Performer bios

Guest Artists

Joel Allison, baritone | Stewart Arnott, actor/reader | Erin Bardua, soprano |Aaron Durand, baritone | John Fraser, reader | Bruce Kelly, baritone| Miriam Khalil, soprano | Andrew Moodie, actor/reader | Whitney O'Hearn, mezzo soprano | Lauren Segal, mezzo soprano | Ilana Zarankin, soprano

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

Guest Artists

Photo of joel allison.Joel Allison, baritone
March 29 & 29 2017

Joel Allison began singing at the age of ten in the Christ Church Cathedral Men and Boys' Choir in Ottawa, and made his solo debut at the National Arts Centre as a treble in Howard Shore's Lord of the Rings Symphony at the age of twelve. Now working toward a Master's degree in opera performance at the University of Toronto, he is already making his mark on stages across Canada, where he has been praised for his "serene and aristocratic" voice, and "crisp tones blessed with silken smoothness".

Highlights of the 2016-17 season are his debuts with the Saskatoon Symphony, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir, and Chorus Niagara, singing (respectively) Bach's Cantata BWV 140 and Larysa Kuzmenko's Golden Harvest; Mozart's Mass in C Minor; and Handel's Messiah. He will also appear in three productions with the University of Toronto's opera programme, and in recital in Vancouver.

His operatic roles range from the title roles in Telemann's Don Quixote and Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, to Prince Gremin in Tschaikovsky's Eugene Onegin and Mr. Gobineau in Menotti's The Medium. He has appeared with Saskatoon Opera, the Boris Brott Music Festival, Ottawa Baroque Consort, Seventeen Voyces (Ottawa), and numerous productions at the University of Ottawa, where he completed his undergraduate degree.

On the concert stage, Mr. Allison has performed as soloist with the National Academy Orchestra, the Peterborough Singers, the Westben Arts Festival and the choirs of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Ottawa and Trinity St. Paul's United Church in Toronto. A dedicated recitalist, he has collaborated with many artists, including the Ottawa Recitalists, Musicians in Ordinary (Toronto) and guitarist François Lacelle. He premiered Andrew Ager's song cycle Idle Thoughts in 2015 at Tabaret Hall in Ottawa.

Mr. Allison is the receipient of the 2016-17 Richard Bradshaw Fellowship in Opera at the University of Toronto


Photo of Stewart Arnott.Stewart Arnott, actor/reader
october 25 & 26, 2017

Stewart Arnott has been an actor and director for over 35 years, working in theatres across Canada as well as in film and television. He is also a respected teacher and coach.

As a director, his recent credits include Same Time Next Year at the Lighthouse Festival in Port Dover, Ontario; Will Eno's Tragedy: a tragedy, the award-winning hit of the 2014 SummerWorks Festival; The Swearing Jar (Prairie Theatre Exchange, Winnipeg); Tuesdays With Morrie (Campbell House Museum, Toronto); Vincent River (Cart/Horse Theatre, Toronto); the world premiere of Pobby and Dingan by Paula Wing at Young People's Theatre; The Importance of Being Earnest at the University of Waterloo; Unity (1918) at Ryerson Theatre School; and Amadeus and The Mystery of Irma Vep for Theatre Aquarius in Hamilton. At Prairie Theatre Exchange he has directed Master Harold and the Boys, Strawberries in January and Kilt; and at The Great Canadian Theatre Company in Ottawa he directed Patience, Unity (1918), It's All True! and Democracy.

Upcoming directing engagements include Seminar, starring Tom McCamus, at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre in October and Toronto's Panasonic Theatre in November.

As an actor, he recently starred in Daniel Karasik's new play, The Biographer, in Toronto, and played Editor Webb in Our Town at the Sudbury Theatre Centre. Other stage appearances include Hallaj, Waiting for Godot and Stories from the Rains of Love and Death for Soheil Parsa and Modern Times Theatre; Elora Gorge at the SummerWorks Festival; lady in the red dress for fu-GEN; and Gaslight and Sexy Laundry at Festival Antigonish.

Recent film and television projects include the Hollywood feature RoboCop; the new CBC comedy Schitt's Creek; Bomb Girls; Flashpoint; The Listener; and The Murdoch Mysteries


Photo of Erin BarduaErin Bardua, soprano
January 29 & 31, 2017

Soprano Erin Bardua has been praised for her "brilliant-toned voice, agile and strong, yet warm and relaxed." Still at the beginning of her career, she has already distinguished herself in a wide variety of styles and genres.

She made her professional opera debut with Pacific Opera Victoria, as Anna in Verdi's Nabucco. Since then her roles have included Nannetta in Verdi's Falstaff, Antonia and Giuletta in Offenbach's Les contes d'Hoffmann, Pamina in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, and Donna Anna in Mozart's Don Giovanni. She is the co-founder of Essential Opera, a collective performing operatic works in concert. Her roles with the company to date include the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro, L'Ensoleillad in Chérubin, the title role in Alcina, Lucy in The Threepenny Opera, Serafina in Donizetti's Il Campanello, and Constanze in L'isola disabitata.

Ms. Bardua is recognized for her vivid and intelligent performances in contemporary opera. She has created leading roles in three new operas by young Canadian composers, commissioned by Essential Opera. She also created the role of Big Glad in Christopher Donison's Eyes on the Mountain, and was Elizabeth in several workshop performances of Andrew Ager's Frankenstein. An accomplished theatre artist, she has performed in numerous musicals and operettas, including Josephine in HMS Pinafore, Giannetta in The Gondoliers, Mrs. Segstrom in A Little Night Music, and Julie in Carousel.

As a recitalist, she was recently featured as guest artist in a faculty recital of music by Kevin Morse at Mount Allison University. She has appeared frequently at the New Hamburg Live! Arts Festival.

In other adventures, she co-created a "clown opera" under the tutelage of master clown Sue Morrison, and has participated in various film and voiceover projects, including the role of the Fiancée in John Greyson's serialized transit mystery Murder in Passing. 


Photo of Aaron DurandAaron Durand, baritone
January 29 & 31, 2017

Aaron Durand originally wanted to be a Broadway star, but the course of his life was changed when, as a teenager, he was offered a position in the chorus of Pacific Opera Victoria, for a production of Eugene Onegin. He has not looked back, and although still at the beginning of his career, he has already attracted notice for his "beautiful, fluid baritone" (Globe & Mail), his conviction, and his commitment to innovation and accessibility.

Born and raised in 100 Mile House, BC, he is an alumnus of UBC, and holds a Master's degree in Opera Performance. As part of his training, he performed roles across the operatic spectrum, including Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, Danilo in The Merry Widow, Sir John A. MacDonald in Louis Riel, the Gamekeeper in Rusalka, and a personal favourite, the Count in Le nozze di Figaro. In the summers, he toured with the UBC Opera Ensemble to the Czech Republic, performing the leading roles of Papageno in The Magic Flute and Schaunard in La Bohème in theatres across that country. He also toured in China, performing in Chengdu and Shanghai.

Upon graduation in 2012, he was accepted into the inaugural season of Vancouver Opera's Yulanda M. Faris Young Artists Programme. Over the next two seaons he was acclaimed in numerous roles with Vancouver Opera, including Samuel in The Pirates of Penzance, Sid in Albert Herring, and Masetto in Don Giovanni. He also appeared with organizations across BC's Lower Mainland, including Burnaby Lyric Opera and several new-music ensembles. Among the highlights, he created the role of Javan in When the Sun Comes Out, an opera by Leslie Uyeda, for the Vancouver Queer Arts Festival.

Since moving to Toronto in 2014, Mr. Durand has established himself as one of the most exciting singers of the younger generation. He won acclaim for his "charming" performance (Schmopera) as Masetto in #UncleJohn, Against the Grain Theatre's visionary reimagining of Don Giovanni. The production was a sellout in Toronto, and later toured to Ottawa and Banff. He also performed the role of Le Dancaire with Vancouver Opera, and several workshops with Tapestry New Opera and Against the Grain.


Photo of John FraserJohn Fraser, reader
March 28 & 29, 2017

Journalist, author and academic John Fraser was the Master of Massey College from 1995 until his retirement in 2014. He is currently the President and CEO of the National NewsMedia Council.

He began his career in journalism at the Toronto Telegram, and then worked at the Globe and Mail for 17 years, in postings that included dance critic, theatre critic, China correspondent, Ottawa bureau chief, national columnist, national editor and London correspondent. From 1987 to 1994 he was editor of Saturday Night magazine.

He has written several books, including The Chinese: Portrait of a People, which was nominated for the Governor General's Literary Award in non-fiction, and Private View: Inside Mikhail Baryshnikov's American Ballet Theatre, which won a Dance Magazine Book of the Year award. His journalism has been published in leading international publications, including The Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, The Guardian, The New Republic, Paris Match and the Far Eastern Economic Review.

He was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2005, and in November 2016 he will be named to the Canadian News Hall of Fame in recognition of his many services to journalism.


Photo of Bruce KellyBruce Kelly, baritone
May 16 & 17, 2017

Bruce Kelly's distinguished career has taken him to many important opera houses and concert halls of Europe, such as Nice, Strasbourg, Lieges, Avignon, Vienna, Paris, Brussels, and Moscow. In his native Canada, he has performed on stages from coast to coast, with Pacific Opera Victoria, Calgary Opera, Opera Ontario, Opera Lyra Ottawa, Opera in Concert, Toronto Operetta Theatre, and Opéra de Québec.

His leading roles include Germont in La Traviata, Der Sprecher in Die Zauberflöte, Walton in I Puritani, Capulet in Roméo et Juliette, Marcello in La Bohème, Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, Lescaut in Manon Lescaut, Wolfram in Tannhäuser, Doctor Engels in The Student Prince, Achillas in Giulio Cesare, Abimelech in Samson Et Dalila, and the title role in Falstaff.

In Canada Mr. Kelly has appeared as a frequent guest soloist with all the major orchestras, and abroad with orchestras such as the Prague Radio Symphony and the Symphony of Kunming, China. His repertoire includes Mendelssohn's Elijah, Orff's Carmina Burana, the Bach passions, Haydn's The Creation, Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, the Verdi, Brahms and several other requiem masses, and numerous Handel oratorios, including Samson and Messiah.  He appeared in the first national CBC Radio broadcast of the Mozart orchestration of Handel's Messiah, and in the Canadian premiere of Paul McCartney's Liverpool Oratorio.

A committed recitalist, and a passionate interpreter of the lieder tradition, he has given uniquely dramatized performances of Schubert's Winterreise and Mahler's Lieder Eines Fahrenden Gesellen, as well as dramatic readings of Ludwig Tieck's Die Schöne Magelone, accompanied by the related Brahms song cycle.

Recent and upcoming projects include the role of Sacristan in a concert version of Tosca for L'Orchestre Symphonique de Trois-Rivières, Der Sprecher in Die Zauberflöte, Der Musiklehrer in Ariadne auf Naxos, and Sharpless in Madama Butterfly for Pacific Opera Victoria, Messiah and Mozart's Requiem for the Kingston Symphony, and Falke in Der Fledermaus for Calgary Opera.

Mr. Kelly is a member of the voice faculty at the Dan School of Drama and Music, Queen's University.


Photo of Miriam KhalilMiriam Khalil, soprano
October 25 & 26, 2016

Lebanese-Canadian soprano Miriam Khalil is acclaimed both in opera and in concert for her "signature warm, lyrical voice", her compelling presence, and her dramatic versatility.

A graduate of the prestigious Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio, the Steans Institute for Young Artists (Ravinia) and the Britten-Bears Young Artist Programme in England, she is also the recipient of multiple awards and grants, including from the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council and the Metropolitan Opera National Council Audition Scholarships. While in her last year of the COC Ensemble Studio, she advanced to the semi-finals of the Metropolitan Opera Council auditions, during which she was featured in the documentary film The Audition.

Ms. Khalil has appeared on numerous opera stages across Canada and Europe, including a stint at the renowned Glyndebourne Festival Opera in Great Britain. In the U.S. she has appeared with Minnesota Opera and Opera Tampa, and in Canada with Opera Hamilton, Edmonton Opera, Pacific Opera Victoria, Opera Lyra Opera, Toronto Operetta Theatre, The Banff Centre, and Against the Grain Theatre. Notable roles include both Mimi and Musetta in La Bohème, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, Mélisande in Pelléas et Mélisande, the Governess in The Turn of the Screw, Cleopatra in Giulio Cesare, Almirena in Rinaldo, and Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro.

She is a founding member of the award-winning Against the Grain Theatre (AtG), a company that explores innovative ways of presenting opera to both new and familiar audiences, which the Calgary Herald has called "one of the most important opera companies in Canada".

She has been a frequent recitalist in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. She has also performed oratorios, song cycles and opera galas with orchestras across Canada including Symphony Nova Scotia, Victoria Symphony, Thunder Bay Symphony, the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, Thunder Bay Symphony and Sudbury Symphony.

Recent and upcoming projects include performances of Osvaldo Golijov's haunting song cycle Ayre at The Banff Centre, her U.S. debut as Donna Elvira with Opera Tampa, a return to Toronto Operetta Theatre in the role of Adriana in Los Gavilanes, concerts with the Victoria and Thunder Bay symphonies, and performances as Mimi in Minnesota Opera's La Bohème.


May 16 & 17, 2017

Andrew Moodie is an actor, playwright and director with a distinguished career in theatres across the country.

His acting career began in 1987 in a production of Separate Development at the Great Canadian Theatre Company. He has had many return engagements, including Our Country's Good, Better Living, and The Second Sheppard's Play. He has performed at the Stratford Festival (Macbeth, The Merry Wives of Windsor, and Amadeus) and Soulpepper (Hamlet, and Nathan the Wise) as well as Young People's Theatre, Prairie Theatre Exchange, Shakespeare in the Rough, Ground Zero Theatre, and the National Arts Centre. He won a Dora Mavor Moore Award for his work in Health Class by David Craig for Roseneath Theatre.

As a playwright, he exploded onto the scene in 1995 with Riot, which was premiered at Factory Theatre, directed by Layne Coleman, and went on to win a Chalmers Award for best new play. Other plays include A Common Man's Guide to Loving Women, which was jointly produced by Canadian Stage and the National Arts Centre, and directed by Layne Coleman; Oui; Wilbur County Blues; The Lady Smith; The Real McCoy,which was nominated for Kevin Kline Awards for best ensemble production and best direction; and Toronto the Good, which received a Dora Mavor Moore Award nomination for best new play.

He has also written for radio and television. His television credits include an episode of Drop the Beat. His radio credits include an episode of Afghanada for CBC, which won a Writers Guild of Canada award.

Always politically engaged, Mr. Moodie has said "I don't believe that theatre can change the world, but I believe that a play can create a conversation that resonates within a community, and that community can create change... if we choose to."

Mr. Moodie is also a director, whose credits inlcude For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf, The Corner, and The Real McCoy.


Photo of Whitney OhearnWhitney O'Hearn, mezzo-soprano
March 28 & 29, 2017

Praised for her "warm and expressive voice, and amazing sense of line", Whitney O'Hearn has already attracted attention in the vocal world. The Ottawa native received her undergraduate and Masters degrees at the University of Ottawa, and recently completed further graduate studies at the University of Toronto. She is also an alumna of the National Arts Center's Summer Music Institute Young Artist Programme.

While at the University of Ottawa, she distinguished herself in many operatic roles, including Mère Marie in Poulenc's Les Dialogues des Carmélites, The Sorceress in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas and the title role in Bizet's Carmen. She also sang the roles of Maurya in Vaughn Williams' Riders to the Sea, and The Announcer in Gallantry by Douglas Moore, with Ottawa Pocket Opera. She later reprised her role as the Sorceress in Dido and Aeneas with the Schola Cantorum / Theater of Early Music in Toronto.

On the concert stage, she has performed as soloist with Coro Vivo Ottawa, the Ottawa New Music Creators, the Elgin Singers, the Kanata Symphony Orchestra, the Pembroke Symphony Orchestra, and the University of Ottawa Symphony Orchestra. She has also appeared at the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival, the Prince Edward County Music Festival, and the Festival Pontiac Enchanté, where she was Mercedes in the wildly successful Carmen on Tap over its five seasons. Recently, she made her debut at Stratford Summer Music.

Ms. O'Hearn is a founding member of Collectìf, an ensemble dedicated to exploring and expanding the world of art song performance, and to presenting innovative, song-based theatre.

Recent and upcoming projects include a recital tour of the Altantic provinces with soprano Stephanie Higgins; Handel's Messiah with Saint Thomas Choral Connection; and staged productions of Schubert's Winterreise with Collectif, and of Debussy's Fêtes galantes at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre in the Four Seasons Centre.


Photo of Lauren SegallLauren Segal, mezzo-soprano
October 25 & 26, 2016

Lauren Segal has established herself as a vibrant presence in both the opera and the concert worlds, praised for her "gleaming, luscious timbre" and her "sensational" dramatic interpretations. She earned an MSc degree in physics at the University of Toronto before deciding to devote herself to singing. She is an alumna of the Canadian Opera Company's Ensemble Studio, the recipient of two Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Encouragement Awards, and the only Canadian chosen to participate in the inaugural Salzburg Festival Young Artist Project.

In 2015, she scored a personal triumph with her acclaimed performance in the title role of M'Dea Undone, with Tapestry Opera – a new work by Scottish composer John Harris with libretto by Canadian playwright Marjorie Chan, co-commissioned by Tapestry and Scottish Opera, that received its world premiere at the Brickworks in Toronto.

In recent seasons she has appeared with opera companies throughout North America, including the Canadian Opera Company, L'Opèra de Montrèal, Pacific Opera Victoria, Opera Tampa, Calgary Opera, Opèra de Quèbec, Manitoba Opera, Edmonton Opera, Opera Hamilton, Toronto Operetta Theatre, and Against the Grain Theatre. Her repertoire is extensive, and includes the title roles in Dido and Aeneas and Carmen, Dorabella in Così fan tutte, Rosina in Il Barbiere de Siviglia, Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, Maddalena in Rigoletto, Orlovsky in Die Fledermaus, and Nancy T'sang in John Adams' Nixon in China.

She is also much in demand in oratorio. She has sung Handel's Messiah with the San Francisco Symphony, Mozart's Krönungsmesse with the Toronto Symphony, and Elijah with L'Orchestre Métropolitain and Yannick Nézet-Séguin. She has also appeared with the McGill Chamber Orchestra, the Edmonton Symphony, the Vancouver Bach Choir, the Grand Philharmonic Choir, the Richard Eaton Singers, the Victoria Symphony, and Chorus Niagara.

As a recitalist, Ms. Segal has toured the Maritime provinces for Debut Atlantic, and has sung at Le Festival de musique de chambre de Montréal, the Westben Festival, and Festivox de Trois-Rivières. She has also been heard in concert with Off Centre Music, the Aldeburgh Connection, and the Canadian Art Song Project.

Recent and upcoming appearances include the roles of Meg Page in Falstaff and Charlotte in Werther for Manitoba Opera, the Third Lady in Die Zauberflöte for the Canadian Opera Company, El Amor Brujo with the Hamilton Philharmonic, Messiah with the Edmonton Symphony, and Elijah with Montreal's Choeur St. Laurent.


Photo of Ilana ZarankinILANA ZARANKIN, SOPRANO
May 16 & 17, 2017

Ilana Zarankin has been praised for her "bell-like high notes" (OperaRamblings) and a voice capable of "vaulting to vertiginous heights". Still at the beginning of her career, she has already distinguished herself as an intelligent and adventurous singer, at home in a variety of styles and genres.

Ms. Zarankin completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto, and went on to graduate from the Bard College Graduate Vocal Arts Programme. She has studied at the International Vocal Arts Institute in Tel Aviv, with the support of the Canada Council, as well as in the Queen of Puddings Contemporary Song Workshop, the Vancouver International Song Institute, and the Winter Music Residency programme at the Banff Centre. She also holds a degree in Drama and Theatre from McGill University.

She debuted at Carnegie Hall (Weill Hall) in 2011 in a world premiere of Christopher Mayo's song-cycle "Death on Three-Mile Creek" as part of the Dawn Upshaw / Donnacha Dennehy Workshop for New Vocal Works. She was a vocal fellow at the Tanglewood Music Festival, where she performed the roles of Potted Plant, Baby and Mother Goose in Oliver Knussen's "Higglety Pigglety Pop!" Other recent performance highlights include an evening of "First Songs" at the Morgan Library in New York City, the world premiere of Bakkhai by Dylan Mattingly with the Contemporaneous Ensemble, and Bravement by Lautaro Mantila at the Resonant Bodies Festival in Brooklyn, as well as a recital at Vancouver's Pyatt Hall with her parents, concert pianists Inna Perkis and Boris Zarankin.

In Toronto, she has been featured in a number of concerts with the Off Centre Music Salon, most recently a duo appearance with flutist Carol Wincenc. She also appeared with pianist Jimmy Roberts in a programme of standards from the American songbook, and she sang the role of Minka in the Toronto Opera Club's presentation of excerpts from Chabrier's Le roi malgré lui.

In 2013, Ms. Zarankin joined the adjunct faculty of the Bard College Graduate Vocal Arts Programme as the instructor of Russian lyric diction.


Talisker Players

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.