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. Conducting choirs and opera, and as a private voice teacher, Markus works in many musical genres including opera/oratorio, musical theatre, pop and jazz voice. 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. He has been nominated four times as a candidate finalist by the Ontario Arts Council for the Leslie Bell Prize for Excellence in Conducting.
Mr. Howard pursues an active adjudicating schedule across North America, most recently overseeing Classical Voice and Music Theatre at the Federation of Canadian Music Festivals National Finals, Nova Scotia Provincial Finals for Voice and Choirs, and the Ontario Music Festivals Provincial Finals. This coming season takes him to Newfoundland, British Columbia and Stratford, Ontario. Currently, Markus is the Artistic Director for two of Ontario’s most outstanding youth choir organizations, the award-winning Guelph Youth Singers and La Jeunesse Choirs, and concludes an eleven-year tenue leading the Oriana Singers of Cobourg, and as Interim Conductor for London Pro Musica Choir. He serves as the founding conductor of the professional chamber choir LA MOVIDA, and appears as guest conductor for advanced choirs around the province.
In September of 2022, he will take over the role of Artistic Director for the Durham Philharmonic Choir. Recent engagements include concerts with the Guelph Symphony Orchestra, and as conductor for the Handel opera, Alcina with Halifax Summer Opera. He held the position of Lead Artist Educator with the Canadian Opera Company, and was on the faculty of the Royal Conservatory of Music, Glenn Gould School and the Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts. His students grace opera and concert stages, including members of the Stratford and Shaw Festivals, Toronto’s Lion King, Billy Elliott, The Producers, and Jersey Boys, and a number of Broadway and National Touring companies, and has worked as lead voice coach for Mirvish Production’s Lion King School. At the University of Toronto, Markus directed the Hart House Jazz Choir and Massey College Choirs. Mr. Howard is a PROUD recipient of the Paul Harris Fellowship from Rotary International.
ASSISTANT CONDUCTOR CHOIR I & II – MARION SAMUEL-STEVENS
Marion Samuel-Stevens has been a performer and music educator in the Guelph area for 20 years. As a professional singer, Marion has performed widely in Canada, Austria, and the United States. She holds a Bachelor of Music Performance from the University of Toronto and has continued her studies in vocal pedagogy and contemporary music pedagogy since then. Her most recent certifications are in Vocal Health First Aid and Vocal Habilitation (assisting those with vocal injuries, fatigue, or any other voice related questions). As well as maintaining an active private vocal studio, Marion is a sessional lecturer at the University of Guelph, where she is assisting in creating a new contemporary music program for singers. She is the Artistic Director of the Village by the Arboretum singers. Marion began her vocal career in choirs and believes strongly in the power of choir to formulate positive, empowering, and educational experiences for singers of all ages and backgrounds.
Piano Accompanist – Ken Gee
Ken Gee is a classical pianist, born in Hamilton but happily living now in Guelph. He studied music at McMaster University, where he was awarded the McMaster Medal for the Creative and Performing Arts, and piano in Toronto with Boris Berlin. 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. He developed classical piano music software for PG Music Inc., Victoria, and makes music and music textbooks for Frederick Harris Music Ltd. and the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.
He is the pianist for Guelph Youth Singers, Suzuki String School of Guelph, and Suzuki summer Institutes in Waterloo and Montreal. He has a broad knowledge of music for strings and piano. Ken is also an experienced solo recitalist and concerto performer. He has also been a piano adjudicator, private teacher, and chamber music coach. Ken is a board member and former chair of the Guelph Youth Music Centre where, among other initiatives, he led the creation of the Guelph Youth Symphony Orchestra. In 2008, he was the recipient of a City of Guelph Mayor’s Award. Ken is married to his violinist wife, Paule Barsalou (director of the Suzuki String School of Guelph).
Ken is the founder and director of Guelph Musicfest, an annual chamber music festival that is celebrating its 16th anniversary in 2022. More information at Guelph Musicfest.