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Abe Kestenberg

Academic Title(s): 

Associate Professor

Contact Information
514-398-4535 ext. 00226
Email Address: 
abe [dot] kestenberg [at] mcgill [dot] ca

Abe Kestenberg studied at McGill University and Manhattan School of Music. His instrumental teachers were: Rafaelle Masella and Herb Blayman, clarinet; Arthur Romano and Gerald Danovitch, saxophone; Gail Grimstead and Max Shoenfeld, flute. Formerly, Abe was the Woodwind Area Chair at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University. He teaches saxophone, clarinet, flute, chamber music and a course called Introduction to Life as a Professional Musician.

Abe has also served as the Director of McGill Records. Abe was one of the founding members of the Gerald Danovitch Saxophone Quartet (GDSQ), performing with the group for its entire thirty-year life. The GDSQ was one of the longest-performing chamber music groups in Canadian history, giving concerts from coast to coast. The GDSQ performed in the United States, Europe, Asia and the Caribbean. The Quartet won the prestigious du Maurier Search for Stars competition in 1983 and served as Yamaha Performing Artists from 1986-1997. The Quartet performed for international festivals such as the World Saxophone Congress in Toronto, Tokyo, Pesaro and Montreal; the Lanaudière festival, Festival International du Jazz de Montrèal and the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival. As well, the group gave hundreds of concerts at elementary schools, high schools, colleges, universities, music camps and music conferences. The GDSQ performed on many radio and TV shows, and recorded for the CBC and McGill Records with invited guests such as Eugene Rousseau and the New York Saxophone Quartet.

As part of his extensive studio, theatre and touring free-lance background, Abe played TV series, radio shows, films, jingles and recordings for CBC, CTV, Télé-Métropole, the National Film Board, RCA and London/Decca. As a free-lance orchestral player Abe performed, toured and recorded with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, as well as performing with the National Arts Center Orchestra, Symphony Nova Scotia, Orchestre Métropolitain, Societé de musique contemporaine, La Scala and the Bolshoi orchestras. Amongst the many Broadway shows that Abe performed or toured with are: Phantom of the Opera, Annie Get Your Gun, Fiddler on the Roof, A Chorus Line, Annie, West Side Story, Guys and Dolls, Singing in the Rain, Camelot, Hello Dolly, and Evita. Other performance groups include ice shows, circuses, operas, operettas, magic shows and industrial shows. Touring included ballet companies, orchestras, Broadway shows, individual artists and chamber music.Some of the artists with whom Abe performed include: Tony Bennett, Mel Torme, Lena Horne, Maynard Ferguson, Engelbert Humperdinck, Tom Jones, Neil Sadaka, Jerry Lewis, Robert Goulet, Maureen Forrester, Jack Jones, Pearl Bailey, Lou Belson, Rich Little, Stevie Wonder, Paul Anka, Eartha Kitt, Danny Kaye, Harry Belafonte, Carol Channing, Petula Clark, Nancy Sinatra, Glen Campbell, Sammy Davis Jr., Henny Youngman, Ray Bloch, Paul Williams, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Sonny and Cher, Marlene Dietrich, Jack Benny, Bert Bacharach, Marvin Hamlish, Julio Iglesias, Michel Legrand, Dizzy Gillespie, Phil Woods, Johnny Mathis, Shirley MacLaine, Liberace, Jan Pierce, Feivish Finkel, Charles Dutoit, Franz Paul Decker, and Herbert Von Karajan.