CEO, Youth Singers of Calgary (YSC)
Shirley is a music, arts & education graduate from Colleges and Universities in Chicago and Toronto. She also completed business & arts administration courses at the Banff School of Fine Arts and at York University. Her successful career includes performing, teaching, directing and producing at all levels from Elementary through University. She has produced for television and has worked with a broad range of both professional and amateur performing arts companies. Prior to leaving Winnipeg, where she held the position of Cultural Development Officer for the Province of Manitoba, Shirley founded a popular performing arts youth organization known as the “Treble-Teens”, as well as a number of Community Arts Councils and Music & Arts Festivals at the Provincial, Regional and local levels. Relocating to Calgary in 1984, Shirley held the position of Performing Arts Consultant at Mount Royal College. She founded Youth Singers of Calgary in 1985, a highly successful performing arts youth organization. Starting with a small group of 26 students, she never dreamed it would grow to its present size. Shirley has been awarded “Woman of Distinction” by the YWCA for her contribution to the Performing Arts in Calgary, named a “Paul Harris Fellow” by Rotary International, received a 2005 Alberta Centennial Outstanding Citizen Award, a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012, and in 2016 became a member of the Alberta Order of Excellence for her work in promoting the Arts in Calgary and for her outstanding contribution to the community, province and Canada. Her philosophy is shaped by her lifetime involvement and passion for the performing arts. Her goal is to assist young people in building their self-esteem and encouraging their talents and imaginations, while challenging each individual to pursue their hopes and dreams. She has extensive knowledge and experience in all aspects of traditional, as well as commercial performing arts and is an experienced speaker, judge and clinician, particularly in the area of arts administration and building successful arts organizations.
Tricia Penner has an extensive music and performing arts background. She has studied the performing arts and education in Manitoba and with various experts from Canada and the United States. She is the Performing Arts Consultant in the Winnipeg School Division, works with the Royal Conservatory of Music’s Learning Through The Arts Program and is the Creative Director of Programming and Producer of two main stage productions of the Youth Singers of Calgary. She has had the pleasure of serving as Guest Conductor for the Central Manitoba Honour Choir, the Louis Riel School Division Honour Choir, the Provincial Honour Choir and the Eastman Region Honour Choir. In Winnipeg, she conducts the Winnipeg School Division South Honour Choir and the Junior Hi Divisional Choir with Carolyn Boyes. She is currently working together with the Winnipeg Symphony Choir on their “Music Connections” Project. When she is not working, she spends her time with her amazing children, Brett and Alexa Rae.
Program Director and Instructor, Kids & Music
Naomi Williams will be leading the KIDS & MUSIC team for another year. Naomi (B.Mus.) is a performer and vocal instructor who is passionate about helping others on their path towards vocal confidence, health, strength and beauty. She has been teaching beginner to advanced vocalists of all ages for over 10 years, and is skilled at adapting her teaching style to her student, their level of ability, and the music they want to learn. In Calgary she has performed professionally in opera, musical theatre, and rock/pop, and has been the musical director for Morpheus Theatre’s Gilbert & Sullivan Jr. Program, and Storybook Theatre’s Glee Club. For more information on Naomi, visit her website at www.aviddiva.ca. Naomi loved working with her classes last year, and is very excited to apply the things she learned as a freshman to her sophomore year!
Sessional Director/ Instructor
Malcolm was born in Halifax, England and immigrated to Canada in 1967. He is a graduate of Sheffield College of Education (UK), Trinity College of Music, London, the University of Lethbridge, the University of Montana and has done further graduate work at the University of Northern Colorado. He taught music in junior and senior high school for twelve years in southern Alberta before joining the University of Calgary in 1980. He was a Professor of Music at the University of Calgary where he directed the University Chorus and was a former Head of the Department. He has been affiliated with Youth Singers of Calgary since 1989 and retired as the director of the ACT 3 Division in August 2011. He has held leadership positions within the Alberta Choral Federation, the Association of Canadian Choral Conductors, served on the Alberta Foundation for the Arts and is active as a choral adjudicator and workshop leader in schools and churches. He is the recipient of two awards from the Provincial Federation – one in recognition of advocacy in arts education and the second in acknowledgment of exemplary service to choral music within the Province of Alberta. In 2004 he received recognition from the national body (ACCC) for twenty-five years of service to the Canadian choral community.
Principal Choreographer /Artistic Consultant SHINE/ Creative Team/ Senior Marketing Manager
Chris Thompson has been working in the Entertainment industry for over 20 years, currently working as an independent writer, producer, choreographer, performance coach, vocalist, and comic industry artist. Main roles currently include Entertainment Director at Calaway Park, and Principle Choreographer with Youth Singers of Calgary. Chris has also recently worked as an Assistant Director for Disney’s Beauty & The Beast and Mary Poppins the Musical (Storybook Theatre). As a vocalist Chris has performed live in numerous concerts such as Total Vocal Carnegie Hall, Reba McIntyre, Roch Voisine, Paul Brandt, Kenny Rogers, Video Games Live, Star Wars Live, Josh Groban and Sarah Brightman. Chris has also lended his voice to fundraising concerts for the Ellie Tims Project at Storybook Theatre in the concert versions of The Secret Garden, Titanic the Musical, and In The Heights. When not working on or off stage, Chris can be found working on pop culture and comic art projects, and displays his personal work at Calgary Expo and Edmonton Expo each year. @cthompsonyyc
Director KIDAZZLE & KIDZXPRESS/ Director Combined Choirs KIDAZZLE & KIDXPRESS/ Assist Director of Combined Choirs KIDAZZLE & KIDXPRESS
Deanna has been a staff member of Youth Singers of Calgary since 2002. Her first 4 years on staff as the Assistant Director of KIDZXPRESS, moving in 2006 to Choral Director of KIDZXPRESS and, one year later, expanded her role to include Director of KIDAZZLE. Deanna brings a wealth of music and performance experience to the Youth Singer organization. Prior to her joining YSC, Deanna worked as a professional singer and actor with company credits including: The Citadel – Edmonton, The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, The Charlottetown Festival Young Company, and Stage West – Calgary. She holds a Bachelor of Education degree, a Bachelor of Music degree, and has worked for several years as an elementary school music teacher for the Calgary Board of Education. Deanna has also held positions on staff for Youth Singers as Resident Theatre Instructor, Stage Manager – TADA Summer Camp, performed as an ensemble member of ONCUE and is now a member of ENCORE.
Director JUNIOR HI/Composer & Arranger/Sessional Director/Director of Combined Choirs KIDXPRESS, JUNIOR HI/ Vocal Director SHINE
Kathryn is the Choral Director for the JUNIOR HI and SENIOR HI. She is also the vocal coach for SHINE, clinician and arranger for all divisions, resident composer, and lead creator of the BRAVO! talent showcase. Outside of Youth Singers, Kathryn directs the University Chorus and the University of Calgary. She is also a sought-after vocal and choral clinician throughout Alberta and maintains a private voice studio. Kathryn holds a Bachelor degree in voice performance from the University of Calgary as well as a Master of Music degree in choral conducting. As a composer, she has been commissioned dozens of works for choirs around Alberta, many of which can be found published by Alliance publications in Houston, Texas and Cypress Music Publishing in Canada. Many more self-published works can be found at www.kathrynparrottamusic.com.
Director SENIOR HI
Jean-Louis Bleau has been involved in the Calgary and area arts scene for a number of years, organizing numerous concerts and music festivals while maintaining a successful career as a choral conductor. He is excited to have the opportunity to work with the Senior Hi ensemble of the Youth Singers of Calgary for the coming 2017-2018 season. Jean-Louis also directs Mount Royal Artio and is the artistic director of Choral Programs at Mount Royal University, as well as being the artistic director of Cum Vino Cantus and the University of Calgary Chamber Choir. Bleau’s passion for music, especially choral music, is evident through his unique and expressive conducting style, and his enthusiastic approach to rehearsals. He is known for asking his choirs to engage difficult music, always seeking to push the members past their perceived limitations in order to produce music which — while challenging — is ultimately very rewarding. Bleau has always sought to push the boundaries of choral music and the concert experience through unique collaborations and concert events. This has resulted in performances around a lake in the heart of Kananaskis and concert events in a planetarium, parking garages, an industrial shop and even a swimming pool. He has worked to collaborate not only with other choirs but also a variety of musicians, choreographers, dancers, synchronized swimmers, and aerial gymnasts. When not engrossed in music, Bleau can be found with his partner on their farm northwest of Calgary enjoying the mountain views and the quiet peace of the country.
Director ACT3, ENCORE / Principal Director Combined SA & ALL
Jason Erhardt is a native Calgarian, a conductor, singer, cellist and producer actively involved in the local performing arts community. As a choral and orchestral conductor he has directed many of the great choral masterworks including Brahms’ Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, Mendelsohn’s Elijah, Dubois’ the Seven Last Words of Christ, Stainer’s Crucifixion and many famous opera scenes. Jason is Director of the MRU Vocal Jazz Ensemble, Artistic Director of the Core Concert Choir and is a member of the vocal quartet, Intunation, that performs swing, big band, and show tunes. Jason has performed as bass-baritone soloist with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, the Mexico City Chamber Orchestra, the Calgary Civic Symphony, Calgary Concert Opera Company, Calgary Chinese Oratorio Society, Symphony of the Kooteneys, Corpus Christi Male Chorale, the Bow Valley Chorus and the Calgary Bach Society. With Cowtown Opera Company: musical director/orchestra conductor, The Phantom of the Opera Sing along; Sarastro, The Magic Flute; Father, Hansel and Gretel. Other highlights include performing as soloist and conductor/producer of the annual Concert of Hope and music theatre productions of First Alliance Church where he served as fulltime music director for 22 years. Jason has a Bachelor of Music degree from Biola University and a Masters of Music in cello performance from The University of Southern California.
Director SECOND CHANTS/Associate Director SENIOR HI/Music Editor
Kathy is the Director of SECOND CHANTS, Associate Director of the SENIOR HI division and the Music Editor for all Divisions. Her association with Youth Singers began in 1997 when she was hired as Accompanist to the SENIOR HI Division. Outside of Youth Singers she is the Music, Worship and Communications Director at Central United Church, where she’s also a vocalist with their gospel / blues band, The Cracked Pots. Kathy is married, has two adult sons and has an adorable maltese-shitzsu named Karob.
Co-Director, Instructor STAR/ Arranger/ Band Sequences/ Sessional
David is a graduate of the University of Calgary Music Department, studying voice, and holds a degree in Theory and Composition. As a performer, he has enjoyed performing countless concerts, festivals and competitions all over the world. Dave has been involved with Youth Singers of Calgary for over 20 years as one of the original members, joining the artistic staff of the organization over 10 years ago. In addition to arranging choral music for all ages and skill levels at YSC, Dave works as a track producer, band leader/ guitarist and currently directs the YSC a cappella ensemble ONCUE. He lives in Calgary with his wife Jennifer, a YSC alumnus, and their 2 children who are also members of YSC.
Principal Accompanist, Associate Director & Accompanist ACT3/ Band/ Website Design Team
David studied piano starting at age 6 and received many placements in Kiwanis Festival competitions before he started teaching piano at age 11. At age 16, he placed second nationally at the Canadian Music Competition in Quebec and started playing and directing in churches, hotels, venues and dance companies including the Alberta Ballet and Decidedly Jazz Danceworks. He joined YSC as an accompanist and track producer for SENIOR HI and ACT 3. Later on, David and his wife Karma, whom he met at Youth Singers, moved to Burbank, California, where David continued teaching piano, playing for show choirs, accompanying at church and playing gigs throughout Los Angeles. These included playing for Jodi Benson (voice of the Little Mermaid), Seth Riggs (vocal coach for over 120 grammy winners), and Dr. Gary Bonner. David and his family returned to Calgary where David directs ENCORE, accompanies JUNIOR HI and ACT 3 and arranges choral music and produces tracks for various YSC divisions. David’s daytime job is in database administration. Outside of YSC he enjoys his time with Karma and their son Hunter.
Co-director ONCUE/ Assistant Director JUNIOR HI/ “Gleek Out” Music Instructor & Director
Dean Lauderdale has been connected to the Youth Singers of Calgary since he was first enrolled in the Junior Hi division in 2002. He has furthered his musical education by first graduating with a Diploma in Classical Music from Mount Royal University followed by a Bachelor of Music majoring in Vocal Performance from Humber College in Toronto, Ontario. Since moving back to Calgary in 2012, Dean has been the music director for the Youth Singers’ ‘GLEEK OUT!’ summer programs. In 2013 he was music director for Sir Winston Churchill High School’s musical production, Sleepy Hollow. Currently, Dean works as a private voice/guitar/piano instructor at the Calgary Winter Club, a musical theatre instructor at Absolute Dance, a recording engineer at his home studio, and is assistant director for the Junior Hi division and co-director of ONCUE at Youth Singers.
Assistant Director KIDAZZLE & KIDZXPRESS/Manager ENCORE
Megan’s life long love of music, singing and teaching led her to study music at McGill University, and education at the University of Calgary. Megan is a music specialist with the Calgary Board of Education and joined the Youth Singers artistic staff in 2013. Her first association with Youth Singers was as a chorister in 1988. Since then, she has worked in Production and Touring Management for Youth Singers and is currently on their Board of Directors. A strong believer in the value performing arts bring to young people, Megan has also served as a board member for the Mountainview Festival of Song and Chamber Music, and Evergreen Theatre. Megan lives in Calgary with her husband and three children, and enjoys managing and singing with ENCORE.
Co-Director & Instructor STAR
Jennifer brings to STAR a wide variety of musical and professional experience. She has a strong passion for music and has had a relationship with Youth Singers of Calgary for 25 years. She first joined as a singer in 1986 and has been involved as a committee member, member of the Board of Directors and most recently as a parent of a child participating in a Youth Singers Division. Jennifer has experienced firsthand the life long memories and enriching experiences that Youth Singers offers its participants. After completing her post-secondary education in Social Work, Jennifer began what has become a 14 year career of supporting individuals with special needs. Beginning as a frontline therapist, she provided direct treatment programming to children with a diagnosis on the autism spectrum for several years. Jennifer now works as a Registered Social Worker, supporting families and children living with autism and related disorders. Alongside her professional experience, Jennifer, herself, is a parent of a child with special needs. A journey close to her heart, Jennifer recognizes the value of developmentally appropriate programming that enhances social skill development and a successful sense of belonging. Jennifer is thrilled to be a part of the STAR team and looks forward to an exciting year!
Education Liaison High School Credit Program SENIOR HI
Assistant Instructor STAR
Assistant Instructor STAR
Bio coming soon!
Assistant Director SECOND CHANTS
Choreographer KIDS & MUSIC & SECOND CHANTS/Guest Choreographer/ Lead Creator SENIOR HI
Full of boundless enthusiasm and creativity, Lisa has spent her entire life immersed in the arts. For more than 20 years she has been training young people all over Calgary and Northern Alberta. Lisa has worked extensively with “Calaway Live”, Triangle Musical Theatre School, Alberta Theatre Works, Evergreen Theatre, the University of Calgary’s “Dance Montage” and numerous high schools throughout the city. Over the summer she takes a break from teaching, directing and producing to head up to the Yukon where she spends her nights performing for Holland America Cruise Lines. Lisa has performed as a member of Youth Singers for many years and has been the Assistant Principal Choreographer working primarily with the 225+ students, 14 years old and under, in the KIDS & MUSIC, KIDAZZLE, KIDZXPRESS and JUNIOR HI Divisions of YSC as well as Choreographer for SECOND CHANTS. Her 1940’s cabaret, “The Lava Lounge” is currently being performed on the conference circuit and she is thrilled to be working on her first CD.
Senior Choreographer JUNIOR HI/Guest Choreographer
Donald joined Youth Singers during the 96/97season. Since then, he has been a member of SENIOR HI, ACT 3 and SHINE, a Division that he played a significant role in creating. Donald has worked in staff positions with the KIDZXPRESS, JUNIOR HI, ACT 3, SHINE, and SECOND CHANTS. He has traveled with YSC as a performer to Florida/Bahamas, Australia/New Zealand, China, New York, and Europe. As a staff member Donald has accompanied JUNIOR HI to California on several occasions, where they brought back high standard gold awards both as a concert choir and show-choir, and worked as a SENIOR HI/ACT 3 staff member on tour in China. He performs in various shows across Calgary, and teaches dance and show-choir to various choirs and community groups. Donald holds a Sociology degree from the University of Calgary. He currently is a Holistic Therapist for a brain injury rehabilitation agency.
Lead Creator ACT3/ Guest Choreographer/ Dance Ensembles Director/ Choreographer Summer Stages
Katherine is a well-known performer and choreographer in the Calgary arts community. She began her dance and vocal training with YSC in 1995, and soon after expanded her studio training to include Absolute Dance Inc. She followed her passion for dance to the University of Calgary Dance Program where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Contemporary Dance, graduating with Distinction. She continued on to train with the Decidedly Jazz Danceworks Professional Program for two years, while performing professionally as a singer and dancer. A long-standing love of urban dance lead Katherine to co-found the successful Hip-Hop company illFX Entertainment, who have performed with such artists as Sean Kingston, Keston Ross, Groove Academy and Raghav. She has also performed with The Calgary Spurs, House of Dangerkat, SHINE ensemble, Elektra Dance Company and various entertainment agencies. She has also had the privilege of performing on numerous international tours with Youth Singers. She continues to choreograph for YSC, as well as for numerous dance studios, performing groups and schools in and around Calgary. Integrating an excitement for travel, Katherine has also studyied dance around the world. Her knowledge base includes Hip-Hop, Jazz, Lyrical, Contemporary, Ballet, Tap, Musical Theatre, West African, Dancehall, Vogue, Waacking, Swing, Latin, and Ballroom. She strives for knowledge and excellence in dance and music, and believes firmly in the value of education and self-expression through art.
Choreographer KIDAZZLE & KIDZXPRESS /Co-Manager & Choreographer SHINE/ Guest Choreographer/ Marketing Manager
Lauren has been a member of the Youth Singers of Calgary for over 20 years, both as a semi-professional performer and a choreographer for multiple divisions within the organization, including developing the GLEEK OUT! Summer camps. Lauren has performed locally with Calaway Live, University of Calgary’s Dance Montage, UCalgary Operetta, illFX Entertainment, and Storybook Theatre. Her choreography experience expands from community to professional groups, including Storybook Theatre, Lunchbox Theatre and Forte Musical Theatre Guild as well as multiple schools, summer programs, and arts groups around the city. Lauren graduated from the Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary with a degree in Tourism Management and Marketing, and has provided Marketing assistance to the Youth Singers since fall 2014. She has recently found the best combination of her Marketing degree and love for the arts as the new Director of Marketing and Communications at Lunchbox Theatre.
Assistant Choreographer KIDAZZLE & KIDZXPRESS
Choreographer SENIOR HI
Julie Stiven has been a member of the Youth Singers of Calgary since 1997 and has been a member of the artistic staff since 2011. She has been trained in tap, jazz, and hip-hop at Dance Spectrum. Julie has travelled around the globe with YSC gaining international performing experience and most recently travelled to California with the JUNIOR HI Division where they received top ratings and gold awards for both concert choir and show choir. Julie graduated from the University of Calgary with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree, majoring in General Mathematics and dreams of one day obtaining an Education degree. She is excited to start her new position as the Resident Choreographer with the SENIOR HI divison.
Assistant Choreographer JUNIOR HI/ Co-Director ONCUE
Jessica Eckstadt is a Calgary-born Mezzo-Soprano who grew up in the Youth Singers of Calgary. After her 16 years of involvement, Jessica continued her musical journey to Mount Royal University, where she achieved a performance diploma in classical voice. To further her studies, Jessica then moved to Montreal, Quebec and graduated June 2015 from Concordia University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts specializing in Music Performance. She graduated with great distinction and was awarded the Music Prize, given to the most outstanding music graduate of the graduating class. Jessica’s true love is musical theatre but she has been trained in many other musical styles. She has spent her whole life pursuing dance and acting in addition to her musical studies. Jessica believes that sharing music with others, through teaching or performing, is one of the best experiences in life.
Assistant SECOND CHANTS
Script Writer/ Creative Team
Jocelyn is the script writer for Youth Singers of Calgary and her involvement with this organization spans over 25 years. Starting as a 12 year-old singer in 1986 Jocelyn has continued to belong to various Divisions of Youth Singers and finally became a staff member in 2001. She is also a full time mom to her two sons and wife to her husband Jeremy (ONCUE) whom she met in Youth Singers when they were partnered together as “couple at a high school dance”. She is a SAIT graduate with a Diploma in Television Production (Major in Writing Production, Minor in Camera). Prior to joining the YS staff Jocelyn had a varied and interesting, if rather exhausting, career in casting for film and television.
Theatre Arts Lead / Guest Choreographer ACT3 / Co-Manager & Choreographer SHINE/ Director Airdrie CAST
Jeff has been performing for almost 20 years with the Youth Singers of Calgary, starting as a young performer in what is now the KIDAZZLE division. Currently, Jeff not only performs with the ACT3 and SHINE divisions of Youth Singers, but also works with many of YSC’s performers as a Theatre Arts Associate, Assistant Choreographer for SENIOR HI and ACT3, and as a co-Resident Choreographer & Co-Manager for SHINE. Jeff returned to the YSC family in 2009 after a 5 year hiatus where he earned his BSc in Chemical Engineering and a BA(Honours) in Drama at Queen’s University in Ontario. Jeff has performed in numerous Musical Theatre shows, and worked around Calgary as a member of Calaway Live, U of C Dance Montage, U of C Operetta Company, Front Row Centre Players, Decidedly Jazz Danceworks, and as a choreographer with St. Francis High School Musical Theatre program.
Theatre Arts Associate
Heather has always had a love for the dramatic and the musical. She studied Theatre at Rosebud School of the Arts. And has a voice and piano background as well. Since moving to Calgary she has worked as a Creative Arts Ministry Director at Foothills Alliance Church, also teaching Theatre workshops and classes at various schools, most recently Jr High Drama at AKCS. For the past three years she has also been the Program Director and Director for the Summer Drama Camps at FAC. Select directing credits: Hopes & Fears; Echoes of a Silent Night, Three Days; Fish Eyes and The Uprising (FAC); The Secret of Castle Othrene (HeARTbeat Theatre Productions). Select assistant directing credits: How the World Began (Fire Exit Theatre); Here Breaks the Heart (FET); The Fixer (FAC). Though Heather loves to direct and teach she also spends her time painting, acting and of course starring in her favorite role as a wife and as a mother of the best three kids.
Accompanist JUNIOR HI & KIDZXPRESS
Ingrid Mosker is accompanist to both the KIDZXPRESS and JUNIOR HI divisions. Since earning her Master of Music Degree in piano performance and pedagogy from the University of Alberta in 2002, she has been active in Calgary’s music scene through a variety of roles and organizations, including education program development at the National Music Centre (formerly Cantos Music Foundation), fund development for the Calgary Folk Music Festival and office assistance with the Calgary Kiwanis Festival. Ingrid has accompanied for the Savridi Singers, Harmony Through Harmony and the Simple Harmonies Violin Studio, and performed in the 2014 Honens ProAm competition. Currently, Ingrid teaches piano and theory lessons from her home studio, is volunteer music teacher at Rosedale Playschool and plays music at home with her two young boys.
Accompanist ENCORE & SECOND CHANTS
Cynthia will be re-joining the Youth Singers of Calgary as an accompanist this year. She is currently completing a Bachelor of Music at the University of Calgary and is also pursuing a minor in History. In the past, she’s collaborated with the University of Calgary’s Collegium Musicum as a harpsichordist and occasional organist and has also accompanied Bishop Carroll’s Sassy Jazz group as a student there.
(Dr.) Reid McLean Wiest
Reid has been connected to Youth Singers in various capacities since 1996. He initially joined as a performer, and then joined staff as a music arranger and composer, and a director in various Divisions. He served in YSC leadership roles for 10 years. He is a former director of ONCUE and produced three ONCUE recorded albums. Reid currently works as a Music Arranger for Youth Singers. He is married to Beth McLean Wiest, who performed and worked with YSC since its inception until 2009. Together, they have three children, and they have also started a new young adult choir called “Harmony Through Harmony”, which seeks to build community, develop leaders, and promote justice through music. Reid’s day job is as a family doctor in NW Calgary.
Winner of the 2008 Canadian Smooth Jazz Award for Best Pianist, this accomplished Bulgarian pianist is definitely hitting his stride.
Kristian grew up in a family of musicians in Sofia, Bulgaria. At six years of age, he was accepted into the prestigious L. Pipkov School of Music where he completed twelve years of intense training as a pianist and percussionist. Since moving to Canada in 1995, Kristian has firmly entrenched himself in the Canadian music scene – as an active composer, performer, record producer & musical director. Onstage Kristian has worked alongside some tremendous Canadian and international artists, including: Tom Jackson, Jens Lindemann, The Tenors, k.d.Lang, Jackie Richardson, Kenny G & Randy Brecker. Kristian is a long-standing musical director for Jens Lindemann’s “BrassFire”, Decidedly Jazz Danceworks, Youth Singers of Calgary & R&B/Soul recording artist Shannon Gaye.
Joe Slabe is a Calgary-based writer, composer and musical director with a Masters Degree in musical theatre composition from the University of London. Joe recently returned from New York, where he presented his latest musical Crossing Swords as part of the 2013 New York Musical Theatre Festival. Joe’s other recent works include Austentatious, (recently published by Playscripts Inc.), Maria Rasputin Presents, and If I Weren’t With You, (Calgary Critics’ Awards nomination for Best Production of a Musical). Joe is also an award-winning musical director who has garnered six Betty Mitchell Award nominations for his work and won twice. Joe is the founding artistic director of Forte Musical Theatre Guild and received the 2004 Greg Bond Award for outstanding contributions to musical theatre in Calgary.
Technical Director/ Recording Engineer/ Sound Designer
As an actor, designer and director JP has been both on and off the stage all over the world and is a proud member of the YSC Production Team. He is currently the Artistic Director for StoryBook Theatre which under his leadership has grown to be Canada’s largest volunteer driven theatre for young audiences. JP is both an award winning director and actor. Recent credits both on and off the stage include: Touch Me, Naughty But Nice (Forté), As You Like It, Romeo & Juliet (Shakespeare Co.), Sound of Music, Hansel & Gretl, Magic Flute (Cowtown Opera), Uptown Country Girls (Stage West), Dads In Bondage, If I Weren’t With You (LunchBox Theatre), The Secret Garden, Big, The Last 5 Years, Avenue Q (StoryBook Theatre), Into the Woods (Cappuccino), Putting it Together (Cornerstone Theatre), Sweeney Todd, Dead Man Walking (Calgary Opera). JP holds a degree in Theatre Arts and Drama in Education and is proud recipient of two Calgary Critics Choice Awards in both acting and directing. While plenty of his life is spent living and breathing theatre he always makes time for his beautiful wifeTara and sons, Evan Xander and Isaac Tanner, they make the endless hours and demands of theatre worthwhile.
Technical Production Manager/ Production Assistant
Colin Lowe is an artist who works across disciplines as a technical director, sound and lighting designer, musical composer and arranger, audio engineer, videographer and video editor, and has also trained as an actor, musical director, and musician. Colin is currently the technical director for Fire Exit Theatre and, in 2014, for Burnt Thicket Theatre as well. He also works as the lead video editor for DelTech Productions, and together with his wife, Alida, is co-founder of Estuary Creative, which provides creative services and arts support to organizations in the Calgary area. Colin is a graduate of the Cinema, Television, Stage and Radio program at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology where he majored in film and television editing. He has sung with many choirs around Calgary, including the Westwinds Choral Ensemble, Ambrose Community Singers, German Canadian Male Chorus of Calgary, Cum Vino Cantus, and currently sings with Encore. He also was a marching member of Allegiance Elite Marching Brass Ensemble from 1996-2002. He has also worked as a choral director (Foothills Lutheran Church, and Foothills Alliance Church), a Technical Coordinator at Foothills Alliance Church and an editor at one of the largest video production houses in Calgary from 2003-2009. Colin has also worked in a professional capacity as well as a volunteer in such organizations as Rose Bud Theatre, Front Row Centre, Unique Communications, Unimark Creative, and The Canadian Badlands Passion Play. Colin and Alida own a smart car, a cat, a fish, and many awesome hats.
Production Assistant SECOND CHANTS
Website Design Team
Karma has been singing and performing publicly since the age of 9. She has been in over 16 choirs and singing groups in the last 28 years including ACT 3, ONCUE and ENCORE at Youth Singers of Calgary. Karma met her husband at Youth Singers while he was playing the piano for the SENIOR HI Division in 1995. Together, they have a son who also performs with YSC and boy/girl twins who are due November 2014. Karma and David moved to California a year after they were married. While in California, Karma taught herself how to design graphics & program websites and also worked for an online film and television industry website in the marketing division. She and David own a website development company and have worked on numerous websites in many different industries since 1997. Karma and David now have an active role on the Website Design Team at YSC. Karma has worked in the scrapbooking industry since 1996 both with paper and digital scrapbooking. She has taught numerous people how to preserve their memories and has attended many international training courses for preserving heritage and archives. Three years ago Karma went on a sabbatical from running and designing an online digital scrapbooking community with over 7000 registered members. Karma is now on maternity leave from her office position at Youth Singers as Marketing Manager and Executive Assistant and as the Volunteer Heritage & Archive Manager.
Marketing & Website Design Team
William had no music background but found himself at home when he joined the ACT3 Division of YSC in 2005. From then on, he began to learn to read music, as well as familiar himself with basic music theories taught by Malcolm Edwards. He later join the ONCUE division in 2008, allowing him to further extend his depth as a performer. William is continuing his performing career as a member of ONCUE as well as taking part in the community theater. His first theatre production was U of C Operetta Company’s Children of Eden. With his background in Information Technology and a freelance web designer, William was able to help YSC on their redesign of the current website.
Music Director/ Voice Specialist CAST
Steven started with a brief stint of accordion lessons at age five and, after running the gamut of school bands and choirs, music still fills Steven’s life. Steven received a Bachelor of Music in voice from the University of Lethbridge (cum lauda). His music studies have carried him across Canada and to a number of countries including Germany, Cuba, the United States and England, and to numerous stages. Performance highlights include: Gilbert (Anne of Green Gables), Joseph (Technicolor Dreamcoat), Frederick (Pirates of Penzance), Nanki-Poo (The Mikado), The Baker (Into the Woods), Ferrando (Cosi Fan Tutte), Fabrizio (The Light in the Piazza), Noah (Children of Eden), Marco (Gondoliers – Apr 2013) and Marius (Les Mis – Dec 2013). On the side, he is an amateur of yoga, sign language and is working on developing ideas for choral music, operas and musicals of his own. Steven was a member of ONCUE from January – May 2004 and joined the YSC admin team in August 2010. After taking on the role of production manager November 2011 he established The CAST Program with YSC in June 2012 of which he is musical director. He has also worked as a production manager for Cowtown Opera Company, sessional assistant director for Lyric Opera Studio Weimar and choral director of Something Different (a division of ARCS).
Director & Acting Specialist “CAST”/ Choreographer Summer Stages
Lawrence has been performing since he was very young. He brings the experience of 50+ shows to everything he does. In 2010 Lawrence graduated from the University of Lethbridge with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Multidisciplinary). He focused on theatrical performance and production, as well as classical theory and musicianship. Lawrence is currently in his last semester of a Bachelor of Education, also through the University of Lethbridge. Recent credits include: Fame: The Musical (The CAST Program), The Neverending Story, Estuary (University of Lethbridge) The Dragon Knight (Storybook theatre). Lawrence takes pride in his ability to work in all levels of theatre and music; from directing to constructing the set, he enjoys the work of theatre.
Music Coordinator KIDS & MUSIC
Jillian’s love of music started at a young age and led her to take up the piano as well as participate in school band and choir. Jillian joined the Youth Singers of Calgary during the 1995/1996 season. During her time performing with the Youth Singers she has traveled to Florida/Bahamas, Australia/New Zealand, New York, and China. Jillian was an active member of the ACT3 Council and helped develop a program wide Audition Program which she coordinated for several years. Jillian has also held various administrative positions with Youth Singers over the years, including her most recent work as the Music Coordinator. Jillian completed her BA (Art History) at the University of Calgary and attended the Foundation Arts Program at Parsons the New School for Design in New York City. Jillian currently works full time as a Graphic Designer at Arnold Churgin Shoes.
Choreographer Gleek Out Summer Stages
Alicia Ward is a multidisciplinary artist and teacher based in Calgary. After graduating from the University of Calgary with a BFA in drama, Alicia spent a very informative year interning at Theatre Junction followed by two consecutive years in the Professional Training Program at Decidedly Jazz Danceworks. Sometimes she performs as a rooster with Bach Tots, while other times she tap dances with Yapping Ladies. Her two most recent initiatives Gravity Dance Company and TB Weekends bring together her love of art, community and promoting the work of her talented peers. Year round Alicia works in an administrative role for Swallow-A-Bicycle Theatre and teaches at various locations within the city including the University of Calgary, competitive and non-competitive studios and of course the summer camps at Youth Singers! She has undergone numerous dance exams with RAD and most recently the ISTD, including preparing to take her Associate exam in tap dance. Alicia is passionate about growing the artist community in Calgary and fostering opportunities for artists, no matter how young, to develop a love for dance.
OFFICE STAFF (Full & Part Time)
Senior Financial Operations/ Facilities Liaison
Keith has been with Youth Singers since 1996 starting as the bookkeeper and eventually becoming the Financial Administrator for the organization as well as the Office Manager. Keith proudly has four grandchildren who participated in the program. In his spare time, he likes to entertain at senior lodges with his singing and guitar. Currently, Keith oversees a mission outreach in Ecuador, South America and is on the pastoral care committee at Hillcrest extended Care. He loves the great outdoors, especially fishing and camping.
Cathy Inglis Sondergard
Senior Development Manager & Office Manager
Cathy’s time with Youth Singers began in 2003 when her son, who is still a member, joined KIDZXPRESS.. At the time she had left her career as a Chemical Engineer to be a stay-at-home mom of 3 and volunteer extraordinaire. While caring for her children she also served on various School Councils, advisory committees, planning committees and helped wherever the need arose: school, community, sports teams as well as at Youth Singers. In 2007 Cathy joined the YSC Office Admin team in a part time capacity assisting with admin work, the alumni database, and supported the development department. Now, at almost full time, she is the Development Manager, Alumni Liaison and Board Liaison.
Senior Program, Production, & Touring Manager
Alida Lowe is an artist who works across disciplines as a producer and manager, and has also trained as an actor, director, and musician. In addition to her work in the Production office at Youth Singers, she is the Producing Director of Burnt Thicket Theatre and together with her husband, Colin, co-founder of Estuary Creative, which provides creative services and arts support to organizations in the Calgary area. Alida holds an MFA in Producing from California Institute of the Arts and a BAR in Theatre Arts from Rocky Mountain College. She currently sings with and is on the board of Cum Vino Cantus, a Calgary-based choir that strives for “the playful pursuit of choral excellence,” and has worked both professionally and as a volunteer with organizations such as Calgary Arts Development, Fire Exit Theatre, the Canadian Badlands Passion Play, and the CalArts Coffeehouse Theater. Alida and Colin live in a charming old house with crooked walls, secret crawl spaces, and a mail slot in their closet door.
Manager of Volunteer Operations
David Dempsey: Father, Zombie Hunter, Fortune Seeker, Playstation Jedi and sometimes Manager of Volunteer Operations. Born analog in Edmonton, went digital in Calgary. Received a full OWL scholarship from Hogwarts. David has been a Youth Singer parent since 2009 and a YSC staff member since summer 2016. David knows enough about everything YSC to be helpful, yet dangerous. Favourite YSC show to date is Quest for the Heartsong from Spring 2014. David Believe that we as parents work together as a team for the best possible experience for our singers and children. I don’t work for you, we work together and accomplish more. “Volunteering and now working at YSC is easy for me because I’m investing directly in my child. I can’t think of a better gig anywhere”
Executive Assistant & Registrar
Fund Development Associate