Just over a year ago, Mason Victoria was a student getting ready to graduate from jazz school at Humber College. Now, he’s a busy musician and composer — and even landed a job as a music administrator at his own alma mater.
The 23-year-old composer, arranger, trumpeter and music director has a lot going on. These days, he’s working as a program assistant in Humber’s Community Music School, an outreach program for children and youth. He directs the 21-piece Sonuskapos Jazz Orchestra, one of the largest big bands in Toronto. He has arranged works for Emilie-Claire Barlow and Pat Metheny and composed music for orchestras and ensembles as well as film and media. He plays trumpet locally with the Dennis Kwok Jazz Orchestra, the pop-funk band Jame Valdez and the NeoVintage and the rock band Pallet Town. He has won the Ron Lenyk Inspiring Youth Arts Awards and a MARTY Award for emerging solo artist, and his music has been performed in Japan, Los Angeles, New York and Calgary.
Victoria participated in the Jazzology program with Heather Bambrick in 2016, back when he was still honing his craft.
“Jazzology provided me with the chance to tell the stories behind my music,” he says. “Not only has it given me a tangible interview I can share … but it also made me confident that I wholeheartedly want to write this music and that I have so much to say about it.”
We asked Victoria about how Jazzology helped his career, what music education means to him, and what’s next for this young and in-demand musician.
What was your favourite part of Jazzology?
I was given a wonderful tour of the JAZZ.FM91 studios. It was wonderful to see how fluidly Heather and Billy worked together as they produced the show in real time. Their cooperation is not something you see every day! Heather was very kind from the get-go and I thoroughly enjoyed talking about music with her.
Would you recommend this experience to other young musicians?
Definitely! The team at JAZZ.FM91 is extremely accommodating. They made sure I was looked after through the entire process.
This program is made possible by our generous donors and sponsors who strongly believe in the importance of arts education initiatives. If you had the opportunity to thank them in person, what would you say?
It is extremely important to have the support we get from donors and sponsors of the arts, and we cannot thank them enough for believing that this is important. Helping to support the future of musicians will always provide the push we need to stay ambitious and strong to keep our music alive.
Why is music education important to you?
As a musician who began learning by ear at a very young age, I could tell that I was finding ways to hone my art, sometimes finding shortcuts in my development. I learned that I had started to develop bad habits, and it caused me to hit many more roadblocks than other musicians who had received proper training at the time. Music education not only provides an exciting atmosphere for students to learn, but it also gives students the first-hand experience necessary to avoid bad habits and roadblocks that would only come in the way of a musician without a skilled and veteran music educator. Music is always evolving, and we can no longer experience the scene like our educators had, so to have them pass down their knowledge to us is extremely important to keeping the traditions alive and build upon them.
What are your plans for the future?
I have enrolled in a Masters of Music program at the University of Toronto for music technology and digital media, and I plan to receive my degree in 2021. I am currently writing a suite of music based on historical events and landmarks in Mississauga, which has been graciously supported by the Ontario Arts Council. Outside of my long-term goals, I will be performing regularly as a trumpeter and bandleader.