2019 Stingray Rising Star Award recipient and 2020 International Clarinetist Corona Competition first prize winner Virginia MacDonald has established herself as a respected and sought after musician in the Canadian jazz scene. Virginia has worked extensively as a leader and side woman at several venues across Toronto including Koerner Hall, The Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, The Jazz Bistro, and The Rex Hotel. She has performed in Canadian and International jazz festivals including The Cambridge Jazz Festival, the Jaipur Jazz & Blues Festival, the TD Toronto Jazz Festival, the TD Markham Jazz Festival and the Cape Breton Jazz Festival.
Virginia has had the opportunity to work internationally in the United States, India, and Europe. Recently, Virginia appeared on Juno Award-winning saxophonist Kirk MacDonald's album "Generations" alongside the great Harold Mabern. Known for her lyrical and soulful clarinet playing, Virginia has been described as a "powerful new voice in the Canadian scene" by Juno Award-winning bassist Mike Downes. Virginia is a proud Rovner products ambassador.
In addition to her busy performance schedule, Virginia is an in-demand educator and has given masterclasses at McGill University, the Global Music Institute, and the True School of Music. Virginia is a faculty member at the Bob Mover Academy of Music. Virginia is so happy to be part of the CMC team, where she teaches clarinet and saxophone!
B. Mus in violin performance, McGill, M. Mus in violin performance, U of Toronto
A native of Newmarket, Ontario, Charna Matsushige began studying the violin with Sonia Klimasko at age 6 and by her late teens continued her studies with David Zafer in Toronto. Charna has won numerous awards and scholarships in festivals and competitions across the province. In 2012, she was featured in V-PAN’s Young Artists Showcase at the Newmarket Theatre. Charna has been a member of the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra, the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, the McGill Symphony Orchestra and the University of Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
An avid chamber musician, Charna has participated in string quartet programs at the Scotia Festival of Music in Halifax and the NYU Steinhardt Intensive String Quartet Workshop in New York City. Charna received her Bachelor of Music in Performance at McGill University’s Schulich School of Music under the tutelage of Mark Fewer. In 2014, she received her Masters of Music from the University of Toronto, studying with Yehonatan Berick. She currently freelances in the Toronto and surrounding areas. Charna has been teaching since 2007 in Newmarket and Bradford, Ontario. She is very excited to be joining our CMC faculty of teachers.
B.Mus. U of Toronto, Suzuki Certified Teacher
Eslin first picked up a violin at the age of three beginning her musical education through the Suzuki method. She has since graduated with Honours in Violin Performance from the University of Toronto where she studied with Annalee Patipatanikoon. Upon graduation in 2013, she was the recipient of the James Craig Opera Orchestra Award for musicianship and opera orchestra excellence.
Eslin has been involved with numerous orchestras, touring Canada as a member of the Juno nominated National Youth Orchestra of Canada as well as performing with the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra and the Brantford Symphony Orchestra. She is active in the Toronto music scene as a freelance violinist, performing at a variety of venues and in diverse musical groups including; folk, jazz, pop, classical and new music ensembles.
In 2007 Eslin was the winner of the Kitchener Waterloo Symphony Youth Orchestra Concerto Competition and preformed with the orchestra. She has also been a soloist in the Brantford Music Club Young Artist Series. Eslin is a member of the Suzuki Association of the Americas having trained with Karen-Michele Kimmett. She has also completed her Suzuki Early Childhood Education Training (SECE) with Dorothy and Sharon Jones.
Eslin has been teaching at CMC for several years and is very excited to have added on the Suzuki Baby & Toddler Class to her teaching roster this year!
B. Mus, M. Mus. in Violin Performance, U of T
An active freelance musician in the Toronto area, violinist Kenin McKay completed her Masters degree in Performance at the University of Toronto, where she studied with Annalee Patipatanakoon and Scott St. John. In 2006, upon receiving her Bachelor of Music Degree with honours standing from the University, she was awarded the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto graduating scholarship, and in 2007 she also received the Frank M Waddell scholarship for outstanding academic achievement.
Kenin is a certified Suzuki teacher and enjoys teaching both private students and the Suzuki Group Class here at CMC. After recently completing her Suzuki Early Childhood Education Training with Dorothy and Sharon Jones, Kenin also teaches CMC's Suzuki Baby & Toddler Class.
Kenin has been teaching violin at CMC since 2005.
B.Mus. in Performance, Humber College, RCM Classical Guitar Performance ARCT level
Luan Phung (born 1991 in London, England) is a Toronto based improviser, composer, guitarist, and teacher/clinician who works in a broad spectrum of musical idioms. He has been described as “outstanding” and “an impact player” who “raises the bar on so many levels” by distinguished Canadian guitarists Geoff Young and David Occhipinti. Equally comfortable performing straight-ahead jazz and freely improvised musical contexts, to fully notated new music/contemporary works, Luan is an in demand Canadian musician.
As a young classical guitarist, he garnered a number of musical accolades including four consecutive Royal Conservatory of Music silver medals for the highest practical examination mark in the province, a number of first place gold medals at Performing Arts BC, a finalist for the renowned Kay Meek scholarship Competition, and a national finalist at the Canadian Music Competition, among others. Luan was chosen to play in the TD Canada Trust High School Jazz Intensive, led by the anchor of Chicago’s jazz scene, renowned and innovative flautist Nicole Mitchell and winning the CanFor scholarship in conjunction with the Vancouver International Jazz festival, as well as being chosen to play in the Ottawa Youth Summit All-star Band, led by Canadian trumpet great Jim Lewis and winning the Galaxie Rising Star award for jazz performance. Luan holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Humber College with honors and was awarded the Ten Quinlan guitar award and the Dave Stillwell composition award. Luan has studied with Hanh Nguyen, David Occhipinti, Geoff Young, Kirk MacDonald, Shannon Gunn, Jim Lewis, Ted Quinlan and many more. Luan currently leads his own quintet and performs/records in a variety of musical contexts and groups in festivals and around the Toronto area.
Luan has over 10 years of experience teaching beginner and advanced music concepts and technique to students who range from young beginner children to potential post-secondary music degree entrance hopefuls and believes in the importance of imparting passion, curiosity, and knowledge onto the next generation of music makers.
Sarah Pollard is a recent graduate of the Schulich School of Music of McGill University(MMus Performance), where she studied under Carolyn Christie (Montreal Symphony Orchestra(ret.)). In the fall of 2020, Sarah will be attending the Glenn Gould School in Toronto to pursueher Artist Diploma with full scholarship, under the direction of Susan Hoeppner.
An aspiring orchestral musician, Sarah was recently accepted as a fellow with both the 2020 Orchestra of the Americas, and the 2020 National Repertory Orchestra in Colorado (postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19). Previous orchestral memberships include the McGill Symphony Orchestra and National Academy Orchestra of Canada, among others. As a chamber musician Sarah has performed contemporary music in numerous ad hoc ensembles, including McGill's prestigious Schoenberg ensemble.
In addition to performing, Sarah has a passion for teaching the flute, piano and music theory/history. She is committed to helping students of all ages achieve their personal best, while fostering an enthusiasm and joy in the performance and theory of classical music.
Sarah is excited to be joining the CMC faculty!
RCM Grade 10 Piano, B. Mus. Jazz Performance & M. Mus. Jazz Performance, University of Toronto
Born in Edmonton, Alberta, Chris Pruden's musical journey began with classical piano studies at the age of 5. He became interested in jazz after high school and moved to Toronto to attend the Jazz performance program at the University of Toronto.
His various mentors include Geoff Young, Gary Williamson, Chris Donnelly, and Jacob Sacks. Chris feels at home in a wide variety of genres and has performed in festivals and venues across Canada, China, and Europe. He is a current member of the Juno nominated Tara Kannangara Group, Language Arts, Zinnia, Future Machines, Illyin Pipes, Danielle Knibbe Band, Ronley Teper's Lipliners, Mark Godfrey Quintet, and Andrew Forde's Ghost Tapes.
Chris has been teaching piano for the past 8 years, and looks forward to being a part of the CMC community.
B.Mus., Calgary, M.Mus., Doc of Mus., U of Toronto
Erik Ross composes for all musical media and he has written for productions that include electronics, theatre, film and dance. His large choral work, Icarus in the Sea, with text by Lorna Crozier, was toured four times in Canada by the Canadian Chamber Choir, and his chamber opera Northern Lights, Eastern Fire, with librettist Phoebe Tsang, for which he was also the pianist and music director. His commissions also include a piece for Toca Loca’s P*P Project, a solo steelpan and brass band piece for steelpan virtuoso Liam Teague for the 25th anniversary season of the Hannaford Street Silver Band, a large work for the Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan and a chamber orchestra piece for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. His concerto for saxophonist Wallace Halladay and percussionist Ryan Scott premiered in March 2013 on the final concert of the 30th anniversary season of the Esprit Orchestra. His song cycle, Waypoints, with the poetry of Zachariah Wells, was written for Phillip Addis and Emily Hamper and was premiered in Toronto and was subsequently performed by the commissioners at the Bastille Opera house in Paris. His most recent commissions also include a song for tenor Lawrence Wiliford and a song cycle for soprano Ambur Braid and the Canadian Art Song project, on the death poetry of Charles Baudelaire. He is currently writing a song cycle for chamber orchestra, soprano and tenor for g27.
Dr. Ross’s Concerto for Oboe and Orchestra was premiered by Joseph Salvalaggio and the Memphis Symphony, and it was performed again at the International Double Reed Society Conference in Melbourne, Australia, by Diana Doherty under the direction of Nicholas Daniel. His piano trio was premiered by the Gryphon Trio at the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival, he wrote a chamber opera for Tapestry New Opera Works’ production at the Opera America Conference, and he wrote a marimba concerto for Ryan Scott and the Esprit Orchestra.
He holds a Doctor of Music degree from the University of Toronto where his advisor was Christos Hatzis and he was a two-time recipient of the John Weinzweig Scholarship. He spent two years composing for the Canadian Composers Music Workshop at the Festival of the Sound under the direction of Gary Kulesha, he has acted as musical interpreter for numerous John Oswald projects, and he has acted as dance captain for numerous Halo Ballet productions (a piece that combines live music with live video dancing).
Erik also takes great enjoyment in performing contemporary classical/jazz/rock repertoire, particularly that of his peers, and he is an improvising pianist and keyboardist, including performing for the New Creations Festival with the Toronto Symphony. He has received numerous awards, fellowships and scholarships, including top prizes at SOCAN, and has received commissions from the Canada Council, the Ontario Arts Council, the Toronto Arts Council, the Music Gallery, Roger D. Moore and the Laidlaw Foundation. Erik is an avid educator, and has taught private and conservatory piano, theory, improvisation and composition lessons to individuals of all ages and ability levels for 20 years. He has taught classes at the University of Toronto and U of T at Scarborough and has been an instructor/composer for numerous music programs including: education director for Soundstreams Canada’s Cool Drummings Festival; the Canadian Music Centre’s outreach program; with the Gryphon Trio at Earl Haig Secondary School; the Classical Music Conservatory; the Canadian Composers Music Workshop; the Canadian League of Composers’ Composing the Future; the Canadian Children’s Opera Company’s OPERAtion KIDS program; Young People’s Theatre’s Music Theatre program.
Erik has also written works for artists and ensembles such as soprano Carla Huhtanen, counter-tenor Scott Belluz, the Aldeburgh Connection, Arpatambora, the Caliban quartet, the Lee-Villanueva Duo, oboist Sarah Jeffrey, accordionist Joseph Petric, hornist Gabriel Radford, as well as a cave installation that was produced in collaboration with the Contemporary Keyboard Society through the New Music in New Places series of the Canadian Music Centre. His compositions have been performed by artists such as vocalists Tracy Smith Bessette, Norine Burgess, Teri Dunn, Matthew Leigh, Allyson McHardy, Marion Newman, Giles Tomkins and Vilma Vitols, hornists Nancy Goodearl and Joan Watson, New Music Concerts, the Talisker Players, and the Land’s End Chamber Ensemble. He has had live performances of his works in Australia, Canada, England, France, Japan, Latvia, Thailand, and the United States.
Erik is at: www.erikrossmusic.com
B Mus, Humber College
Born in Sarnia, Ontario, Torrie Seager relocated to Toronto to pursue a career in music. While enrolled in the Humber College Jazz program Torrie studied with and was mentored by Canada’s top Jazz musicians including Pat Labarbera, Ted Quinlan, and David Occhipinti.
After completing his studies Torrie began working as a sideman while fronting his own ensembles including Everybody’s Favourite Colour and the Torrie Seager Quartet. Torrie’s sideman credits include contributions to artists like Johnny Alexander, Evren, Lewis Moorman, Ogguere, Dr. Draw, Os Tropies, The Human Rights, and Vivienne Wilder. Since 2012 Torrie has been a key member of the dream pop trio, Hush Pup. Hush Pup has released two EP’s, Darlene and Waterwings, and has done three cross-Canada tour. Their first full length album will be released in 2017. Recently Torrie has been performing with The Gordon Hyland Group and Arkose. Both ensembles are expected to release new music in 2017.
Torrie has enjoyed teaching guitar for almost a decade, and has also taught piano, bass, and ukelele for the past several years.
B. Mus. in Jazz Performance, U of Toronto
Nick Shao has been playing music since the age of 10. His career thus far has been brief but rewarding and nothing short of eclectic. Over the years, he has developed a solid foundation in traditional drumset playing which has allowed him to explore different styles of drumming from various cultures around the world such as West African drumming and Japanese Taiko drumming.
He has performed all across North America, in the Netherlands, Austria and Hungary with a diverse number of jazz, rock, world music and orchestral ensembles including the Toronto All-Star Big Band, the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra and the Kiyoshi Nagata Ensemble. Originally from Etobicoke, Nicholas started playing the drums at the Humber College Community Music School and continued on to attend the Etobicoke School of the Arts where he was awarded the prestigious Lionel C. Wooster Jazz Award. From there he entered the University of Toronto where he completed his Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Performance. In his spare time, he enjoys playing and watching baseball.
B. Mus. Violin Performance, Diploma in Operatic Performance, U of Toronto
Michael Sproule is an Ottawa-born violinist and operatic baritone. He has built a unique career that has taken him from the Orchestra of the Canadian Opera Company to the stage.
Michael is currently a member of the Canadian Opera Company Chorus. On the violin side, he received a Bachelor of Music Degree in Performance from the University of Toronto, studying with Lorand Fenyves. Michael furthered his violin studies with Rodney Friend in London, England, and in the Winter Programme at the Banff Centre for the Arts. He has won several awards including First Prize in the Remenyi Violin Competition, a grant from the Floyd S. Chalmers Foundation, and the National Arts Centre Orchestra Bursary.
He has appeared as soloist with the Cathedral Bluffs Orchestra and the Huronia Symphony and was concertmaster of the Les Miserables Orchestra . Michael was a member of the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra from 1990 to 2007 and has performed with many orchestras including the Esprit Orchestra, the National Ballet Orchestra, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, the Brantford Symphony, and the orchestras of Miss Saigon, Beauty and the Beast, Crazy For You, Ragtime, Jane Eyre, and The Lion King.
On the singing side, Michael studied voice with Mary Morrison and Patricia Kern, receiving a Diploma in Operatic Performance from the University of Toronto. He also studied at the Britten-Pears School in England with Russian baritone Sergei Leiferkus. Michael sang the role of the French Abbé in the Canadian Opera Company's production of War and Peace by Prokofiev. He created the role of John Wilson in the world premiere of The Last Duel by Gary Kulesha, and his operatic roles performed include Guglielmo in Mozart's Così Fan Tutte, Faninal in Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss, The Clock in Ravel's L'Enfant et les Sortilèges, Ford in Verdi's Falstaff, Rambaldo in La Rondine by Puccini, and The Ferryman in Benjamin Britten's Curlew River, a role he performed in Aldeburgh, England. Michael has appeared as soloist with the Talisker Players, the Georgetown Bach Choral, the Valley Festival, and the Brampton Festival Singers, and has performed in recital with pianist Roger Vignoles in Nagaoka, Japan.
Michael loves teaching and, in addition to teaching at the Classical Music Conservatory of Canada, he leads the Lower/Middle School and Upper School String Ensembles at the Crescent School in Toronto.
B. Mus. Cello Performance (U of T), M. Mus. (McGill)
A native of Strathmore, Alberta, cellist Sarah Steeves has performed around the world in countries such as Brazil, China, New Zealand, Spain, and the United Kingdom. She currently resides in Toronto where she is a member of Sinfonia Toronto and a doctoral student at the University of Toronto. Highlights from her 2009-2010 included a performance in Carnegie Hall with the Youth Orchestra of the Americas and the World Orchestra’s tour of China.
Sarah holds a Bachelor of Music with Honours in Performance from the University of Toronto (2007) and a Master of Music in Performance from McGill University (2009). Sarah earned Royal Conservatory of Music Diplomas in Cello and Piano Performance in 2003 and 2004 respectively. Sarah is currently working on her Doctorate of Music at U of T.
As a certified Suzuki teacher, Sarah has taught at the Classical Music Conservatory since 2009. She recently spent six weeks coaching cello students in Neojibá, a project located in Salvador, Brazil which provides musical education to underprivileged young adults.
Sarah is one of the founding members of the Ton Beau String Quartet.
Jazz Performance, U of Toronto
Brandon is an active performer, composer, arranger and educator on the Toronto music scene. Originally from Vancouver, he has over 11 years of playing experience and has been teaching since 2006. Brandon's teaching style is fun, thorough, and centers on learning both the important rudiments of music and guitar playing, and playing the music which inspires each and every student.
Brandon is a recent graduate of the University of Toronto's Jazz Performance Program, and has studied with Canada's Geoff Young, as well as New York's Ben Monder and Adam Rogers. In 2010 he received the Fraser MacPherson scholarship awarded to B.C's most promising young jazz instrumentalists, and in 2009 the Don Wright Scholarship fund for arranging at the University of Toronto. Brandon excels in the jazz and blues idioms, has performed extensively in musical theatre, and is also greatly influenced by classic rock, latin, funk and popular music.
M.Mus. Piano Performance (University of Music and Dance Cologne, Germany)
At the age of 7 Cathy Yang started her musical career with Prof. Zhaoyi Dan in China. Soon after she immigrated to Canada and continued her musical journey with Vladimir Niurenberg in Toronto. Her professional musical studies were completed with Prof. Ilja Scheps at the University of Music and Dance Cologne (Germany) with a Masters degree in piano performance. While in Canada, she participated and received prizes in many regional piano festivals and also in the nation-wide Canadian Music Competition. In 2006, she won two first prizes at the solo and concerto competition at Ithaca College in New York, USA.
In May 2006, she was invited by the Vladimir Spivakov International Foundation as one of two representatives from Canada to participate in their music festival Moscow Meets Friends. Performing in the Central Music School in Moscow, Russia, she shared the stage with some of the most talented young musicians from around the world.
In 2010, Cathy won the third prize in her age category at the International Piano Competition Vila de Capdepera in Spain.
While in Aachen, Germany she was invited multiple times by the Collegium Musicum orchestra of the RWTH Aachen to perform as the soloist in the piano concertos of Mozart, Beethoven and Chopin. She also performed in Poland with various orchestras. As a member of Aix Alma Trio she toured several times in Germany.
Cathy was part of the Pedagogical Internship with Dorothee Broichhausen in 2012 where she gained more love of teaching. Cathy has been teaching for 10 years, now lives in Toronto, Canada and is currently working on some innovative piano projects. She is excited to join the musical family at CMC.
B. Mus & M. Mus Performance in Opera, UBC
Calgary born soprano Gwendolyn Yearwood began singing at the age of 5 with the Calgary Girls Choir. Gwendolyn sang with the choir for 16 years. Her love of teaching began at age 18 when she first started working as a vocal coach for the choir. She taught and mentored several young singers while completing a diploma of music performance at Mount Royal University.
Gwendolyn’s love of performance and opera took her to Vancouver where she completed a Bachelor’s and Master’s of Music from the University of British Columbia. During her time with UBC Opera she had the opportunity to perform several roles throughout Canada, the Czech Republic, and China. Her performances with UBC Opera include: Countess in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, Magda in Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Consul, Mimi in Puccini’s La Bohème, and Giorgetta in Puccini’s il Tabarro. Gwendolyn has also performed the role of Musetta with Burnaby Lyric Opera, Rosalinde with the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra, and most recently Niece 2 in the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s production of Peter Grimes.
Gwendolyn moved to Toronto in the summer of 2018 to continue pursuing a career in music. She is thrilled to continue teaching singers of all ages here in Toronto.