Music Alive Guest Artists

Dennis Beck

Dennis Beck

Dennis Beck earned two undergraduate degrees from Western University, and completed a graduate program in conducting from the University of Calgary. In addition to teaching experience at the junior and senior high school levels, he has been a sessional lecturer for the Faculty of Education of the University of Toronto, conducted at Alberta College Conservatory in Edmonton for several years, and played clarinet with the Edmonton Wind Sinfonia and the CBC's Edmonton Wind Ensemble. He founded the Ontario chapter of Phi Beta Mu, the international band director’s fraternal organization, and is a member of the College Band Directors National Association. He served as a vice-president of the Alberta Band Association, was a founding director of the Ontario Band Association and is a past-president of the OBA. For several years he was a facilitator for student leaders at the Ontario Educational Leadership Centre. His articles on music education have appeared in several professional journals, and since 2000 he has written analyses of band compositions for different volumes of the highly regarded series of music texts, Teaching Music Through Performance in Band, published by GIA in Chicago.

Recognized as an advocate for excellence in conducting, he co-founded the Unionville Wind Conductors’ Symposium 1994. In the fall of 2008, he was one of ten alumni of the Don Wright Faculty of Music, at Western University named as the inaugural recipients of the university’s Wall of Fame honour. In 2011, the OBA recognized him with an Honourary Lifetime Membership, and also that year he was named to the Advisory Board of the Midwest Clinic in Chicago. In 2013, he was the recipient of the Canadian Band Association’s National Band Award, joining a list of 23 other Canadian musicians who had been so honoured since 1976. For twenty years he taught music,coached soloists and chamber ensembles, and conducted bands at Unionville High School’s Arts York program, in Markham. Most recently, he has been a faculty member at the Don Wright Faculty of Music at Western University in London,Ontario, where he was conductor of the Symphonic Band and taught music education and conducting.

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Carl Berger

Carl Berger

Carl Berger is a Juno-nominated musician and educator who has been working with young audiences for over 30 years. Carl has a degree in ethnomusicology and jazz piano from York University in Toronto. After singing with such groups as the Toronto Orpheus Choir and Wibijazz’n’, Carl founded the award winning vocal band Cadence with whom he toured internationally for 18 years. He has performed and conducted workshops in Europe, Asia, and across North America. Carl has collaborated with such notable artists as Bobby McFerrin, Gordon Lightfoot, and David Clayton-Thomas (Blood, Sweat and Tears). He has recorded for film and TV, including the soundtrack for the 2010 film Casino Jack starring Kevin Spacey. www.carlberger.ca

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Richard Burrows

Richard Burrows

Richard Burrows has had a substantial career throughout North America, Europe, Mexico, Australia, and Asia. Having earned two Master’s degrees from the University of Toronto, Richard has honed his craft to create a unique approach in both education and performance. An avid educator, Richard has adjudicated and facilitated master classes with a specialization in improvisation. As an active freelance musician within his community and beyond, he has organized and performed in numerous events under the auspices of Open Ears Festival where he is the artistic director, with famed bass clarinetist Kathryn Ladano in “Stealth,” with new music projects for InterArtsMatrix, was a principle cast member of ScrapArtsMusic and is a founding member of TorQ Percussion Quartet. TorQ has commissioned over 100 pieces for percussion quartet, including concertos by Nicole Lizee and Dinuk Wijeratne. Richard endorses Yamaha Canada Music, Innovative Percussion, Dream Cymbals and Gongs, and Black Swamp Percussion.

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Rodrigo Chavez

Rodrigo Chavez

In Toronto, I have been teaching and conducting workshops since 1988 of Afro-Latin music and Native music of Central and South America. Before that, I studied classical guitar in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I have traveled to Argentina, Cuba, Venezuela, Peru and Bolivia, seeking out masters of Native and Afro-Latin music to connect these traditions with my own creative vision.

In Canada, I have studied Sociology and French at York University and dedicated the next part of my life to teaching and playing music. Currently, I am the Artistic Director of CASSAVA LATIN BAND, composing contemporary Latino-Canadian music, exploring the rich variety of Latin American Rhythms and performing in different stages of Canada and the USA. I also conduct percussion workshops on Latin Music, presenting an ecological approach to sound and environment, as part of an educational integrated arts program called Global Rhythms. I present this work in different Boards of Education, performing yearly in many schools and universities of Ontario. I constantly take part on a variety of other multi-disciplinary projects, with such companies as Angikam Dance Initiative, classical Indian Kathak dance troupe, Esmeralda Enriquez, Flamenco Dance Company, recording for Kiran Ahluwalia, Indo-Pakistani Singer and playing for Mediterraneo Greek Music Ensemble, directed by master bouzouki player Kostas Apostolakis. I have been part of several collaborations with singers and choirs such as Jubilate singers, Toronto Choral society and Bell Arte Choir. Most Recently I have been teaching virtual workshops for Carleton University in Ottawa, Catholic Board of Education and Spirit Singers Choir.

I feel that the teaching of drumming, especially when drawing on the oral traditions and the techniques of ancient cultures, offers the students an opening into an entirely new set of tools for their personal expression. Students develop listening skills, respect for their instruments and themselves, and the mental discipline required to master complex Afro-Latin rhythms. They learn how to interact with each other unselfishly and co-operatively. Each gains in self-esteem as they create and perform music on their own instruments. The teachings give students a fuller understanding not only of the music, but of the day-to-day reality of other cultures. By playing the conga drums, maracas or the cowbells, for example -by becoming a part of that musical tradition- they learn about and gain an understanding of those cultures.

My teaching philosophy is grounded in giving students tools for their own creation. These tools open a window to an entirely new world of expression, a world that is both magical and connected to their own reality. They can then explore in the context of their daily life, and create new forms of expression. These are challenging times now for teachers, musicians and music lovers alike, so any effort made to preserve music and play an instrument I respect profoundly and appreciate it as part of a healing process for mind and body.

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David Finkle

David Finkle

David Finkle has been called a 'Renaissance man'.

Hailing from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory in southern Ontario, he's an award-winning multi-instrumental recording artist versed in many musical genres.

He's an engineer, traditional knowledge keeper, storyteller, educator, producer & has completed scores for many various plays, documentaries & full-length features.

David's music ranges from traditional melodies unchanged for thousands of years to complete live improvisation. He's jokingly described his approach as 'caveman' likely due to the primitive nature of the traditionally handmade instruments he crafts himself. Not shying away from the use of natural phenomena such as storms, waves, rivers & animal sounds, his approach exhibits a strong focus on drums with melody duties often going to Native American Flute.

For the past 30 years he's performed notable concerts & festivals with prominent world musicians internationally in North/South/Central America, the Caribbean, high Arctic, Europe & Africa. Found on gold albums & having won numerous awards, his musicianship is both instinctual as well as dogmatic involving a deceptively deep understanding of music theory without allowing it to stifle heartfelt compositions.

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Travis Grubissi

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Steve Mancuso

Steve Mancuso

Toronto born drummer, multi-instrumentalist, and vocalist Steve Mancuso has been active as an educator, and performing artist on the Canadian music scene since 1988. 

In 2008, Steve earned his MA at York University in Ethnomusicology (Cuba, Africa). He is presently completing a PhD (ABD) at York University under the guidance of South Indian master drummer Dr. Trichy Sankaran. Focusing on the art of Konnakkol–the spoken rhythmic language of the Carnatic musical tradition.

He has also studied privately with master educators such as: Francis Kofi Akotuah, Bruce Becker, Jim Blackley, José Luis Quintana, and Marcos Suzano, among others.

Steve is currently on faculty at both Humber College School of Performing Arts, and Centennial College (MIAP) where he instructs drum set, world percussion, and various performance and pedagogical ensembles. 

He is also an experienced and inspiring workshop facilitator focusing on the drumming, dancing, and singing traditions of Africa, South India, and the Americas.

Steve’s workshops are fun, interactive, inspirational, and educational.

As a clinician he has conducted workshops all across Ontario–at the elemenary, high school, and post-secondary levels.

In addition, Steve is a clinician endorsed by Bosphorus Cymbals, Vic Firth Sticks and Mallets, and Remo Drum Heads.

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Glen Marais

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Cait Nishimura

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John Phillips

John Phillips

John Phillips is an adjunct professor in the Bower School of Music at Florida Gulf Coast University teaching in the Department of Music Education. He served as Artistic Coordinator for the Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra for the past three years.

Phillips recently retired from the University of Western Ontario where he conducted the Symphonic Band and taught music education and conducting classes at the undergraduate and graduate level. He previously taught at the University of Toronto and York University in the departments of music and education.

In demand as a clinician and consultant, Phillips shares his unique brand of music education through workshops with State and Provincial Music Educators’ Associations, the National Association for Music Education, and as a presenter at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic. Throughout his career, he has participated in numerous initiatives with Music for All including the National Concert Festival, the annual Summer Symposium, and the Bands of America Grand Nationals. He is a Conn-Selmer Educational Clinician.

As a result of the pandemic restrictions on education, Phillips has become proficient in navigating on-line teaching challenges. In addition he has participated as an evaluator in numerous Virtual Music Festivals. His familiarity with on-line assessment of musical performances has been in place for several years. He has served as an on-line guest evaluator for music festivals around the globe including Japan, China, Indonesia and South America. He has also conducted clinics in real-time with school ensembles across the USA.

In December of 2019, Phillips presented a workshop session at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic titled “The Concert was Great! But What did They Learn?” The session focused on student engagement and using reflection as a means to enhance their overall achievement. During the first semester of 2020 at FGCU, he has applied these principles to his pedagogy in a synchronous teaching module.

Phillips is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario receiving undergraduate degrees in Music and Education. He pursued a Master’s Degree in Music Education at Boston University, a PhD in Ethnomusicology at York University, and holds an Artist Diploma in Trumpet Performance from the Western Conservatory of Music. He received awards of distinction for conducting from the Ontario Band Association, Phi Beta Mu, and the Southern Ontario Band Festival. Other distinctions include an Honorary Life Membership award from the Ontario Music Educators’ Association and Honorary Life Membership in the Tri M Music Honor Society and Ontario Band Association. Phillips has also received excellence in teaching awards at both the Faculty of Music and Education at the University of Western Ontario.

Known for leadership in contemporary music education philosophy and pedagogy, Phillips’ endeavors in this area include:

  • Coordinator of the Arts curriculum review, revision and implementation at the Ministry of Education in Ontario
  • Project Manager and Producer for the Learning Through the Arts Video Series with Curriculum Services Canada
  • Program Officer for the Professional Learning Program at the Ontario College of Teachers
  • Principal of the Teacher In-Service Programs at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
  • Music Course Manager and Facilitator at the Ontario Educational Leadership Center
  • Board of Directors - Ontario Music Educators’ Association and Ontario Band Association
  • Editor of the OMEA journal The Recorder
  • Senior Advisor at Music Mentors International

Written contributions include articles for the Ontario Music Educators` Association journal, The Recorder, the Canadian Music Educators` Association Journal, the Ontario Band Association newsletter, In Harmony, FGCU 360 Journal, and the Ontario College of Teachers journal, Professionally Speaking. In addition, he has been a contributor to the highly acclaimed series Teaching Music Through Performance in Band, published by GIA.

As a trumpeter, Phillips performed with the London Symphony Orchestra, Brantford Symphony, the Forest City Brass Quintet and numerous freelance engagements. He spent two summers at the Banff School of Fine Arts under the leadership of the Canadian Brass, studying with Fred Mills and Ronald Romm.

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Jeff Salem

Jeff Salem

Jeff Salem is an internationally recognized freelance percussionist from Toronto.

  • Jeff has toured in over 70 countries with artists from Lee Aaron, Randy Bachman, Rob Tardik, Saints & Sinner’s to jazz pianist Diana Krall
  • He has recorded on over 50 CD’s including artist from Canadian Idol winners, Sean Desmond to Bon Jovi
  • Jeff has recorded on the number one selling CD single for any Canadian artists Kalan Porter
  • He has several instructional books and dvd’s published through Hudson music and are available globally
  • He has performed over 1000 interactive drumming events in the last 15 years to schools, day cares, retirement homes, companies and private parties
  • He is the founding member of the group Enviro Drum which has performed concerts and workshops throughout Canada since 2009 in schools and theatres.
  • Jeff is actively performing and touring with the international Eagles tribute “Epic Eagles” and award winning jazz artist Rob Tardik
  • He is the owner of JS Music Studio in Brampton which offer’s private instructional lessons in drums, guitar and piano
  • Jeff endorses Yamaha drums, Sabian cymbals, Vic Firth drumsticks, Evans drumheads & LP ( Latin Percussion)

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Dr. Adam Scime

Dr. Adam Scime

Adam Scime is a Toronto-based composer, performer, and educator. His work has been praised as “a fantastic success" (CBC) and "Astounding, the musical result was remarkable" (icareifyoulisten.com). Adam’s music has been performed widely across Canada, Europe, and Asia. In 2014, Adam’s piece Broken Images was toured across China to various new music festivals by a chamber group of renowned Canadian soloists. His work has received many awards including the 2015 CMC Toronto Emerging Composer Award, The SOCAN Young Composer Competition, The Karen Keiser Prize in Canadian Music, and The Esprit Young Composer Competition, and first prize in the 2018 Land’s End Composer Competition. Adam was selected for the ECM+ 2016 Generations Project during which his piece Liminal Pathways was toured across nine Canadian cities. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra recently selected Adam as a composer in their Next Generation Program and have commissioned him for their 2020/2021 season. Adam’s music has been performed and commissioned by many renowned ensembles and soloists including Nouvelle Ensemble Moderne, The Esprit Orchestra, Array Music, The Penderecki String Quartet, The National Arts Centre Orchestra, The Hamilton Philharmonic, l'Orchestre de la Francophonie, The Gryphon Trio, New Music Concerts, Soundstreams, and The Bicycle Opera Project among others. Adam also works frequently as an in demand double bassist, conductor, sound designer, and arts educator. He is the Music Director of FAWN Chamber Creative where he has conducted numerous operatic Canadian premieres.

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Bill Thomas

Bill Thomas

Bill Thomas is an Associate Professor of Music, Chair of the Department of Music, and director of the Wind Symphony at York University in Toronto.

Prior to his time at York University Bill taught music for twenty-three years at the elementary and high school levels in the York Region District School Board spending most of that time as the head of the music department at Markham District High School. Bill is a graduate of the jazz program at Humber College and holds Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Education degrees from the University of Toronto as well as a Master of Arts in composition from York University. He is a former Drum Corps International adjudicator and he has been an arranger for over forty marching bands and drum & bugle corps in Canada and the United States. Bill’s concert band compositions are published by Eighth Note Publications.

A past board member of the Ontario Music Educator’s Association and is much in demand as an adjudicator and clinician. His performing groups have won many accolades and awards including the Jazz Report Magazine award for High School Program of the Year. Bill is a member of the international bandmaster’s fraternity Phi Beta Mu.

 

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Brenda Uchimaru

Brenda Uchimaru

Retired, after 37 years in music education, Brenda has worked as an instrumental and vocal teacher, department head and consultant. Her career path was with the Hamilton, Waterloo and York region boards, and several years of teaching the vocal additional qualification courses at the University of Toronto/OISE. Brenda Uchimaru now fills her time with what else? More music. She is currently artistic director of the Cambridge Male Chorus, and is founding artistic director of her chamber choir, Kokoro. Brenda enjoys freelance work as a musical director for community music theatre companies and is often invited to be a clinician, adjudicator, guest conductor and workshop presenter.

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Aqua Nibii Waawaaskone

Aqua Nibii Waawaaskone

Aqua Nibii Waawaaskone is a free spirit interdisciplinary artist and activist. Though she is a proud Anishinaabe Kwe of mixed ancestry; Ojibwe Métis with French and Scottish heritage, she also identifies as a 2Spirit genderless being. 

Aqua has created a life filled with her love of creation. She is a hand drummer and hand drum maker and has shared her joy for drumming with the community in circles all over the country. During her tour of western Canada visiting many remote reserve communities and sharing her passion for storytelling, Aqua began writing her own stories and turned them into songs with the help of her hand drum. She then self-produced and released her EP Spirit Music. Soon she was signed to Tribal Spirit Music where she co-produced her album Hand Drum Stories.

Aqua continues to work in her community in Tkaronto. She leads hand drum circles for people of all ages including children and youth in all parts of the city, sharing her healing medicine music with schools, community centres, shelters, harm-reduction programs, libraries, corporations and non-profit organizations. Aqua is a leader in our Indigenous community; teaching people to make their own hand drums, leading hand drum birthing ceremonies, talking and healing circles, and is devoted to sharing her teachings passed on to her by her mom and Elders who she’s had the privilege to work under as an Oshkaabewis~Helper.

Aqua co-created and collaborated with Cow Over The Moon Children’s Theatre and other gifted Indigenous artists on Here We Are, the creation story of Turtle Island~North America. She composed original music to score the teachings and bring to life our traditions as Indigenous People. Aqua collaborated with Lemon Tree Creations on an incredible all Indigenous casting of Lilies, creating original songs for the revival of the romantic drama. More recently, Aqua worked with The Community Arts Guild on Unfolding to create original pieces of music that would help weave the stories of settlers, newcomers, and the original peoples and creatures of this land. The process was a beautiful collaboration between many cultures, Nations, and generations. 

Aqua is currently working on her next album while collaborating with other like-minded artists who want to share their story, their struggle, their truth. She is an advocate for anyone who has endured violence and adversity. She provides a safe space in her sacred circles so the community can grow together, stronger, forever as a whole.

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Character Community

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York Region District School Board

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