Adjudicators may be substituted without announcement.
Sharon Fitzsimmins, Mus. Bac., B.Ed, is a respected educator, international adjudicator, clinician and conductor. She is past president of The Ontario Music Educators’ Association (OMEA) and was co-editor of The Recorder for 8 years, examiner for The Royal Conservatory of Music and a conductor at the National Music Camp of Canada . She has received numerous teaching, professional development and leadership awards including Teacher of the Year. In November 2006, Sharon received the highest award from the OMEA, an Honorary Life Membership. In Feb. 2019 Sharon also received an Honorary Life Membership from the Ontario Band Association (OBA).Sharon is currently the Chair of the Concert Band Division for MusicFest Canada. Sharon is proud to have taught for thirty years at Barrie North Collegiate where she conducted award winning bands and choirs. She has written three teacher resources and a collection of stories called It Made Me Laugh, It Made Me cry. Stories From the Music Room.
David has a varied career as a Composer, Conductor, Pianist, Vocalist, Lyricist, Librettist, Arranger, Orchestrator, Music Director, Director, Satirist, Comedian, Actor, Poet, Producer, Impresario, Bon Vivant, and Hockey Coach – he has truly done it all! And judging by his project board, “he’s only just begun”. As a writer he has had 66 shows produced professionally and he has been Musical Director for over two hundred productions across North America, including Shenandoah starring John Cullum on Broadway. He won a Dora Mavor Moore Award in Toronto for his production of Toronto, Toronto, and for outstanding Music Direction on the production of Closer Than Ever.
Daniel Ramjattan started performing on the guitar at ten years old in Stratford, Ontario, where he studied with Dave Santandrea and Wilma Van Berkel. Since then, he has built a multifaceted and widespanning career, both as a performer, teacher, researcher, and ambassador of new Canadian music. Past performances have taken him to Vienna, Austria, Italy, and various locations across Canada, the United States, and Japan. He has also performed in festivals and venues such as the Alte Schmiede Kunst Verein contemporary music series, Vienna, the Livorno Music Festival, Italy, Ottawa Chamberfest, Toronto Summer Music, the 21st Century Guitar Conference, Ottawa, Stratford’s Inner Chamber, and the Toronto Contemporary Music Lab. Daniel has received awards for his playing on the provincial, national, and international levels, placing second in the FCMF National Music Competition, receiving second place prize in the National level of the Canadian Music Competition, and First Prize in the Concours de Guitare Outaouais-Gatineau. He also received the Domaine Forget International Music Academy guitar award in 2013, as well as the first prize in the Open Level of the Ontario Music Festivals Association Provincial Guitar competition in both 2014 and 2016. He has also placed as a finalist in the Montreal International Guitar Competition and the Hamilton International Guitar Competition. Daniel has received lessons and masterclasses from world-renowned guitarists such as Denis Azabagic, Jorge Caballero, Pavel Steidl, Sergio Assad, Lorenzo Micheli, Pepe Romero, Fabio Zanon, Bruce Holzman, Remi Boucher, Patrick Roux, and Jerome Ducharme. He also received the Nalini Perera Scholarship from the University of Ottawa, which permitted him to study with Lorenzo Micheli in Austria and Italy in Summer 2017. Daniel has premiered dozens of new works by composers all over the world, and recently premiered a brand new set of six works for guitar and marimba at the Alte Schmiede Kunstverein, in Vienna, Austria, with percussionist Naoko Tsujita in January 2018. In the past, he has premiered works by John Armstrong (Canada), Ricardo Tovar Mateus (Colombia), Cristian Spataru (Moldavia), Alex Eddington (Canada), Daniel Mehdizadeh (Iran), Raphael Weinroth-Browne (Canada), and countless others, for a wide variety of ensembles and instrumentations. Daniel holds a Master’s degree and a Bachelor of Music Degree in classical guitar performance from the University of Ottawa, where he studied with the renowned composer-performer Patrick Roux. He also studied with world-renowned pedagogue Bruce Holzman in Tallahassee, Florida for a semester in Fall 2014. Daniel is currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree at the University of Toronto with Dr. Jeffrey McFadden, where he is studying the effects of teaching styles on music performance anxiety (or stage fright) in guitarists. He has given lectures on Music Performance Anxiety in Toronto and abroad, and currently performs as a freelancer and teaches in downtown Toronto. He also gives one-on-one coachings to musicians who struggle with music performance anxiety
Alyssa Michalsky is a professional harpist currently residing in Dundas, Ontario and performing in Toronto and throughout Southeastern Ontario. She has performed at over 4,000 weddings and events since the age of 12. Alyssa has dedicated her life studies to music. She began playing the piano at age 3, the harp at age 5, and the Ukrainian national instrument the bandura at age 8, and went on to win numerous musical awards and scholarships in all three instruments, including first place at the National Harp Scholarship Competition in the USA in 2001. A graduate of the Bachelors and Masters harp performance program at the University of Toronto, Alyssa had the privilege of studying with one of the world’s most renowned harpists, Judy Loman, for six years. During her studies, she recorded to classical harp and flute CDs and toured across Ontario performing with her Lyon and Healy Concert Grand Electric Harp – the same harp used for all four of her professional recordings. After completing her musical studies, she obtained a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Toronto. Subsequently, she taught elementary school music for the Toronto District School Board while solidifying her private music business. Alyssa has been teaching harp and piano lessons and runs a successful private music studio in Dundas, Ontario. Although Alyssa’s background teaching children has been a valuable asset to her studio, she is highly revered for the success of her adult students. Her ability to invoke higher musical capabilities and adults, breaking physical and psychological barriers for progression, has been noted as profoundly gifted. In the summer of 2009, Alyssa was appointed the position of the newest harp examiner for the Royal Conservatory of Music of Canada. In 2011, Alyssa was appointed the harp professor at the University of Western Ontario. Widely sought after as an adjudicator, Alyssa is delighted to be able to pass on her musical education an insight to the future generation. Alyssa’s business, Divine Harp, has been providing live musical electric harp entertainment to clients all over Ontario blending classical sound and technique with her uniquely stylized arrangements of contemporary music. Actively examining, adjudicating, teaching and performing on the harp is the greatest joy Alyssa could ever have hoped for in her very colourful and seasoned career as an artist.
Daisy is making her mark in Toronto as an accomplished collaborative artist whose love for chamber music and collaboration is apparent in her approach. She is employed as a collaborative pianist at the University of Toronto and at the Royal Conservatory of Music, as well as with the Toronto Children’s Chorus. For 20 years, she has taught piano, history and theory, and feels fortunate to be able to pass on her love of music to the next generation through teaching and adjudicating festivals across Ontario. After starting piano lessons at the age of five with Betty Wong and then Wolfram Linnebach in Edmonton, she moved to Toronto to complete a degree with piano pedagogue Marietta Orlov, where she earned her Bachelor of Music at the University of Toronto. She has been privileged to play for many of today’s leading pianists, such as Jon Kimura Parker, Jane Coop and Marc-André Hamelin. Through her participation in U of T’s chamber music program and as a collaborative pianist, Daisy has also been afforded the opportunity to be coached by Steven Isserlis, Pamela Frank, Pinchas Zukerman, Steven Philcox, Carolyn Maule, Jamie Summerville, Laurence Lesser, Sylvia Rosenburg and Jacques Israelievitch. Daisy has completed further studies at The Banff Centre, Algonquin Summer Institute, Aria Summer Music Festival and Scotia Festival of Music. She has been a recipient of awards and scholarships from institutions including the Canadian Music Competition, Edmonton Kiwanis Music Festival, Alberta College and the Royal Conservatory of Music.
Praised for expressing “ultra-sensitive and highly refined pianism” (Quinte Society for Chamber Music), pianist Petya Stavreva is a DMA candidate at Western University, working with Prof. Leslie Kinton. She finished her Master’s Degree with Prof. Anton Nel at the University of Texas at Austin, where she received full scholarship and grant support from Canada Arts Council and the Webb Trust Fund from the Glenn Gould School. Before that, she was an artist-in-residence at the Banff Centre for ten weeks. Currently at Western, she is a four-time recipient of the Ontario Graduate Scholarship, as well as the Don Wright Graduate Entrance scholarship, and the Sherwood Fox Music scholarship. Petya is currently based in Toronto, and has performed throughout Europe and North America both collaboratively and as a soloist. She is active as a collaborative pianist, and is described to have “extraordinary ability to place the sound of the piano exactly where the soloist needs it to be” (Quinte Arts Council Umbrella). After completing a tour in Italy for a series of chamber concerts, she finished a recording project at the Banff Centre, where she also collaborated with fellow emerging artists. Petya is quickly becoming in demand as an educator, and has been an adjudicator for the Kiwanis Festival in Toronto, the Pickering GTA Music Festival, the Brant Music Festival, the Kiwanis Festival in Ottawa as well as the Ontario Music Festival Association in Hamilton. Additionally, while undergoing training for the Royal Conservatory College of Examiners, she maintains a busy teaching studio in both London and Toronto/Mississauga. Petya also recently formed a teaching partnership with the Steinway Piano Gallery. Petya has been a prize winner of numerous competitions in Canada and Europe such as the international competition “Franz Schubert” in Rousse, international competition “Music and Earth” in Sofia, among many others, and has performed concertos with the Toronto Sinfonietta Orchestra. Recently she performed at the Aeolian Hall in London, as part of the Emerging Classical Artist Series. Earlier last year, she collaborated with Canadian baritone Peter McGillivray for a recital as part of the Quinte Society for Chamber Music. Her upcoming engagements include various performances in the GTA and a recording project as part of a newly formed Duo Avante with pianist Todd Yaniw. She obtained an Artist Diploma, studying with James Anagnoson at the Glenn Gould School on full scholarship, and obtained a Bachelor’s degree at the University of Toronto with James Parker and Marietta Orlov. She also attended the Taylor Performance Academy in Toronto with full scholarship, studying with Arshalouis Nersessian. Past festivals include Bowdoin Music Festival as a collaborative Fellow, Young Artist Program in Ottawa, the Banff Chamber and Solo Residencies, Nice Academy in France, and Toronto Summer Music Festiv
Liza Balkan (www.lizabalkan.com) is a Dora Award-winning, Ontario based, director, actor, writer, librettist, dramaturg and educator, with over for over thirty-nine years in the profession. Her most recent directing credits includes Every Brilliant Thing, (Grand Theatre, London) Much Ado About Nothing (Canadian Stage /Shakespeare in High Park), Llandovery Castle (Opera Laurier), the Canadian Premiere of the chamber opera Anais Nin (Koerner Hall /RCM), several productions with Bicycle Opera, and Izad Etemadi’s hit solo show Love with Leila. Her focus on work created in the documentary/verbatim genre lead to an extended Residency at The Theatre Centre where she developed her documentary project Out the Window. It was produced in 2012 with a cast that included RH Thomson, David Ferry and Julie Tepperman. In 2018 it received a production at Toronto’s Luminato Festival, directed by Sarah Garton Stanley. Liza’s work as a librettist has been produced and performed inToronto, Nova Scotia, Vermont and New York City. With composer Lembit Beecher she created the verbatim – inspired song cycle “Looking at Spring; Meditations on Aging” (Vermont). She has written text for music works produced by Tapestry Opera, 5 Boroughs Song Book (NYC), Bicycle Opera Project, Ivan Barbotin’s Album, Atom, Projects in development: a site- specific opera with Canadian composer Brian Current, and two works in development with New York based composer Lembit Beecher. As an actor, she has performed in multiple productions across Canada and in the US, receiving a Dora Award for her performance in Still The Night (Theatre Passe Muraille/Tapestry/Tova Ent) and a nomination for Calgary’s Betty Mitchell Award during the show’s Canadian Tour. Liza continues to enjoy her busy practice as an educator, has been an instructor, coach and sessional artist at Humber College, University of Windsor, Laurier, Ryerson, Randolph Academy, CCPA (Victoria), St. Clair College and the Birmingham Conservatory at the Stratford Festival.
Megan Jones began her musical training at the age of 6 in Deep River, Ontario. Despite being from a small town, there was no shortage of inspiration in the field of classical music and Ms. Jones knew by the age of 9 she would be an orchestral musician. As a child Ms. Jones played in the Deep River Symphony Orchestra, the Ottawa Youth Orchestra and travelled to Ottawa for weekly lessons with Calvin Sieb. In 2000, Ms. Jones graduated from McGill University with a Bachelor of Music in violin performance after four years of study under violinists Richard Roberts and Yehonathan Berick. Currently the concert master of Sinfonia Ancaster, Ms. Jones performs regularly with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, the Kitchener Waterloo Symphony, the Windsor Symphony Orchestra and London Symphonia as well as being the principal violinist with Arcady Ensemble and the Jeans n Classics Rock Symphony. For the last decade Ms. Jones has worked alongside Maestro Boris Brott furthering the education of countless young musicians with the National Academy Orchestra of Canada both as a violinist and as the orchestra’s manager. As a soloist Ms. Jones has performed with the Kitchener Waterloo Chamber Orchestra, the Timmins Symphony Orchestra, the Deep River Symphony Orchestra and Arcady Ensemble and has appeared on several occasions as a vocal soloist with the National Academy Orchestra.
Todd Wieczorek, DM
Known for his dramatic instincts and versatility as a performer, baritone Todd Wieczorek has performed roles with such organizations as the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, American Opera Theater, Indiana University Opera, Ente Concerti Cittá di Iglesias (Italy), The Bloomington Early Music Festival, Academia Europea dell’Opera, Opera Kitchener, Brampton Lyric Opera, Arbor Opera Theater, Opera Lirica Italiana, and as a soloist with Orchestra London, The Fanshawe Chorus, the Milton, Choristers, the Marion Philharmonic Orchestra, Symphony Hamilton, Ente Concerti Città di Iglesias, The Ingersoll Choral Society, St. Peter’s Basilica (London, ON), The Guelph Chamber Choir, and the Western Suburban Choral Union (Wheaton, IL). Recent projects included A Weill Songspiel with Grammy-Award winner Sylvia McNair. Past performance credits are varied with such roles as the title character and Leporello in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Colline in La bohème, Alfio in Cavelleria Rusticana, Eddie in Bolcom’s A View from the Bridge, Dick Deadeye in Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore, Angelotti in Tosca, and Bhaer in Adamo’s Little Women, working with such conductors as Robert Wood, Imré Pallo, David Effron, Timothy Vernon, Oliver Gooch, Gerald Fagan, Ward Holmquist, and Ted Taylor. Other credits found him as the title character in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado, Judge Turpin in Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, and Cold Genius in Purcell’s King Arthur Mr. Wieczorek’s musical training started in his hometown of South Bend, IN. He went on to earn his BM in Voice Performance at Wheaton College’s Conservatory of Music, his MM from the University of Kansas, and finishing his DM at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music (Bloomington). In addition to performing, Dr. Wieczorek holds the rank of Assistant Professor of Music, teaching Voice, Lyric Diction for Singers, and Doctoral Vocal Pedagogy, and coordinating the Friday @12:30 Concert Series at Western University’s Don Wright Faculty of Music. His students have gone on to sing in national and international young artist programs and study at prestigious graduate institutions in North America. He is a frequent guest clinician and adjudicator at music festivals across Ontario.
Sara-Jeanne has been working nationally as a theatre artist for over twenty years. She dons many theatrical hats; Director, Actor, Choreographer, Playwright and Composer. Her theatre experiences include: 3 Seasons at the Stratford Festival as an Associate Director and Choreographer; playing the villain for two seasons In Ross Petty’s Panto; Alison Bechdel in The Canadian premiere of FUNHOME; Miss Stacey/Tanya (Charlottetown Festival); Mary Poppins, Fantine, Sally Bowles, and Patsy Cline (Arts Club) Therese Dubuc in Les Belles Souers (Segal Centre/Theatre Calgary); Baker’s Wife in Into the Woods (Neptune and Thousand Islands); Kate in The Wild Party, Dr. Charlotte in Falsettos (Musical Stage Company); Miss Sandra in All Shook UP (DraytonEntertainment); Rona Lisa Peretti in Spelling Bee, (The Belfry); Velma Kelly in Chicago (Mayfield); Adelaide in Guys & Dolls (The Gateway); Audrey in Little Shop (Bluebridge Repertory); Nellie Forbush in South Pacific (Chemainus Theatre). Direction and Choreography credits include Out of Order (Drayton) My Fair Lady, Alice vs Wonderland (Bluebridge Rep Theatre); Slipper (ATP); The Buddy Holly Story, Chickens(Chemainus Theatre); Godspell, Blood Brothers, Altar Boyz, SUDS (Arts Club Theatre);Wintertime, West Side Story and Into the Woods (CCPA). Most recently Sara-Jeanne premiered her musical Talking Sex on Sunday at the Firehall Arts Centre.
Shannon McCracken is a singer, actor, voice-over artist and teacher. She has performed across Canada, and is equally at home in plays and musicals, film and television, and on the concert and cabaret stage. Shannon runs a private voice studio in Peterborough, teaching classical, musical theatre, and popular styles. She believes in creating a positive, safe space to work and create, and promotes musicianship and technique in lessons, encouraging healthy singing that is free of tension, grounded, and truthful—no matter the singing style. Shannon’s oratorio work includes Handel’s Messiah with the Peterborough Singers, the Grand River Chorus and Wilfrid Laurier University’s chamber choir and orchestra, Vivaldi’s Gloria with Choral Connection, and Bach’s Magnificat in D Major with the Northumberland Orchestra and Choir. As well as frequenting as a guest soloist for choirs and orchestras, Shannon has sung alongside Colm Wilkinson, and has been featured in cabarets at The Banff Centre, with New Stages, and at the inaugural Women of Musical Theatre Festival in Toronto. On the stage, some of Shannon’s favourite credits include: Esme in the world premiere of Buying the Farm (Port Stanley Festival Theatre); Galinda in Wicked, Amalia in She Loves Me (CMTP); Raising the Barn and Living History (Globus Theatre); Oklahoma! and The Sound of Music (Port Hope Festival Theatre); and Barbarina in The Marriage of Figaro (Opera Laurier). Shannon is a proud member of the Canadian Actors’ Equity Association, holds an Honours BMus in Voice Performance from Wilfrid Laurier University, and is an alumnus of the Banff Centre’s Musical Theatre Professional Intensive, the Victoria Conservatory’s Advanced Singers Program, and the Theatre 20 Conservatory. When she’s not on stage, set, or in the booth, she’s either teaching from her home voice studio, or walking her dog in the woods.
Mary Anne Dente
Expressing my love of the natural world through drawing and painting has been a life long passion. I am moved by the rhythm and resilience of nature as seen in forests and landscapes, seascapes, or even the tangled mass of a garden. In my travels, I paint the scenes that move me, attempting to capture the vibrancy of nature and the atmosphere of place. Regardless of my subject, texture and colour tend to be dominant elements in my oil and acrylic paintings. Oil and acrylic on canvas or birch panel are my preferred materials. I enjoy the viscosity and immediacy of oils, as well as the glazing and layering potential of acrylics. India ink drawings and acrylic washes are usually the first step when setting up my compositions. I continue with oils, trying to complete the balance of the painting in one sitting. I find this results in a more dynamic and energetic piece. I generally work with plein air sketches and photographs which I work up in the studio. I also paint directly en plein air using oils. My training has included working with artists at Central Technical Art School, Sheridan College, Neilson Park Creative Centre, and the Haliburton School of the Arts. Since retiring from full time teaching I have continued to practice my craft as well as conduct art workshops for children and adults in my studio in Stratford, Ontario. My work can be found in private collections in New Zealand, Florida, California and Ontario.