Abigail Freeman (Voice)

Ms. Freeman has been heard in the role of the Queen of the Night (The Magic Flute) with Oshawa Opera and also joined Opera by Request as Blonde (Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail) and as The Chair in A Chair In Love by Welsh composer, John Metcalf. She made her debut with Summer Opera Lyric Theatre as Zerbinetta (Ariadne auf Naxos) and was featured as with Suor Genoveffa in Art Bel’s premiere production of Suor Angelica.

Highlights from previous seasons include being featured as a soloist with the Heliconian Choir & Orchestra singing Der Hirt auf dem Felsen (Schubert) and appearing in the role of Ännchen in Der Freischütz (Weber) with Toronto Opera Collaborative, singing her first Despina (Cosi fan tutte) with the Toronto Summer Opera Workshop and being featured as a soloist with Arcady in the Brott Festival as one of the Soprano Soloists in Mozart’s Requiem.

Freeman’s versatility extends from opera, recital, oratorio and concert works as well as cabaret and musical theatre. Past credits include Handel’s Messiah, Mozart’s Requiem, J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, Bach cantatas Wachet auf and Wachet, betet, and the roles of Fanchette (Le mariage aux lanternes), Ilia (Idomeneo), Lakmé (Lakmé), Adina (L’elisir d’amore), Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni), Gilda (Rigoletto), and Ophelia in the Canadian staged premiere of Mark Richards’, Hamlet.  

Freeman completed a Bachelor of Music Degree from the University of Toronto (Canada) and a Master of Music Degree from Binghamton University (United States). She maintains a private music studio in Mississauga and is the Music Director at the Unitarian Congregation in Mississauga

Alesia Sheverdak (Junior Piano)

Alesia was born in Ulyanovsk, Russia.  Alesia completed seven years of music school and two and a half years of choral conducting at M.K.Institute of Belarus, where she had professional vocal training with master class professors. After moving to Canada in 2003, Alesia worked with several choirs, trained vocalists and pianists in Durham Region.  She also performed at various concerts and events as a choir conductor. In 2007, she graduated from Canada Christian College with Bachelor of Sacred Music Diploma and in 2010 graduated from the Royal Conservatory of Music with an ARCT Piano Teacher Diploma.

She has over eleven years of experience in teaching piano, voice and theory and fifteen years of experience in performing as a soloist, musician and an accompanist.   She composes her own music and songs.

She presently works as a Music Director at Tyrone United Church and has been a teacher at Neighbourhood Music Studio since 2008. She is currently pursuing the opportunity to become a member of the College of Examiners with the Royal Conservatory of Music.

Alesia is passionate about music and she takes pleasure in discovering talents and unique abilities in every student to help them maximize their potential in the music field.


Andrea Yau (Junior & Intermediate Piano)

Pianist and Educator, Andrea holds Bachelor of Music and Education Degrees from the University of Toronto and is a Masters of Arts candidate at the University of Ottawa studying Piano Pedagogy Research. In addition, Andrea received Royal Conservatory of Music Associate Diplomas in both Piano Performance and Piano Pedagogy.

Andrea has adjudicated for the Ontario Registered Music Teachers Association North Toronto and York Region Branches as well as the Neapolitan Music Festival. She has taught for the elementary division of the Toronto District School Board as an occasional teacher for years. She worked primarily with children in at-risk communities and students with learning disabilities and complex needs.

When not maintaining an active piano studio, Andrea is conducting research projects in the field of piano pedagogy as part of her graduate work. Current projects include: studies on music performance anxiety in music students, the applications of Dalcroze training in the private piano lesson, and the pedagogy of ear training. Andrea is serving as secretary of the Ontario Registered Music Teachers Association - Central Toronto Branch, and advocates for the provision of exceptional music education to the community.


David Gerry (Woodwinds)

David is currently on the faculty of the School of the Arts, McMaster University and is a core member of the McMaster Institute for Music and the Mind. Dr. Gerry received his Ph.D. from the School of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour at McMaster, and also holds a M.Mus. and B.Mus. from the University of Toronto, an ARCT from the Royal Conservatory of Music, and a diploma from the Talent Education Research Institute in Japan where he studied with Shinichi Suzuki. He has been a keynote speaker at numerous education conferences and recent appearances have included lecturing, playing and teaching in New Zealand, Japan, and Alaska. David is also on the faculty of the Great Lakes Flute Centre. For many years he was the music specialist at Trail Ridge Montessori School in Grimsby, Ontario. He is a Registered Teacher Trainer for the Suzuki Association of the Americas and the European Suzuki Association. 

His students at McMaster have continued their education at many of North America’s leading graduate programmes, including those at Eastman, McGill, the University of British Columbia, the University of Buffalo and New York University. Dr. Gerry’s research on formal musical experience in infancy, funded by the Grammy Foundation, is the first study to show the effects of musical training on social, cognitive, linguistic and brain development in 6-12 month-old subjects. His current research projects include measuring the effects of formal musical experience on school readiness, the development of a test battery to measure creativity, and the effects of Dalcroze training on musical expertise in elementary students. David is also active as a performing flutist and is much sought after as an expert in the field of flute pedagogy.



Emer McCarthy-Wilson (Choral Speaking)

Emer holds a degree in Drama and English from the University of Windsor.  She began teaching with the DDSB in 1980, and retired in 2014.  She keeps herself busy with family, friends, and travel.  Emer also has a fabulous job with the Pickering Museum Village, conducting education tours as part of the Grade Three Pioneer programme.  Her costume is an 1837 prairie dress, bonnet, and boots. 

During her teaching years, Emer brought her love of theatre to the schools where she taught, and her students always participated in Kiwanis Festival.  Over the years, her students earned Gold Awards for Choral Speaking, Improvisation, and Speeches.

Emer also directed school musicals, Shakespeare Festivals, as well as producing talent showcases.

Emer has been actively involved with "Backwoods Players" for 12 years, performing in the production of "A Spirit Walk", and directing the Duffins' Creek Christmas Pageant.  

Maggie Morrison (Senior & Advanced Piano)

Canadian pianist Maggie Morrison is an avid performer, teacher and adjudicator; she values education and believes it is the answer to many of the world’s problems. She has concertized in many cities including Toronto, Cleveland, Chicago and New York.

Maggie received her Performance Diploma in 2005 at The Glenn Gould School, where she attended The Taylor Academy. She lived in Cleveland for seven years, attending The Cleveland Institute of Music, where she graduated with her Bachelor’s (2012) and Master’s Degree (2014). After graduating, she continued living in Cleveland for a year to teach piano privately at The Hathaway Brown School, as well as hold a position at Kent State University as a Staff Accompanist.

Maggie adjudicated at the 2016 Toronto Kiwanis Music Festival, Barrie Music Festival and Sault Ste. Marie Music Festival. She has worked with such pedagogues as Anton Kuerti, Marc Durand, John Perry, Julian Martin and Sergei Babayan. As a student, she attended The Banff Centre for several summers as well as Pinkas Zuckerman’s National Arts Centre Young Artist Program.

A believer in community, Maggie is the Director of a Not for Profit, Exposure to the Arts, based in her hometown of Brantford, Ontario. She also established a Contemporary Showcase Centre for Brantford in November of 2012.

Currently, Maggie resides in Toronto. She teaches privately out of her loft and is a Collaborative Pianist at The Royal Conservatory of Music, frequently accompanying Taylor Academy students in masterclasses, lessons and exams. She began her Doctorate of Music at The University of Toronto in the fall, where she received a full scholarship to study with Jamie Parker.



Paulina Derbez (Strings)

Paulina began studying violin at the Yuriko Kuronuma Academy in Mexico City. At an early age she was selected to participate in a tour in Japan playing as a soloist with the Fujiwara Symphony orchestra. She continued her studies at the music school Ollin Yoliztli where she was the concert master of the youth orchestra Vida y Movimiento and assistant concert master of the Orquesta de las Juventudes Musicales, world organization, in Bogotá, Colombia.

Subsequently she traveled to Lugano, Switzerland to complete her training at the Conservatorio Della SvizzeraItaliana, under the tutelage of Carlo Chiarappa, and at the D’Arch iVivaldi Academy under the tutelage of Susan Holm. She received scholarships on three occasions from the FONCA (Mexico’s National Fund for Arts and Culture).

 She has performed concerts in countries around the world, including Japan, Colombia, France, Italy, Germany, Canada and Mexico, as a soloist and with chamber and symphony orchestras. She is the creator of the Conscious Musician music teaching method, and has taught courses in Switzerland, Canada and Mexico at institutions such as the Rudolf Steiner School in Lugano, the International Music Festival in Morelia, the Yuriko Kuronuma Academy in Mexico City, the Young artscape in Toronto, and recently at Escuela Superior de Música in Mexico City.

Paulina is a classical and avant-garde violinist. She successfully premiered her one-woman multidisciplinary concert Shika: Out of the Silence the Sound Is Born at the University of Toronto in 2014 and presented her CD “AltriSuoni” at the Festival Internacional Cervantino 2014, the most important Festival in Latinoamerica and one of the most important festivals in the world.  She has perfomed at the Glenn Gould Studio CBC, Koerner Hall, Palacio De Bellas Artes, Fujisawa Civic Hall, Sala Netzahualcoyotl, Teatro Juárez, Expo Hannover, among others.

In  2013, she received an award from the Mexican magazine Quién, recognizing her as “one of the 50 celebrities that are transforming Mexico 2013”, a list that also included Mexican luminaries like Alfonso Cuarón and Plácido Domingo. Recently she was also recognized as “One of the Top ten most successful Mexicans in Canada” by Latinos Magazine and The Globe and Mail.

 Paulina’s book The Conscious Musician, published in June 2014 by Editorial Ink, was originally published in Spanish as El MúsicoConscientein 2012 which was launched at the International Book Fair in Guadalajara, Mexico. She gives conferences and talks about The Conscious Musician and is also the co-author of the interactive audiovisual book Depictions of a Concert, with Jaime Luján. Her book El MúsicoConscienteis available in printed version at the main bookstores in Mexico and several institutions in the world are already applying the methodology of her book in their curriculum. 

With her duo Luna-Derbez Salazar, Paulina  toured in North America last fall, which included the National Arts Centre in Ottawa and in 2017 they will perform in Mexico, Switzerland and USA. She gives talks, concerts and masterclasses around the world. In spring 2017, she will give masterclasses at the Cultural Institute in Campeche, Mexico and also she has been invited to be part of the faculty at the music festival in Austria - Music in the Alps. Paulina’s violin “Luna” was made by the Mexican luthier Itzel Avila.

Paulina is also member of the Ontario Philharmonic and the Artistic Director of México Contemporáneo Foundation a non profit organization that promotes the arts and culture from Mexico such as Mexican chamber music, visual arts, literature and photography among others. This organization also promotes artistic educational programs for children and adults with low income.




Ray Hickey Jr. (Guitar)

Ray began playing guitar at the age of 14. Although originally inspired by the likes of

Hendrix, Clapton, Beck and Page it was Ray’s first classical guitar lesson in 1976 that

forever changed his life. With Romanian guitarist/composer Robert Feuerstein, Ray

began a six-year apprenticeship that culminated in a grade 10 Royal Conservatory of

Toronto certificate followed by private tutelage with University of Toronto guitar

department head Eli Kassner.


Spring of 1984 saw Ray living in Hollywood, California and going to school at the

Musician’s Institute where his private instructor was Frank Gambale (Chic Corea’s

Electric Band). Periodically over the next few years, Ray attended workshops in West

Virginia, California and England with legendary British Rock guitarist Robert Fripp

(King Krimson). At this time, Ray also took part in workshops with New York bebop

pianist Barry Harris.


Ray first performed with Ron Korb in 1978. It was, however, in 1993 that a band

was put together to support Ron’s Japanese Mysteries CD. This quite naturally led Ray

to studying the koto with the late Masako Yamaguchi in Toronto. From 1994 through

1997 Ray and Ron, as a duo, toured quite extensively throughout Canada, U.S.A.,

England,  Ireland and Japan. From 1999 to 2007, however, the whole band made tours

of Panama, Taiwan and China as well. During this period Ray furthered his study of Asian

music with formal training on the guzheng (Chinese) with Jade Hong and the shamisen

(Japanese) with Gerry McGoldrick in Toronto. Further self-directed studies of the pipa

(Chinese), tenor banjo and octave mandolin (Irish) have resulted in compositions,

arrangements, recordings and performances on many stringed instruments.


Ray’s Debut CD Alizarin Sky and companion book were released in 1999. In 2001 Ray

published vol. 1 of A Guitarist’s Christmas Companion and is currently working on volumes

2 and 3. Since then Ray has written,An Evolutionary Guitar Method Vol. 1 and

The Little Book of Christmas Music. These books are the result of extensive teaching

experience gained since 1976.


In recent years Ray has become more interested in design work both graphic and guitaristic.

And aside from contributing guitar arrangements and animated theory movies, Ray has begun

collaborating with long time friend Lloyd English on writing method books for the online guitar

school, My Guitar Pal.



Rita Arendz ( Bands & Brass)

 Rita has worked extensively in the areas of performance and education for over 30 years.  In the course of her musical career, Rita has been a free-lance horn player, a private tutor, a clinician as well as a conductor having earned a Bachelor of Music Performance (French Horn) with Eugene Rittich, and a Masters in Music (Conducting) with Dr. Gillian Mackay, both from the University of Toronto.

 As a horn player, she has performed in orchestras, concert bands, musicals/stage shows, as well as brass choirs, and brass and woodwind quintets.  Her work as a clinician has involved various schools and cadets programs.  Her private teachings focus on conducting and french horn.

 As well, Rita is a member of the Canadian Forces Primary Reserve where she conducted military bands for over 20 years and taught Basic Conducting to Reserve Musicians.  She currently holds the rank of Captain, and is working at the 32nd Canadian Brigade Group Headquarters.

 In the fall of 2011, she founded “A Little Wind Music”, a chamber-sized ensemble, devoted to the music of the light classical genre mixed in with the contemporary styles while engaging the audience through its presentations and interactions.

 With the belief that music is life-long learning, Rita’s latest love in music is the tenor horn and brass bands, an area she feels has great potential for development in Canada.




Robert Phillips (Choirs)

Robert is the music director of the Durham Philharmonic Choir (1992)  – an awarding-winning mixed community choir. He enjoys a varied career as a choral conductor, organist, accompanist and teacher and has been involved with singers and choirs of all ages for over 40 years. As director of the Durham Philharmonic Choir for nearly 25 years,  he has conducted many of the large choral/orchestral works of Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Handel, Rutter, etc., along with a broad repertoire of folks songs, spirituals, operetta, film music and other repertoire. 

He is a graduate of Mt. Allison University (B. Mus. Performance) and the University of Toronto (M. Mus. Performance and Literature).

Robert is currently the Organist/Music Director at Simcoe St United Church in Oshawa.