Faculty of Music

Britten Biographies


Emily Abrams Ansari is an Assistant Professor of Music History at Western. As co-organizer of the faculty’s Centennial Celebration of Britten, she extends her commitment to exposing both her students and the community to exciting twentieth century music, and to placing that music within its complex social and political contexts. Her research program engages similar themes, examining issues of national identity and politics as they pertain to music in the United States. A book project in progress considers the effect of the Cold War on American musical nationalism through a study of the role of composers in government-funded cultural diplomacy.

Theodore Baerg, Professor of voice and co-ordinator of Operatic Studies at Western University, continues to enjoy a long and celebrated career, appearing with the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Glyndebourne Festival (England). He has performed in opera and concert on virtually every major stage in Canada and many in the United States. In addition to more than 80 operatic roles, Prof. Baerg has performed many world premiere operas and concerts including Mario and the Magician and The Golden Ass with the Canadian Opera Company. During the summer months he has taught at numerous young artist programs including La Musica Lirica in Italy, Opera Nuova in Canada, and FIO Americas in Brazil.

Jill Ball is Assistant Professor of Percussion at the University of Western Ontario and directs the Faculty of Music Percussion Ensemble. She is a seasoned orchestral performer and has appeared as soloist with numerous professional and university ensembles in Canada and the United States. She is a frequent recitalist and advocate of contemporary music, having premiered works for percussion by Alan Heard, Arsenio Giron, David Maslanka, and has recorded with the Robert Hohner Percussion Ensemble on the Albany and DMP labels.

A native of Ottawa, Emily Bellman started her musical studies in trumpet at the age of 11. Since 2011, Emily has been a member of the Canadian Armed Forces serving as a trumpeter in the Band of the Ceremonial Guard. With this band, she has performed for the daily changing of the guard ceremony during on Parliament Hill and for various important dignitaries such as Prince William and the Governor General of Canada.  Emily is currently in her 4th year of Music Education at Western University.

Pianist Talisa Blackman has recently appeared as soloist with the Georgian Bay Symphony Orchestra, the National Academy Orchestra, and the National Repertory Orchestra, and will perform with the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra as their young artist in residence for 2013/2014. As an orchestral pianist, she has performed with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra, and the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra under the direction of Valery Gergiev. She has collaborated often with musicians from the Vancouver and Toronto Symphony Orchestras, as well as Canadian baritone Russell Braun. She is currently studying with John Hess at UWO.

Katie Clark is a student at Western University, Canada, where she is completing her Bachelor of Music degree with Honours in Music Education. Having played trumpet for 10 years, Katie has had many different performing opportunities. She has been a member of the Georgetown Theatre Pit Orchestra, Theatre Western’s Orchestra, the University of Western Ontario’s Wind Ensemble, the University of Western Ontario’s Symphony Orchestra, the University of Western Ontario’s Jazz Ensemble, Encore the Concert Band, as well as various chamber ensembles. Katie has also volunteered at elementary schools to give workshops on brass instruments. Next year, Katie hopes to enroll in a Master’s of Trumpet Performance program.

Western Associate Professor Omar Daniel has composed extensively in solo, chamber, electronic and orchestral idioms, and was the 1997 recipient of the Jules Lèger Award for New Chamber Music.  Other composition awards include the 2007 K.M. Hunter Arts Award, the SOCAN National Competition for Young Composers and the CBC National Radio Competition for Young Composers.  Dr. Daniel’s current research interests include the integration of ancient Estonian folk songs into his creative work.  Recent compositions, including Metsa Maasikad (Wild Strawberries), Uheksa Eesti Regi-laulud (Nine Estonian Runo songs), Violin Concerto, and the oratorio Mehetapja (Husband Killer), exhibit this influence. 

Ian Franklin is principal oboist of Orchestra London Canada, and is a lecturer at the Don Wright Faculty of Music, Western University.  In 1966, Ian was appointed principal oboist of the Victoria Symphony Orchestra and since then he has also held the position of principal oboist with the Regina Symphony Orchestra and the Colorado Music Festival. He has performed with many other orchestras and music festivals throughout Canada and the U.S., and has been featured as a soloist and chamber musician on CBC Radio and on commercial recordings by ebs (Germany), IBS Records (Canada), CBC Records, and Centredisc. Ian was a founding member of The Aeolian Winds, with whom he toured and recorded extensively throughout Canada and in Taiwan.

Kathleen Gahagan grew up in Edmonton, where she began harp studies with Nora Bumanis. She has also studied with Jennifer Swartz, Judy Loman, and Lori Gemmell, and completed her Bachelor of Music degree at McGill University in 2001. Since moving to Ontario in 2001, Kathleen has performed with local orchestras, concert bands, chamber music groups, musical theatre productions, and as a vocal and choral accompanist. Kathleen also teaches harp to her growing studio of students, and leads the harp group program at Forest City Talent Education. She maintains a steady schedule performing at concerts and special events throughout southwestern Ontario.

Edmund J. Goehring is Associate Professor of Music History at the University of Western Ontario. He has written primarily on the reception of Mozart opera and issues in historiography, criticism, and aesthetics rising therefrom. He received his PhD from Columbia University and has won awards from the American Musicological Society, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and SSHRC. His publications have appeared in venues ranging from The Cambridge Opera Journal to Publications of the Modern Language Association.

 “Singing with a poignancy and molten resonance”, Patricia Green has created more than 30 world premieres working with composers such as Boulez, Schafer, Ligeti, Dusapin, Andriessen, Thoressen, and Del Tredici, and appearing at the Concertgebouw, Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall, Musica Festival, and the Kennedy Centre with l’Orchestre de Radio-France, Dutch Radio Philharmonic, Northern Israel Symphony, Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, Washington Bach Consort, Library of Congress Concerts, New Music Concerts, Bethlehem Bach Society, Aventa Ensemble, and at summer festivals.   She is renowned for her remarkable versatility and exceptional musicianship as a chamber music and oratorio singer. She is Associate Professor and Head of Voice Studies at Western.

John Hess is the recognized authority on contemporary opera and song in Canada and is Co-Artistic Director of Toronto’s Queen of Puddings Music Theatre. He has been involved with the creation of many new productions for the Canadian Opera Company and has collaborated with virtually every contemporary opera company in Canada. At the Banff Centre for the Arts, he served as Associate Artistic Director of the 20th Century Opera and Song program. John is equally in demand as a vocal coach and pianist. He works regularly with Ben Heppner in Canada and other performances of note include recitals with Measha Brüeggergosman, Jane Archibald and Wendy Nielsen. John is heard regularly on CBC Radio and has recorded numerous CDs, including the complete vocal works of Canadian composer Harry Somers with singers Valdine Anderson, Jean Stilwell and Ben Heppner. As a member of the music faculty at the University of Western Ontario, John directs the first Masters program in Collaborative Piano in Canada. He holds a Doctorate in Musical Arts from the University of Michigan where he was a fellowship student with pianist Martin Katz.

Aaron Hodgson is one of Canada's most remarkable young trumpeters, praised for his "exquisite musicianship and assured composure" (International Trumpet Guild) and his "outstanding lyrical trumpet playing" (Hartford Courant). Aaron was featured as a concerto soloist at Canada's National Arts Centre. He has been broadcast nationally by CBC Radio and he can be heard on Naxos and Analekta records.  Aaron holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Yale University.  He currently teaches at Western University.

Stage director Joel Ivany’s directing credits include a touring production of Hansel and Gretel with the Canadian Opera Company,  reviving Thaddeus Strassberger’s production of Le nozze di Figaro at Norwegian National Opera, knotty together, a new work composed by Njo Kong Kie, performed in Dublin and the world premiere of Dean Burry’s The Secret World of Og in Toronto. Mr. Ivany holds a music degree from Western and an artist diploma in opera directing from the University of Toronto. He is founder and artistic director of the convergence arts collective Against the Grain Theatre. He was a recent finalist and prizewinner in the European Opera-Directing Prize for his concept of Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi

Anita Krause has performed with many of North America’s leading orchestras including the Chicago Symphony, L’orchestre Symphonique de Montreal, the Baltimore Symphony and the Toronto Symphony.  She has also appeared with Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, the National Arts Centre Orchestra and Les Violons du Roi. Anita has also appeared on numerous occasions with the Canadian Opera Company as well as Seattle Opera, Glimmerglass Opera and Chicago Opera Theater.  She is also an experienced recitalist whose performances have frequently been broadcast on CBC radio.  Anita has been a faculty member at Western since 2002.

Guitarist Robert Kubica is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario and the University of Toronto.  Robert has recorded three CDs of guitar duets with his wife, Wilma van Berkel, and has performed throughout Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba.  He recently released his first solo recording, To the Greenwood Gone, featuring his own arrangements of traditional Celtic tunes and music from the English Renaissance. Robert is on the faculty of the University of Western Ontario and the National Music Camp of Canada, he teaches music at Sir Wilfrid Laurier Secondary School in London, and works regularly as an adjudicator for music festivals.

Originally from Waterloo, Holly Langohr is currently in her first year of her Master’s in Choral Conducting at Western University.  She also holds a Bachelors Degree in Honours Music specializing in voice performance from Wilfrid Laurier University.  Holly is the Music Director of the Ingersoll Choral Society where she shares her love of music with their adult choir and newly formed youth choir.  Holly is also the music director for two choirs at St. Michael’s Church in London.  In addition to conducting, Holly is an active voice and piano teacher and currently teaches at the Academy of Music in London.

Dr. Victoria Meredith serves as the Don Wright Faculty of Music’s Associate Dean (Academic) and coordinator of choral activities. She teaches choral conducting and conducts the award-winning Western University Singers. Designated a Western University Faculty Scholar in 2009, her primary research interests are in the areas of the adult choral singer and choral music in Canada. A frequent juror for arts organizations such as the Canada Council, she maintains an active career as a guest conductor, workshop clinician, and adjudicator. She has guest-conducted choirs across Canada, in the United States and abroad, including the 2010 National Youth Choir of Canada.

Jennifer Moir is a conductor, educator and adjudicator with a growing international reputation. She serves as a clinician for festivals and leads workshops for students and educators in Europe and North America. In 2009, she was guest artist in residence at the Sibelius Academy and the Konservatori in Helsinki, Finland. She is the founder and Artistic Director for the Kaleid Choral Festival.  Ms. Moir was the recipient of the distinguished Leslie Bell Prize Award for Choral Conducting in 2004. In May of 2010, she was nominated for the Premiere’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts, in the category of Emerging Artists.

Western Professor Kevin Mooney works in the area of critical theory. He is writing a book about Adorno's music aesthetics, which, appropriately, is still a fragment. When he is not considering the "end of art" and other melancholia, he enjoys 16th-century counterpoint, the study of old languages, and his perpetually unfinished garden.

Caleb Mora is a Masters student in collaborative piano. He has previously studied with Anya Alexeyev and Leslie De'ath and is currently studying with John Hess at Western University. He has also taken a masterclass with Michelle Schumann. Caleb has received numerous academic scholarships at the undergraduate and graduate level. He has received many first place awards in the Barrie Kiwanis Music Festival at the ARCT and open level, and has represented Barrie in the Ontario Provincials in London. His collaborative experience includes chamber music as well as vocal, instrumental, and choral accompaniment. He has performed in churches across Toronto and is an active performer in the London area.

Stephen Ralls began his musical career in England, following a Master's degree at Merton College, Oxford.  His work with English Opera Group led to involvement in the premiere of Britten’s Death in Venice, to recital appearances with Sir Peter Pears and to Mr Ralls's appointment to the staff of the Britten-Pears School in Aldeburgh; he is grateful to have known the composer for the last three years of his life. Emigrating to Canada, Stephen taught at the University of Toronto and became Professor and Musical Director of the University’s Opera School.  Many productions took place under his direction, including local stage premieres of Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Paul Bunyan and The Beggar’s Opera, Chabrier’s L’Etoile and Handel’s Alcina, Ariodante and Semele.  Other performances included Britten’s Albert Herring and The Rape of Lucretia.  He has accompanied Canada’s finest singers, including Catherine Robbin, Adrianne Pieczonka, Gerald Finley, Michael Schade, Anita Krause, Brett Polegato and Colin Ainsworth, in numerous concerts, recordings and broadcasts.  With Bruce Ubukata, he co-founded the Aldeburgh Connection, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in February 2012—Sir Peter Pears was the Founding Patron in 1982.  The organization fostered performances by Canadian artists of recital repertoire and presented up to a dozen concerts annually in Toronto, as well as a summer festival in Bayfield, on the shores of Lake Huron. In 2010, Stephen Ralls and Bruce Ubukata were joint recipients of an Opera Canada “Ruby” Award for their activities in opera and with young Canadian singers; in December 2012 they were appointed Members of the Order of Canada.

Janelle Timmermans-Scharringa, pianist, is in her first year of the Master of Music in Collaborative Piano at Western University, studying with John Hess.  She holds a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from Wilfrid Laurier University, where she studied with Anya Alexeyev and Michael Esch. Janelle has received awards and scholarships from several music competitions and festivals, and her collaborative experiences include vocal, instrumental, chamber, orchestral, choir, and dance. Janelle has worked for Wilfrid Laurier University as an accompanist and coach, and has performed in North America and China as pianist of the Talbot Duo with cellist Cameron Crozman.

UWOSO conductor Alain Trudel is one of the busiest and most sought after conductors on the Canadian scene. He is also music director of Orchestra London Canada, l’Orchestre Symphonique de Laval as well as the National Broadcast Orchestra, and is the Principal Guest Conductor of the Victoria Symphony Orchestra.   A frequent guest with the National Arts Centre Orchestra and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Trudel made his Opera de Montréal debut in 2009, conducting Mozart’s The Magic Flute, as well as the 30th anniversary gala, which was released as a live CD and nominated at L’ADISQ.  Highly committed to the new generation of musicians, Trudel is the conductor of the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra, and has been regularly invited to conduct the National Youth Orchestra of Canada. Their recording of Mahler’s 6th Symphony and Le Sacre du Printemps was nominated for a Juno Award.  Beyond the borders of Canada, Trudel has conducted orchestras in the UK, the USA, Japan, Hong Kong and Latin America. Highly appreciated for his collaborative spirit, he has worked with many world famous artists, among them Ben Heppner, Anton Kuerti, and Isabel Bayrakdarian. Alain Trudel is the recipient of numerous awards, among them the Virginia Parker and the Heinz Unger Prize for conducting. He has also been named an Ambassador of Canadian Music by the CMC.

An Associate Professor in the Department of Music Research at McGill University, Lloyd Whitesell is a widely respected expert on the music of Benjamin Britten. Professor Whitesell received his B.A. in Music and German Literature from the University of Minnesota (1982), and his M.A. (1987) and Ph.D. (1993) in Music History from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. His dissertation used literary theories to explore images of identity in the dramatic and vocal works of Benjamin Britten. His musical training also included studies in piano and vocal accompaniment at the Peabody Conservatory, the Mozarteum Akademie, and the Minnesota Opera. As well as his important articles on Britten, Professor Whitesell is the author of The Music of Joni Mitchell (Oxford, 2008). He has also authored scholarly studies of Maurice Ravel, Charles Ives, minimalism, modern tonalities, and the anxiety of influence. An essay collection he coedited, Queer Episodes in Music and Modern Identity (Illinois, 2002), won the 2002 Philip Brett Award for excellence in gay and lesbian musicology. His current research project theorizes glamour in the Hollywood musical.

Western cellist and Associate Professor Thomas Wiebe is  happy to be co-organizer of Benjamin Britten 1913-2013: A Centennial Celebration., along with Prof. Emily Abrams Ansari. Prof. Wiebe has performed on numerous occasions as a guest artist with Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra and Orchestra London Canada.  He has also been heard as soloist with the Juilliard Orchestra at Lincoln Center in New York, and with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. He has recorded for CBC, Centrediscs and Doremi. Thomas Wiebe is also cellist with the Duke Trio, along with violinist Mark Fewer and pianist Peter Longworth. Besides his performances with the Duke Trio, he plays regularly with Toronto's Art of Time Ensemble, and other leading chamber musicians at Western and elsewhere.