Alexandre da Costa
Violinist & Conductor
Born and raised in Montreal.
Lived in several European cities.
Je me souviens très très bien d’avoir joué lors d’événements importants dans la communauté portugaise de Montréal quand j’avais 10, 11 et 12 ans. Il avait été là, toujours là pour me soutenir à chaque étape de ma carrière – Alexandre da Costa.
Alexandre Costa is one of the world’s most renowned violinists, with an impressive list of achievements. A child prodigy, he began performing live as a soloist at major concert halls when he was 9. Since then, he has recorded 25 albums; gave over 2,000 concerts with over 100 orchestras, including as a conductor; received several international awards; delivered master classes around the world; and has taken administrative roles in important musical projects and organizations. Despite his worldwide fame, Alexandre remains connected to his Portuguese heritage and his Montreal roots.
Alexandre Costa was born in Montreal in 1979 into a family of artists of humble means. His father, Michel Graveline, worked as a small theatre actor and his mother, Véronique da Costa, was a painter, visual arts teacher, and theatre actress. Alexandre’s mother, who raised him alone, is the daughter of Frédérick K. P. da Costa, a Kingston-born Portuguese-Jamaican immigrant to Montreal, and the French-Canadian woman Colombe Trottier.
As a child, Alexandre became interested in the violin and piano thanks to his mother’s love for classical music, herself having learn the piano. His mother enrolled him in the Petits Violons de Jean Cousineau, a school for young violin players. Quickly, Alexandre and his teachers discovered that he had a natural ability to play both instruments with virtuosity. By the age of 9, he was considered a prodigy and began performing at major concert halls, including the Place des Arts in Montreal. Still as a child, he started playing regularly as a soloist with orchestras, including the Symphony Orchestra of Montreal.
Alexandre enrolled in the music program of the École Secondaire Pierre Laporte, after which he continued his education at the Université de Montréal and the Centre musical Métropolitain, studying both piano and violin. Afterwards, Alexandre decided to focus on the violin and moved to Madrid to study under Zakhar Bron at the Escuela Superior de Musica Reina Sofia, between 1998 and 2001. He continued his graduate studies at the Universität für Musik und Darstellende Kunst of Vienna. In Austria and Germany, he studied to become a conductor.
In 2003, the Council’s Musical Instrument Bank loaned Alexandre the “1689 Baumgartner Stradivarius,” worth millions of dollars. This was the first of over 1,000 rare violins from Stradivarius, Guarnerius de Gesù, Amati, and others that he has played with.
Alexandre has recorded over 25 albums with multiple labels, and given more than 2,000 concerts and recitals with over 100 orchestras in North America, Europe, and Australia. His album Stradivarius at the Opera, recorded with the Vienna Symphony, became a best-seller and was subsequently made into a multimedia concert that toured the world. Alexandre has also performed live for several radio and television broadcasts, including for the CBC, BBC, among others. As conductor and concertmaster, he has led orchestras in Vienna, Madrid, Toulouse, and other cities. He has received multiple awards in Canada and internationally, including the Pablo de Sarasate International Competition (1999), the Sylva Gelber Foundation Award from the Canada Council, the Virginia Parker Prize (2010) – one of Canada’s highest cultural prizes – and a Juno Award for Classical Album of the Year (2012). In addition to recording, performing, and conducting, Alexandre has also contributed to his art form as a teacher, holding master classes at several universities and conservatories in Canada, Bahamas, China, Italy, Spain, and Portugal; and as a producer, founder, and administrator with multiple organizations. Most recently, he has taken the role of Music Director of the Longueuil Symphony Orchestra and Artistic Director of the Stradivaria Festival.
Alexandre’s Portuguese background was often mentioned in news stories about the young prodigy and the local Portuguese community, at whose events he occasionally played, embraced him. Despite his impressive international career and worldwide fame, Alexandre has maintained a connection to his Portuguese heritage. Arguably, the most significant expression of this interest was his world-premier recordings, with the Extremadura Symphony Orchestra, of the violin concerts by the Portuguese composers Luis de Freitas Branco and Armando José Fernandes, which was nominated for a Juno award in 2006. That same year he received a Celebrating Outstanding Portuguese-Canadian Achievement (COPA) Award from the Portuguese-Canadian National Congress. Alexandre’s latest performance at a Portuguese community event in Montreal was during the 2022 Portugal Day celebrations at the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Church, invited by that city’s Consulate-General of Portugal.
Hora dos Portugueses