ARTISTIC DIRECTOR & CONDUCTOR – MARKUS HOWARD
As a conductor, director and choreographer, Markus Howard has worked extensively in the arts throughout Canada and abroad. He has appeared in 27 countries, working with musicians of varying ages, cultures and experiences. A conductor, educator, adjudicator and private teacher, Markus works in many musical genres including opera, musical theatre, pop and jazz voice. His students have included members of the Stratford and Shaw Festivals, Toronto’s Lion King, Mamma Mia, Billy Elliott, The Producers, and Jersey Boys, and a number of Broadway and National Touring companies. His talents have been recognized by Yamaha Music Canada, The Swedish Ministry of Culture, the Ontario Arts Council and the International Association of Jazz Educators. Markus Howard was a candidate finalist for the 2008/2009 Leslie Bell Prize for Choral Conducting.
Mr. Howard was on the faculty of the Royal Conservatory of Music, Glenn Gould School for 7 years teaching Choral Studies, Advanced Sight Singing, and Stage Craft for the Opera Division. For the Young Artist Performance Academy, he was the founding conductor of the Academy Choir. In the College Program at the Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts, Markus lectured theory and history courses, directed shows, founded the choral division, and was a studio teacher in both the music and dance faculties. Markus served as Lead Teacher in the Children’s Program for 7 years. At the University of Toronto, he directed the award winning Hart House Jazz Choir, Onoscatopoeia for 5 seasons, producing the group’s second album, and leading them to the semi-finals of the International Competition for Collegiate A cappella. Markus is currently the Artistic Director of the La Jeunesse Youth Choirs and the Oriana Singers in Cobourg, the Massey College Choirs, and works as the Lead Artist Educator for the Canadian Opera Company.
Mr. Howard has appeared as a chorister with the Stuttgart Kammerchor (Germany), the European Octet (Sweden), the World Chamber Choir (Belgium), and numerous Canadian professional choirs. He is the founding conductor of the professional chamber choir, La Movida, his proudest accomplishment to date. Markus represented UNESCO as an ambassador of Arts and Goodwill from 1996-1999, and continues to share his skills with aspiring artists at home and abroad.
ASSISTANT CONDUCTOR CHOIR I & II – MARION SAMUEL-STEVENS
Marion is a graduate of the University of Toronto’s Voice Performance. She has been praised for her warmth of tone and direct, engaging stage presence. “She maintained a feeling of tonal purity and roundness… finessing a number of tricky arpeggios…. performance was warm and supple”. Marion was the 2010 Ontario winner of the Natsaa competition and second runner up in the regional Natsaa competition in Indiana. She is an avid supporter of new music and was a finalist in the 2008 Eckhardt-Grammatté competition.
In 2010 she was one of two vocalists participating at the first ever Bohlen Pierce symposium in Boston Ma. Marion has performed Grigori Frid’s Diary of Anne Frank as Anne, Peter Skoggard’s new opera Stratas in the title role, Ruth in Ronald Beckett’s opera Ruth, Mark Adamo’s Little Women as Beth, as well as David Del-Tredici’s Alice with the National Ballet of Canada Orchestra. Operatic roles include Elle in La Voix Humaine by Poulenc, Marzelline in Beethoven’s Fidelio, Hélène in Hindemith’s Hin und Zurück and Estelle in The Stronger by Hugo Weisgall, Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute by Mozart and Titania in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Oratorio highlights include Mozart’s Coronation Mass and Vespers and Mass in C minor,, Haydn’s Paukenmesse, Lord Nelson Mass with the Elora Festival, and Creation. Vivaldi’s Gloria and Magnificat, Gounod’s St. Cecilia Mass, Faure’s Requiem, Handel’s Messiah and Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater and the Christmas Oratorio by J. S Bach. Marion has also been featured as a recitalist with Guelph’s Musicfest.
Piano Accompanist – Ken Gee
Ken Gee studied piano with Edna Smith, Reginald Bedford and Boris Berlin, and performed in many master classes. A winner of many performance scholarships, Ken is an experienced recitalist, concerto soloist, accompanist, and chamber music player. He has a Music B.A. from McMaster University, where he was awarded the McMaster Medal for the Creative and Performing Arts. Ken was music critic for the Hamilton Spectator, manager for chamber music series and Ensemble Sir Ernest MacMillan, co-director of the Hamilton Kiwanis Music Festival, and a teacher at McMaster University, Sheridan College and Mohawk College.
Ken’s other life is in Macintosh-based design work and music production. He developed classical piano music software for PG Music Inc., Victoria, made music and music text books for Frederick Harris Music Ltd. and the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto , and Kjos Music in San Diego. He is the accompanist for GYS, Suzuki Montreal, and has also been a piano adjudicator, and private teacher and coach.
In May 2007, he introduced Guelph Musicfest, a concert series in the Guelph Youth Music Centre Recital Hall that is in its 6th season (Between Friends featuring Ensemble made in Canada and Valerie Tryon) in May. In 2008, he was the recipient of a City of Guelph Mayor’s Award. Ken lives in Guelph with his violinist wife, Paule Barsalou (director of the Suzuki String School of Guelph).