Performer 2018

Vera Alekseeva

Violin - Brock University

Vera Alekseeva first studied violin at the Perm Music School in Perm Russia, then at Moscow Gnessin High State College and finally at the M. Glinka Nizhny Novgorod State Conservatory where she received a Diploma of Orchestra Artist, Artist of Chamber Ensemble and Teacher, as well as Diploma of Quartet Performance Artist. She was assistant concertmaster of the State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Nizhny Novgorod Philharmonic and both principal second violin and resident soloist in the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, “The Seasons.” Vera has toured extensively throughout Europe as a soloist and chamber musician, was a member of the State Bolshoi Theatre of Russia Orchestra, and is currently a member of the Niagara Symphony Orchestra.

Tom Allen


Tom Allen hails from Montréal. He started playing trombone in high school and decided not to stop. He spent six years at three universities and got two degrees. He lived in New York City when there were still places you just didn’t go and stayed long enough to play a couple of gigs he still brags about. His brass quintet was getting hired where the snow was clean and the concert hall was downstairs from the bowling alley, so he moved to Toronto and eventually found work at the CBC. Now he’s an occasional trombonist, author, host of Shift, storyteller and pitchman for something called The Classical Goodtime Variety Show. He can’t imagine there’s anything else you’d like to know, but if there is you could visit his website,



Anna Antropova

Viola - Chamber Music Gallery

Born in the Ukraine, Anna Antropova graduated with a Master’s degree in Viola performance from Glinka State Conservatory of Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. She started her professional career with the National Opera and Ballet Theatre in Nizhny Novgorod (Russia) and the Ukrainian National Philharmonic Orchestra, touring throughout Russia, Ukraine, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Poland and France.
Ms Antropova has performed as soloist across Canada and the USA and works with numerous orchestras and chamber ensembles throughout Ontario, including the Toronto Philharmonia, the Toronto Concert Orchestra, Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, Sinfonia Toronto and the Ontario Philharmonic Orchestra.
With over 19 years of international experience as a music educator for viola and violin, Ms Antropova is a devoted teacher whose students have performed and competed in music festivals and competitions across Canada.
Ms. Antropova is Artistic Director of Toronto-based Chamber Music Gallery, a music society featuring concerts in the city and throughout Canada.

Atis Bankas

Artistic Director

Lithuanian born Canadian violinist extraordinaire Atis Bankas has performed as a soloist in Canada, Europe, the United States, Korea, Japan, the former Soviet Union, and with orchestras under the direction of Nejme Jarvi, Iona Brown, Andrew Davis, and JoAnn Falletta among many others. Chamber music collaborators include pianists A. Laplante, S. Goodyear, R. Silverman, R. McDonald, N. Kogan, among many others. Atis Bankas is dedicatee of numerous new works by composers such as G. Kulesha, H. Freedman, D. Varelas, M. Bronner, V. Bartulis, A. Navakas, G. Samsonas, D. Hyman, S. Burbi, A. Shenderovas, P. Tiefenbach, and many others.

On the international scene 2017-18 season highlights include solo and chamber music performances in the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy and Lithuania. Atis Bankas is the first violinist of the Gould String Quartet, a member of Potsdam Trio, leader of Ensemble CamerAtis and Leader and Artistic Director of of the Canadian Chamber Academy Orchestra.

Mr. Bankas is the Founder and Artistic Director of Music Niagara, a highly regarded annual international summer music festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario marking it’s 20th anniversary this 2018 season. Bankas’ solo and chamber music performances have been featured on CJRT, CFMX, CBC and NPR radio networks. He has recorded on Fidelis, Analekta, Radioservis and CBC labels.

Atis Bankas first came to national and international attention after winning the International Violin Competition in Tallinn, Estonia. After graduating from the Lithuanian State Conservatory with a summa cum laude Masters degree in solo violin performance, chamber music, pedagogy, and orchestral performance, Mr. Bankas continued his post- graduate work in violin performance at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory. where he studied in David Oistrakh’s violin department. His principal teachers were Victor Radovich (in Vilnius, Lithuania) and Semyon Snitkovsky (in Moscow, Russia), both students of David Oistrakh.

Mr. Bankas shares his musical talents by teaching a large violin studio at the Glenn Gould School at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. For his extraodinary dedication and achievement in the field of teaching music Atis Bankas was awarded the Barenreiter Prize, Carnegie Hall’s American Protege and Enkor competition awards. He has adjudicated competitions and conducted master classes in Japan, Korea, Europe, the United States and Canada. Many of Mr. Bankas’ students have been prizewinners of international and national competitions, such as the Paganini International Violin Competition, Stradivarius International Violin Competition, J. Heifetz International Violin Competition, Kocian Violin Competitiona, Stulberg International Competition, the Toronto Symphony and Montreal Symphony competitions.

In recognition of his musical contributions he was inducted into the International Knightly Order of St. George and was honoured as an Honorary Doctor of Arts by the Azerbaijan Ministry of Education and the Academy of Fine Arts and most recently Mr. Bankas received the prestigious 2017 Spirit of Niagara Christopher Newton Award for Extraordinary Vision in Business.

photo by Dick Groot

Michael Bawtree

actor/writer photo by Dick Groot

Michael Bawtree has worked in Canadian theatre and television for over 50 years, as playwright, director, educator, actor, TV host and producer. He was the founding head of the drama program at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. He was an Associate Director of the Stratford Festival, Ontario, under Jean Gascon. He founded COMUS Music Theatre in Toronto with Maureen Forrester, and founded and directed the internationally recognized Music Theatre Studio Ensemble at the Banff Centre, Alberta. His book The New Singing Theatre was published by Oxford NY in 1991. He has directed plays and music theatre not only in Canada (including the Shaw Festival in 1971) but in the USA, and also in Finland: a total of over 60 productions.

Isabel Bayrakdarian

Isabel Bayrakdarian


A winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions—the same year she graduated from the University of Toronto cum laude with a Biomedical Engineering Degree—Ms. Bayrakdarian thereafter found her career taking rapid wing. Her versatility is also reflected in being the featured vocalist on the Grammy-award winning soundtrack of the blockbuster film The Two Towers from The Lord of The Rings trilogy and on the soundtrack of Atom Egoyan’s Ararat. She sings on the BBC-produced short film HOLOCAUST – A Music Memorial Film from Auschwitz, as well as her Gemini-nominated film Long Journey Home, documenting her first visit to her ancestral homeland Armenia.

Xak Bjerken

Xak Bjerken


Pianist Xak Bjerken has appeared with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Spoleto Festival Orchestra, Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra, the Schoenberg Ensemble, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Disney Hall. He has performed at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Glinka Hall in St Petersburg, the Konzerthaus in Berlin, and for many years performed throughout the US as a member of the Los Angeles Piano Quartet. Bjerken has worked closely with composers Győrgy Kurtag, Sofia Gubaidulina, Steven Stucky, and George Benjamin, and over the next two years, will be presenting premieres of piano concertos by Stephen Hartke, Elizabeth Ogonek, and Jesse Jones. He is Professor of Music at Cornell University where he co-directs Mayfest, an international chamber music festival with his wife, pianist Miri Yampolsky. Bjerken studied with Aube Tzerko at the University of California at Los Angeles and received his Master’s and Doctoral degrees from the Peabody Conservatory as a student of and teaching assistant to Leon Fleisher.

David Braid

David Braid

piano, jazz

“Sophisticated and authentic” – New York Observer.
“Refreshingly uncategorizable” – Paris Transatlantic.

Hailed in the Canadian press as “one of his country’s true renaissance men when it comes to music” (The Ottawa Citizen), and “a jazz genius to call our own” (Maclean’s Magazine), composer and pianist, David Braid is an eight-time Juno nominee, and winner of three Juno Awards for his solo piano recording, ’Verge’, large ensemble recording, ’The David Braid Sextet Live.’, and small ensemble, “The North”.

Braid concertizes his original music and improvisations in the UK, Scandinavia, Continental Europe, Russia, China, Australia, The United States, and Canada.

His arrangements and compositions were an integral part of the Chet Baker-inspired film, ’Born to Be Blue’ and his jazz score received praise for its “contemporary patina without sacrificing period authenticity” (The Times, UK). He also won ’Best Original Score’ and ’Best Original Song’ at the 2017 Screen Awards.

“Braid’s tone, touch, chord voicings and imagination make him one of the most interesting new pianists I’ve encountered in a long time.” – Doug Ramsey, recipient of Jazz Journalists Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award (USA)



Nathan Brock

Nathan Brock


Nathan Brock is currently Kapellmeister at the Hamburgische Staatsoper. Since 2015 he has performed revivals of L’Elisir d’Amore, Il Barbieri di Siviglia, Die Zauberflöte, Hänsel und Gretel, La Belle Hélène, Le Nozze di Figaroas well as a new production of Erzittre and Britten’s Let’s Make an Opera. He has also performed with the Hamburg Ballet John Neumeier on new productions Eleonora Duse, Anna Karenina, Turangalila and a revivals of Gisele and The Concert. In addition, he has collaborated on productions of Lohengrin, Tristan und Isolde, Les Troyens, Elektra, Pelléas et Mélisande, Stilles Meer (Hosakawa), Frau Ohne Schatten, Lulu, Salome among other photos, with General Music Director, Kent Nagano.


He studied conducting in Zürich with Johannes Schlaefli and as a fellow of the Academy of Conducting at Aspen with David Zinman. Other important influences came from Kent Nagano, Bernard Haitink and Jorma Panula. In addition to his accomplishments as a musician he also has a keen interest in history, with a degree in History and International Relations from the University of Toronto.



Graham Campbell


Described as a “gifted guitarist and composer” (Whole Note), Graham Campbell is a versatile musician wearing many hats. He performs in jazz clubs, composes concert music for chamber ensembles, and plays with Brazilian psychedelic rock band Os Tropies. He earned his degree in Music at Humber College after studying with jazz great David Baker in his hometown of Bloomington, Indiana. He has performed at many festivals throughout North America with notable artists such as jazz pianist Gene DiNovi, genre-bending violinist Mark Fewer, and jazz vocalist and pianist Laila Biali. He has composed and arranged for big band, symphony orchestra, and various chamber ensembles. In 2013 he released the album As You Near Me, a collaboration with clarinetist and father James Campbell. He is an artistic producer with Spectrum Music, a group of Canadian composers who create and present a contemporary hybrid of jazz and classical music.

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