2023 ADJUDICATOR BIOS
Fabiola Amorim - Strings/Chamber Music
Violist Fabiola Amorim holds a Doctor of Music degree from the University of Alberta (Canada), a Master of Music degree from Azusa Pacific University (USA), an Artist Certificate from Azusa Pacific University (USA), and a Bachelor of Music degree from the Universidade Federal da Paraíba - UFPB (Brazil). Since the publication of her 2018 doctoral thesis Echoes of the Brazilian Nationalism Movement in Four Works for Viola and Piano (1950-82), Amorim’s work has served as a reference for other researchers on Brazilian music for viola.
Throughout her studies she received many scholarships and awards, including the Beryl Barns Memorial Graduate Award and Harriet Snowball Winspear Graduate Scholarship. She studied with Mr. Yerko Tabilo, Mr. Charles Stegeman, and Mr. Robert Becker. She participated in a number of music festivals and symposia in Brazil and the United States including the Starling-Delay Symposium at The Juilliard School.
Amorim is a founding member of the Vaughan String Quartet, which, since its formation in 2013, has maintained a busy concert schedule with performances in Canada, USA, France and Italy. As a member of the Quartet Amorim was an Artist in Residence at the Banff Centre, recorded the piece Apocalypsis by R. Murray Schafer (published by Analekta) in 2015, and in 2017 received the Cultural Diversity Award from the City of Edmonton. This award made possible the recording in 2018 of the Quartet’s debut CD, which included works by the Italian composers Simone Boi and D. P. Runcini, and the Brazilian composers A. Carlos Gomes and H. Villa-Lobos.
Amorim was a member of the Orquestra Sinfônica da Paraíba (Brazil) and served as principal viola for the Orquestra de Câmara da Cidade de João Pessoa (Brazil), the Azusa Pacific University Symphony Orchestra (USA), and the University of Alberta Symphony Orchestra (Canada), with which she also appeared as a soloist in 2014 and 2015. As a chamber musician she has appeared on stages in Brazil, USA, Canada, France and Italy, including the Walt Disney Concert Hall (Los Angeles), Symphony Space (New York), Rolston Recital Hall (Banff), and Sony Centre (Toronto). She was a member of the Villa-Lobos String Quartet (USA) and the Camerata Brasílica (Brazil), and while with the Camerata Brasílica was a prize winner at the 2006 Concurso Nacional de Música de Câmara in the city of Londrina (Brazil).
Dr. Amorim maintains an active schedule as a concert violist and educator. She currently performs regularly with the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra and Prince George Symphony Orchestra, and holds a position of viola instructor at the MacEwan University Conservatory of Music and adjudicates for festivals and competitions in Alberta.
Karen Charlton - Musical Theatre
At 5 feet tall, Karen Charlton’s saucy soubrette has afforded her many performing opportunities across Canada. She has been very successful in competitions that includes a win in the voice category at the National Music Festival in 2002.
She has been featured on CBC radio and has appeared as a soprano soloist with the Saskatoon Symphony many times. Some of her role credits include Fraulein Silberklang in Der Schauspieldirektor, Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, Frasquita in Carmen and was "perfectly cast as the sexy and sassy Adele” (Saskatoon Star Phoenix) in the Saskatoon Opera Association’s production of Die Fledermaus.
Ms. Charlton is also a strong supporter of new music and Canadian composers and was honored to premiere, with her duet partner, a 20-minute work entitled Sirens which was written expressly for them by Canadian composer Elizabeth Raum. Karen has also been proud to be a part of Opera NUOVA’s Canadian composers’ school tour of Dean Burry’s The Brothers Grimm, Isis and the Seven Scorpions and The Lives of Lesser Things by Isaiah Bell. In October 2010, she also sang the Alberta premiere of Creek Bistro Specials by Saskatchewan composer David McIntyre.
Karen’s operatic experience has allowed her to play opposite some of Canada’s most exciting emerging and established leading men including Greg Dahl, Peter Barrett and Alexander Dobson. Opera Canada noted Ms. Charlton’s Musetta with the Saskatoon Opera Association as “a joy to behold”.
Most recently, Karen performed a set of original comical pieces with composer Geoffrey Pratley - a long time collaborative pianist with Dame Janet Baker. After seeing her perform, the composer requested the collaboration and Ms. Charlton was most excited and humbled by the offer.
Karen is very grateful to her audiences that allow her to have so much fun on stage!
"Festivals are meant to encourage, grow, and appreciate our performers. We can all strive for creating a festival environment that emboldens exciting performances as these artists strive for the highest level of their own personal achievements.
Let's celebrate this year's festival together!"
Elizabeth (Beth) Cook - Handbells
Beth Cook is a native Albertan and a retired Music educator. She began playing Handbells in 1990 in Lethbridge where she now resides. A graduate of the University of Alberta – Edmonton, she pursued additional studies at Westminster Choir College (Princeton, N.J.) and Seattle, Wash.
For a number of years, she participated in “Bayview Week of Handbells” – a performance workshop lead by Don Allured in Bayview, Michigan. She has had the privilege of working with many well-known composers/conductors/ringers and loves the experience of ‘making music’. She enjoys working as a clinician and adjudicator, being able to encourage ringers at all levels and still rings in a Handbell Choir.
Derek Zhi Guang Chiu - Senior Piano
“…adept at playing many different types of piano literature, having particular affinity for the music of the Classical period, especially that of Mozart, a composer in which he truly understood. Also, his technical mastery of the keyboard allowed him to easily perform the more difficult works of Franz Liszt and Sergei Rachmaninoff.” – Steinway Artist Joel Hastings
“The graduate of the Manhattan School of Music captivated the intimate crowd.” – Medicine Hat News
Canadian pianist and pedagogue Derek Zhi Guang Chiu enjoys an active professional career. A three-time recipient of Steinway & Sons Top Piano Teacher Award in Calgary (2016, 2018 & 2020) Chiu enjoys a successful international career as a performer, music educator, adjudicator, and music consultant.
As a performer, Chiu has performed solo and chamber music recitals in Canada, England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United States. His orchestral engagements have included performances with the Windsor Community Orchestra, Briercrest College Orchestra, Rockland Symphony Orchestras and the Rocky Mountain Symphony Orchestra. He has collaborated with artists Roberto Cani (concert master of the LA Opera), David Lakirovich (assistant concert master of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra), Meghan Jacoby (principal flute Chamber Orchestra Symphony by the Seas) and renowned Hungarian cellist Laszlo Mezo.
Chiu is a leader in online music education. Chiu presented online professional development workshops on remote music lessons to help music teachers make the transition from in person to online teaching at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. His workshops were attended by over 2000 music teachers in Canada and the United States. He has been teaching online since 2015 and provides consultation to teachers who are interested in setting up a virtual teaching presence. Chiu works one on one with teachers to demonstrate online programs, resources, and apps along with showcasing audio/visual hardware to enhance e-learning.
Chiu is a dedicated piano pedagogue who has presented pedagogical workshops on the use of technology in teaching studio, cognitive practice, aural skills development, sigh reading, Baroque performance practice, and memorization of music. His academic lectures have explored the music of Bach, Chopin, Liszt, and Mozart. Chiu has presented at the Colorado State Music Teachers’ Conference, The Colburn School, The University of Windsor, and Lakehead University to name a few. Chiu is also a clinician for The Royal Conservatory of Music, having presented workshops in Canada and The United States.
Chiu is a member of the online teaching team at Virtuosity.Online. The mission of Virtuosity.Online is cultivating curiosity, inspiring personal exploration for musician’s practice, shared and online! He has led lectures on piano technique, motivating teachers and a four-part series on teaching, studying, and performing the keyboard works of Mozart.
Chiu maintains a private studio in Calgary where his piano students have earned scholarship to attend undergraduate and graduate music schools; have received gold medals from The Royal Conservatory of Music; and are prize winners at local, national, and international piano competitions. He is on the Faculty of the Cremona International Music Academy (Italy) and the Vancouver Island Music Academy. Chiu is a sought-after master class clinician, ensemble coach, and guest teacher.
In November 2013, he was awarded the Odyssey Award by the University of Windsor Alumni Association. The award recognizes alumni who are in the early years of their career path, having distinguished themselves through successes in career endeavors, notable achievements in their local community, or through a significant or innovative achievement in their professional or personal life. Chiu’s performance that evening was hailed as the “highlight” of the Alumni Association’s annual awards night.
His extensive training includes mentorship with notable Canadian teachers Dr. E. Gregory Butler and Joel Hastings at The University of Windsor. While in Windsor. Chiu had additional studies in piano pedagogy with Dr. Thomas Green, Chief Examiner of the Royal Conservatory of Music. Under the guidance of Solomon Mikowsky (featured in Benjamin Saver’s Book The Most Wanted Piano Teachers in the USA) and Donn-Alexandre Feder a The Manhattan School of Music in New York, Chiu graduated with a Master of Music degree in 2003. During his studies at the Manhattan School of Music, Chiu was mentored in chamber music by pianist Daniel Epstein of the Raphael Trio and engaged in rigorous studies in Baroque and Classical performance practices with Kenneth Cooper, one of the world’s foremost music specialists in the music from those eras. Chiu has performed in masterclasses in Canada, Europe and the United States for Janina Fialkowska, Robin Harrison, James Howsmon, Lorrin Hollander, Ramzi Yassa, Cecilio Tieles, and Jesus Angel Rodriquez.
He is an Ambassador for the Royal Conservatory and a member of their College of Examiners. Chiu was featured on CBC Music’s website on the topic of teens and piano lesson in November 2017.
Marlis Gunderson - Junior Piano
Marlis loves music. She started playing piano by ear when she was 4. She took lessons and finished her RCM Grade 10 while in high school. After graduating she became an ICU nurse. Missing her music, she completed her ARCT with Jaquie Ryan after nursing graduation and has been teaching piano since. She continues to do private duty nursing.
Marlis enjoys learning new music by being involved in the Roubakine Piano Club, where she participates in master classes twice a year. She adjudicates across Alberta and is organist and accompanist for several choirs and vocal groups.
She resides in St. Albert with her husband, close to her 2 grown children and 6 young granddaughters.
Marlis is very excited to be invited to the Lethbridge and District Music and Speech Arts Festival.
Tina Hartt - Contemporary Voice
Tina Hartt is a singer, composer and musician native to Montreal. She has enjoyed a diverse singing career spanning all over Canada: rock bands and church choirs in Montreal, Big Bands and jazz ensembles in Toronto, and acting/singing/dancing in Nova Scotia and PEI.
In 2014 she moved out west to Calgary and decided to focus on jazz. Going back to her French roots, she has dusted off some old French chansons (i.e.: Brel, Aznavour and Piaf) and given them new life by combining the romance of the French with Latin rhythms and jazz harmonies. These elements are the foundation for her original material and give a freshness to her interpretations of jazz standards. Tina’s instrumental choices of violin, clarinet, accordion and congas along with piano, bass and drums create a unique sound that compliment both the French paroles or English lyrics and her arrangements make excellent use of these instrumental colours, especially in her original compositions.
Tina’s voice has been described as “rich and expressive” with a “dynamic vocal range”, she is undeniably an “engaging entertainer”, and is recognized as “a striking song stylist and improviser” by her peers. Her unique repertoire along with her sincere delivery have resulted in her “captivating and engaging” audiences everywhere she goes.
Since arriving in Calgary, Tina has performed at the Jack Singer Hall, The Grand Theatre, Grey Eagle Casino, Ironwood Bar & Grill, Betty Lou’s Library, Asylum for Art, Alvin’s Jazz Club, Lolita’s, the Vin Room West, Gravity Espresso & Wine Bar and the Blackfoot Hotel. Tina has also been featured in the Virtual Jazz YYC International Jazz Days Festival, The Works Art & Design Festival, the ProArts@noon Concert Series, the Cliff Bungalow Jazz Series, the Wellspring Concert Series and La Cité Francophone Patio Concert Series. Currently she is finishing up her CD for release in early 2023.
Arlene Irwin - Speech
A native of Northern Ireland, Arlene has been studying Speech Arts and Drama since the age of 14. Throughout the years, not only has she won numerous speech and drama awards, but she also continues to be an active theatre performer. Her most recent roles were as “Mother Superior” in Storybook Theatre’s musical production of “Sister Act” and in 2022, the role of “Irene Ruddock” in Alan Bennett’s “A Lady of Letters” forwhich she received the award of outstanding performer at the Calgary One Act Festival.
Arlene holds an Associate & Licentiate Diploma in Speech Arts and Drama from Trinity College London and is currently an Instructoron the Mount Royal Conservatory Speech Arts Faculty where she teaches both private and group classes. She also holds the role of Calgary Centre Representative for RCM Examinations.
As well as instructing at The Conservatory, Arlene runs a private drama school and has adjudicated at numerous Speech Arts festivals including Kelowna Kiwanis, Medicine Hat, Airdrie, and Red Deer.
She is thrilled to have the opportunity to adjudicate at the Lethbridge and District Music and Speech Arts Festival and extremely excited to hear the work of all the talented students
Craig Johnson - Band/Instrumental/Composition
Originally from Winnipeg MB, Craig studied privately with a long list of classical and jazz instructors on his primary instruments (Trumpet & Piano). After high school he attended The University of Manitoba furthering his studies in the Performing Fine Arts Program. He went on to study Jazz Arranging, Orchestral Composition, and Writing for Motion Picture and TV earning his General Music Studies degree at The Berklee College of Music in Boston. Now living in Calgary with over 30 years of teaching and performing experience Craig remains an active clinician, hosting workshops within the Calgary Board of Education band and music programs. He maintains a large private student base and has had a number of students go on to pursue their own musical careers at the professional level.
In 2003 Craig accepted the position of Musical Director for a Calgary based big band association followed by an offer in 2019 to become musical director with an additional big band association. His roles include, writing and arranging a large portion of the band's repertoire for performance.
In addition to performing and adjudicating music festivals throughout Alberta and across Canada, as a band leader he leads his own groups of various sizes and has been commissioned by different artists both locally and nationally to write music for their specific recording and or performing projects.
Craig is currently creating his privately owned music publishing company MAXALBY Music Publishing, making available is original works for Jazz Ensemble, Concert Band, Orchestra, and various small group ensembles.
John-Paul Ksiazek - Pipe Organ
A native of Lethbridge, Alberta, John-Paul Ksiazek has a wide range of experience including solo, chamber, and orchestral performances, as well as accompanying singers, choirs, and ballet. He is the organist at McKillop United Church and is a founding member of Opus 4, a piano quartet he performs in. Performances this season include Beethoven's Triple Concerto with the Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra, performances with The Little Lethbridge Opera Company, and chamber music at the University of Lethbridge. A gifted and enthusiastic teacher, John-Paul has had several students recommended to the Alberta Music Festival. He studied at the Université de Montréal, University of Alberta, and University of Lethbridge, and he was an artist-in-residence at The Banff Centre.
Brad Mahon brings 25 years of post-secondary experience to his role as President and CEO of Great Plains College, having found success in the classroom, the boardroom, and engaging the community. As a leader in the higher education sector, he is a passionate advocate for providing learners with a transformative educational experience and ensuring institutions are meaningfully engaged with the communities they serve. His administrative tenures have consistently prioritized collaboration and cooperation, including establishing strategic partnerships with other post-secondary institutions, community organizations, and industry.
When not in committee meetings or studying spreadsheets, Brad regularly sneaks off campus to moonlight as a guitarist, adjudicator, clinician, and lecturer. He has released three commercial recordings, has appeared as a guest on several others, and continues to perform live. He has been described as “an outstanding classical guitarist” (20th Century Guitar, New York) and “a very accomplished performer” (CBC Radio, Canada), while his concert performances have been reviewed as “a delightful musical night and great spectacle for the audience” (Baiao Noticia, Portugal). He also maintains his long-standing affiliation with the Royal Conservatory of Music as a senior member of its College of Examiners.
Brad’s formal education is highlighted by a PhD (musicology) from the University of Calgary, an MBA (executive management) from Royal Roads University, and an ARCT (guitar) from the Royal Conservatory of Music.
Joslin Romphf Dennis - Classical Voice
Joslin is the studio owner and lead teacher at JRD Voice Studio in British Columbia, Canada and is owned by a very snuggly chihuahua named Fred. She is obsessed with helping singers of all ages and ability find THEIR unique voice - and will dispense plenty of unicorn sparkle and encouragement along the way!
She has been on faculty with the Vancouver Academy of Music since 2015 where she now teaches college-level diction classes. She is the author of The Singers’ Aural Skills Drill Book For Teachers, a how-to ear training book specifically designed for teachers of singers. She is a member in good standing of the BC Registered Music Teachers Association, Richmond Branch (BCRMTA), The Speakeasy Cooperative (SECO), and is a certified teacher of the Neuro-Vocal Method in popular microphone styles. Joslin received her Bachelor’s and Master’s of Music from The Curtis Institute of Music and was a Young Artist in the Lindeman Program at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.
An avid performer and recitalist, recent performances include soprano soloist in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and Verdi's Requiem with Leslie Dala conducting the VAM Symphony Orchestra and the Vancouver Bach Choir. Joslin is currently working on a one-woman cabaret show, set to debut in early 2024.
Joslin is a sought-after adjudicator and clinician at various Canadian music festivals, including the Richmond Music Festival, the Port Coquitlam Music Festival, the Greater Victoria Performing Arts Festival, the Pacific Northwest Music Festival in Terrace, BC, and the Lethbridge and District Music and Speech Arts Festival in Lethbridge, Alberta. She has been a member of the panel to adjudicate the McLellan Competition for the Winnipeg Women's Musical Club multiple times and has served as a judge for Juno Awards. She is thrilled to return to Lethbridge to adjudicate this year!
Heidi Wood - Choir
Heidi Wood holds Bachelor of Music (Voice) and Education degrees from the University of Lethbridge and a Master of Music degree (Opera performance) from the University of British Columbia. She has been leading both traditional choirs and vocal jazz ensembles for over 18 years in Calgary at Lord Beaverbrook and Joane Cardinal Schubert High Schools, currently directs Cum Vino Cantus, an adult community choir in Calgary, and sings with Luminous Voices, Calgary’s professional choir.
Heidi’s focus in the classroom is creating an engaging community for learning and sharing through music, innovative programming, and experiences for students. Choirs under Ms. Wood’s direction are consistent platinum award recipients at festivals, have been featured performers at the Canadian Rocky Mountain Festival in Banff on several occasions, at Choir Alberta’s Choralfest Jazz Spotlight Concert, were most recently recognized as the Adjudicators Choice at the Cantando festival in Whistler in 2018 (Vocal Jazz) and Edmonton in 2022 (Concert Choir) and were finalists in Canada’s Top Choirs 2022 winning in the Best Live Performance category.
Outside of the classroom, Ms. Wood is sought after as an adjudicator, clinician, session presenter, and guest conductor. Ms. Wood is also a member of the Program Action Committee at Choir Alberta, organizes choral music initiatives for the Calgary Association for the Development of Music Education (CADME), and is regularly called upon as a consultant for music curriculum design. In addition to her professional affiliations, she has been recognized by her community with the Con Spirito Award presented by Choir Alberta (2022) for her contributions to choral music in Alberta, and with nominations for an Alberta Excellence in Teaching Award (2016), and the Musicounts Canadian Music Teacher of the Year Award (2017, 2018, 2022).
Ms. Wood is so very honoured and grateful to be part of the Lethbridge and District Music and Speech Arts Festival this year. She attributes the wonderful musical opportunities she had growing up in Lethbridge, with passionate educators and supportive parents, to her rewarding career in music. What a privilege it is to see the many fantastic musical traditions continue to grow and flourish in Lethbridge and area!