Powell River Academy of Music
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2020 Jury & Guest Conductors

Don James - Canada
Head of Jury

Don JamesDon 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.


Fred Sjöberg - Sweden
Adult Common Song Director

FredSwedish conductor Fred Sjöberg is a gifted musician in a wide variety of genres and styles. He is conductor of the Örebro Chamber Choir. In addition Fred has conducted the World Youth Choir, the World Chamber Choir and the European Youth Choir and benne the head conductor for the French National 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 has been Vice President of Europa Cantat, President of the Music Commission of Europa Cantat and since 2001, as well as Secretary of the Eric Ericson Foundation. Fred Sjöberg is now the Artistic Director of InterKultur.

Gunnel Sjöberg - Sweden
Children's Treble Choir Common Song Director

GunnelGunnel Sjöberg received her training as a singing teacher from the School of Music at the University of Orebro. She has also studied at the Royal University College of Music in Stockholm. Ms. Sjöberg is a frequent soloist in such works as the St. John Passion, the St Matthew Passion and the Christmas Oratorio of Bach and the Requiems of Mozart and Fauré. She has also appeared in several TV shows and concerts. 

Ms. Sjöberg performs a wide range of repertoire; however, baroque music is closest to her heart. Ms. Sjöberg has worked with such renowned conductors as Eric Ericson, Robert Sund, Helmuth Rilling and Nikolaus Harnoncourt. She has been vocal coach for the French National Youth Choir. Gunnel is now acting as vocal and choir pedagogue at the Music School in Örebro as well as church musician in Örebro.




Mark Anthony A. Carpio - Philippines

Mark Anthony Carpio is recognized as one of the most respected choral experts today. As the second choirmaster of the acclaimed Philippine Madrigal Singers, selected in 2001 to succeed its founder, National Artist of the Philippines, Andrea O. Veneracion, Mark took the already much-awarded choir to even greater heights. He led them to win first prizes in the Certámen Internacional de Habaneras y Polifonia (Torrevieja, Spain, 2004) and the Grand Prix in the 35th Florilege Vocal de Tours, France (2006), the 19th European Grand Prix for Choral Singing (Arrezo, Italy, 2007), and in the 64th Concorso Polifonico Guido d’Arezzo (Arezzo, Italy, 2016).

As a noted countertenor, he has performed twice at the Las Piñas Bamboo International Organ Music Festival as an alto soloist, performing Handel’s Jubilate and Te Deum in 2005 and Haydn’s Great Organ Mass in E flat Major in 2009. In November 2008, he made his recital debut at the Cultural Center of the Philippines for the CCP Filipino Artist Series.

Mark is a much sought-after choral clinician and coach, frequently giving extensive and in-depth workshops all over the Philippines and around the world. He is also frequently invited as adjudicator in choral competitions and as guest conductor.

He is a faculty member of the Conducting and Choral Ensemble Department of the University of the Philippines College of Music where he earned his master’s degree in Choral Conducting and his bachelor’s degree in Piano. Nurturing young singers is a personal passion for Mark. He also directs the Consortium of Voices, a choral society of young choristers, consisting of the Kilyawan Boys Choir, Kilyawan Male Choir, and the Voces Auroræ Girls Choir.


Edward Norman - Canada

Ed NormanEdward was born in the UK and trained at the Royal College of Music, London, winning two prizes for organ performance. Further studies at UBC with organist Hugh MacLean followed his emigration to Canada. He has held several important church positions in Canada, including St. George’s Cathedral, Kingston, Ontario. he has held two important posts in the USA – most recently at St. Michael’s Church, Charleston SC.

In Canada he has performed from the Maritimes to British Columbia, including St. James’ Cathedral and St. Paul’s Bloor Street in Toronto, Mount Royal College Calgary, the University of Alberta in Edmonton and Holy Rosary Cathedral, Vancouver. He has performed widely in the UK, including Cambridge University (Fitzwilliam College) as well as in Poland, Germany and Japan. He has performed in the Vancouver International Festival and – most recently – the Spoleto Festival in Charleston SC. He has been heard frequently on CBC radio.

As an accompanist and continuo player, Edward has performed with a wide variety of ensembles and instrumentalists including principal musicians from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Kingston Symphony Orchestra, the Charleston Symphony Brass, the Vancouver Bach choirs and the YNSO, Tokyo, to name a few.


Megan Skidmore - Canada

megan_skidmoreMegan Skidmore obtained both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Voice Performance from McGill University.  She continued her studies at the Wiener Meisterkurze in Vienna, the Mozarteum in Salzburg and the Franz Schubert Institut in Baden bei Wien.

While in Montreal she had great success as Feu and Rossignol in L’Enfant et les Sortilèges, Cunegonde in Candide and Sara Riel in Louis Riel with Opera McGill.  She also performed the title role in Princess Ida and Josephine in HMS Pinafore with McGill’s Savoy Society.  She has performed the role of Annina in Pacific Opera Victoria’s production of La Traviata and was also a member of the POV opera chorus for their productions of Erewhon and Il Trovatore.  Ms. Skidmore was solist in Schubert’s Mass in G major with the North Island Choral Society and in
R. Vaughn Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem at the 2009 Chorfest in Powell River. She has collaborated with pianist Sarah Hagen for a number of performances in the Comox Valley.

Ms. Skidmore was raised in the Comox Valley and returned in 2007 as a private voice teacher. Her students’ accomplishments include acceptance to the University of Victoria Voice Program and the Grant MacEwan College Musical Theatre program and performance in the Provincial Festival of the Arts. She was also a music director for Mel Brooks’ The Producers presented by Light Fantastic Productions in November 2008.

Ms. Skidmore joined the faculty of the Powell River Academy of Music in 2009. She teaches voice and conducts the Powell River Youth Choir. 


Jim Sparks - Canada

Jim Sparks

Dr. Jim Sparks is a teacher, conductor, and researcher from Vancouver, Canada.  His recent positions include interim Director of Choral Activities at Boston University, adjunct Professor of Conducting at the University of British Columbia School of Music, and Lecturer in Music Education at Simon Fraser University, British Columbia.  He is senior advisor for choral music for Music Mentors International and former teacher of vocal, choral, and ensemble music at the renowned Langley Fine Arts School (LFAS) in Langley, British Columbia for two decades.  Jim has been chorus director for Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Brahms’ Requiem, Faure’s Requiem, Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms, Ryan’s Requiem for a Generation, and William Walton’s Henry the Fifth with the Vancouver Symphony and Maestro Bramwell Tovey.  His recent choral season at Boston University featured performances of Verdi’s La Traviata, Poulenc’s Gloria, Holst’s Planets at Boston Symphony Hall, and a collaborative residency with renowned Latvian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds.Jim is the recipient of the Professional Music Educator Award from the British Columbia Music Educators Association and the Healey Willan Award from the BC Choral Federation.  For his research into Cross-Cultural singing, he received the Simon Fraser University President’s PhD Award in 2014. 

In his roles as researcher, conductor, and educator, Jim connects active research with music learning, performance, and conducting. With support from the Canada Council, the Canadian Music Educators Association, the AIRS collaborative initiative, and Simon Fraser University, he has been a guest conductor and researcher in singing with four renowned international conductors: Alina Orraca in Havana, Cuba (Schola Cantorum Coralina); Joseph Muyale Inzai in Nairobi, Kenya (National Boys and Girls Choir of Kenya); Anatoliy Avdievski in Kiev, Ukraine (Veriovka Choir); and Helle Høyer in Aarhus, Denmark (Aarhus Pigakor Choir).  

In addition, Jim has taught choral and orchestral conducting at the undergraduate and graduate level to students in Canada, the United States, and Brazil. He has enjoyed conducting residencies in Sobral, Brazil; Charente-Maritime, France; and Havana, Cuba, and has given presentations on his singing research in Canada, Kenya, Denmark, Estonia, France, and Brazil. He is on the panel of international adjudicators for the International Choral Kathaumixw in Canada, and continues to be in demand as an adjudicator, lecturer, guest conductor, and music consultant throughout Canada and abroad.