Our Teachers

Teaching Artist & Co-Founder, OrKidstraMargaret Maria Tobolowska

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In 2012, Margaret Maria was awarded the Leading Women Building Communities Award by the Government of Ontario for her work in the Ottawa community with OrKidstra (an El Sistema inspired program) she co-founded in 2007 along with two of her musical colleagues, Tina Fedeski and Gary McMillen. OrKidstra is a thriving charity that brings musical opportunities to children who would otherwise be unable to participate. Margaret Maria is also an Honorary Board Member and the conductor of OrKidstra. You can find her sharing her love of music with the kids every Thursday at the Bronson Centre in Ottawa. Her passion for social justice and music continues to hold strong and true even though she is focused on composing and creating music. In 2012, Margaret and Tina were recognized as Kickass Canadians (www.kickasscanadians.ca).
Margaret Maria is very passionate about teaching and has given master classes in Canada, the United States, and Mexico. She has taught at the University of Ottawa, Carleton University, the National Arts Centre’s Summer Music Institute, the Southern Ontario Suzuki Institute and currently teaches at the National Capital Suzuki School of Music and OrKidstra.
In 2011, Margaret Maria decided to change her career from her professional post as cellist with the National Arts Centre Orchestra of Canada to follow her dream of composing and producing her own music and Enchanten Productions was born. Working in the contemporary Classical, Electro Acoustic, New Age, Instrumental, Cinematic, and Steampunk genres, Margaret Maria creates stunning new music with her phenomenal cello playing at the heart of it. Her two children’s albums, A Cello for Chelsea (2005) and Zara the Maggini (2006) were her first creative musical stories that incorporate her narration, musical compositions, and arrangements, into delightful performances that sparks the imagination of children and adults alike. Her 8th album, Carried By An Angel, a love story told through music was just released October 2017.

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Teaching Artistry FacilitatorKathryn Patricia Cobbler

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Loop pedal violist, composer, and arranger Kathryn Patricia Cobbler has crafted a singular niche in improvisation and classical performance. She obsesses over creating uniquely arresting soundscapes, whether in solo recitals, composing for theatre, performing in site specific art installations, and more. Recognized as an in-demand artist, she has been featured in the Ottawa region’s most notable Concert Series, including Music & Beyond, Shenkman Arts Centre, Music At Southminster, and Ottawa New Music Creators’ Analogue Series to name a few.

As a seasoned workshop facilitator and educator, Kathryn is proud to be the Teaching Artistry Facilitator for the El Sistema-inspired program OrKidstra and on the MASC Artist roster. As a composer, Kathryn has been featured in Castle of Our Skins Black Composers Miniature Challenge, that resulted in the world premier of her piece A Home Called ‘Wander’. She has also has been known to collaborate with other composers, premiering pieces by Canadian composers Mika Posen, and Raphael Weinroth-Browne.

After switching to music as her artistic path from visual arts, she would receive degrees in viola performance from Western University (B.M.) and the University of Ottawa (M.M.). A native of Windsor, Ontario, she makes her home in Ottawa. She performs on a viola by luthier, Sibylle Ruppert and a Boss RC-30 loop pedal. Kathryn joined the OrKidstra family in 2013.

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Artistic Program CoordinatorMark Constantine

A native of Canada’s East Coast, Mark Constantine is a performer, educator, and administrator with a variety of musical interests. Mark is a graduate of both the University of Ottawa and Indiana University, where he received Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in Horn performance, respectively. His principal artistic mentors include Dale Clevenger, Lawrence Vine, and Dan Gress, among others.

Recent concert appearances include shows with the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra, the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra, the Opera on the Avalon Festival Orchestra, and a variety of other performing arts organizations across Canada. He was a member of the National Youth Orchestra in 2016 and 2017, the National Academy Orchestra in 2019 and 2020, and has worked with renowned conductors including Alexander Shelley, Thomas Wilkins, Tania Miller, and Boris Brott. Mark was a member of The Ottawa Brass Initiative from 2016-2018, has performed in the Ottawa Chamberfest, The Scotia Festival of Music, and the Bathurst Chamber Music Festival, and is a founding member of the Monteregian Brass Quintet.

Believing strongly in the power of music to build community, Mark was thrilled to join OrKidstra’s faculty as a Teaching Artist in September 2020. He looks forward to expanding his role in the organization as the Artistic Program Coordinator. In his spare time, Mark enjoys exercising outdoors, spending time with loved ones, and the company of his cat, Moe.

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Junior KidStringers DirectorLouise “Loulou” Paquette

Louise Paquette studied violin from the age of 7 in Montreal with teachers from The Conservatory of Paris (France) and The University of Montreal. Ms. Paquette graduated from Laval University in Violin Pedagogy. During a ten years period, she studied violin pedagogy with Claude Letourneau in Quebec city, Jean Cousineau in Montreal and with internationally renowned Teacher Trainers of the Suzuki Association of Americas from the United States, Europe and Canada. Ms. Paquette has her Certification in the Violin Suzuki Method and is a member of the Suzuki Association of Americas.

Louise has run a full private studio in Montreal, Quebec city, Gatineau and Paris (France) for over 30 years during which time she provided individual and group classes, youth orchestras, concerts, recitals, workshops and development of Violin Programs.

Ms. Paquette joined the OrKidstra family in 2012 where she is known as Ms. Loulou. Besides providing love and teaching to a number of groups of different levels, she developed a guideline for violin adapted to the specific needs of the organization and supervised a team for extending it to violas and cellos. Acting as the Junior String Director and Teacher Trainer, she oversees a team of teachers, university students (ETAP), Young Teacher Artists, assistants and mentors providing meetings, evaluations, support and guidance in the management of their classes and application of the program specific to their groups.

On a private level, Louise comes from a family of multi-instruments players and teachers spanning several generations. She believes that teaching music contributes to transform people into better human beings. As well, she believes that music helps the children to develop numerous skills which will benefit them in their life and their future career. She is a mother of 2 musicians nurtured with love and the wife of a supportive and patient husband for 28 years.

Teacher Artist and Teacher Trainer, Junior KidStringers Director, Conductor of Junior KidStringers (Centretown Hub) and Intermediate KidStringers (Vanier Hub).

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Senior KidStringers DirectorCendrine Despax

Professional violinist, Cendrine Despax had as masters Calvin Sieb and Anne Robert. She is a graduate of the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal where she obtains in 2008 the “Prix à l’unanimité” in violin, in 2009 the “Prix à l’unanimité” in chamber music and the “Certificat de stage de perfectionnement en musique” and in 2010 the “maîtrise en musique, profil interprétation, spécialité violon.”
She is the first violinist of the Quatuor Despax. She is also part of the Orchestre Symphonique de Gatineau (OSG) from the foundation thereof, in 2007. She performs regularly in the national capital, Outaouais, Ottawa and in Europe.
In addition to being a teacher at OrKidstra, she teaches violin at the École Élémentaire Publique Trille des Bois, the École Secondaire Publique De La Salle and in private. Cendrine Despax is the founder of the festival “L’Art de la Musique | The Art of Music” which takes place in Gatineau during the summer in July.

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KiddlyWinks Director [on leave]Venessa Lachance

Venessa Lachance hails from a small French community in Northern Ontario and launched her musical career in Ottawa. Since her arrival in the capital, the young composer worked as the music director for several theatre productions.
Among these are Turcaret, the financier (Odyssey Theatre, 2014), Prosodie in Le promenoir (NAC’s Théâtre français, 2014), Le long de la principale (Théâtre la Catapulte, 2016), and On verra (Théâtre du Trillium, 2016). Venessa is currently completing her sixth year’s residency in composing for Théâtre Tremplin with 72 mirroirs cassés. She was nominated for a Rideau Award in 2015 in the Emerging artist of the year category.
In 2014, she released her first album consisting of solo piano compositions. Venessa’s classical background and her interest in using music as a story-telling device can be heard throughout the narrative-like short pieces on the album. It’s to this recording that Venessa owes her Trille Or Award nomination in the Discovery of the Year category (2015).
Venessa had the opportunity to share her skills starting at a very young age and is passionate about music pedagogy. She’s walking in her mother’s footsteps, having taught piano tutorials starting at age 12. Bringing change in the world through music is Venessa’s passion.

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Guest ConductorDonnie Deacon

Born in Glasgow, Scotland, Donnie Deacon studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music. He continued his studies at the Yehudi Menuhin School in London under the tutelage of Natasha Boyarskaya and Lord Menuhin. He finished his schooling at the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia with Jaime Laredo and Ida Kavafian.

Mr. Deacon has performed all over the world with such distinguished orchestras as the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Ulster Orchestra, BT Scottish Ensemble, London Soloists, Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia, Pablo de Sarasate Orchestra, and the Orchestra of the Curtis Institute of Music. He became principal second violin with the National Arts Centre Orchestra in 2001, the youngest player to do so in the history of the Orchestra. He has also been guest Concertmaster of both the Vancouver Symphony and The National Arts Centre Orchestra.

As an advocate for Canadian music, he has given the world premiere of Gary Kulesha’s 2nd violin concerto and William Rowson’s violin concerto. Mr. Deacon was named Resident Artist in the Community for the National Arts Centre in 2016, which sees him teaching and conducting all over Ottawa. Mr. Deacon is currently the Music Director of the Ottawa Chamber Orchestra and the Ottawa Youth Orchestra Academy and a Guest Conductor with OrKidstra.

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CEO & Artistic Director and Co-Founder of OrKidstraTina Fedeski, MSM

After a life-transforming experience in UK’s Bedfordshire Youth Orchestra, Tina went on to study at the world-renowned Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, England, and then played principal flute in the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra for four seasons. After spending a six-month sabbatical on full scholarship at the Banff Centre for the Arts, she moved to Ottawa, where she played with all the established orchestras and festivals in Ottawa including the National Arts Centre Orchestra and the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival.

In 1999, in partnership with her husband Gary McMillen, she opened The Leading Note, now recognized as one of Canada`s leading classical print music stores – and a hub of the classical music scene in Ottawa.

In 2007, motivated by her belief in the transformative power of youth music, Tina visited Venezuela to research El Sistema. Soon afterward, she and co-founders Gary McMillen and Margaret Tobolowska founded OrKidstra (previously known as The Leading Note Foundation.)

As Executive Director, Tina proudly accepted a Peace Award from the Mayor of Ottawa in 2011 in recognition of OrKidstra’s impact on the community of Ottawa. In spring 2012, Yasir Naqvi, MPP Ottawa Centre, presented Tina with the Leading Women/Leading Girls, Building Communities Award. She is also recognized as a Kickass Canadian, and late in 2012, she received, with immense gratitude, the Canadian Institute for Child Health Leadership Award. In 2017, the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, awarded Tina Fedeski the Meritorious Service Medal for creating the OrKidstra program.

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Teaching ArtistWendy Berkelaar

Originally form Nova Scotia, Wendy came to Ottawa in 1995 to pursue her master’s degree in fortepiano performance under the mentorship of the late Cynthia Floyd. Little did she know then that she was actually destined for the musical theatre world. Wendy got her theatrical start at Orpheus Musical Theatre Society as a rehearsal accompanist and pit orchestra musician. She went on to apprentice several musical directors there and conducted her first show (Guys and Dolls) in 2006. Since then, Wendy has worked nationally and internationally as a musical director and keyboardist.
Here at home in Ottawa, Wendy is a still familiar face around Orpheus, and has also worked with Ottawa Little Theatre, Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet Productions, Indie Women Productions, and recently made her debut with the Great Canadian Theatre Company. She’s also has the privilege of being the local sub for Broadway Across Canada and has performed in the orchestra with the tours of Wicked, The Book of Mormon and Les Misérables. Wendy has been the accompanist for the KidSingers program since 2013, and is thrilled to be a part of the OrKidstra family.

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Teaching ArtistEd Lister

Ed Lister is a professional trumpeter/composer/arranger and educator from London, England and has been based out of Ottawa, Canada for the past 6 years. Ed runs five bands of his own and performs in a further 17 as a session musician/recording Artist. The bands that Ed runs range from an 11-piece Big Band to a 4-piece funk fusion band. For the last three years, Ed has been successfully running his own independent record label London Gentleman Records. The label has booked several across Canada tours for a few of its Artists and currently manages six bands ranging in style. Before moving to Canada, Ed worked aboard Carnival Cruise Lines as a Showband musician for two and a half years. Ed has a BA Hons degree in Jazz studies and was classically trained in trumpet from the age of 10 to 19 and obtained Grades 1 – 8 in Classical trumpet from the Guildhall School of Music in London, England.

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Teaching ArtistDeborah Reid

Deborah Reid was born in Ottawa, but was raised in Amman, Jordan and Wittlingen, Germany. Her cross-cultural childhood fostered in her a great curiosity and appreciation for the experiences and perspectives of others. Deborah has always enjoyed singing, but she truly fell in love with music while attending Black Forest Academy in rural Germany and has had her heart set on performing, creating, and teaching music ever since. Deborah received her Bachelor of Arts with a Specialization in Music at the University of Ottawa in 2014. There she was introduced to OrKidstra through the Experiential Teaching Artist Program and had the opportunity to put her education to practical use. During university, Deborah’s love of conducting, theory, and ear training blossomed, and she received the University of Ottawa Choir Choral Direction Scholarship in her final year. Since then, she has continued to work with OrKidstra and now has the pleasure of directing the KidSingers program and teaching several KiddlyWinks classes on the side. Deborah strives to share with her students the beauty of
singing in harmony (literally and figuratively) and has the special joy of raising her own to musicians at home.

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Teaching ArtistAndrew Gesing

Andrew is a 2017 graduate of the Bachelor of Education program at the University of Ottawa, specializing in teaching music and English, and a 2015 graduate of the Bachelor of Music program at the University of Toronto, specializing in music education and classical saxophone performance. Andrew became involved with OrKidstra as a student teacher for his University of Ottawa Teacher Education program in April 2017, and officially became part of the team in May 2017.

Outside of OrKidstra, Andrew is an avid sailor, and an active part of the Ottawa music scene as a member of the funk band Cloud City, the assistant director and lead alto player of the Bytowne Big Band, a member of the Hewey Lewis and the News tribute band Too Hip to be ■, and a freelance performer and arranger.

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Teaching ArtistZac Pulak

Hailing from Winnipeg; Ottawa based percussionist Zac Pulak studied at the University of Ottawa under the tutelage of Jonathan Wade and Kenneth Simpson, receiving an undergraduate degree in 2014.

Since then, Zac has worked with world-class organizations such as the National Arts Centre, Music and Beyond, Ottawa International Chamberfest, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, Scotia Festival of Music, and many others. Zac has completed artist residencies at the Banff Centre, SMU (Dallas, TX) and Destelheide Training Centre (Dworp, Belgium). Recently, Zac was recognized as one of CBC’s “Hot 30 Canadian Classical Musicians Under 30.”

In his work as a freelance orchestral musician, Zac has performed with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra, and the symphony orchestra’s of Ottawa, Thunder Bay, and Winnipeg.

As an emerging artist, Zac is the recipient of numerous awards including the City of Ottawa’s Youth in Culture Pilot Program (2016, 2017, 2018) and Ontario Arts Council’s Chalmers Professional Development Grant (2018) which will see him spend the 2018-2019 season working closely with Canadian virtuoso Beverley Johnston.

Zac performs in his own chamber projects SHHH!! Ensemble, trio [no]relation, and Percussion A to Z at festivals internationally. He is the founder/curator of #NSFWcc (not safe for work contemporary cabaret), an interdisciplinary concert series dedicated to showcasing the national capital region’s emerging talent.

Zac is an artist/endorser of Mike Balter Mallets, Grover Pro Percussion, and Sabian Cymbals.

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Teaching ArtistEmily Marks

Flutist Emily Marks joined the National Arts Centre Orchestra as second flute and piccolo in September 2002 at the age of 23.

Born and raised in North Vancouver, she studied with Camille Churchfield, principal flute of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. She completed her Bachelor of Music degree with distinction at McGill University, where her
teachers were Carolyn Christie and Timothy Hutchins of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. While pursuing a Masters degree at Indiana University studying with Thomas Robertello, she won the job with NACO.

Emily was a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada in 2001 and 2002, and toured internationally with the Jeunesses Musicales World Orchestra for three sessions. Additional studies were at the Banff Centre, Orford Arts Centre, and performing with the National Academy Orchestra in Hamilton, Ont.

Emily has been on the faculty of the University of Ottawa, and has performed educational concerts in schools throughout the Ottawa area with the Ayorama Wind Quintet. She has been a regular performer at the Ottawa
Chamber Music Festival and with Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra.

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Teaching ArtistLindsey Herle

Lindsey Herle began her violin studies at the age of eight in her hometown Fort McMurray, Alberta, where she completed the Royal Conservatory of Music violin exams 1-10 and a Performers ARCT, along with the accompanying theory requirements. She graduated with distinction from the University of Victoria, where she studied with Sharon Stanis of the Lafayette String Quartet, with a Bachelor of Music in Performance, and proceeded to attend the Advanced Performance Program at Mount Royal Conservatory in Calgary, where she studied with William van der Sloot. She received her Master of Music degree at the University of Ottawa where she studied with teachers Yehonatan Berick, Yosuke Kawasaki, and Ashley Vandiver. While at the University of Ottawa, Lindsey was awarded the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Grant to pursue her research on the violin concerto by Erich Korngold. She has also studied at the Meadowmount School of Music with Gerardo Ribeiro and at Orford Academy with William van der Sloot, Andrew Wan, and the Gryphon Trio. Lindsey has performed in the National Youth Orchestra of Canada in 2012 and 2013 and in the National Academy Orchestra in 2018. In May of 2013, she was selected from numerous NYOC alumni to be a part of the Canada-India National Youth Orchestra in Bangalore. Professional orchestra appearances include the Victoria Symphony, Pacific Opera Victoria, the Calgary Philharmonic, and the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra.

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Teaching ArtistYolande Laroche

Yolande Laroche is a clarinetist, keyboardist, singer and composer. Since graduating from the University of Ottawa with a Bachelor in Music and Minor in Arts Administration, she has performed locally and has been on several tours across Canada with her main musical projects Pony Girl and mal/aimé. As a freelance player, she has shared the stage with Pallice, Marie-Clo, Her Harbour, John Aaron Cockburn, Claude Munson, Old Cabin, Isaac Vallentin, Cedric Noel, Luka and others. Yolande is also a member of the Governor General’s Foot Guards band and has performed for a number of dignitaries and special events in the NCR.

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Teaching ArtistFanny Marks

French/British cellist Fanny Marks entered the local music school at age 9, going on to earn her Bachelor of Music from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (London), her postgraduate degree in music from the Royal Academy of Music (London) and her postgraduate Performance Diploma from the University of Indiana (USA) in the studio of Janos Starker.

Trained as a performing artist, most of her career has consisted in touring with orchestras (such as the Nederlands Kamerorkest and the Nederlands Philharmonisch Orkest) and chamber music groups in concert halls and theatres across Europe and the Americas.

Throughout her music life she has developed a passion for working with kids – music theatre, children’s operas, workshops for disabled kids or kids with special needs /low income families and youth music summer camps.
Fanny moved to Wakefield, Quebec in September 2014 and started her own cello teaching studio in Wakefield alongside teaching in the Chelsea music school. Since summer 2015, she has been a regular substitute at the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa.

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Teaching ArtistDesiree Abbey

Desiree is a freelance cellist who performs, records and tours regularly with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra as Principal Cellist and more recently as an extra musician with the National Arts Centre Orchestra.

Desiree received a Bachelor of Music with Honours at the Cleveland Institute of Music where she studied with Desmond Hoebig, performed as a soloist with the CIM Orchestra as a winner of the CIM Concerto Competition and received teacher training for Suzuki Books 1-4 with Dr. Melissa Kraut. Following her undergraduate work, Desiree moved to New York City to study with Timothy Eddy, earning both Master of Music and Professional Studies Diploma from Mannes The New School for Music. While in NYC, she taught at Brooklyn College Preparatory Music School, subbed at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music and received Music Mind Games Unit 1 training (Theory) with Michiko Yurko and Suzuki Book 5 training with Carol Tarr at the Chicago Suzuki Institute.

Desiree has appeared as soloist with the Guelph Symphony and the National Repertory Orchestra, has played in Carnegie Hall and toured Europe as part of prestigious festival orchestras and attended various summer festivals such as The Music Academy of the West, Bowdoin and Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival.

She served as Assistant Principal Cello with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra in their 2011-2012 season and taught for WSO’s Sistema Winnipeg from 2012-2017. During her time in Manitoba, she also taught as a sessional instructor at Brandon University and University of Manitoba.

Teaching is a passion of hers and her students have been recognized as Gold Medalists in RCM examinations and class winners at the Winnipeg Music Festival. She has served as adjudicator for the Manitoba Registered Music Teacher’s Association, Provincial Music Festival and Winnipeg Music Festival. Having recently relocated to Ottawa, Desiree is thrilled to be joining the OrKidstra team!

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Teaching ArtistMarlene Cruz Lozano

Born in Mexico City, Marlene Cruz Lozano began her professional musical education at the Escuela Superior de Música, Universidad Autónoma de Coahuila, where she pursued a performance degree in piano and violin. In 2001, she moved to Canada to continue her studies and obtained a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Music from Bishop’s University. During her degree, she studied composition with Canadian composers Andrew Paul MacDonald and Stewart Grant.

Her musical interests are wide-ranging and she enjoys exploring different genres, such as world music, jazz, classical and contemporary through composition, improvisation and performance.
With more than 20 years of teaching experience, Marlene shares her passion for music by creating a fun and motivating environment in which students can improve both their musical and personal skills. Marlene’s approach to music education is based on creativity – including composition as an imaginative tool – particularly when working with youth. Through this method, Marlene teaches the fundamentals of music theory, along with the exploration of diverse musical styles and improvisation. As a teacher, it is her objective to help students find their own musical voice, as well as to guide those who are interested in composing their own music. Marlene has also had the privilege of working closely with special needs students, using music as a valuable tool for growth.

Being a curious, creative and innovative musician, she is constantly continuing her personal development through diverse masterclasses and online education from Universities such as Berklee (Improvisation Certificate) and Northwestern University (Teaching Violin and Viola: A Healthy Foundation). As a new OrKidstra Teaching Artist, she is excited to contribute and grow as a teacher.

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Teaching ArtistJill Kirwan

Jill Kirwan, a native Montrealer, is a retired member of the National Arts Centre Orchestra French Horn section where she played the position of third horn for over 33 years. She was a student at Quebec Conservatoire in Montreal, and at 17 years of age, won the Montreal Symphony Orchestra’s competition for young musicians. In Montreal, she had a very busy career playing as a regular substitute with the Montreal Symphony, was a founding member of L’Orchestre Métropolitain, McGill Chamber Orchestra, Grand Ballet Orchestra, CBC Orchestra, and played and recorded with many well-known international and French Canadian stars.

In 1984, Jill began her journey with the National Arts Centre Orchestra. She thoroughly enjoyed performing in Ottawa and making her home here and even though she is now retired is so very proud of her orchestra and continues to go to concerts. She also was principal horn with the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra for many years, and has performed with the Ottawa Choral Society, Thirteen Strings, Ottawa Chamberfest and Music and Beyond. As a teacher, Jill has had many students over the years who have benefited from her expert advice. A few have gone on to study horn at the university level winning bursaries, scholarships and becoming professional. She is thrilled to be a Teaching Artist in the OrKidstra program.

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Teaching ArtistRichard Page

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Ottawa-based woodwind artist Richard Page has become a sought-after performer and educator for all levels. His unique sound and approach to the baritone saxophone has been featured on many recordings and he is an in-demand sideman in the Ottawa-area.

Richard has performed with many world-renowned artists. Most recently, he performed at the 2019 Ottawa Jazz Festival with the = Jazz Orchestra, led by Christine Jensen (who’s saxophone section included – Tara Davidson, Allison Au, Anna Webber and Claire Devlin). At the 2018 Ottawa Jazz Festival, Richard performed with the Jerry Granelli Group, which featured guitar legends Robben Ford and Bob Lanzetti. He also performed with Hilario Duran (as the baritone saxophonist/bass clarinetist with the Ottawa Latin Jazz Big Band) that year. Richard has shared the stage with Mike Rud (Juno Award Winner), Adrean Farrugia, Phil Nimmons and many other jazz greats.

In addition to his own projects, Richard performs regularly with the Prime Rib Big Band, Sly High – A Tribute To Sly & The Family Stone, ERU-ERA, Renée Landry, The Commotions and The Rock Steadies. Richard’s woodwinds have been featured on television on commercials, TV shows and movies, and can be heard on the Kidscreen award winning (Emmy and Canadian Screen Award nominated) Sesame Workshop/Nelvana cartoon, Esme and Roy.

Richard’s musical education was developed through a combination of his studies at Mohawk College (2005-2007) and many performing opportunities in his early career. He was a member of the Hamilton All-Star Jazz Band (2004-2008) and in 2007 travelled to Europe, performing at the Montreux and Vienne jazz festivals. Through his involvement in the HASJB and he was awarded the Noreen and Phil Nimmons Scholarship from the Steeltown Friends of Mohawk Jazz (2005 and 2007). Richard has studied with many renowned Canadian musicians, such as Kirk MacDonald, Petr Cancura, and spent several years studying with world-renowned woodwind artist, Tim Price.

Richard is a proud endorser of Gonzalez Reeds, Key Leaves, and DeQuelery Windinstruments woodwind products.

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Teaching ArtistEric Prodger

Eric Prodger is Bass Trombonist from Ottawa Ontario. He currently studies with James Markey, as a student of The New England Conservatory in Boston MA. His previously teachers have included Jeffrey Hall, Douglas Burden, Pace Sturdevant, Angus Armstrong, Leonard Ferguson, and Serge Filiatreault. Eric successfully completed three summer sessions as a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada in 2020, 2019, and 2017, he has toured with the orchestra throughout Canada and Spain. As a soloist he was a finalist in the National Arts Centre Orchestra Bursary Competition in the years 2019 and 2017. From this competition he was the recipient of The Crabtree Foundation Award, The Sturdevant Prize for Orchestral Excerpts, and an Honourable Mention. He has performed as a soloist in recital settings, with the Ottawa Youth Orchestra, and with the Intrada Brass of Oakville. Eric has participated in several intensive educational festivals such as Domaine forget, and The Lätzsch Trombone Festival which took place in both Germany and the Netherlands.

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Teaching ArtistBryan Parker

Bryan decided that he wanted to play a brass instrument – the Euphonium – in Grade 8 at Philemon Wright High School, shortly after his first music teacher had demonstrated all of the band instruments. Over the next few years, Bryan learned to play the trombone at the suggestion of his second music teacher in order to play in the school’s jazz band, which gradually led to the bass trombone. Bryan recognizes and greatly appreciates the early influence of both of his high school music teachers.

Bryan’s formative musical experiences were playing the bass trombone in the Heritage College Big Band and the Ottawa Youth Orchestra. The latter gave Bryan his first taste of orchestral playing – Mars, from Gustav Holst’s The Planets – and orchestral music continues to be a major source of musical fulfilment. Bryan learned much under the baton of John Gomez, and looks back on those years with fondness and gratitude.

Bryan later obtained a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Ottawa, where he studied under Douglas Burden (bass trombonist, National Arts Centre Orchestra). He also played in the University Orchestra (David Currie) and sang in the Choral Ensemble (Lawrence Ewashko). Bryan’s approach to teaching music is strongly influenced by his experience working with these three musicians and pedagogues.

Bryan joined the Ottawa Youth Orchestra Academy (OYOA) faculty for the 2004/2005 season as director of the Junior Brass Ensemble, to which an Intermediate Brass Ensemble was added in the 2016/2017 season. Having marked his fifteenth year with the OYOA in 2019/2020, Bryan continues to feel that working with young brass students is one of his favourite musical activities.

Since the fall of 2018, it has been Bryan’s great pleasure to be a Teaching Artist with Orkidstra, where he teaches low brass and conducts the Junior Concert Band at the Centretown Hub. He looks forward to taking a few brass ensembles under his wing in the fall of 2020. Orkidstra’s mission to empower kids from under-served communities by teaching life skills (e.g. teamwork, commitment, respect and pride in achievement) through the universal language of music resonates strongly with Bryan, and he is grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of this truly inspiring organization and work with some wonderful young people. The experience continues to expand Bryan’s horizons as a music teacher.

For many years, Bryan has been an active member of the local music scene. He has been the bass trombonist of the Ottawa Chamber Orchestra since 2005, and held the same chair in the Divertimento Orchestra from 2013 to 2018. He has been a church musician, notably at St. Brigid’s and St. John the Evangelist, and has on many occasions played as a freelance trombonist in the community.

An avid chorister, Bryan has sung with the Ottawa Festival Chorus, the Ottawa Choral Society and is currently a member of the Ewashko Singers. Over the years, he has participated in many interesting concerts at the National Arts Centre and elsewhere in the community. Highlights include Bach’s B Minor Mass (Rilling), Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis (Zuckerman), Mahler’s Eighth Symphony (Nezet-Séguin), Britten’s War Requiem (Shelley), and La Machine (at LeBreton Flats with a giant mechanical spider and fire-breathing dragon!)

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Teaching ArtistHanna Williamson

Originally from Mission, B.C., Hanna Williamson began her post-secondary studies with Michael van der Sloot at the Victoria Conservatory of Music. She completed her Masters in Violin Performance in 2018 at the University of Ottawa with Yehonatan Berick and Yosuke Kawasaki, and was happy to stay in Ottawa when she won a position with the Canadian Armed Forces Strings Ensemble, where she now works full-time. She joined the OrKidstra teaching crew last fall and has enjoyed getting to know the students and the teachers in the program very much! Hanna has completed Performer’s ARCTs (RCM) in violin and piano and has taught both instruments for many years. When not engaged with the CAF ensemble, Hanna enjoys subbing with the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra, helping organize the Music in Greenboro concert series, working on art commissions, and swimming!

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Teaching ArtistAngela Blackwell

Angela is from Harrogate in Yorkshire. She studied clarinet with David Campbell at Dartington College of Arts, where she completed a BA (Hons) in music. She continued her studies with John Fuest at Birmingham Conservatory, completing a GBSM along with two ABSM’s in performing and teaching. She settled in Bristol, playing with the Bristol Philharmonic and Bristol Opera Company and freelancing in the many theatres in the area. She taught at Bristol University and in private and public schools in and around the city.
She moved to Ottawa in 1996. She continues her playing in Divertimento Orchestra and ‘the fiVe’ wind quintet, as well as playing chamber music and giving solo recitals. Along with teaching every age of student at home, she has been a part of the Ottawa New Horizons team since its beginning in 2008, coaching the clarinets and between 2014 and 2018 directing one of the bands. Angela is thrilled to be part of the amazing Orkidstra program!

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Teaching ArtistRaina Saunders

Classical violinist and fiddler, Raina Saunders, began taking violin lessons at the age of 9 in her hometown, Victoria, BC. Throughout her undergraduate and graduate studies in violin performance, she has performed for numerous distinguished teachers from around the world, including Yehonatan Berick, Benjamin Schmid, William van der Sloot, Andrew Dawes, Paul Katz, the Danish String Quartet, and the St. Laurence String Quartet. Her classical studies have taken her to academies such as the intensive orchestral program at the Orford Academy in Quebec, the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute in Toronto, the Summa Cum Laude Competition in Vienna, and the chamber music program at Scotia Festival of Music in Halifax. As a winner of the Johann Strauss Foundation Scholarship Competition for music study in Austria, she attended the Allegro Vivo Summer Academy in Horn, Austria. She moved to Ottawa in 2016 with a full scholarship to take a Master’s degree and Graduate Diploma in Violin Performance. In addition to performing chamber music on the NAC’s Fourth Stage and playing in the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra, Raina has recorded on rock, folk, and sacred albums; plays fiddle and sacred music; tours with a rock/folk band; and improvises on church music teams.

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Teaching ArtistJessica Simpson

Born and raised in Ottawa, Jessica began her musical journey learning songs with her Grandma from a very young age. She was always the first of all the grandchildren to be at the piano as soon as Grandma began to play and sing. At the age of 8, Jessica began her formal musical training with Cantiamo Girls Choir of Ottawa (now the Cantiamo Choirs of Ottawa) with conductor Jackie Hawley and fell in love with choral music. Soon after, at the age of 11, she began private voice lessons in Kanata. Jessica is also a graduate of Canterbury High School’s Vocal program where she worked with pianist, organist and choral director Mr. James Caswell. In 2019, Ms. Simpson graduated from the University of Ottawa with a Bachelor of Music with a specialization in music education and during that time Jessica studied voice privately with Professor Sandra Graham. While at the University of Ottawa, Jessica performed in a multitude of choirs including; the University of Ottawa’s Calixa Lavallee Choir with Laurence Ewashko, Canterbury Trebles Women’s Ensemble with James Caswell and Hypatia’s Voice Women’s Choir with Laura Hawley. 

For the past couple of years, Jessica has been as a voice teacher alongside Ottawa voice teacher Diana Sharp at her private studio. Since graduating from her Bachelor of Music at the University of Ottawa, Jessica has also moved on to a second bachelor’s degree with the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Education. Jessica is working towards her graduation in June of 2021, with an intermediate/senior division qualification for music and English.

In 2019, Jessica joined the Orkidstra team as a teaching artist. Jessica, known at Orkidstra as Ms. Jessica, works alongside Ms. Deborah with Kidsingers at the Vanier Hub location and now with all of the Kidsingers online. 

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Teaching ArtistDr. Keith Hartshorn-Walton

Multi-instrumentalist Keith Hartshorn-Walton relocated to Ottawa in 2015 and has established himself in the City’s Jazz scene specializing in Tuba, Sousaphone, Electric and Acoustic Bass.

Originally from Winnipeg, Keith toured extensively with the Foothills Brass Quintet. He has performed with Clark Terry, Louis Bellson, Quinsin Nachoff, as well as orchestras in Edmonton, Calgary, Oshawa and Kingston. In the spring of 2018 he was part of Rob Frayne’s Dreamband 3 with musicians from Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.

In Ottawa he can be found in bands as diverse as The Bank Street Bonbons, Safe Low Limit (an all-bass clef jazz group), Linsey Wellman’s Wedding and Funeral Trio, and particularly Mélanie E., a quartet featuring his wife Mélanie Hartshorn-Walton on French Jazz vocals.

In September 2019, Keith was privileged to be invited to perform in New York City for a special tribute concert to his mentor, jazz tuba pioneer Howard Johnson.

As a bassist he has performed with the Beeched Wailers, Alex Moxon, Zakari Frantz, Peter Hum, Stephen Berndt and Steve Boudreau. Keith is also part of two monthly jazz series with Tariq Amery and Garrett Warner at Ottawa’s Art House Café and also has hosted the monthly Jazz in Barrhaven series at Anabia Cupcakery.

In addition, Keith is music director and organist at Wall Street United Church in Brockville. He received his Doctorate of Music from McGill University in 2010, and has studied with Dennis Miller and Mark Tetreault, and McGill and the University of Toronto, respectively.

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Teaching ArtistHengjie Yang

Born in China, Hengjie Yang was raised in a small northwestern city in Ningxia province. Influenced by her father who played the accordion, Hengjie showed her interest in music throughout her childhood. She began her musical journey attending chorus classes from a very young age. At the age of 12, she fell in love with Chinese traditional music and began learning the Chinese Zither (Guzheng). At the age of 19, Hengjie won the runner-up of “2015 Natural Born Singer” contest in NingXia province. Hengjie, a 2018 graduate of the Bachelor of Economics at the University of Geosciences, moved to Montreal to pursue further education. She then transitioned to an education major and began her career working with children. Hengjie found her interest in teaching children to play music when she volunteered at OrKidstra in 2020. In 2021, Hengjie graduated from the Early Childhood Education program of Algonquin College and joined OrKidstra as an Apprentice Teaching Artist with her passion for music and trained teaching methods. She speaks Mandarin as her first language, and English.

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Become a Teaching ArtistA life-changing experience

OrKidstra’s Teaching Artists are extraordinarily talented musicians and music educators who are passionate about OrKidstra’s social mission of success through music. Are you passionate about music education and social change? Do you live in the Ottawa area? OrKidstra invites all experienced musicians and music educators to learn more about becoming a Teaching Artist with OrKidstra.

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Teaching Artist Development WorkshopsLearn valuable skills in a hands-on environment

Are you a musician or music educator who is interested in learning more about social development through music? Do you want to add valuable skills to your resume? OrKidstra offers Sistema-inspired Teaching Artist Development Workshops that allow participants to develop their understanding of social development through music in an experiential, creative environment. 

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Experiential Teaching Artists Practicum (ETAP)Gain real, practical experience

In partnership with University of Ottawa Music Department and Community Service Learning Department, OrKidstra offers a 3-credit course to undergraduate and masters level students at the University of Ottawa. Since 2008, the Experiential Teaching Artists Practicum (ETAP) has offered valuable teaching experience through hands-on teaching assistant placements within the OrKidstra program.

This unique partnership also covers a broad overview of music teaching philosophies, the philosophy and history of El Sistema as it applies to OrKidstra’s uniquely Canadian Model, and its implications for society and social justice.

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I was able to gain real practical experience at OrKidstra: it was a great opportunity for me to take the skills I was learning in my university pedagogy and conducting classes, and apply them in real-life situations.

Kaley Duff


There is a very caring and welcoming atmosphere at OrKidstra, and no matter how I felt coming in each week, I always left with a very positive attitude, and I expect the same can be said for the students.

Heather Bourne


I look forward to every session that I teach, from the kids to the staff to the atmosphere, it’s so full of love and community. The whole entire OrKidstra organization is just amazing.

Arthurine Duhaney