Joy Berg - Choral

Professor Emeritus (from Concordia University of Edmonton), Dr. Berg is delighted to now be living in the Camrose community, continuing to be a sessional instructor at The Kings University as well as at Augustana.  Joy sang for 16 years as an Alto with Procoro Canada (Edmonton’s professional choir), and is the curator for the Cypress Publishing church choir series, Songs for the Sanctuary. She holds a Doctorate of Music degree in Choral Conducting as well as a Doctorate of Worship Arts. Joy started her business, Sanctuary Sounds, which includes the Camrose community choirs of Ubuntu:Collective. Joy also enjoys her continuing role in conducting The Kings Community and Alumni Chorus throughout the year.

Deborah Deans - Speech

Deborah Deans lives in Medicine Hat and is a proud wife, mother, and grandmother. Deb holds an A.R.C.T in Speech and Drama with the Royal Conservatory of Toronto (RCM) and has maintained an active private studio in Medicine Hat for over 40 years. She loves her job which involves preparing students for festivals and training young people for RCM examinations in both practical and theory. Her students have received recognition at the provincial and Canada West Festivals. Deb has also adjudicated at other festivals within Alberta.
Last year she adjudicated the Provincial One Act Play festival which was held in Lethbridge.

She has been involved in theatre since childhood, both onstage, backstage and as a director. Her most recent directorial project was ‘Disney’s Little Mermaid.’

TheActrics, a summer drama program, was coordinated at the Medicine Hat College for over 25 years by Deb. She loves the spoken word and believes the gift of communication is so valuable in today’s world. Deb is delighted to be here at the Lethbridge festival.

Dr. Tara Laberge - Contemporary Voice

Equally at home as an actor, singer and educator, Dr. Laberge has performed professionally across Canada and the United States. From Calgary Opera to the Broadway Palm Theatre in Florida, to singing the National anthem from the Minnesota Twins pitcher’s mound, or shooting commercials for companies like Best Buy, Dr. Laberge has enjoyed a varied career.

Her love for performing led to a love for arts education. She became passionate about helping singers to become more integrated actors, and helping actors to grow in their singing confidence. Dr. Laberge also developed a specialization in vocal health, training performers for healthy, sustainable careers regardless of their chosen performance discipline. She has had the great pleasure of teaching post secondary classes in both music and theatre, and her students have gone on to perform in professional settings as singer/actors across North America. Teaching credits include positions with Rocky Mountain College, Augsburg College, Mount Royal University, the Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Arts, and Storybook Theatre.

Dr. Laberge’s passion for teaching led her to complete a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Calgary in 2020, to deepen her understanding of best practices in teaching and learning. Originally from Calgary, Alberta, Dr. Laberge began her training at the Mount Royal College Conservatory, subsequently earning a Bachelor of Music Performance from the University of Victoria, and both her Masters and Doctoral degrees in Vocal Performance from the University of Minnesota. She currently teaches both at Ambrose University in Calgary and Strathcona Tweedsmuir School in Okotoks.


Kim Mattice Wanat - Musical Theatre

Kim Mattice Wanat is a performer, teacher, author and director. In 2019 she received her Master of Fine Arts specializing in directing from the University of Alberta. She has been a private voice instructor for over 30 years. She specializes in training actors to sing, and has worked at the University of Alberta for the past 32 years in the Bachelor of Fine Arts professional acting program.

Ms. Mattice Wanat is the founder of NUOVA Vocal Arts, a nationally acclaimed opera program dedicated to the advanced training of emerging Canadian artists, bridging the gap between the conservatory setting and the professional world of opera and music theatre. In Fall 2023, she created a new training and performance initiative “CLASS ACT” for young artists 9-15 years of age, the inaugural production was Dear Edwina.

She has produced and directed over 90 productions for NUOVA Vocal Arts including Flight (Jonathan Dove), Fiddler On The Roof, (Boch & Harnick), The Secret Garden (Simons), The Magic Flute (Mozart), The Bartered Bride (Smetana), La Perichole (Offenbach), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Britten), and several opera for school productions, most notably Naomi’s Road.

In 2021, she directed and played Marmee in Little Women the Musical, and directed Cosi Fan Tutte (Mozart) for Edmonton Opera. This past fall she was delighted to direct Legally Blonde for MacEwan University.

She has written and published a vocal pedagogy book entitled, Unleashing the Expressive Resonant Voice.

Although busy, Kim is dedicated to making her family a priority: a husband, son, daughter and two Havanese dogs (Oliver & Dodger)!

Maria Medlow - Strings

Originally from Argentina, Maria grew up playing the violin and piano. Upon moving to Canada , she was accepted at the Senior Academy at Mount Royal Conservatory and studied with prominent teachers including Lise Elson, Cenek Vbra and John Lowry.  Maria completed her ARCT certification in both violin and piano and moved to complete her music performance studies at the University of Calgary under the direction of Edmond Agopian.

Maria is currently an active member of the Calgary Musicians Association and is also the Registration Chair for the Cochrane Youth Talent Festival and is a member of the Board of Directors for the Alberta Music Education Foundation. She has performed and recorded solo and chamber concerts with members of the Calgary Opera, Calgary Cowtown Opera, Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Red Deer Symphony, Metropolitan Opera of New York, Rocky Mountain Symphony Orchestra, Cirque De Soleil and played alongside Michael Buble for his 2014 Canada Tour. She was invited to record for the Canadian Country Music Awards and was featured in the CBC Television special for the CCMA awards.

Maria runs a thriving private studio in Calgary. Her students have been finalists in the Canadian Music Competition, placed in provincials at the Kiwanis Music Festival, and won medals and scholarships for RCM exams. She has prepared her students for successful admission to classical string programs throughout North America. Maria continues her active role as a teacher, adjudicator and performer hosting and playing numerous concerts and fundraisers in support of different charities. 

Accordion & Pipe Organ - Margaret Miller

Margaret Miller is a musician of many decades. She has been a concert performer and virtuoso competitor winning numerous awards from local to international levels.

She is an adjudicator, teacher, composer, arranger and director of the “One Accord” Accordion Orchestra for more than a decade.

Her students in piano, organ and accordion have won many medals and awards from numerous competitions, including gold medals from the Royal Conservatory of Music of Toronto,
and the Kodaly Scholarship to study music in Budapest.

She studied under Annabelle Pruegger of Pruegger's Accordion College in Lethbridge, and for two years attended the University of Lethbridge studying composition.

"One of the highlights of my year was always the Lethbridge Festival, and I really enjoyed preparing for and performing in it annually."

“I love hearing students of every age, and have always noticed that every single person has some spark of music within, and it is my job to help them find or build on that spark.”

Margaret looks forward to adjudicating the accordion and pipe organ classes in the 2024 Lethbridge and District Music and Speech Arts Festival.

Kathleen Morrison - Classical Voice

Kathleen Morrison is an operatic soprano, who has captivated audiences all around the world with her performances in opera, concerts, and lieder. She has been hailed as 'Riveting' by Opera Canada.

Kathleen owns the highly successful 'Voice by Kathleen' studio, where she mentors and coaches singers across genres, emphasizing healthy vocal technique. She is an in demand adjudicator and masterclass clinician and is also the Director of Solo Voice Studies at the prestigious Renert School since 2019.

Co-founder of the audience favourite Divas Opera and Artistic/Executive Director of the newly formed Alberta Vocal Arts Association; Kathleen is dedicated to promoting the classical vocal arts and creating engaging performances.

Residing in Calgary, she finds joy with her beloved Grand Champion Trick Samoyed, Alfie, and is a Certified Trick Dog All-Star Trainer of the Year and Vice-President of the Samoyed Association of Canada.

Upcoming performances include a reprise of Chiaroscuro: A Liederabend Reimagined,
and Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus both presented by Alberta Vocal Arts.


Eric Nyland - Junior Piano

Eric is a pianist (ARCT, LRCM) and actor (BFA, CAEA). For twenty years, Eric has worked professionally in theatre, film, voiceover, music, and music pedagogy throughout Canada. He
runs a private teaching studio in Calgary and is a member of the Canadian Music Festival Adjudicators’ Association. He serves as the provincial piano competition convenor for the Alberta Registered Music Teachers’ Association, and works as an active festival adjudicator at all levels.

Eric developed and taught two courses for Mount Royal University (Introductory Keyboard for Adults – Learn to Read, and Play by Ear/Improvisation), and served as the musical director for the long-form theatre improvisation duo One Lions (winner, Best Show at Vancouver International Improv Festival, 2016).

He has served as the piano program coordinator, vocal coach, and pianist at Cassa Musical Arts. In 2015, Eric appeared as soloist in Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto for the inaugural concert of the Calgary Arts Orchestra, and in 2016 he served as composer, music director, and lead actor in Armin Wiebe’s The Moonlight Sonata of Beethoven Blatz for the Station Arts Centre. He has studied with Linda Kundert, Dr. Lillian Upright, and Dr. Irena Kofman, and has taken masterclasses from Dr. Jennifer Snow, Dr. Jacques Despres, and Dr. Ludmilla Lazar

Emmy Okazawa-Bortolin - Handbells

Born in Osaka, Japan, Emmy immigrated to Canada at an early age and grew up in Ontario. She holds an ARCT in Piano Performance from the Royal Conservatory in Toronto and was a private studio teacher for over 25 years. She played clarinet in the Orchestre d’Harmonie during her undergraduate studies at Université Laval, received her B.Ed. (French Immersion/Music) and taught French, Music and Japanese for several years in Edmonton.

Since 1984, Emmy has enjoyed handbells in several capacities from ringer, soloist, director, clinician, adjudicator, massed conductor and has been heavily involved in all levels of leadership and event management roles in provincial, national and international handbell associations. She was Co-Coordinator of the Fifth International Handbell Symposium in Edmonton in 1992 and has since organized Canada’s National Handbell Conference, the 2011 RingingLink, in Calgary as well as several provincial events and youth festivals. She served on the International Handbell Committee (IHC) between 2004 – 2014.

Most recently, she was the Past-Chair of the Interim Board of Handbell Musicians of Canada and currently is Past-President of the Alberta Guild of English Handbell Ringers (ALGEHR). A professional fundraiser, she is also the Director of ALGEHR’s Fundraising Committee, managed the acquisition of Canada’s largest handbell collection, and has been also Editor of the Guild’s quarterly newsletter since 2016.

As a clinician and adjudicator, Emmy has been a regular guest artist across Alberta, Canada and internationally in Australia, Japan, Singapore, the UK, Korea, and in the US. She represented Canada as its Massed Conductor at IHS Liverpool in 2012 and was guest conductor of the 2012 SingBellz Festival in Singapore and the 35th English Handbell Festival at Riverside Church in NYC in 2013. A long-time handbell consultant with both Calgary school boards, she is also the founding director of C3, a community ensemble of music teachers and Quarter Notes Handbell Ensemble, a quartet. Currently, Emmy performs with Jubiloso, an advanced, auditioned community ensemble in Edmonton.

Emmy is known for her expressive stage presence and her “dancing style” of solo ringing. By combining all her interests and talents, handbells have gone beyond just a simple musical instrument. Her mantra is - to transform the art of handbell ringing into a true delight for the eyes as much as the ears!

For video links of Emmy’s performances, please visit: http://www.youtube.com/user/crubmom and

Akiko Tominaga - Senior Piano

Born in Japan and raised in the United States, pianist Akiko Tominaga has been hailed by critics and audiences across North America, Europe 

and Japan. Akiko began her studies at the age of 4, and made her solo debut in 1992, playing Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.

Her solo and chamber performances have been broadcast on C.B.C. and Radio-Canada. An avid chamber musician, she has collaborated with many notable musicians and is a founding member of the piano trio, Trio Lajoie. Her recent project with the piano duo with pianist Lana Henchell culminated in a multi-media premiere event “Villainy” performing the Supervillain Duos by composer Vincent Ho along with the film by director Emil Agopian.

A graduate of the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music and recipient of the Doctorate in Performance from Université de Montréal, Akiko has benefitted from the tutelage of many distinguished teachers as Marc Durand, John Perry, Eleanor Sokoloff, and Yoshie Akimoto.

She is currently on faculty at the Mount Royal Conservatory Academy and Advanced Performance Program in Calgary, as well as the Morningside Music Bridge.

Murray Visscher - Guitar

Murray Visscher has performed a wide variety of music for audiences in Canada and the United States. Although his formal education is primarily in Classical music, his diverse background has put him on stage with some of Canada’s elite jazz, folk, rock and fiddle artists.

Murray’s recent efforts include many premieres of new music written for the Oberon Guitar Trio (along with colleagues Ralph Maier and Brad Mahon).

Murray is in demand as an instructor and educator and currently serves on the faculties of Mount Royal University Conservatory and Ambrose University in Calgary, Canada. He adjudicates frequently at festivals and competitions throughout Western Canada and has served on the editing team for the Royal Conservatory of Music’s guitar series.

Murray’s students include finalists and winners of the Guitar Foundation of America competition and
the Northwest Guitar Festival competition. His students are frequent winners at the Alberta Music
Festival, the National Music Festival and the Canadian Music Competition.

Band - Mark Ward

Mark Ward retired from teaching school bands after 32 years having taught in BC and Alberta, including five years in Lethbridge. He has served on the board of directors of the British Columbia Band Association and the Alberta Band Association including a term as president.

He is a member of Phi Beta Mu, an international honorary fraternity of band directors, and last year he was recognized by the ABA with an Honorary Lifetime Member Award.

Mark continues to share his passion for music as a brass instructor at the Medicine Hat College and conducts the Gold Community Band in Lethbridge and the Andante Community Band in Medicine Hat. He sees community and school music as a critical part of Canadian heritage and culture and is very proud to be part of the strong musical community in Southern Alberta.