Powell River Academy of Music
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Artistic Council

Kathaumixw Artistic Council

The Kathaumixw Artistic Council is comprised of world-renowned choral personalities who advise the festival on artistic matters. The Kathaumixw Artistic Council members will share the uniqueness of the festival through their networks. The council consists of the following (clicking a photo will open a bio):

Sally-Anne Russell
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Sally-Anne Russell

Australia

Australian Mezzo Soprano Sally-Anne Russell has performed in over twenty countries and has over 40 recordings to her credit. Amongst her many awards she has won an ARIA people’s choice award and nominations for Young Australian of the Year (Arts), Young Achiever of the Year, Green Room and Helpmann Awards. She has performed over 70 roles in the operatic repertoire and has sung with Luciano Pavarotti, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Bryn Terfel, Sir Andrew Davis, Bramwell Tovey, Simone Young, Sir Richard Bonygne, Nicholas McGegan, Bruno Weill, and most recently Sumi Jo.

Don James, CM
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Don James, CM

Canada

Don James, CM settled in Powell River after graduating in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Washington in the early 1970s. He has enjoyed a successful career as a conductor, music educator and musical entrepreneur. He is the Founder and Artistic Director Emeritus, Powell River Academy of Music, International Choral Kathaumixw and Symphony & Opera Academy of the Pacific and is President of the Board of Directors of the Powell River Academy of Music.

A mentor and an inspiration to a countless number of his students and colleagues, Mr. James’ influence in creating connections between musicians cannot be overstated; he has reached out to the global music community throughout his career. He has served as president of the Association of Canadian Choral Conductors, the British Columbia Association of Community Music Schools and, for a decade, was Canada’s representative on the Board of Directors of the International Federation for Choral Music and as a member of the Music Council of the World Choir Games. Mr. James is the recipient of the Willan Award and Canada’s highest honour, the Order of Canada, in recognition of his distinguished service to music.

Walter Martella
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Walter Martella

Canada

Walter Martella, conductor and Music Director of the Powell River Academy of Music, has long been an integral part of Powell River's musical community. He is an accomplished pianist, accordionist and trumpeter, starting lessons at age five, and soon joining the original Boys Choir conducted by Don James. Music remained his focus as he earned a Diploma in Jazz Trumpet from Malaspina College (VIU), a Bachelor of Music Degree from the University of Victoria and attended the Banff School of Fine Arts.

Martella is a strong believer in the power of music as an important part of community. He has been an adjudicator for instrumental and choral festivals throughout British Columbia and is well known as an enthusiastic mentor, making room for his young students in his own public performances. He has recorded five jazz CDs, performed provincially with many well-known musicians in multiple genres and continues to be in demand all along the West Coast as a trumpet soloist and jazz pianist.

Lesley Ka-Hei Chan
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Lesley Ka-Hei Chan

China Hong Kong

A graduate of the University of Hong Kong, Lesley Ka-Hei Chan studied under the tutelage of Prof. Karl Kügle in musicology and Prof. Joshua Chan in composition. He gained his MMus in Historical Musicology from the University of London under the supervision of Ms. Noëlle Mann, leading scholar and archivist of the Serge Prokofiev Archive. In 2008, he studied Professional Diploma in Music (composition) at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts under Mr. Law Wing-fai. He is currently completing his DMus at the Chinese University of Hong Kong under supervision of Prof. Wendy Wan-Ki Lee.

His choral conducting teachers included Prof. Leon Shiu-wai Tong and Mr. David Cooper. Currently, Lesley is serving in the Music Sub-committee, Hong Kong Schools Music and Speech Association, Excom of the Hong Kong Treble Choirs’ Association and Conductor-in-residence of the HK Pro-Musica Society. He has been leading the Wah Yan College, Kowloon Boys' Choir in many performances and competitions both local and international, winning the Choir of the World at Kathaumixw Prize in 2016.

Jean-Claude Wilkens
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Jean-Claude Wilkens

France

Born to a family where music was an important part of life, Jean-Claude Wilkens studied both music and mathematics in Belgium's Liège Royal Conservatory, and later choir conducting at the Luxemburg Conservatory under Pierre Cao. He has also attended workshops led by Lucien Jean-Baptiste, Philippe Caillard, Fernando Eldoro or Eric Ericson.

His teaching career in secondary schools was diverted to that of cultural management, first in Jeunesses Musicales where he was director, and then in the International Federation for Choral Music where he was Secretary General for twenty years. He is presently manager of the French National Choral Organisation and its publishing house, À Cœur Joie.

His professional activities are closely linked with choir music and choir musicians, making him well known on the international choral scene. Jean-Claude has led Hodie vocal ensemble for twenty years, a group that has received awards and recognition all over the world. He currently conducts the female vocal jazz ensemble Jazz’elles in Lyon, France.

Jurgen Fassbender
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Jürgen Faßbender

Germany

Jürgen Faßbender is a member of the German Federal Music Commission of the Hessian Singers’ Association (Hessischer Sängerbund), the Music Council of the German Center for Choir Music (Musikbeirat des Deutschen Centrums für Chormusik) as well as of the literature commission of the German Choir Competition. He is also a welcomed guest author of the “International Choral Bulletin” of the IFCM and of “Lied und Chor”. Since 2008 he is the music art director of "Landesjugendchor Hessen".

Andrew Withington
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Andrew Withington

New Zealand

A graduate of both the University of Canterbury and the University of Auckland, Andrew is in high demand as a choral conductor, clinician and adjudicator. He gained a Master of Music with First Class Honours, studying with Dr Karen Grylls in Auckland. He is currently the Musical Director of the New Zealand Secondary Students’ Choir, the conductor of the University of Canterbury Chamber Choir (Consortia) and Vocal Consort (Consortia 16), and has recently been appointed Music Director of the Christchurch City Choir. He is a Life Member, and a past Musical Director, of the Christchurch Boys’ Choir and the Christchurch Schools’ Music Festival. A singer himself, he has sung in Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir and the New Zealand Youth Choir.

Damijan Močnik
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Damijan Močnik

Slovenia

Damijan Močnik completed his musical studies (composition) at the Academy of Music in Ljubljana in 1991. He developed his craft by studying abroad, which included coaching with Swedish conductor Eric Ericson.

Since 1993, Močnik has been the choral conductor and music director at the Diocesan Classical Gymnasium in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and since 2000, the artistic director of all musical activities at the St. Stanislaus Institution in Ljubljana. Damijan is the conductor for several choirs, and has won several awards at national and international choral competitions.

Močnik’s compositional efforts are mainly devoted to the human voice, but he has also composed instrumental pieces. Močnik’s musical speech finds its inspiration in selected texts, and is grounded in rhythmic and melodic stimuli. The melodic narration evolves as a solid form framed in diverse polyphone, polytonal and polychordal structure. Močnik's compositions were performed all over the world and thrills musicians and audiences around the world with its directness, and numerous dramatical turns with rich, exceptional and mysterious sonorities.

Fred Sjoberg
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Fred Sjöberg

Sweden

Swedish conductor Fred Sjöberg is a gifted musician in a wide variety of genres and styles. He is conductor of the Örebro Chamber Choir and the National Youth Choir of France. In addition Fred has conducted the World Youth Choir, the World Chamber Choir and the European Youth Choir. Fred appears frequently as a tenor soloist and was a member of the famous Eric Ericson Chamber Choir for many years. In 2000, Fred was awarded "Conductor of the Year" in Sweden. Mr. Sjöberg is currently Vice President of Europa Cantat, President of the Music Commission of Europa Cantat and since 2001, Secretary of the Eric Ericson Foundation. Fred Sjöberg was recently appointed Director of the new Swedish International Choral Center in Örebro.

Robert Geary
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Robert Geary

USA

For more than 30 years with the Piedmont East Bay Children’s Choir—since founder Susan Rahl tapped him to be the first (and only) Artistic Director of the organization—Robert Geary has developed a relationship with PEBCC, its students and the community it serves that is unique and profound in the world of choral music today. Daring his young students to conquer their fear of the unknown, to withhold judgement of the unfamiliar, and helping them acquire the tools they need to master and appreciate the adventurous programming he sets forth, Geary sees the resulting qualities of intellectual and technical focus, discipline, and long term commitment as building blocks in the development of the young person for the adult challenges of tomorrow.

Among his personal achievements Geary received an award for Outstanding Conductorial Achievement in Giessen, Germany (1997); a special award for interpretation in Miedzyzdroje, Poland (1998); the International Peace Child Medal for his role as co-founder of the Golden Gate International Children's Choral Festival (1993); the KDFC Music Educator of the Year in 2002; and the Lois B. Rawlings Educational Inspiration award in 2003.

María Guinand
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María Guinand

Venezuela

María Guinand received her bachelor's and master's degrees in music from the University of Bristol, England, in 1976 and 1982, respectively. Guinand then earned a Choral Conductor Diploma from the Youth Orchestra Academy in Caracas in 1980.

Her leadership positions have included being the dean of the Jose Angel Lamas Music School and of the University Simón Bolívar in Caracas where she is a professor of music. In Venezuela, she conducts the Cantoría Alberto Grau, the Orfeón Universitario Simón Bolívar, and the Schola Cantorum de Venezuela. Guinand served as the conductor of the Festivalensemble Choir for The European Music Festival from 2001 to 2004. She has served on the Executive Committee of the International Music Council of UNESCO, and as Vice President for Latin America and First Vice-President in the International Federation for Choral Music. She was the principal organizer of the Americas Cantat III held in Caracas in 2000.