toronto, Canada

-Steve Koven and his trio are a Canadian treasure. The Colgrass family have followed them for many years and became their friends. My late husband, composer Michael Colgrass, often said Steve is a class by himself, able to improvise from multiple styles, from Bach to bee-bop. Neal and I keep trailing and loving him. – UC, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

-Thanks for this great article. – R.K,  Eugenia, Ontario, Canada

-Fabulous article. I met Steve one afternoon sitting outside Starbucks. I had no idea who he was. We started up a conversation and he invited me to a concert that he was giving that night. It was great. He is a lovely guy and a terrific musician. I’m glad to see that he’s on your roster. – SKL, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

-Steve Koven’s ability to move from one genre of the arts to another (music and documentaries with accompanying music) shows great flexibility.  And his work with Bitove and Baycrest is quite terrific. Kudos to you David for writing about this talented Canadian Jewish musician. – AB, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

-What a delight to see this beautiful piece on Steve Koven! I’ve known Steve for many years and he is, truly, a fountain of creativity, and a mensch. Steve is most definitely one of those artists that deserves greater recognition— for sure, in our own country…and beyond! – BK, Toronto, Ontario, Canada


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Notable Canadian Jewish Musicians: Steven Page. Co-Founder of the Barenaked Ladies

Singer-Songwriter, Producer, Musician

Steven Page Head and Shoulders

Steven Page


Online Music

Welcome to our weekly Sunday music section called

“Notable Canadian Jewish Musicians.”

By David Eisenstadt

TORONTO, Dec 5, 2021 – As co-founder of the iconic Canadian group Barenaked Ladies, Steven Page’s career soared until he left to pursue a solo career in February 2009. He was the primary songwriter, lead singer and guitarist, with a distinct and powerful voice.

Page was born in Toronto on June 22, 1970 to Jo-Anne (née Simmons) and Vic Page. Though Page’s father converted to Judaism to appease his mother’s parents, his maternal grandparents disowned Jo-Anne because of the mixed marriage.

His father and brother Matthew are drummers. Steven took piano lessons for 10 years, “which he claimed he never learned to play”, wrote Craig Jones in Canadian Musician.  He also sang in Toronto’s Mendelssohn Youth Choir.

Page attended Woburn Collegiate High School, befriending Ed Robertson. Both were Scarborough Schools Music Camp counsellors in the summer of 1988. They played a charity gig that year which led to naming their band, Barenaked Ladies.

Steven Page &amp; Ed Robertson

Steven Page & Ed Robertson | The Junos Pre-Show with Tom Power

 >>> Click HERE to watch this video <<<


On Maroon (2000) and Everything to Everyone in 2003, Page wrote most of the songs.  Of the 113 tunes on the band’s primary studio albums (not including holiday or children’s albums) 97 are Page credited or co-credited with Robertson. In 2002, they shared a SOCAN International Achievement Award for “Pinch Me”.

Band members Kevin Hearn and Jim Creegan also wrote in their own voices.  Robertson often sang lead on his songs. That didn’t include “If I Had a Million Dollars” which highlighted a call and response lead vocal from Robertson and Page. On nine of the 11 tracks on Rock Spectacle, the band’s first album, Page sang lead.  

In 2009, concerned about his BL future, Page reluctantly was involved with the production of the Barenaked for the Holidays and Snacktime! recordings. He told the Ottawa Citizen‘s Heath McCoy that “it was fun to do, it wasn’t my idea.  I was along for the ride.”

Barenaked Ladies 002

Barenaked Ladies Reunion Performance | Juno Awards 2018

>>> Click HERE to watch the video <<<


With the band preparing to record a new album, Page wasn’t on really on board.  The Citizen‘s McCoy reported, “Page believed that his much-publicized drug arrest in Syracuse, NY hastened his already imminent split with the band.”

Page told the Boston Herald‘s Jed Gottlieb, “the band was no longer the joyous place it once was, but it hadn’t been joyous for a long time before that.  It wasn’t that we didn’t put on good shows, we still had a great time on stage. But it became a place where work was about the stress and not the end product.  And (the arrest and band tension) made me gather the strength to do what I always wanted to do.”

After he departed, Page wrote music for the Stratford Festival’s first production of Bartholomew Fair: A Comedy, in the summer of 2009.  His first solo release was A Singer Must Die, a studio recording of performed concert songs. He released Songbook II in 2010 and Songbook 6 in November 2011 with the Art of Time Ensemble. His 2010 release Page One, led to North American tours fronting the Goo Goo Dolls.

Page sang the Canadian national anthem at the National Hockey League’s 2011 Winter Classic and performed Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” at former New Democratic Party (NDP) federal leader Jack Layton’s funeral in 2011.

A confirmed NDP member, Page said, “I grew up in a household where social justice was a fundamental value, and I always believed that it was also a fundamental Canadian as well as a central Jewish value.  I’ve watched how the term has been twisted and perverted by the Right over the past several years in an effort to diminish the voices of reason.  The open displays of racism and antisemitism, and the chants of ‘Jews Will Not Replace Us’, made me grab my guitar and tell them I’d be more than glad to replace them.”

In 2012, Page was nominated for a Genie Award for writing “A Different Sort of Solitude”, for the film French Immersion.  He also composed scores for six Stratford Festival plays and joined the Trans-Canada Highwaymen.  Page hosted The Illegal Eater, became a Chopped Canada Champion and was an Iron Chef Canada judge in 2019-20.

Page reconnected with the band in 2018 when they were inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.  He told CBC’s Jesse Kinos-Goodin, “I hadn’t seen the other guys in years, so to be there with them with an audience cheering us on was deeply emotional.  Performing, that part for us is so natural.  To walk on and put my ear monitors in, it’s as if nothing had changed.  Obviously, personally, all kinds of things had changed… but for those moments, it felt just as natural as it did 15 years before that.”

Twice married and with three sons, Page splits his time between homes in Fayetteville, NY and Toronto. 

Music notes

Credits: stevenpage.com; q on cbc/YouTube; CBC Music/You Tube


A complete list of David Eisenstadt’s articles can be viewed under Music Online in the Category section.

Do you have comments or questions about this article? Contact David Eisenstadt at cjnonline@protonmail.com

David Eisenstadt

David Eisenstadt is Founding Partner of tcgpr.com the Canadian Partner of IPREX Global Communication and a graduate of Carleton University’s School of Journalism and the University of Calgary.

Reader’s Comments

-Page is probably one of my favourite Canadian musicians,  I had a hard time getting over his leaving the ‘Barenaked Ladies’, however on listening to some of his recent works, all is forgiven.  David, you continue to amaze me with your ability to dig up and introduce us to so many Canadian Jewish musical talents. – MB, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

-Thanks for the article on Steven Page.It was sad for me when the Barenaked Ladies broke up. I don’t believe that the band has ever been the same… – SK, Thornhill, Ontario, Canada

-David, I think you have captured the versatilty of Steven’s musical talent with the Barenaked Ladies and beyond. He does have a strong sense of Jewish identity which is tied to his belief in social justice… – MK, Toronto, Canada


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