Dr. Darryl Edwards
Vocal Coach & Consultant
Main Choir & Toronto Youth Choir
Conductor, Main Choir & Coro Training Choir
Dr. Zimfira Poloz is a passionate musician, educator, award-winning conductor, and internationally respected adjudicator and clinician. When working with young musicians, Zimfira believes that ‘brilliance has no age.’ By building the finest capabilities and encouraging superb artistry with boundless positive energy, she is able to unleash the creative and musical potential of every child unlike any other.
Dr. Poloz has been decorated with numerous awards, including Honoured Representative of Education of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the city of Hamilton’s VIP Award, and the Leslie Bell Prize for Choral Conducting (Ontario Arts Council).
In addition to her performance season with TCC, Zimfira teaches “Vocal Pedagogy for Young Choirs” at the University of Toronto, Music Faculty. She is a Canadian Representative for Choral Space – International Academy for Choral Arts as well for the Interkultur World Choir Council, and a mentor for ACDA International Activities. She is a Board Member for the World Alliance of Children’s Choirs (A Global Network of Children’s Choirs and Conductors) and curator/editor for the choral music publisher, Cypress Choral Music.
Zimfira established her musical credentials in Kazakhstan, where she served as founder and principal of the nation’s first choir school. Upon her arrival in Canada, Zimfira’s skill and passion was recognized by TCC’s founder and conductor Laureate, Jean Ashworth-Bartle, offering her a life changing opportunity. She then conducted at St. Michael’s Choir School, and eventually became the Artistic Director of Hamilton Children’s Choir and Young Voices Toronto. Now as the Artistic Director of TCC, Zimfira has come full circle and has returned to her home away from home.
Director of Education & Associate Artistic Director
Conductor, Main Choir & Toronto Youth Choir
Matthew Otto is an innovative leader, educator, and collaborator. With unparalleled dedication to choral music, Matthew strives to develop artistic excellence, vocal integrity, and empowerment in singers of all ages. As the TCC’s Associate Artistic Director, Matthew conducts the Toronto Youth Choir, Chorealis, co-conducts Chorale & Cantarealis, and oversees the Main Choir theory program. He has conducted the Chamber Choir on tour to Russia, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, USA, Bahamas, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as at the 2017 World Choral Symposium in Barcelona. In 2013, Matthew co-founded the Toronto Youth Choir and in 2018 led the ensemble on its first international tour, travelling to New York to sing with The King’s Singers in Carnegie Hall. The TCC/TYC has also premiered Matthew’s arrangements and compositions. During the 2021-22 season, Matthew served as TCC’s Interim Artistic Director.
Matthew is founder/artistic director of Incontra Vocal Ensemble, a project-based, professional-level chamber choir. Now in its eighth season, Incontra provides high-calibre performance opportunities for emerging singers and conductors. Equally at home in the symphonic chorus realm, he has prepared choruses for appearances with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and conductors Peter Oundjian, Nicholas McGegan, Bramwell Tovey, Donald Runnicles, Tania Miller, and the late Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos.
As a strong advocate for the choral arts in Canada, Matthew has been the President of Choirs Ontario, a board member of Choral Canada, and is a founding member of the Bridge Choral Collective, a Canada-wide consortium of youth choirs. He has actively contributed to many choral communities in the Toronto area, including Pax Christi Chorale (Assistant Conductor), Toronto Mendelssohn Choir (Associate Conductor), and several Toronto churches, most recently Christ Church Deer Park.
Matthew holds a Bachelor of Music in Composition and a Master of Music in Conducting. Currently, he is a lecturer and a Ph.D. candidate in Music Education at the University of Toronto. His doctoral dissertation, entitled Towards a Reimagined Choral Pedagogy: A Phenomenological Case Study of Chorister Experience at the Toronto Children’s Chorus, traces the impact of high-level choral singing on youth. He has presented papers at the International Symposium on Singing and Song, and at Podium 2018.
Conductor, Pasio Training Choir
Judith Bean holds a Master of Arts Community Music and an Honours Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from Wilfrid Laurier University. In addition, she holds a Bachelor of Education in Vocal Music from the University of Western Ontario, as well as a number of Kodály and Suzuki piano certifications. Her musical studies continue to take her around the globe as she attends conferences and workshops, as well as serving an elementary music clinician throughout Ontario.
After attending the Conductors’ Symposium hosted by the Toronto Children’s Chorus in 2005, Judith was invited to join the TCC staff team to teach at the annual Main Choir summer music camp at Appleby College. To date, she has taught sight singing and musical skills at the Main Choir camp for more than fifteen years. In 2012, Judith became the conductor of the Preparatory Choir and is delighted to be celebrating her 10th season as a choral conductor with the TCC.
A teacher with the Waterloo Region District School Board for more than thirty years, Judith teaches vocal music, drama, dance and media to children from Kindergarten to Grade 6 at Ryerson Public School in Cambridge. She is the founder and former director of Menno Youth Singers in Kitchener-Waterloo and the past director of the St. Peter’s Lutheran Church Junior Choir in Kitchener. She has also taught piano and voice at The Beckett School of Music in Kitchener for 18 years and directed the Inter-Mennonite Children’s Choir for 7 years. In 2019, she was the conductor of the more than 1000 voice mass children’s choir and Teacher’s Orchestra at the Kodály Choral Festival at the Centre in the Square.
She is delighted to be a member of the Artistic Staff of the Toronto Children’s Chorus and the Conductor of Pasio.
Conductor, Anima & Coro Training Choirs
An experienced conductor and educator, Nila Rajagopal is passionate about bringing people together through music. She is delighted to join the TCC’s Artistic Team as Conductor of Anima & Coro for the 2022-23 season.
Nila’s collaborative spirit has granted her various positions within the choral world. Highly sought after for her choral expertise, she was recently appointed Associate Conductor of the Amadeus Choir of Greater Toronto and spends the summer months working with the Mississauga Summer Chorale as Associate Conductor. She has previously held positions with the St. Lawrence Choir in Montreal and the Oakville Choir for Children and Youth. Increasingly recognized for her promising musical excellence, Nila was the recipient of the 2016 Doreen Rao Choral Award, the 2019 Iwan Edwards Award, the 2019 Ken Fleet Choral Conducting Scholarship and most recently, the 2020 Helen Hall Prize.
A passionate lifelong learner, Nila holds a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from McGill University, where she studied under the tutelage of Dr. Jean-Sébastien Vallée. She previously earned a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Toronto, where she studied voice with internationally renowned soprano Nathalie Paulin, and choral conducting with Dr. Hilary Apfelstadt, Dr. Lori-Anne Dolloff and Zimfira Poloz. Committed to the future of choral music in Canada, Nila is also Office Coordinator at Choral Canada, Canada’s National Arts Service Organization for choral music.
Conductor, Main Choir
Shireen Abu-Khader is a Palestinian Jordanian artist, composer and educator. She holds a PhD in Music Education from the University of Toronto, a Master’s in Choral Music from the University of Southern California and a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education from Oberlin College Conservatory. In 2002, Shireen founded Dozan wa Awtar Music Establishment which has been an important venture in her personal development as well as the evolution of choral music in Jordan.
The inspiration for the establishment stemmed from her work with the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in Palestine, from 1998 to 2000. Dozan wa Awtar performances were designed to inspire, create, unite and respond to the changing socio-political context. Since then, this vision has been shaping the local musical identity through different compositions and arrangements, allowing room for the exploration of and experimentation with choral sounds and ideas. Her CD Introducing Dozan was released in 2008 showcasing some of her choral works.
In Toronto, Shireen continues to compose and work with choirs while introducing music from the Levant region (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Iraq) and collaborating with artists on various projects. She has recently evolved her company into Dozan World which aims to spread music of her region to the international community through sheet music publishing.
Conductor, Spirito Training Choir
Ariana Ribeiro is an enthusiastic musician and music educator that for the past 15 years has dedicated herself to creating musical experiences that are engaging, meaningful and educational for her students. With training in voice, musical theatre, piano, Kodaly, Orff and Dalcroze, Ariana holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from University of Brasilia, an Advanced Certificate in Early Childhood Music Education from the Royal Conservatory of Music as well as a Masters Degree in Music Education from the University of Western Ontario.
Originally from Brazil, Ariana started her music career as a young chorister herself in her hometown conservatory where she learned to love and appreciate all musical styles and how rich the choral world is. From children’s choirs to Opera and Musical Theatre, Ariana has performed professionally and in competitions in various countries including Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Canada and the United States.
A firm believer that music is a lifelong learning experience, Ariana truly loves working with young children and helping them discover the musicians they were born to be. In Toronto since 2013, Ariana has been sharing her passion for music and music education with children both in her studio as well as all over the GTA and is delighted to be joining Toronto Children’s Chorus as the conductor for the Spirito Training Choir.
Born and raised in Iran, Bahareh Ameri has been involved with music from a young age when she started playing the piano. After receiving her bachelor, she continued exploring the world of music by studying piano, and vocals. She has also been trained in Orff pedagogies and was further certified as an Orff Specialist. She completed various courses and workshops at the Royal Conservatory of Music and The San Francisco International Orff Institute.
Highlights of her career include faculty member at the Royal Conservatory of Music, working as an Itinerant Music Instructor with the Toronto District School Board, contribution to music curriculum development in the Aga Khan Museum Resources Project, teaching and developing music curriculum in Farsi and English, teaching music in different international, private and public schools in Toronto, Iran and China, board membership in Ontario Chapter of Carl Orff Canada, leading camps, providing music workshops and organizing group children’s music classes as well as coordinating and supervising public performances.
Bahareh is an enthusiastic children’s music instructor, who provides a positive and creative environment to motivate children in their learning, and engages children’s mind and body through a mixture of music, singing and movement.
Jacinta Claudio has extensive experience working and advocating for children. She has been teaching children music for thirty years within the GTA area: community centers/churches/tdsb/tcdsb and private schools. She has been commissioned to pilot numerous Early Childhood Music programs and has successfully enriched the lives of children musically in those communities. She believes in the inclusivity of all children within the education system which includes the very best in music curriculum.
She is a graduate of The Royal Conservatory of Music, Early Childhood Music Education program and has further studies in the fields of Childhood Development, Education and Specialized Programming which includes special needs.
Jacinta continues her own musicianship skills as a Professional Soloist and is presently working on her Christmas album with further original compositions for 2023. Jacinta is excited to join The Toronto Children’s Chorus team and look’s forward to continued growth and success for this inspiring community.
The 2021-22 season marks Allison Luff’s third year with the Toronto Children’s Chorus. With over a decade of experience, Allison is an accomplished pianist and teacher. Originally from Regina, Saskatchewan, Allison Luff has pursued her music education all over Canada, the United States, Germany and Hungary. Allison holds a double master’s degree in Music Education and Music Performance from Western University, London, Ontario. In 2018, Allison received a Diploma in Kodály Music Education with specialization in Piano Pedagogy from the Kodály Institute of the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music in Kesckemét, Hungary. She presented her research on the use of Kodály concepts in the private piano studio at the 2017 International Kodály Symposium in Camrose, Alberta. As an undergraduate at the University of Alberta – where she received a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance with distinction under the tutelage of Dr. Jacques Després – Allison was the recipient of the prestigious Alberta Foundation for the Arts Project Grant. Allison used this funding for solo piano and chamber music studies in Munich, Germany, and Williamstown, Massachusetts, USA. Allison had the honour of giving a solo piano recital at the University of Regina as the winner of the 2012 Regina Music Club Recital Competition. As well as an accomplished soloist, Allison has performed art song by Hungarian composers Liszt and Kodály and published a thesis on composer Charles Ives. Allison loves to cook, travel, and has an orange tabby-cat named Calcifer.
Assistant Conductor, Toronto Youth Choir
Kai Leung holds a Bachelor of Music from the University of Toronto, where he studied classical voice and composition. In addition to his role with the Toronto Youth Choir, he is the Artistic Director of Concreamus Chamber Choir, the Artistic Director of the Mississauga Summer Chorale, the Apprentice Conductor with the Orpheus Choir of Toronto, and the Assistant Conductor and Composer in Residence at St. Clements church in Toronto.
Kai is the 2020 recipient of the prestigious William and Phyllis Waters Graduating Award from the University of Toronto Faculty of Music. This award is presented each year to one graduating student from any stream who is deemed to have the greatest potential to make an important contribution to the field of Music. Kai has also been awarded the 2019 Arthur Plettner Scholarship, the 2019 Richard I Thorman Award, and the 2018 Lloyd Bradshaw Prize.
During his undergraduate years, Kai studied composition with Roger Bergs. His works have been performed by the Vancouver Chamber Choir, Resonance Youth Choir, The St. Clements 11:00am choir, Mississauga Tranzzit, Concreamus Chamber Choir, the Mississauga Summer Chorale, and the Orpheus Choir of Toronto.
Kai also works as an audio engineer and video editor. He enjoys using his multi-disciplinary skills to find creative intersections between musical creation, the choral arts, teaching, and technology.
Collaborative Pianist, Chamber – Main Choir
Nova Scotian pianist Dakota Scott-Digout is quickly establishing himself as one of the brightest upcoming pianists in the country. He holds degrees in piano performance from Université de Montréal, Mount Allison University, and is currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts at the University of Toronto, where his research examines the performance practice of Gabriel Fauré’s works for voice and piano. Dakota maintains a busy schedule as a collaborative pianist, teacher, and serves as the accompanist for undergraduate voice performance classes at the University of Toronto.
Equally comfortable as a soloist, Dakota has performed in masterclasses for some of the world’s most renowned pianists, including Angela Hewitt, David Jalbert, Roy Howat, and André Laplante. He has further refined his skills at the Orford Music Academy, Barachois Summer Music Festival, and was an Art of Song Fellow as part of the Toronto Summer Music Festival in the summer of 2021. Dakota has achieved success in various competitions, including the Atlantic Young Artist Competition, the NBMRTA Music Competition, the National Music Festival of Canada, and was recently named the winner of the Gwendolyn Koldofsky Prize in Accompanying, awarded to the top collaborative pianist at the University of Toronto.
Collaborative Pianist, Cantare & Chorealis – Main Choir
Terri Wu is a soloist, collaborator, and pedagogue in all things piano. A native of Vancouver, BC, she obtained her piano performance degree from the University of British Columbia before graduating with a master’s degree in piano performance at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music in 2020. At Jacobs, she held a position as an Associate Instructor, teaching group and private classes to both music and non-music majors. Terri also holds a Licentiate diploma in piano performance, as well as ARCT diplomas in both pedagogy and performance, all from the Royal Conservatory of Music. She has had the privilege of performing all over Canada, the US, and the United Kingdom.
Currently settled in Toronto, Terri maintains a busy teaching studio on top of many other projects: her interests are anything interdisciplinary, with a main focus on mental and physical health in the arts. Holding fond memories as both a chorister and collaborative pianist in the past, she is excited to be a part of Toronto’s music scene and honoured to be joining TCC this season.
Collaborative Pianist, Anima, Coro, &
Toronto Youth Choir
Born in 1999 in Toronto, Ontario, Nicholas Wanstall began taking piano lessons at a very young age with his grandmother, Arden Broadhurst. He started to sing in the Bach Children’s Chorus during grade school, and this sparked his passion for choral music. In Grade 7 Nicholas began his studies at St. Michael’s Choir School in downtown Toronto where he developed a love for and knowledge of sacred choral repertoire. During his time at the Choir School, Nicholas also learned to play the pipe organ under the direction of his first organ teacher, Peter Daly.
After high school, Nicholas continued his studies at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Music, completing a Bachelor’s Degree in Organ Performance with a minor in Composition. He studied organ with John Tuttle and composition with Roger Bergs, two fantastic musicians and educators. Over the past several years, Nicholas has worked professionally as a pianist, organist, vocalist, composer, arranger, conductor, piano tuner, A/V editor, and much more! He continues to seek out new and challenging musical experiences within the Toronto music scene.
Collaborative Pianist, Pasio
Hungarian-Canadian pianist Gergely Szokolay enjoys a versatile career as a soloist, chamber musician and vocal coach, and has performed across Europe, North America and Japan. He has worked with renowned artists Josef Gingold, Agnes Grossmann, Marcel Moyse, Aurèle Nicolet, János Starker, Zoltán Székely and Paul Tortelier, and appeared at festivals such as the Bartók Festival in Hungary, Domaine Forget, Festival of the Sound, Orford, Ravinia, and the Toronto Summer Music Festival.
As a rehearsal pianist, Gergely prepared over 30 fully staged operas, including world premieres of newly-commissioned works. He previously held faculty positions at The Banff Centre’s Advanced Music Program and McGill University’s Opera Studio, and was principal collaborative pianist with the Canadian Children’s Opera Company and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. Last year, Gergely was visiting artist faculty at Bard College Conservatory, overseeing Bard’s 2020 Contemporary Festival Celebrating the Music of György Kurtág and hosting a panel discussion with the composer.
A dedicated pedagogue, Gergely maintains a private piano studio and is a piano and theory instructor at Upper Canada College and Havergal College. In 2019 he was awarded a Certificate of Excellence in recognition of his outstanding commitment to music education and his students’ achievements at Crescendo International Competition at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Gergely is excited to join the Toronto Children’s Chorus as collaborative pianist this year.
Yan (Lillian) Lin
Collaborative Pianist, Spirito
Yan (Lillian) Lin has dedicated herself to music education for over 10 years in a conservatory in China, where she is original from. As a lecture in a conservatory, she
taught piano, music theory, music analysis and composition to students of the conservatory and affiliated high schools,
As an experienced educator, Lillian is now passionate about working with students of all ages for their piano and music theory learning, helping students with RCM exam preparation and discovering their passion of music. She is also enthusiastic about introducing classical music repertories to music learners at an early age which would
help children build a strong bond with music and an appreciation.
Lillian obtained her Bachelor and Master degree of Music from the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, China, where she majored in Composition and minored in piano. She graduated with an outstanding performance of all the music theory subjects and her music works have successfully premiered in different cities. Additionally, she worked as a collaborative pianist at a ballet school for two years. After coming to Canada, she has worked working as a collaborative pianist for local children’s choirs, an experience she continues to immensely enjoy. Lillian is very excited to join the Toronto Children’s Chorus and share her passion for music with choristers of the Spirito Training Choir this season.
Apprentice Conductor, Main Choir (Sept-Dec 2022)
Meredith Wanstall (she/her) is currently completing an MMus in Choral Conducting at Western University, studying with Dr. Mark Ramsay. She is an Assistant Conductor with Western University Singers, an Apprentice Conductor with Amadeus Choir, and an Associate Conductor with the Mississauga Summer Chorale. She was also an Assistant Conductor with the Bach Children’s Chorus for several years. Beyond her passion for conducting, Meredith also enjoys teaching private lessons in piano, voice, and theory to students of all ages, and performing with Octava Vocal Ensemble, an 8-member a cappella group. Meredith completed her BMus in Music Education at the University of Toronto, where she studied voice with Mark Daboll. In addition, she has earned two ARCT certifications in Piano and Voice Performance.
Apprentice Conductor, Main Choir (Jan-May 2023)
Michael Denomme, is a recent graduate of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music, obtaining a Bachelor of Music with honorary standing. While at U of T he studied piano with Brian McDonagh, and historical keyboards with Dr. Kevin Komasarik. In the Fall of 2022 Michael will be starting a Master’s degree in Choral Conducting at the University of Toronto, studying with Dr. Jamie Hillman.
Michael has acted as a Choral Scholar in the Near North Voices choir under the direction of Dr. Adam Adler (Nipissing University). He also studied conducting and vocal pedagogy with Dr. Adler, and was the assistant conductor for the 2018 season. Additionally, Michael is currently the assistant conductor of VIVA Singers Toronto’s Every Voice Matter chorus. He also acted as Exultate Chamber Singers first ever Apprentice Conductor under the guidance of Artistic Director Dr. Mark Ramsay. Recently, he has had the honour to conduct and rehearse U of T’s MacMillan Singers during the 2021-2022 academic year.
In addition to classical music Michael is extremely interested in Musical theatre, and has acted as Music Director on multiple amature community musical theatre productions in Toronto.
Ewa Krzatala-Slomowicz was born in Warsaw, Poland, where she studied harp and piano, before receiving her Master of Arts Degree in Music Education from the Music Education and Dalcroze Eurhythmics Faculty of the Academy of Music in Gdansk. In Canada, Ewa completed her post-graduate courses in Music in Early Childhood with Donna Wood and Kátalin Forrai, Kodály Pedagogy Certificate with Edith Lantos and Orff Pedagogy with Angela Elster.
Ewa has been on the faculty of the Royal Conservatory Teacher Training and Children’s Department since 1996 teaching music classes for babies and children ages birth to 12 years as well as professional development courses for adults. In addition, Ewa is Programme Coordinator for The Advanced Certificate in Early Childhood Music Education. Ewa is a national and international clinician and recently presented at the international conferences in Budapest, Hungary, Katowice, Poland and Camrose, Alberta as well as taught a professional development course for early childhood educators in Singapore. A tireless advocate of the importance of music in lives of young children Ewa has served as the President of the Early Childhood Music Association of Ontario for 15 years. Ewa is the recipient of the prestigious International Kátalin Forrai Award (The International Kodály Society, 2017).
Ewa believes that young children experience music in a stimulating and positive environment, using the two most natural instruments they have – their singing voice and their body. Musical growth develops through participation in singing, active play and musical games. As the curriculum follows principles of child development the wide range of musical activities matches the children’s cognitive, psychomotor, and social-emotional developmental levels. The core strength of Ewa’s lessons is the emphasis on joyful music making with an underlying emphasis on the art of music itself.