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 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, tomallen.com
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.
Violinist extraordinaire and visionary, Atis Bankas is a soloist, leader and chamber musician. He is the leader of the Ensemble CamerAtis, first violinist of the Gould String Quartet and founder and Artistic Director of Music Niagara, the international summer festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Mr. Bankas shares his musical talents and experience by teaching a large violin studio at the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory in Toronto and as a first violinist with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
The highlights of 2013/2014 concert season include highly acclaimed solo recitals in Potsdam, Germany, premiering Concerto for Violin and Symphony Orchestra No. 3 (dedicated to A. Bankas) by a Lithuanian composer V. Bartulis at the contemporary music festival “Is Arti” in Kaunas, Lithuania, chamber music appearances in the Chamber Music Gallery concert series in Toronto and Transept Series in Niagara-on-the-Lake, adjudicating the Kocian International Violin Competition in Czech Republic, as well as returning solo recitals in Germany and Lithuania and Japan.
First-prize winner of the International Violin Competition in Tallin, Estonia, Atis Bankas performed as a soloist in the former Soviet Union, Europe, the United States, and Canada and with orchestras under the direction of Nejme Jarvi, Iona Brown and Andrew Davis, among many others.
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 has served on faculties at the University of Toronto, Eastman School of Music in Rochester NY, the Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, and the Moscow Gnessin Pedagogical Institute in Moscow.
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, the Toronto Symphony and Montreal Symphony competitions, Edward Johnson Music Competition, Kiwanis Festivals and the Canadian Music Competitions. These students have gone on to study at prestigious institutions such as Juilliard, New England Conservatory, the Cleveland Institute, Peabody Conservatory, Curtis Institute, Colborne School, the Royal Northern College of Music and have obtained positions with Canada’s major symphony orchestras including the Toronto Symphony, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony and the Vancouver Symphony.
His solo and chamber music performances have received high critical acclaim:
“Atis Bankas’s phenomenal technique allowed him to portray the original flavour of the traditional classical repertoire, creating a profound impact for this concert; in the Haydn concerto Atis Bankas’ technical mastery was very impressive. Though his wonderful technical abilities he was able to present the beauty of the classical genre employing his musical mastery and warmth of his sound…” KOREAN CULTURE MAGAZINE
“I just want to point out that we have one of the greatest living violinists with us every summer here in Niagara-on-the-Lake —Atis Bankas. He has it all, intonation, beautiful tone in all registers, phrasing, and great musicianship. Having such an exceptional talent here is something we should celebrate.” PETER HALL, WNED RADIO, BUFFALO, NY
“A brilliant technique and profound musicianship are combined in the artistry of the Lithuanian born violinist, Atis Bankas” ESTONIAN DAILY
“Atis Bankas excelled in brilliant solo passages, but was first among equals in a seasoned ensemble…” KITCHENER-WATERLOO RECORD
“The mellow tone he elicits from his instrument is responsible for the warmth of the ensemble. Its pitch approaches that of the viola but in capable hands of Mr. Bankas it soars the heights into sweetness. Quite remarkable!” FINANCIAL POST
“…a driven melting sound of the violin in Sergei Prokofiev’s sonata for violin and piano Nr. 2 in D major…” POTSDAMER NEUESTE NACHRICHTEN, GERMANY
“…Bankas’ ever-dependable brilliance (aided by a magical bow arm) in Stravinsky’s L’histoire du soldat as he filled the hall with unerring style and engaging verve…” JAMESWEGGREVIEW
In recognition of his musical contributions to the community, Atis Bankas was inducted into the International Knightly Order of St. George, and for his contribution to the musical culture of Azerbaijan and the development of cultural relations between Azerbaijan and Canada, Atis Bankas was honoured as an Honorary Doctor of Arts by the Azerbaijan Ministry of Education and the Academy of Fine Arts.
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.
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.
“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)
James Campbell has been called “Canada’s pre-eminent clarinetist and wind soloist” by the Toronto Star. He has performed as soloist and chamber musician in over 35 countries with more than 65 orchestras including the Boston Pops, the Montreal Symphony and the London Symphony. He has collaborated with Glenn Gould and Aaron Copland and toured with over 35 string quartets, including the Guarneri, Amadeus (when he replaced an ailing Benny Goodman on a tour of California) and Vermeer. The BBC and The Times of London rated his recording of the Brahms Clarinet Quintet as the best available and his CD “Stolen Gems”(Marquis Records) won a Juno. He has been named Canada’s Artist of the Year and awarded the Queen’s Gold and Diamond Jubilee Medal, an Honorary Doctor of Laws, and the Order of Canada. James Campbell has been Artistic Director of the Festival of the Sound since 1985.
Beyond his technical mastery and musical abilities, pianist Philip Chiu has become one of Canada’s leading musicians through his infectious love of music and his passion for communication and collaboration. Lauded for the brilliance, colour and sensitivity of his playing, he is particularly noted for his ability to connect with audiences on and offstage, Philip is one of Canada’s most sought-after chamber musicians. He has appeared in recitals with leading musicians of the world stage. Dedicated to elevating the standard and art of collaborative piano, Philip is the creator and director of the new Collaborative Piano Program at the Domaine Forget International Festival and Academy. Philip was the inaugural recipient of the Prix Goyer (2015) one of Canada’s largest classical music prizes, in recognition of his artistic achievements and contribution to Canadian classical music.
The Clarion Quartet binds artistic virtuosity with humanitarian purpose in presenting great works that are gradually entering the standard repertoire. The Clarion mission embraces three principles: offering performances for all audiences to hear and appreciate this music; providing educational presentations and master classes for emerging artists in conservatories; and advocating among professional musicians for suppressed works to be included in the canon of chamber music performed today.
The members of the Clarion Quartet, colleagues in the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, have joined together to share their passion for chamber music and their particular interest in exploring Entartete Musik, works that were termed “degenerate” by the Nazis and banned during the years leading up to the Holocaust through the immediate aftermath of the World War II. The highlight of the Quartet’s 2016 debut season was a unique performance during an international tour with the Pittsburgh Symphony. The Clarion Quartet traveled to the former Teresienstadt (Terezín) concentration camp in the present day Czech Republic, and they performed a program on this site to honor those composers whose creativity was stifled, who suffered abuses ranging from exile to execution. The Quartet seeks to immortalize the victims and their art through empathetic performances of relevant mid-twentieth century masterpieces.
With thanks to an Entrepreneur Grant from the Curtis Institute of Music and a grant from the Fine Foundation, the ensemble is turning its sights to the future with plans for many more performances and an ever-expanding repertoire.
Through a yearning to bring justice to creative voices that have been silenced, the Clarion Quartet is dedicated to providing renewal, hope, and healing through its music and work