Talisker Players

John Brownell, percussion | Norman Engel, trumpet | Melanie Eyers, bassoon | Victoria Ellis Hathaway, oboe | Laura Jones, cello | Elizabeth Loewen Andrews, violin | Peter Longworth, piano | Calum MacLeod, double bass | Mary McGeer, viola | Neil Spaulding, French horn | Kathryn Sugden, violin | Peter Stoll, clarinet | Anne Thomson, flute

John Brownell, percussion

John has performed with the Toronto Symphony, the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra, the National Ballet of CanadaOrchestra, Opera Atelier, Tafelmusik, and the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra, and has also been a soloist with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra. He has toured, performed and recorded with many ensembles including Sound Pressure, Soundstreams Ensemble, and the Hannaford Street Silver Band. He is a long-time member of the Toronto Percussion Ensemble.

An interest in rhythmic improvisation has led him from the world of drumset and jazz to studies with world-renowned mrdangam virtuoso Trichy Sankaran. He has a doctorate in ethnomusicology. He has taught graduate and undergraduate courses at York University, the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University and MacMaster University, and is currently a lecturer in the Doctor of Musical Arts programme at the University of Toronto.

A true percussion geek, he collects old and/or unusual snare drums in his spare time. He also enjoys cooking and running (to burn off the cooking).


Norman Engel, trumpet

Norman enjoys a richly diversified career, performing on both modern and historical instruments. He is one of a new generation of players who feels at home in all genres of music, and extensively as soloist, chamber musician and orchestral player.

On modern trumpet he has performed with the Toronto Symphony, the Canadian Opera Company, Santa Fe Opera, the National Ballet of Canada, Esprit Orchestra, the Hannaford Street Silver Band, and the Stratford Festival, as well as in the pits of many long-running musicals in Toronto's thriving theatre community. As one of North America's leading performers on natural trumpet, he has been a member of Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra since 1993, and he also performs with American Bach Soloists, Opera Atelier, Apollo's Fire in Cleveland, New York Collegium, Santa Fe Pro Musica, Indianapolis Baroque, Portland Baroque, and the Toronto Consort. He has performed on more than 35 CDs for Sony Classical, Naxos, CBC, Analekta and Opening Day records.

He maintains a busy teaching studio in Toronto. He spends much of his spare time with his son Tristan, initiating him into the mysteries of trumpet playing.


Melanie Eyers, bassoon

A native of Comox, British Columbia, Melanie moved to Toronto to study at the Royal Conservatory of Music and the University of Toronto. She also spent two summers studying and performing with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada.

Now based in Toronto, she enjoys a varied career as an orchestral player, chamber musician and teacher. She has held the position of second bassoon with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra since 2002. With her woodwind trio, she gives performances in schools throughout southern Ontario. As a freelance player, she is engaged with orchestras from Windsor to Oshawa, and Owen Sound to Toronto. She has also completed her ARCT in piano, and maintains an active private studio teaching both bassoon and piano.

Outside of work, Melanie lives for summer camping trips with her family, spending time in her garden, and trying new recipes in the kitchen.


Victoria Ellis Hathaway, oboe

Vicki has performed as soloist and in chamber music in Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg and Kitchener, on CBC Radio in Toronto and Vancouver, and with summer festival ensembles in Texas and Cape Cod, Massachussets. She was principal oboe of the Oshawa Symphony from 1982 to 2006, and frequently appeared as soloist with the orchestra. As a freelance orchestral player, her work takes her throughout southern Ontario. She has taught oboe and oboe pedagogy at the Unversity of Western Ontario, and now maintains an extensive private teaching practice in Toronto.

She grew up in Vancouver and began her musical training there. She studied at the University of British Columbia and the University of Western Ontario, with further studies in baroque performance in Vancouver, Boston and Toronto.

In addition to playing oboe and English horn, she has been a chorister most of her life, and currently sings alto with the gallery choir of the Church of St. Mary Magdalene. She is an avid sailor, an ever-optimistic gardener, and an inveterate traveller.


Laura Jones, cello

Laura's multi-faceted career includes solo, chamber music and orchestral performance on three instruments: modern cello, historical cello, and viola da gamba. In addition to her role with Talisker Players, she is the cellist of Windermere String Quartet on period instruments, assistant principal cellist of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, principal cellist/gambist of Nota Bene Baroque Players, and a member of the ensemble Ritmo Flamenco. She has also performed with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra, the Toronto Consort, Opera Atelier, and the Aradia Ensemble, with whom she has made serveral recordings on the Naxos label.

Her chamber music recordings include The Golden Age of String Quartets with the Windermere String Quartet; Serenade Française, a CD of music by French composers recorded with her father, pianist Lawrence Jones; and the world premiere recording of the Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano by John Ireland, with the Riverdale Ensemble.

Laura is a native of Brandon, Manitoba. She started her formal musical education at Brandon University and went on to advanced degrees from the University of Toronto and the University of Michigan. She is a flamenco dancer by avocation, and a committed cat person.


Elizabeth Loewen Andrews, violin

Elizabeth began playing violin at the age of four, eventually completing both her undergraduate and her Masters degrees at the University of Toronto. A versatile musician, she is at home in both period and modern performance.

She is the first violinist of the Windermere String Quartet on period instruments, and a core member of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra. She performs regularly with Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and the Aradia Ensemble, and has also performed with numerous other ensembles, including Esprit Orchestra, Via Salzburg and Toronto Operetta Theatre. As a solo, chamber and orchestral player, she has appeared in England, France, the Netherlands, Japan, Hong Kong, and Israel.

She is also an active teacher with a large private studio. In her spare time she enjoys inventing songs and games with her young son, Zachary.


Peter Longworth, piano

Peter Longworth is acclaimed as solo performer, chamber musician and teacher in Canada and abroad. From his base in Toronto, he has performed in New York, Chicago, London, Montreal, Nice and other cities in the United States, Canada and Europe. He has been soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Calgary Philharmonic, the World Youth Symphony Orchestra and several other orchestras across Canada.

He was artist-in-residence and featured soloist at the Icicle Creek Music Festival in Washington State, and has appeared at several other festivals throughout North America.

He is a founding member of the Duke Trio, which has performed in New York and Chicago and throughout Canada. His discography includes a recording of Brahms sonatas with violinist Mark Fewer, recently released on the Azica label.

He is a faculty member of the Glenn Gould School at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, where he also maintains a private studio. He has given classes throughout North America, and is in demand as a chamber coach and adjudicator.

Peter has been a devoted cat person all his life, although more recently dogs have entered his life and stolen some of his affection.


Calum MacLeod, double bass

Calum is a true home-grown talent, educated, trained and experienced as a double bass player in Toronto. Mentored by Paul Rogers of the TSO, he attended the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra, the National Youth Orchestra and the National Academy Orchestra in his formative years.

He is equally in demand in the classical and jazz worlds, and now maintains a busy and varied freelance career. He is the principal double bassist of Sinfonia Toronto, and plays regularly with a wide variety of ensembles, including the Toronto Symphony, the Kingston Symphony, Array New Music Ensemble, and Contact Contemporary Music.

In addition to music, Calum has always been drawn to nature. He divides his time between Toronto and Holstein, Ontario, where he happily does chores on the family farm.


Mary McGeer, viola

Mary is Artistic Director of the Talisker Players chamber music concert series, as well as General Manager and principal violist of the larger ensemble. In addition, she freelances with a wide variety of other ensembles in and around Toronto, from baroque to new music. She was principal violist of the Huronia Symphony from 1998 to 2010, and a member of the Phoenix String Quartet for 10 years. She is also a teacher and chamber music coach.

She is originally from the Saguenay region of Quebec, where she began her musical training on piano, and completed a diploma in performance from the Université de Laval. She later studied viola in Toronto and New York.

Mary also holds an MA in history and political science from Carlton University. She has worked as an office manager, a journalist and editor, and she continues to write for various publications. Though she is a self-confessed workaholic, she also loves to travel, and escapes with her husband Rollie to parts unknown whenever possible.


Neil Spaulding, French horn

Neil studied french horn at the University of Toronto and in Freiburg, Germany. Since 1990 he has been a freelance musician performing with orchestras across Canada, including the Canadian Opera Company, the National Ballet, the Victoria Symphony, the Winnipeg Symphony, and Symphony Nova Scotia. Currently he holds the positions of second horn and personnel manager with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra.

He is also in demand as a chamber musician, and has appeared with the Music Toronto Chamber Series, Continuum, Array Music, Esprit Orchestra and the Festival of the Sound. He has played with a variety of jazz and pop artists, including Brian Wilson, Ray Charles, Diana Krall, the rock band YES, Dionne Warwick and The Boss Brass.

In his spare time, he enjoys sailing, hiking, canoeing and reading any good book he can get his hands on. His primary ambition, though, is to set the Commonwealth record for most viewings of the rockumentary This is Spinal Tap, a goal he relentlessly pursues.


Kathryn Sugden, violin

A native of Guelph, Ontario, Kathryn completed her undergraduate degree at McGill University in Montreal, and her graduate studies at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

She is a founding member of the Blue Spruce Quartet, in residence at the Shaw Festival in Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario. She also maintains a busy performing schedule with orchestras and chamber ensembles in and around Toronto and across the country, including the Madawaska String Quartet, the Saint John String Quartet and the Hamilton Philharmonic. She has appeared as soloist with Symphony New Brunswick. As a recording artist, she has collaborated with a number of performers and ensembles.

Kathryn is - or was - an avid reader, and a baker of decadent desserts. Since the arrival of her son Leo in 2012, she prefers to spend her time entertaining and being entertained by him.


Peter Stoll, clarinet

Peter launched his career as a prizewinner in the 1987 International Clarinet Society Competition, and in the same year was soloist with the World Orchestra of Jeunesses Musicales in Berlin and Vienna. Now based in Toronto, he maintains a busy performing and teaching career. He performs on all sizes of clarinet as well as the saxophone and the haunting Lithuanian birbyne.

Peter has appeared with percussionist Beverley Johnston, accordion master Joseph Macerollo, the Gryphon Trio and the Cecilia Quartet, and also as soloist with the Toronto Philharmonia and the Toronto Youth Wind Orchestra. He has served as Artist-In-Residence for the Silverthorn Symphonic Winds. With his group Trio Argento he has toured across Ontario, and will appear on an upcoming CD with members of the Canadian Brass.

He teaches clarinet, chamber music and a course on the business of music at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Music. He is also a member of the Royal Conservatory's National College of Examiners, and is much sought after as an adjudicator across the country.

In his spare time, Peter devotedly cares for cats, and his garden. He is also a great fan of "B" movies and old science fiction.


Anne Thomson, flute

Anne Thompson is a native of Peterborough, Ontario and received her early musical education there. During her undergraduate years at the University of Western Ontario, she became a member of Orchestra London Canada, and then played with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra for several years before receiving a Canada Council grant for further study. She completed her masters degree in music performance at Yale University and performed at the Norfold Summer Music Festival.

She returned to Canada to join the faculty of music at the University of Western Ontario, where she still teaches. Now based in Toronto, she maintains a busy freelance schedule which takes her throughout southern Ontario. She plays with a number of ensembles, including the National Ballet Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony, and Continuum New Music Ensemble. She has also played with most of the Toronto theatre orchestras and is a frequent performer on CBC Radio in chamber and orchestral ensembles.

Anne is a committed and knowledgable gardener, and has spent many summers turning her back yard into a refined jungle.


contact: words.music@taliskerplayers.ca, 416-466-6546