Powell River Academy of Music
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2018 Jury & Guest Conductors

Don James - Canada
Head of Jury

Don JamesDon James, CM settled in Powell River after graduating in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Washington in the early 1970s. He has enjoyed a successful career as a conductor, music educator and musical entrepreneur. He is the Founder and Artistic Director Emeritus, Powell River Academy of Music, International Choral Kathaumixw and Symphony & Opera Academy of the Pacific and is President of the Board of Directors of the Powell River Academy of Music.

A mentor and an inspiration to a countless number of his students and colleagues, Mr. James’ influence in creating connections between musicians cannot be overstated; he has reached out to the global music community throughout his career. He has served as president of the Association of Canadian Choral Conductors, the British Columbia Association of Community Music Schools and, for a decade, was Canada’s representative on the Board of Directors of the International Federation for Choral Music and as a member of the Music Council of the World Choir Games. Mr. James is the recipient of the Willan Award and Canada’s highest honour, the Order of Canada, in recognition of his distinguished service to music.


Shan-Min Yu – Taiwan
Children's Treble Choir Common Song Director

Shan-Min YuIntroducing the Kathaumixw 2018 Children's Treble Choir Common Singing director, Shan-Min Yu! Ms. Yu is a cross media performing artist with multiple talents including choral conducting, singing, stage directing, acting, and movie directing. During her early childhood, she began taking Chinese opera lessons in her native Taipei, Taiwan. Reaching high school, she discovered her passion for Western music and graduated from the lauded Kwang-Ren Musical High School.

She continued her studies at Westminster Choir College in voice performance and received her Choral Conducting Master’s Degree from Temple University in Philadelphia, USA. Ms. Yu returned to Taiwan and became the most well-known active choral conductor in the country. She received her second Master’s Degree in Drama Acting from Taipei National University of the Arts. Currently, she is pursuing her third Master’s in Movie Directing from the National Taiwan University of Art to become a well-rounded powerhouse.

Ms. Yu is past artistic director of Taipei Philharmonic Children’s Choir. Now she is a full-time professor in the Shu-Te University Performing Arts Departments and also is the Art Director/Conductor for a multitude of choirs, including Tainan Chamber Choir, Shu-Te Glee Club, and Penghu Cultural Bureau Chorus. Her choirs have earned numerous awards in many countries including South Korea, Hungary, the United States, China, Singapore, Germany, Spain, Japan, and Italy.

Damijan Močnik - Slovenia
Adult Choir Common Song Director

Damijan MočnikDamijan Močnik completed his musical studies (composition) at the Academy of Music in Ljubljana in 1991. He developed his craft by studying abroad, which included coaching with Swedish conductor Eric Ericson.

Since 1993, Močnik has been the choral conductor and music director at the Diocesan Classical Gymnasium in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and since 2000, the artistic director of all musical activities at the St. Stanislaus Institution in Ljubljana. Damijan is the conductor for several choirs, and has won several awards at national and international choral competitions, including the Choir of the World Award at Kathaumixw 2014 with St. Stanislav's Youth Choir.

Močnik’s compositional efforts are mainly devoted to the human voice, but he has also composed instrumental pieces. Močnik’s musical speech finds its inspiration in selected texts, and is grounded in rhythmic and melodic stimuli. The melodic narration evolves as a solid form framed in diverse polyphone, polytonal and polychordal structure. Močnik's compositions were performed all over the world and thrills musicians and audiences around the world with its directness, and numerous dramatical turns with rich, exceptional and mysterious sonorities.


Edward Norman - Canada

Ed NormanEdward was born in the UK and trained at the Royal College of Music, London, winning two prizes for organ performance. Further studies at UBC with organist Hugh MacLean followed his emigration to Canada. He has held several important church positions in Canada, including St. George’s Cathedral, Kingston, Ontario. he has held two important posts in the USA – most recently at St. Michael’s Church, Charleston SC.

In Canada he has performed from the Maritimes to British Columbia, including St. James’ Cathedral and St. Paul’s Bloor Street in Toronto, Mount Royal College Calgary, the University of Alberta in Edmonton and Holy Rosary Cathedral, Vancouver. He has performed widely in the UK, including Cambridge University (Fitzwilliam College) as well as in Poland, Germany and Japan. He has performed in the Vancouver International Festival and – most recently – the Spoleto Festival in Charleston SC. He has been heard frequently on CBC radio.

As an accompanist and continuo player, Edward has performed with a wide variety of ensembles and instrumentalists including principal musicians from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Kingston Symphony Orchestra, the Charleston Symphony Brass, the Vancouver Bach choirs and the YNSO, Tokyo, to name a few.


Chad Louwerse - Canada Chad_louwerse

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_skidmoreMegan 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 and conducts the Powell River Youth Choir. 


Jim Sparks - Canada

Jim SparksJames Sparks (Jim) is adjunct professor at the UBC School of Music (conducting), lecturer in Arts Education at SFU, senior advisor for choral music for Music Mentors International, and former director of choral music at the Langley Fine Arts School (LFAS) in Langley British Columbia. With an undergraduate degree in piano and voice (University of British Columbia), a Masters Degree in choral conducting (University of Arizona), and a PhD in philosophy (Simon Fraser University), Jim has continued his teaching in school, university, and community contexts for over three decades.

In his roles as researcher, conductor, and singing leader, Jim connects active research with music learning, music performance, and professional music leadership. With support from the Canada Council, the Canadian Music Educators Association, the AIRS collaborative initiative and Simon Fraser University, Jim has pursued collaborative singing research with several choral leaders in the world: Alina Orraca, Havana, Cuba (Schola Cantorum Coralina); Joseph Muyale Inzai, (National Boys Choir of Kenya); renowned Ukrainian choral conductor, Anatoliy Avdievski in Kiev, Ukraine (Veriovka Choir); and Helle Hoyer in Aarhus, Denmark (Aarhus Pigakor Choir). Jim is the recipient of the Profession Music Educator Award from the BC Music Educators Association, the 2009 recipient of the Willan Award from the BC Choral Federation and Simon Fraser University President’s PhD Award for 2014. Jim is in demand as an adjudicator, lecturer, and guest conductor throughout Canada, Europe, Kenya, Cuba, and Brazil.

Alina Orraca Llama - Cuba

Alina Orraca LlamaAlina Orraca Llama earned a Choral Conductor degree from the National School of Arts in 1975 and a University degree from the Institute of Higher Arts in 1981. For the past 22 years she has been head of the Choral Music department at the National School of Arts where she founded an award winning Camera Choir. In 1993 founded Schola Cantorum Coralina. She has been a jury member for numerous national and international competitions and is a Member of Artistic Committee: IFCM (Summit China 2012). Alina Orraca is one of Cuba’s most eminent choral conductors and educators and has presented highly successful courses, workshops, and performances in Nicaragua, the Vatican, Venezuela, Spain, Brazil, México and Sweden, as well as Cuba and Canada. Her project Schola Cantorum Coralina, created not only for her development as choral director, but also to grow and spread choral music in children, has become a model for the creation of the National Movement of Children's Choirs in Cuba.