Schabas was a freelance clarinetist until 1960 with CBC orchestras, performed with the Paganini and Parlow string quartets, was a member 1956-60 of the Toronto Woodwind Quintet, and served 1958-61 as music manager of the Stratford Festival. He was a conductor of CBC and student ensembles; an instructor 1960-2, auditioner 1960-2 and 1965, and academic administrator 1960-2, 1964, and 1965 for the NYO; and a woodwind instructor in 1975 for the JM World Orchestra.
Schabas' practical knowledge of music education and administration and his experience as an organizer have made him a valued consultant and board member, and his informed and outspoken views have made him an authoritative guest lecturer and contributor to panel-discussions and periodicals. He served 1972-4 as the first president of the ACO. He has lectured in Canada, the USA, South America, and Europe for organizations such as the American Symphony Orchestra League (1984), the Learned Societies of Canada (1968, 1982, and 1988), and the Newberry Library, Chicago (1988). He was editor 1962-3 of the Canadian Music Educator and Canadian editor 1954-62 of the Musical Courier; and has contributed to Opera Canada, The Recorder, Performing Arts in Canada, the Globe and Mail, and Canadian Composer, and other periodicals. For years he engaged in research on the US pioneer orchestra builder and conductor Theodore Thomas. He has written articles for The New Grove Dictionary, The New Grove Dictionary of American Music, and EMC. Schabas prepared six reports 1966-88 on various aspects of music in Canada: Ontario Community Orchestras (Toronto 1966) and Choral Music in Ontario (Toronto 1970, in collaboration with Keith Bissell) were commissioned by the OAC; Toronto's New Orchestra (Toronto 1976), was commissioned jointly by the COC, the National Ballet of Canada, the OAC, the TS, and the CBC; A New Orchestra for New Brunswick (written in 1983 with Simon Streatfeild) was commissioned by the Canada Council; The University Settlement Music School was commissioned in 1986 by the school itself, and Music at the University of New Brunswick was commissioned in 1988 by the University of New Brunswick.
Author Maud McLean
Moorsom, Val. 'Close connections,' TS News, vol 3, 1978-9