About us

Music Niagara Festival Photo: Cosmo Condina

Music Niagara’s

Unique | History

In 1998, Atis Bankas came to Niagara-on-the-Lake with the dream of founding a music school and summer music festival. He had discovered the perfect location – one of Canada’s most beautiful towns on the shores of Lake Ontario at the mouth of the magnificent Niagara River, an area of great historical significance, surrounded by orchards and lush vineyards.

During the first years, the festival was small in scope. By the third season, audiences grew as residents and tourists began to discover the delights of the festival. The success of these early seasons moved Music Niagara (then known as the Niagara International Chamber Music Festival) to a new level of performance, with 2004 introducing more performances in the three-week festival and the introduction of several new long running series.

 Photo: Cosmo Condino

Emma Meinrenken
Atis Banks

Atis Bankas

Founder and 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.

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.

Mission & Values

Mission

Music Niagara presents world-class, diverse music experiences in unique and intimate settings that connect the community and beyond, educate and inspire audiences and artists, and enhance Niagara-on-the-Lake’s rich heritage and culture.

Values

Quality & Cultural Affordability

We believe that everyone should have access to high quality musical performances, and in partnership with our donors, sponsors, and volunteers we offer affordable and meaningful musical experiences.

Diversity & Heritage

We promote diverse Canadian artists and heritage, with an emphasis on classical music.

Education

We are committed to promoting music education by offering young and emerging artists with performance and training and providing audiences with context and meaning through program notes, lectures/readings, and creative presentations.

Innovation

We value creativity and celebrate innovation.

Collaboration

We believe that by working in collaboration with community partners we can enrich the cultural life of the community and its visitors.

Board of | Directors

Richard H Baker

Chair, Director

Early musical exposure during childhood in Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires came from the radio. Piano lessons started in Toronto after a family move to Canada in 1956. However, unlike several famous composers who fled the law to write music, Richard did the opposite, by opting for a life-long civil litigation practice in Toronto, from which he retired in 2016. Imbued with an enduring delight in classical music, formative experiences included naval training during university days, adventures in the 1970’s Toronto art scene through his friendship with Jack Pollock, and, in the course of things, a fellow-feeling for Spanish-speaking immigrants. Along the way there was much voluntary and gratifying work with Commissionaires (Great Lakes), Canadian Council for the Americas, University Naval Training Divisions Association of Canada (UNTD), Riverbrink Art Museum Inc., Gallery Players of Niagara, and others. He has lived in Niagara-on-the-Lake since 2011. 

H A Patrick Little

Vice Chair

Senior Partner, Heelis, Little & Almas, LLP, St. Catharines, ON

Patrick began his legal career with the City of St. Catharines in 1976, and entered private practice in 1979, concentrating his efforts in the areas of administrative, municipal and criminal law, government relations, real estate development and wills and estates. Patrick has served the community as the President/Chair of several organizations, including the Lincoln County Law Association, St. Catharines Chamber of Commerce and St. Catharines Club and as Director of the St. Catharines General Hospital, St. Catharines Downtown Association, St. Catharines Museum and St. Catharines Golf Club. He is a past Chair of the United Way of St. Catharines and District, past President of Croquet Canada, Chair of several organizing committees for the Tall Ships visits to Port Dalhousie. He is currently chair of Willowbank School of Restoration Arts. He is also an Honourary Trustee of Trinity College, University of Toronto and former Governor of Trinity College School, Port Hope.

Randy LeGallais

Treasurer, Director

Randy is a CPA who was a tax partner at KPMG for 29 years and while there he started and led a specialty tax practice and built it to be the largest of its kind in Canada. He was a frequent speaker at tax conferences in Canada, the US and Europe and authored a special section of one of Canada’s leading Income Tax Services.

He has also volunteered at the leading hospital in Pinehurst, NC and in preparing US income tax returns for low income people through AARP. With his wife Lynne, co-chaired the 2012 Willowbank Jazz festival which resulted in the biggest profit it had ever made (over $35,000).He has sat on the Boards of The Salvation Army Hospital, Theatre Beyond Words NOTL Golf Club.

Carol Appel

Director

Experienced member with a demonstrated history of working in the philanthropy industry. Skilled in Non-profit organizations, Shamanism, sailing, photography, and event planning. Strong business development professional with an Associate of Arts (A.A.) focused in Painting/drawing/lithography/ from OCAD University.

Mary Powers

Chair of Marketing, Director

Mary Powers is President of MPowers Communications, specializing in communication and marketing in the international visual content marketplace. The company’s diverse client roster has included multiplatform content producers and distributors, broadcasters, studios, industry trade conferences and associations. 

A media industry veteran, Mary spent most of her career with CHUM Limited, at the time one of Canada’s leading media companies, where she directed domestic and international communications and investor relations. She became SVP Corporate Communications for CT Globemedia (now Bell Media) prior to launching her own company.

Mary is Past Chair of the Banff World Media Festival and international content marketing association Promax, and a past board member of The Toronto Symphony Orchestra and The Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television among others. 

Virginia (Ginny) Medland-Green

Chair of Fundraising, Director

Throughout a thirty-year career in fundraising and development, Ginny focused her efforts in Arts and Education. She began in 1981 as a fundraiser for the Shaw Festival and concluded her professional life as senior VP development, Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Since ‘retirement’, and when not playing golf, Ginny enjoys volunteering in Niagara-on-the-Lake and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, in support of the Arts and Education.

David Israelson

Co-Chair of Marketing, Director

David Israelson is a writer, editor, consultant and non-practising lawyer. He is Principal of Eon Communications and Research, which he founded after more than a decade as a senior public relations executive. David is a busy freelance writer and advisor who also conducts communications training programs in Canada and internationally. His longer works include two books and an academic paper on energy policy. David served as Senior Writer for the Premier of Ontario and is an active volunteer board member with several not-for-profit organizations, including Music Niagara. He lives in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Michelle Scott

Chair of Big Night, Director

Michelle is a recently retired Senior Executive who achieved the respect of the senior ranks of the Canadian Food Retail, Packaging and Distribution sector. Her reputation was gained through a series of significant contributions each of which was achieved as she assumed roles with increasing responsibility. Michelle has an affinity for people and an ability to secure consensus even when confronted with a group with strong personalities. She welcomes the opportunity to contribute in challenging situations. Michelle has enjoyed attending supporting events and many concerts of Music Niagara over the past few years. Michelle provides significant support to the organization specifically in staging events as well as raising funds.

T L (Larry) Bourk

Chair of Governance, Director

Larry is Chair of a CEO forum for The Executive Committee of Canada and founding Principal and Chairman of a management consulting firm, Beemont Management Limited. He is also the founder and President of a company that develops Retirement Community properties in Ontario, Just Like Home Senior Residences Inc. With a business career of twenty–five years in the life and health insurance industry, he was President and CEO of a Canadian life insurance company within the global Prudential Assurance organization. Larry has been active in: Young Presidents Organization, past director; Human Resource Professionals Association, past President and director; University of Victoria (U of T), past director of Board of Regents and Chairman of their Investment Committee; Kitchener Waterloo Symphony Orchestra Association past director and President in 1994.

Paul Shelestowsky

Director

Paul is the Senior Wealth Advisor with Meridian Credit Union working out of Niagara-on-the-Lake. He has been in the financial industry for over 25 years and has lent his expertise to many national news outlets, including The Globe & Mail, the Financial Post and the Toronto Star, as well as appearing on BNN and CTV News Network. Paul earned an honours degree in Music from McMaster University in 1997 and is happy to be able to match his lifelong passion for music with his volunteering.

Donna Lailey

Director

Donna is the CEO of Lailey Vineyard Wines Inc. and has been a vineyard owner and consultant, a trustee, director, or task force member on over two-dozen boards and committees, including as a founding member of the VQA. She has also served on the VQA Technical Committee; as Vice-Chair, Ontario Grape Growers Marketing Board; founding member and Chair of Ontario Wine Producers; Governor of Niagara College; Director of the Niagara Credit Union; Niagara Parks Commissioner and Director of The Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario.

Janice Thomson

Director

Janice Thomson, after an 18 year career at the Chamber she is now the head of Niagara Falls Tourism. Janice is familiar with the tourism industry after serving as Chair of the Niagara Parks Commission from 2010 to 2018. She also served as chair of the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission for 9 years.