MARK PELLI – SONGWRITER, LEAD GUITARIST FOR MAGIC!
Mark Pellizzer, better known by his stage name Mark Pelli, is a Canadian musician, singer, songwriter and record producer. He is best known for being a guitarist and vocalist for the pop-reggae group MAGIC!. In addition to performing Mark has produced and written songs for several artists including: Chris Brown, Trey Songz, Shakira, Anthony Hamilton, Classified and Vita Chambers. Pelli currently resides in Los Angeles, California.
Pelli has collaborated with a number of well-known artists. In 2012, he worked with The Messengers to produce the song “Don’t Judge Me” for Chris Brown which hit #1 on U.S. Urban chart, #18 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and 67 on the Billboard Top 100 chart. Pelli co-produced/wrote the song “Cut Me Deep” for Shakira. He co-wrote the song “Inner Ninja” for the Canadian rapper Classified which hit number 5 in Canada and was 5x Platinum. Pelli co-produced/wrote the song “Serial Killer” for Trey Songz. He co wrote/produced and mixed the song “Coming Home” for Anthony Hamilton. He co-produced/wrote the song “Fix You” for Vita Chambers. Pelli has also worked in the studio with Usher, Jennifer Lopez, JoJo and Marsha Ambrosius. In 2014, he collaborated with Kiprich to produce and feature on the song “My Own Holiday” In August 2015, he announced a collaboration with artist Major Myjah, to produce the song “Disposable” off Major Myjah’s new EP titled “Trouble.” Most recently Pelli co-wrote, produced and mixed most of Sabrina Claudio’s debut EP entitled: “Confidently Lost” including: “Too Much Too Late”, “Tell Me”, “Runnin Through Lovers”, and “Confidently Lost”.
Mark Pelli is the guitarist, keyboardist and vocalist for the pop-reggae group Magic!. Pelli started the group with frontman Nasri Atweh due to their friendship and unique musical connection in the studio. Magic! is a fusion of several different musical styles but is primarily considered a pop-reggae group with a sonic aesthetic similar to The Police. In 2013, the group released the song “Rude”, which ranked #1 on the Billboard Top 100 chart. The group toured with Maroon 5 in 2015. The group won an American Music Award in 2014 for “Rude” as the Best Single of the Year In 2015, they received a Juno Award for Breakthrough Group of The Year.
COLIN CLARKE – CONDUCTOR/ADJUDICATOR
Colin Clarke is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Toronto Youth Wind Orchestra program, and maintains an active career as a sought-after conductor, clinician, and adjudicator.
A recipient of the Clifford Evens Award for Conducting at the University of Western Ontario, Colin completed further studies in conducting at the University of North Texas and at the Manhattan School of Music in New York. Participating in the International Conducting Workshop in Sofia, Bulgaria, he conducted the symphonies of Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky with the highly celebrated New Symphony Orchestra of Sofia and studied with noted pedagogues Gustav Meier and Rossen Milanov. Colin made his Carnegie Hall debut in May 2006 with the Toronto Youth Wind Orchestra, and returned to Carnegie Hall in 2011.
With a passion for music education and outreach, Colin maintains a commitment to working with young people and the community. He has guest conducted several orchestras and choirs across the country and has led the Provincial Honour Bands of Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Prince Edward Island. In May 2008, he was selected to conduct the National Youth Band of Canada. Most recently, Colin was appointed Music Director of the Hamilton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.
TONY LEONG – CONDUCTOR/ADJUDICATOR
Dr. Tony Nam-Hai Leong completed his PhD at the University of Toronto in addition to a Master’s degree in Computer Applications and a Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Toronto. Dr. Leong studied with Paul Meyer on Violin, Rivka Golani, Daniel Blackman and Rennie Regehr on Viola while studying both orchestral and choral conducting with Professors Dwight Bennett and Lori-Anne Dolloff. He has also participated in master classes and chamber music coaching with such eminent musicians as the Orford String Quartet, the St. Lawrence Quartet, Lorand Fenyves, Simon Fryer, and Scott St. John, and has done his Suzuki violin/viola training with Margot Jewell.
Dr. Leong is currently MusicFest Canada’s Chairman of the Orchestra/Strings Division; President of the Ontario Music Educators’ Association’s board of directors and the past co-editor of their publication, “The Recorder”; co-founding director of the Ontario Strings Association; an instructor at Queen’s University; a lecturer at the University of Toronto; Head of the Performing Arts Department at Sir Oliver Mowat C.I.; and has been a past member on the Board of Directors of the Coalition for Music Education in Canada.
Dr. Leong also conducts the National Music Camp of Canada and Sir Oliver Mowat Orchestras and previously, the Music by the Lake and Oakwood C.I. Orchestras, Korean Canadian Youth Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Conservatory of Music Baroque and Chamber Orchestras and the Etobicoke Suzuki School of Music Orchestras. Dr. Leong was also a member of the Korean Canadian Symphony Orchestra as a violist for over two decades.
In addition, Dr. Leong has given presentations across Canada and the USA as a Technology and String Education clinician and adjudicator, as well as being a Clinician trainer for Finale and SmartMusic Studio. Dr. Leong’s research areas include string education, technology, and adolescents. His publications include the Canadian and Ontario Music Educators’ Association Journals, as well as presentations of his research both at the international and provincial levels. He has also guest lectured courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels at the University of Toronto, York University, and the University of Western Ontario, as well as having given presentations across Canada and the USA on the topics of string education and technology in the music classroom.
ADAM BOWMAN -DRUMMER/PERCUSSIONIST
Drummer/percussionist Adam Bowman has been a mainstay in both the Canadian and international music scenes for nearly two decades.
As a touring musician, Adam’s big beats have been heard on stages across five continents with artists such as Juno-award winners Kellylee Evans and Carlos Morgan, Canadian independent music trail blazer Ember Swift, improvising guru VINX and country-folk songstress Dawn Langstroth, among many others.
In the studio, Adam’s creative passion and deep feel have made him the drummer of choice for producers and songwriters on dozens of recordings. 2015 saw Juno-nominations for Eccodek’s Singing in Tongues and Alysha Brilla’s Womyn albums, both propelled by Bowman’s beats.
Currently, Adam can be heard playing with Eccodek, Alysha Brilla, Joni NehRita, Jeff Eager, Jane Lewis and Elise LeGrow, as well as providing accompaniment for modern and contemporary dance classes with IMAGEO artworks, Dancetheatre David Earle and Guelph Dance.
Adam is endorsed by Murat Diril cymbals, Headhunters drumsticks and creations and UDRUM snare drums.
VINCE GASSI – COMPOSER/CONDUCTOR
An Alfred Publishing author since 2006, Vince Gassi is a much sought-after composer, conductor, and clinician. With over 100 published titles to his credit, Vince’s creative and energetic style has made him a favourite with young musicians. His works, both challenging and musically rewarding, appear on many international concert and contest lists.
Vince received his Bachelor of Music from the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada and later studied composing and arranging at the renowned Dick Grove School of Music in Los Angeles, California. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at York University in Toronto, Canada.
For twenty-five years Vince has taught Instrumental Music at the elementary and secondary school levels. He is in frequent demand as a guest conductor, adjudicator, and clinician throughout the United States and Canada. His Cool Ideas and Arranging Concepts seminars focus on ways to engage students and teachers in the creative process.
Vince continues to receive many commissions and his works have been recorded and performed throughout North America, Europe, and Japan. His pieces are frequently performed at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Conference in Chicago, Illinois.
Vince currently lives in the Greater Toronto Area.
PAUL TARUSSOV – TROMBONE (spon. Jupiter Instruments)
Paul Tarussov, trombonist and composer/arranger, is among a new wave of musicians seeking to bring together an exploration of original music with a sound steeped in tradition. Originally from Montreal, Paul has just moved to Toronto from New York City, where he studied with trombone greats Steve Turre, Wycliffe Gordon, and Vincent Gardner. He appears regularly as a featured soloist with the Dave Young/Terry Promane Big Band, and has performed with artists such as Vic Vogel, Norman Marshall Villeneuve, Andy Ballantyne, Han Bennink, Valery Ponamarev and Steve Davis, as well as Canadian Juno-nominated indie pop/rock band “Stars”
STEVE MACDONALD – SAX/CLARINET (spon. Jupiter Instruments)
Steve obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree (specialization in jazz performance) at York University in Toronto. He was the recipient of a variety of academic awards including the “Marion Lower Scholarship” for jazz composition & arranging, and the “Douglas Menzie Award” for outstanding instrumental jazz performance. Steve is an active freelance performer/arranger in Toronto and travels regularly across Canada, the United States, Europe and Asia for various club, festival, radio and television appearances.
In 2004, Steve teamed up with renowned Canadian recording artist and multiple JUNO nominee Matt Dusk, as saxophonist and Musical Director. Dusk’s commercial releases have been celebrated both at home and abroad, with several of his albums reaching “Gold Record” status and his various singles topping the Jazz, Pop and Adult Contemporary charts in domestic and foreign markets alike. Matt and the band also played a feature role in Mark Burnett’s Las Vegas TV reality show, “The Casino” (on the FOX & CTV networks, 2005). The show was originally aired on Canadian and US airwaves but has since been rebroadcast on British and European television networks.
As Matt’s Musical Director, Steve has performed and collaborated with some of the world’s most noted ensembles, including The Metropole Orchestra (Netherlands), The Chicago Pops Orchestra, The Ronnie Scott’s Big Band (UK), The Toronto Symphony Orchestra, The Houston Symphony Orchestra, and The National Arts Centre Orchestra, among others.
In 2013, Steve began his association with Canadian vocalist, Eleanor McCain, as her Musical Director. Steve continues his work with McCain, as they perform on stages across the country alongside Canada’s top symphony orchestras.
LAUREL SWINDEN – FLUTE
Self-confessed “flute nerd” Canadian flutist Laurel Swinden has been praised for her sweet and distinct tone…breathtaking in colour (Whole Note). Dr. Swinden embraces a multi-faceted career as a recitalist, orchestral musician, pedagogue, clinician and music scholar.
Not daunted by any musical challenge, Laurel is equally at home with 18th century through 21st century repertoire, whether it be a premiere of a contemporary electroacoustic work, new arrangements for flute with brass, standard of the flute repertoire, works for piccolo, alto and bass flute, eighteenth-century Scottish works on traverso and keyed flutes, or Irish and Scottish flute tunes. “If its great music, its worthy of playing!”
Recent performances as an invited guest artist include recitals at the Festivales Internacionales des Flautistas in Lima, Peru, National Flute Association Conventions (USA), the Sichuan Conservatory, Canadian Flute Conventions, and the Perimeter Institute. In addition to her positions as Principal Flute of the Stratford Symphony Orchestra and Assistant Principal Flute/Piccolo of the Scarborough Philharmonic, Dr. Swinden has performed with the Musicians of Orchestra London, Windsor Symphony, Toronto Sinfonietta, Memphis Symphony, Mississippi Symphony and Tupelo Symphonies.
Lauded as “beautifully played…” with “…her very musical phrasing is matched in every turn by longtime collaborator, Stephanie Mara…”(Audiophilia), Laurel’s CD Celebrating Women: Music for Flute and Piano by Women Composers was the first of a multi-CD project with a mission to bring wider attention to works for flute written by women composers. Her successive CD Celebrating Canadian Women! received generous support from the Canada Council for the Arts.
A passionate and dedicated teacher, Dr. Swinden teaches Flute at Wilfrid Laurier University, the University of Guelph and the Laurier Conservatory of Music. Laurel was Visiting Assistant Professor of Flute at the University of Nebraska Omaha in 2017 and has taught at the University of Windsor, Western University and the University of Mississippi.
In demand as a clinician, teacher, adjudicator, coach and examiner, Dr. Swinden adjudicates at festivals across Canada, the United States and Peru. She has served as a juror for the Ontario Arts Council and the National Flute Association’s Myrna Brown International Scholarship competition. Dr. Swinden has given masterclasses in China, Peru, the United States and across Canada. In addition to her home studio in Cambridge, Ontario, Laurel gives Skype lessons to flutists all over the globe as the first Canadian-based flutist on the roster of Play-With-A-Pro.
Dr. Swinden earned a DMA in Flute Performance as a Fellowship recipient at the University of Toronto, where she studied with Toronto Symphony Principal Flute Nora Schulman and traverso with Alison Melville. Her training includes residencies at the Banff Centre and the Harid Conservatory (now Lynn University.) Laurel sought additional training in masterclasses and lessons with Jim Walker, Jeffrey Zook, Jan Gippo, Leone Buyse, Kathleen Rudolph, Bernard Goldberg, Keith Underwood, Philippe-Alain Dupré, Lisa Besnoziuk and Carol Wincenc.
Dr. Swinden gratefully acknowledges support from the Canada Council, Ontario Arts Council, Canadian Federation of University Women, Waterloo Region Arts Council, Tafelmusik, David and Marcia Beach Scholarship fund, and the London Music Scholarship Foundation.
RICHARD BURROWS – PERCUSSION (spon. Yamaha Percussion)
Richard Burrows received both a Masters of Arts in Music Education and a Masters of Music in Performance Percussion from the University of Toronto, and an Honours Bachelor of Music in Performance Percussion from Wilfrid Laurier University. As a former principal cast member of ScrapArtsMusic, Richard has performed throughout North America, Europe, Mexico, Asia and Australia. He has also shared the stage with Nebosja Jovan Zivkovic, Evelyn Glennie, Synergy Percussion and NEXUS. Closer to home, he plays with numerous orchestras including the Kitchener/Waterloo Symphony Orchestra. As a freelance percussionist he has performed with the improv ensemble “Digital Prowess”, with famed bass clarinetist Kathryn Ladano in “Stealth,”with new music projects for InterArtsMatrix, and was as a member of the Toronto Raptors drumline “TR Beat”. An avid educator, Richard gives masterclasses on improvisation, concert percussion and drumline throughout Ontario, and across Canada. He is also on faculty at the International Music Camp in North Dakota.
DYLAN MADDIX – CONDUCTOR
Dylan Rook Maddix is Professor of Music at Cambrian College in Sudbury, ON, where he conducts the wind ensemble, teaches music theory and serves as the head of winds and brass studies. Dylan is founder and artistic director of the Toronto Winds, host of the podcast The Band Room, and maintains an active career as a sought-after conductor, clinician, performer and adjudicator across Canada.
With a passion for music education and outreach, Dylan maintains a commitment to working with young people and the community. He has been music director of the Milton Concert Band, a conducting fellow with the Denis Wick Canadian Wind Orchestra, program assistant of the Hannaford Youth Program, and is now co-manager of the Denis Wick Canadian Wind Orchestra. Dylan has conducted the Royal Conservatory Brass Ensemble, Northdale Concert Band, Western University New Music, Mississauga Pops Concert Band, Hannaford Youth Band, Mount Allison University Symphonic Band, Kingston Brass Choir, and Bathurst Chamber Festival Orchestra.
A prizewinner at the 2011 & 2014 National Music Festivals, Dylan has been a featured soloist with the Prince Edward Island Symphony, Weston Silver Band, Greater Moncton Chorale and Orchestra, and Strathgartney Chamber Orchestra. His musicality has led him to numerous festivals in Canada and the United States including the Scotia Festival of Music, Charlottetown Festival, North American Brass Band Championships, Indian River Music Festival, Bathurst Chamber Music Festival, Music Fest Canada and the Luminato Festival. He holds a Master of Music from the University of Toronto and a Bachelor of Music from Mount Allison University.
JONI NEHRITA – VOCALIST
Toronto-born Jamaican-Canadian singer/songwriter/musician Joni NehRita has become a staple on the regional scene of KW/Guelph since relocating there over a decade ago. She is known for steadily releasing great music & being an engaging performer. While her musical tastes are eclectic, she is best known as a soul/R&B artist and as a jazz vocalist.
The release of her 3rd album, Bloom showcases her best writing and production yet. The songs are infectious, poignant and groove hard. It is noticeably more “pop/funk” than her previous releases yet the themes of social consciousness and inner reflection that has connected her to her listeners remain. NehRita has a gift for writing well-crafted songs that are deeply personal. Much of her music hearkens back to a time when soul and funk music made you dance while also serving up social commentary and a call for change.
She shines brightly during her live show & demonstrates her strength in be able to reach and connect with an audience. You know she feels the music and she leads you into feeling it too.
Raji Sohal from CBC 3 Montreal may have put it best, “I can attest that in live performance her voice and stage presence are stellar and come off as endearingly natural. Joni had me hollering and cheering like I haven’t at an R&B show in a while.”
As a vocalist, NehRita is a class act and has had varied experiences from professional musical theatre to singing with the KW Symphony Orchestra and Hamilton Philharmonic to selling out small theatres in Kitchener, Waterloo & Guelph. As a solo act and/or backing keyboardist or vocalist she has performed on such stages/events as The Montreal Jazz Festival, Hillside Festival, Waterloo Jazz Festival, Massey Hall, The Centre in the Square and countless venues across North America, Germany, England and Australia. In 2011 her single, “Are You Ready” peaked at #6 on the UK Soul Chart and received airplay on Canadian, US, and British radio stations. She is a voice coach, musical director of Guelph Glee and has sat on juries for The Ontario Arts Council. Her album The Bare Truth was made possible by a grant from the OAC.
“Bloom” receives regular play on CBC in Toronto & Kitchener-Waterloo & has been added to the CBC’s national library. Working with industry veteran Rick Hutt of Cedartree Recording Studio proved to be the best recording experience thus far in NehRita’s career. His ears, instincts and attention to detail proved invaluable. She also gained a mentor and friend and is already planning her next project “Love & Protest” with him.
GREG COLLEY – CONDUCTOR
Mr. Greg Colley has been the Head of Music at Pierre Elliott Trudeau High School since 2004. During this time, the program has seen great growth, currently seeing over 500 students taking music. Mr. Colley is currently the conductor of the Grade 11 Wind Symphony, Grade 12 Wind Symphony, and a staff advisor for the Music Council. He has also been a sessional lecturer at the University of Toronto, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, in instrumental music. He is also a member of Phi Beta Mu, At the 2013 Musicfest Canada “The Nationals”, Mr. Colley was awarded the Keith Mann Award, as outstanding band director at the festival.
Mr. Colley is a graduate of the University of Toronto, both at the Faculty of Music where he studied music education and trumpet, and at OISE, where he received his Bachelor of Education. He is active as a clinician, conductor and adjudicator throughout Ontario.
In the Salvation Army, he is the bandmaster of the Yorkminster Citadel Band, which currently has grown to just over 40 members, ranging in age from 13 to 75. Mr. Colley is happily married to his wife Elizabeth and together they have 3 wonderful children, Brendan, Ryan and Caitlin.