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 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.
ASSISTANT CONDUCTOR, CHOIR I – HEATHER FLEMING
Heather studied recorder with Shannon Purves-Smith at Wilfrid Laurier University where she earned her B.Mus. and also received a minor in Geography. While at WLU, Heather sang in the Chapel Choir under the direction of Jan Overduin where she was a frequent soloist and also played and sang in the Baroque Ensemble under Michael Purves-Smith. She studied voice with Ronald Beckett, Canadian composer and director of the acclaimed ensemble Arcady. She has also taken lessons with counter-tenor Daniel Cabena and soprano Stephanie Kramer.
As a performer, Heather sings in the esteemed Parish Choir of St. John’s Anglican Church in Elora and was a member of the world renowned Elora Festival Singers for ten years, both directed by Noel Edison. She is a former soprano section lead with the Guelph Chamber Choir, directed by Gerald Neufeld. Heather is one of Arcady’s most prominent performers, directed by Ronald Beckett, and has served as President of the Board of Directors for many years. She has been a part of over a dozen CD recordings including one with the Elora Festival Singers that was nominated for a Grammy and has had the opportunity to work with some of the world’s finest conductors performing in cities across Canada and the USA as well as in Germany, Greece, and England. Heather was featured on TVOntario’s Studio 2 On Stage program, playing music of Ronald Beckett and appeared on Breakfast Television with the Elora Festival Singers. In 2011, Heather won the $500 Art Vogt Scholarship for a singer demonstrating excellence in performance and dedication to sacred music.
In 2012, Heather was appointed as Assistant Director of Arcady and began embarking on a career in conducting. For 2 years, Heather was the conductor of the choirs at Wellington Hall Academy, a private school dedicated to the performing arts and overall academic excellence. Heather was fortunate to act as assistant to Linda Beaupre with Choir I of the Guelph Youth Singers in 2013 and continued working with Markus Howard the following season. Heather was selected to become the Assistant Director of Guelph Youth Singers in the spring of 2014, conducting Choir I, the organization’s youngest choir, and is very pleased to be continuing in this role.
Heather is the Coordinator of the Kiwanis Music Festival of Guelph. She has been a vocal coach, guest clinician and soloist for various ensembles. Heather has been teaching voice, recorder, and theory since 1999 and conveys her enthusiasm, creativity and love of music to her students, many of whom have achieved top marks in RCM exams and music festivals. She has been teaching at the Guelph School of Music for over a decade and serves as Chair of the Voice Faculty.