2014 Jury & Guest Conductors
Paul Cummings - Canada
Paul Cummings, recipient of the BC Music Educators' 1995 Outstanding Music Educator Award, has degrees in Music, and Education from the University of British Columbia, and a Masters in Choral Conducting from Western Washington University, Bellingham. Paul was recently appointed Assistant Artistic Director of the International Choral Kathaumixw festival.
Paul studied trombone with jazz great Dave Robbins in the 80's before beginning his career as a music educator at Hatzic Secondary School in Mission, BC. In 1999/2000, Paul directed the Western Washington University Vocal Jazz Ensemble. His premiere vocal ensembles have enjoyed successful showcase performances at Festival Arnhem 2001 in Holland, Europa Cantat Choir Festival 1994 (Denmark), 1997 (Austria), 2003 (Spain), 2005 (Belgium), 2007 (Slovenia), 2010 (Spain), Canadian Rocky Mountain Music Festival, and the BC Vocal Jazz Festival. As coordinator of the BC Vocal Jazz Festival, Paul attracted artists such as Carol Welsman, Just 4 Kicks, and the New York Voices.
Mr. Cummings has enjoyed adjudicating at the Whitehorse Rotary Music Festival, Festival Nelson, Powell River International Vocal Jazz Summit, Surrey Jazz Festival, Salmon Arm Music Festival and the Langley District Jazz Festival.
Paul currently teaches music at Brooks Secondary School and the Powell River Academy of Music in Powell River, BC.
Fred Sjöberg - Sweden
Fred Sjöberg is an educated singer and choral conductor at the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm and Örebro. Among others he has studied with Prof. Solvieg Grippe, Prof. Eric Ericson and Prof. Helmuth Rilling. He often works as a conductor or tenor soloist and has been a member of the Eric Ericson Chamber Choir for many years.
Fred Sjöberg was on the executive committee for the 2nd World Symposium on Choral Music 1990 in Stockholm arranged by the International Federation on Choral Music and has from that time been working regularly on the international choral scene either as guest conductor, lecturer or as a judge.
He has been the first conductor to conduct three major international youth choirs – the World Youth Choir (1991 and 2005), the World Chamber Choir (1993) and the European Youth Choir (1999). With these choirs, Fred toured many European countries and produced CD recordings with these ensembles. When the Swedish organization for young choirs “UngiKör” started he was elected as their first president.
In 2000 he was awarded “Conductor of the Year” in Sweden by SCDA (Swedish Choral Directors Association) and in 2001 received the Johannes Norrby Medallion for outstanding service and development to the Swedish Choral Life.
From 1997-2004 Fred Sjöberg was Music Director and conductor of the project “Notes for Millions” which produced concerts all over Sweden, each year culminating in a gala concert at the Globe Arena in Stockholm with a mass choir of over 4.000 singers, orchestra and soloists. The project also organized choral competitions and national TV-shows. Since 2000- 2004 he was the Music Director of the Swedish Choral Centre at the Swedish Concert Institute. from 2005-2006 the Artistic Director of Lund International Choral Festival.
Mr Sjöberg is Vice President of the International Federation for Choral Music (IFCM), Vice President of Europa Cantat and since 2001 Secretary of the Eric Ericson Foundation. Fred Sjöberg has recently been appointed Director of the new Swedish International Choral Center Örebro (SWICCO) as well as principal conductor of the French National Youth Choir.
Scott Leithead - Canada
Scott Leithead is the founder and Artistic Director of Edmonton's Kokopelli Choir Association and TIME (Today’s Innovative Music Edmonton) Association. He has led provincial and state honour choirs on fifteen occasions in Canada and the United States. Recent appearances include conducting the Alberta Youth Choir for the Alberta Choral Federation’s 40th Anniversary Season and the 2013 Ellison Canadian National Honour Choir. As lecturer and presenter, Mr. Leithead has appeared at major conferences, symposiums and universities across Canada and beyond. In addition he has adjudicated at numerous national festivals including the ACCC National Competition for Canadian Amateur Choirs.
Mr. Leithead has worked with choirs in South Africa and Namibia on numerous occations since 2005. In 2008, while on sabbatical in Namibia where he conducted the Mascato Youth Choir and several other choirs in southern Africa.
Scott’s passion for innovative and unique choral music experiences has shaped the direction of the Kokopelli Choir Association. Currently the Vice Chairman of Choral/Vocal Division for MusicFest Canada, he is a longtime member of the advisory committee for the Canadian Rocky Mountain Music Festival. Mr. Leithead is also the President of the Brail Tone Music Society for persons with disabilities and serves on three national boards in Canada as well as the National Youth Music and Art Development Foundation of South Africa.
Gunnel Sjöberg - Sweden
Gunnel Sjöberg received her training as a singing teacher from the School of Music at the University of Örebro. She has also studied at the Royal University College of Music in Stockholm.
Gunnel is a frequent soloist in such works as the St John Passion, the St Matthew Passion and the Christmas Oratorio of Bach and the Requiems of Mozart and Fauré. She has also appeared in several TV shows and concerts. Ms. Sjöberg performs a wide range of repertoire; however, baroque music is closest to her heart.
Gunnel has worked with such renowned conductors as Eric Ericson, Robert Sund, Helmuth Rilling and Nikolaus Harnoncourt. She is the vocal coach for the French National Youth Choir. Together with her husband Fred Sjoberg she has founded the Swedish International Choral Center Örebro (SWICCO).
Tobin Stokes - Canada
Originally from Powell River, Tobin Stokes spent his younger years immersed in music here. At seven years old he was the youngest member of the brand new Powell River Boys Choir, and until age 13 sang under the baton of Don James, recording and performing concerts and tours in Mexico, Europe, the U.S., and Canada. He has been returning here to workshop and premiere commissioned compositions with the Powell River Academy of Music since 1990.
From single choir works to fully staged operas and productions with massed choirs and orchestra, his affiliations with both Kathaumixw and the Symphony and Opera Academy of the Pacific have been fruitful. His commissioned works for the academy's choirs have led to premieres in Venezuela, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Mexico, France, and England.
From years of experience as a performer in many genres, Tobin is comfortable working in a variety of styles as a keyboardist and percussionist. He obtained a BMus in percussion and went on to become a self-taught, prolific composer for film, theatre, opera, orchestra, choir, chamber music and large events. His music for television has aired on all the Canadian networks, the BBC, ABC, and PBS and includes international documentary series about Captain Cook and Charles Darwin. He was co-composer for the film Saving Luna and subsequent feature documentary, The Whale which has played in theatres around the world. He has been commissioned by CBC, Ballet British Columbia, the 2010 Olympics, the BC Choral Federation, the Victoria Symphony, the Vancouver Youth Symphony, The XV Commonwealth Games, and many more. He regularly receives new commissions for choral music, with premieres and performances in concert halls in various countries.
Tobin lives in Victoria BC, where he is a past Composer-In-Residence with the Victoria Symphony. His orchestral music has been recorded by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra with Maestro Arthur Arnold, and can be found online. He continues a multitude of regional, national, and international projects, currently including two new operas, one commissioned by City Opera Vancouver and funded by the Annenberg Foundation.
Ay-Laung Wang - Canada
Ay-Laung Wang is an active organ recitalist, conductor, adjudicator and teacher. Her outstanding musicianship, brilliant technique, and great personal charm make her a favorite with audiences and congregations wherever she performs. Currently Ms Wang is principal organist for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and First Baptist Church. In addition, she is a member of the faculty of Trinity western University and Assistant Conductor for the acclaimed TWU Chamber and Concert Choirs.
Ay-Laung graduated from Trinity Western University where she excelled in her piano and conducting studies. While at Trinity Western University, she served with great distinction as special assistant conductor to the TWU choirs. She continued her studies at UBC with Edward Norman receiving a Masters of Music with top standing in organ performance. She also holds performer and teacher ARCT diplomas from the Royal Conservatory of Toronto.
In 1995, the National Music Committee in her native Taiwan named her the New Musical Star. Since then, she has performed with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (for which she continues as Principal Organist), the Vancouver Bach Choir, the Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra, the Victoria Symphony Orchestra, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) Radio Brass, and the Taipei National University of the Arts Orchestra. Concert tours have taken her to Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, the United Kingdom, Poland, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Ay-Laung is well known for her extraordinary versatility. She was featured on CBC national television for the Easter Sunrise Celebration of 2004 and for the nationally televised memorial service for Sgt. "Smokey” Smith, the last surviving Canadian recipient of the Victoria Cross. She has accompanied the Taipei Christian Children’s Chorus in concert at the Vatican and has performed for the renowned composer Fu Yu-Lin on national television in Taiwan. Each summer, she participates in Festival Vancouver, and frequently performs as member of the "Fanfares N' Fugues", a trumpets and organ trio.
Chad Louwerse - Canada
Chad Louwerse is poised to take his place among the most important bass-baritones of his generation. He debuted in Europe with l’Opéra National du Rhin in Strasbourg as Bernadino in Berlioz’ Benvenuto Cellini and in Canada has been heard from Quebec to British Columbia. With the Montreal Opera, he starred as Boniface in Haydn’s Il Mondo Della Luna, sang Talpa in Il Tabarro and covered Leporello in Don Govanni. As a member of Montreal Opera’s Atelier Lyrique, he was singled out by Gingras of La Presse in Chabrier’s L’Etoile, who stated that “for pure comedy, first distinction goes to Chad Louwerse”.
In 2007-2008 he sang Capulet in Roméo et Juliette with Montreal Opera and the Bonze in Madama Butterfly with Pacific Opera Victoria. In 2008-2009, he was in Vancouver for Artesia in Eugene Onegin, a Nazarene in Salome and Monterone in Rigoletto and was also heard as Hortensius in Edmonton Opera’s La Fille du Regiment and as Palemon in Thaïs for Pacific Opera Victoria. Highlights of the 2009-2010 season include The Rake's Progress for Pacific Opera Victoria, Alidoro in Cenerentola and is bass soloist in Johannes Passion for the Calgary Philharmonic.
In past seasons Mr. Louwerse appeared with Pacific Opera Victoria as Harasta in Janácek’s Cunning Little Vixen and Bonze in Madama Butterfly. He performed the title role in Le Nozze di Figaro and Balthazar in Menotti’s Amahl and the nght Visitors with Opera NUOVA, Don Alfonso in Cos fan tutti with the Opera Project and Leporello in Don Giovanni with the Masterworks Festival. He was a member of the Vancouver Opera Touring Ensemble singing Bartolo in Figaro! Figaro! Figaro! based on Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Sviglia and Alidoro in La Cenerentola. He has been featured in Vancouver’s mainstage series in Macbeth, Werther and as Happy in La Fanciulla del West.
He is a winner of both the CBC Westcoast Performance Pacific Spotlight competition and the Début competition and has given recitals broadcast on CBC Radio Two. On CD, he can be heard in excerpts of Robert Turner’s opera Vile Shadow and Sylvia Rickard’s song-cycle Three Chinese Songs of Autumn for the Canadian Music Centre. He was named to the Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques in 2005 and received the Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold award. An active oratorio singer and recitalist, Mr. Louwerse’s concert repertoire includes the Bach Mass in B minor, the Brahms and Mozart Requiems and Mendelssohn’s Elijah.
Megan Skidmore - Canada
Megan Skidmore obtained both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Voice Performance from McGill University. She continued her studies at the Wiener Meisterkurze in Vienna, the Mozarteum in Salzburg and the Franz Schubert Institut in Baden bei Wien.
While in Montreal she had great success as Feu and Rossignol in L’Enfant et les Sortilèges, Cunegonde in Candide and Sara Riel in Louis Riel with Opera McGill. She also performed the title role in Princess Ida and Josephine in HMS Pinafore with McGill’s Savoy Society. She has performed the role of Annina in Pacific Opera Victoria’s production of La Traviata and was also a member of the POV opera chorus for their productions of Erewhon and Il Trovatore. Ms. Skidmore was solist in Schubert’s Mass in G major with the North Island Choral Society and in
R. Vaughn Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem at the 2009 Chorfest in Powell River. She has collaborated with pianist Sarah Hagen for a number of performances in the Comox Valley.
Ms. Skidmore was raised in the Comox Valley and returned in 2007 as a private voice teacher. Her students’ accomplishments include acceptance to the University of Victoria Voice Program and the Grant MacEwan College Musical Theatre program and performance in the Provincial Festival of the Arts. She was also a music director for Mel Brooks’ The Producers presented by Light Fantastic Productions in November 2008.
Ms. Skidmore joined the faculty of the Powell River Academy of Music in 2009. She teaches voice, is music director for the Musical Theatre Program and conducts the Powell River Girls Choir.
Walter Martella - Canada
Walter Martella, conductor and music director of the Powell River Academy of Music is a pianist, trumpeter, and accordionist. He is one of the great gems of the Sunshine Coast. Walter has taken the stage with many world class musicians and conductors. He has recorded 5 cd’s. Performing is a significant part of Walter’s career but just as important to him is his involvement with the Academy of Music. He is a strong believer in the power of music as part of community. Walter is currently the conductor of the Powell River Boys’ Choir, Academy Singers, Chor Musica, Academy Chamber Choir, and the Powell River Chorus and has a full private teaching schedule. He is a graduate of Banff School, Vancouver Island University, University of Victoria, and the BCCF conducting program.