kathleen allan

Alumni Making Waves: Juno Awards, new roles, and Gamelan Bike-Bike

With his group the Gryphon Trio, pianist James Parker (BMus’85) won the 2019 Juno Award for Classical Album of the Year: Solo or Chamber for their album The End of Flowers: Works by Clarke and Ravel (Analekta). The Gryphon Trio were also nominated in the Classical Album: Large Ensemble category, for their collaboration with the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra on Into the Wonder.

Baritone Tyler Duncan (BMus’98) appeared as a soloist on the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s Vaughan Williams: Piano Concerto; Oboe Concerto; Serenade to Music; Flos Campi (Chandos), which won the Juno Award for Classical Album of the Year: Large Ensemble. The awards were held in London, Ontario in March and hosted by Sarah MacLachlan.

Aidan Mulldoon Wong

Aidan Mulldoon Wong

Aidan Mulldoon Wong (BMus’17) won the position of Section Clarinet and Utility Clarinet with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra for the 2018-19 season. The VSO clarinet section also includes School of Music alumna Michelle Goddard (BMus’07), who previously won the position of Second Clarinet/Eb Clarinet.

Guitarist Tom Gamble (MMus’16) released a new video for his group, Duo Kottos, featuring a cover film composer Thomas Newman’s “The Road to Perdition.” You can watch it here.

Justin Chiang (BMus'14) has won a position with the Canadian Forces bands, playing euphonium in the Stadacona Band of the Royal Canadian Navy, based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, while Aaron Eggen (BMus’18) has won a tuba position with the Royal Canadian Artillery Band in Edmonton, Alberta. Both were students of adjunct professor Peder MacLellan.

In February, soprano Nicole Brooks (BMus’14, MMus’17) placed third in the Metropolitan Opera Northwest Regional Auditions. The auditions happened at the Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall in Seattle. She also joined the Vancouver Opera’s Yulanda and Moh Faris Young Artists Program, alongside tenor Scott Rumble (MMus’18).

Nicole Linaksita (BSc/BMus’16) and Megan Thibeault (DMPS’18) are among the six finalists in the 2019 Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition (Piano). The finals will be held April 19–21, 2019.

Spencer Britten

Spencer Britten

Tenor Spencer Britten (BMus'15, MMus'17) is currently part of the Opéra de Montréal’s Young Artists Program. This summer he will rejoin Glimmerglass Opera, travelling to Versailles to perform The Ghosts of Versailles alongside mezzo soprano Simran Claire (BMus'18, current MMus student). 

Pianist and educator Dr. Jelena Vladikovic (MMus’86) was named a Kawai Artist by Kawai Pianos.  

Soprano Simone Osborne (DMPS'09) is starring in the role of Marguerite in Gounod’s Faust with the Vancouver Opera at Queen Elizabeth Theatre this April.

Benjamin Bolden (MMus’97) and Gerda Blok-Wilson (BMus’78) won awards at the Canadian Music Centre’s 2018 C/4 Canadian Choral Composition Contest. Bolden won second prize for Twilight, a work inspired by Shakespeare’s Sonnet 73. He was cited for his “consummate skill in creating harmonic interest and tension using only seven pitches was remarkable, as was his ability to find the deep, gloriously resonating chords unique to a male-voice choir.” Blok-Wilson won third prize for her composition based on “O Little Rose, O Dark Rose” by Canadian poet Charles G.D. Roberts (1860-1943). The judges described the work as “achingly beautiful.” Both also received Barbara Pentland Awards for Excellence.

Kathleen Allan (BMus'11) has been appointed Artistic Director and Conductor of the Amadeus Choir starting July 1, 2019.

Gamelan Bike Bike

Gamelan Bike Bike

Elisa Thorn (BMus'11) and Robyn Jacob (BMus’11 ) are the co-curators of Bitch Tapes, a biannual cassette mixtape of female artists from the Pacific Northwest. The goal of the mixtape is to celebrate womxn artists and form a community and coalition of artists who may otherwise feel underrepresented in their local independent music scenes. All proceeds to go the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre in Vancouver. Find the latest tape and more at www.bitchtapes.tumblr.com or www.facebook.com/btchtapes.

Robyn Jacob also co-founded Gamelan Bike Bike, a new 10-person ensemble that uses instruments created from old bike parts. The group is the subject of a new short film on the CBC Creator Network.

Anna Theodosakis (BMus’12, MMus’14) is a Toronto-based stage director and choreographer originally from Vancouver. Anna had a busy 2017–18 season, directing the Ensemble Showcase at the Canadian Opera Company (COC) and The Tender Land at Opera Laurier; assistant-directing Arabella and The Nightingale and Other Short Fables (COC); choreographing Of Thee I Sing and Don Giovanni (University of Toronto Opera), assistant-directing Briefs (Tapestry Opera), directing Haus Musik (Tafelmusik), and directing the premiere of Shot (Hamilton Philharmonic). Anna is a dramatic coach for the COC Ensemble Studio and teaches dance for U of T Opera. She is the recipient of the Vancouver Opera Guild’s 2017 Career Development Grant. 

And finally, congratulations to viola player Jeffery Ho (BMus’16) and violinist Micki-Lee Smith (BMus’18) on being named to this year’s National Youth Orchestra. They will take up their residencies this June alongside six current UBC students.

World premieres, new commissions, a Juno nomination, and more

Stephanie Nakagawa.  Photo: UBC

Stephanie Nakagawa. Photo: UBC

Awards, announcements and other news from our alumni

In November, Stephanie Nakagawa (BMus’09, DMA’17) received a Barbara Pentland Award from the Canadian Music Centre BC for her remarkable doctoral project, The Canadian Opera Anthology for Soprano.

Nicole Linaksita (BMus/BSc’16) was named as a finalist in the 2018 Shean Piano Competition. The finals will take place May 17–19, 2018 in Muttart Hall, Alberta College in Edmonton, Alberta. 

Composer and saxophonist Colin MacDonald (BMus’93) premiered The Sky Is a Clock, his ambitious, hour-long audio installation at the Roundhouse Community Centre in November 2017. Presented by Redshift Music as part of its “Sonologues” series, Colin’s piece interweaves recordings of 16 saxophones to “create a pulsating and slowly evolving texture of sound that mimics the rotation of the stars in the sky.”


Jared Miller.  Photo: CBC

Jared Miller. Photo: CBC

Jared Miller (BMus’10) was commissioned by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) to create a new work inspired by classic techno music. DSO and Leonard Slatkin will perform the piece for the very first time on May 31st and June 2nd, 2018 along with works by Chopin and Stravinsky. CBC News recently profiled Jared.

Composer Michael Oesterle (BMus’92) wrote a new work for the Sea and Sky Trio, which they performed as part of the Vetta Chamber Music concerts in Vancouver in March.

Producer and recording engineer Will Howie (BMus’04) recently published a new article on “Listener Discrimination Between Common Speaker-based 3D Audio Reproduction Formats” in AES Journal and delivered a paper on three-dimensional audio recording techniques for orchestra at the 142nd convention of the Audio Engineering Society in Berlin.

Fraser Walters

Fraser Walters

Fraser Walters (BMus’03) and his group The Tenors were nominated for a 2018 Juno Award in the category of Adult Contemporary Album of the Year for Christmas Together, which “captures the joy and magic of the season, combining a mix of holiday classics, contemporary favourites and original songs.” This was The Tenors' third Juno nomination — they won in the same category in 2013.

Kristin Fung (BMus’07) has had a busy year, to say the least. She debuted her experimental vocal/movement trio, Celeste, at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto; recorded with free jazz master Anthony Braxton in New York; worked as a wedding singer in Hong Kong; and taught ukulele in parks across Toronto as part of the city’s “Arts in the Parks” initiative — as well as in Bermuda.


Cellist, composer and Erato Ensemble member Stefan Hintersteininger (BMus’04, MLis’09) recently premiered arrangements of songs by 50’s cult singer-songwriter Connie Converse at the group’s POP ART! concert at the Orpheum Annex in Vancouver. 

Lani Krantz (BMus’00) became Acting Principal Harp with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra in January.

Samatha Ballard

Samatha Ballard

Samantha Ballard (BMus’15) released her first solo album, On Christmas Night, on iTunes and Google Play. Twice a month she also posts new arrangements and covers on her YouTube channel, which has attracted over three million views to date.

James Mitchell (BMus’82) has produced a video with the National Library of Scotland to mark the March 25th centenary of the death of Claude Debussy (1862-1918).


Stephanie Bell (BMus’14) recently won the 2nd flute and piccolo position with the Victoria Symphony Orchestra. Stephanie studies with Brenda Fedoruk.


Two UBC Music alumni, Kathleen Allan (BMus’11) and John William Trotter (BMus’98), have been named to the shortlist for artistic director of the Vancouver Chamber Choir

An all-female orchestra, tours in Europe and Canada, and awards galore

School of Music alumni who are making waves in the world of music and beyond

Composer Matthew Emery (BMus’14) released Sing Your Song, a new choral album with Amabile Choirs of London, on CMC Centrediscs. The album was featured on CBC Music in February. In 2016, Emery was named one of CBC’s “hot Canadian classical musicians under 30.”

Cynthia Yeh teaches a masterclass in Paris.  Photo: Todd Rosenberg Photography

Cynthia Yeh teaches a masterclass in Paris. Photo: Todd Rosenberg Photography

Cynthia Yeh (BMus’99), principal percussionist with Chicago Symphony Orchestra, gave a masterclass at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris during the CSO’s European tour this winter.

Jocelyn Morlock (MMus’96, DMA’02), the current Composer-in-Residence for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, has been recognized with a City of Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award in the music category.

Pianist Bogdan Dulu (DMA’15) recently embarked on a seven-week, 19-date Canadian tour with Jeunesses Musicales du Canada.

David Sabourin (BMus’79), owner of Tapestry Music in White Rock, recently opened a new location in Vancouver. Tapestry specializes in classical instruments, school band rentals, and private music education, and more.

The Canadian Music Centre recently welcomed five UBC alumni among its latest cohort of Associate Composers: Kathleen Allan (BMus’11), Adam Hill (DMA’16), Stefan Hintersteininger (BMus’04), Lucas Oickle (MMus’15), and Michael Trew (BMus’72, MMus’82, DMA’86). The CMC “represents composers working in a variety of areas including concert music, music for instrumental and vocal ensembles, electroacoustic music, improvised music, educational music, music with other disciplines, and music that crosses a variety of genres and responds to different cultural influences.”

Janna Sailor (MMus'08, DMPS'12)

Janna Sailor (MMus'08, DMPS'12)

Conductor and violinist Janna Sailor (MMus’08, DMPS’12) recently formed Allegra Chamber Orchestra, an all-female orchestra devoted to performing the work of female composers. One of the few of its kind in the world. Listen to Sailor’s interview with Sheryl MacKay of CBC Radio’s North by Northwest about the genesis of ACO and its mandate “to empower women and those who identify as women through music, maintaining the role of the artist in society to bring to light issues that need to be addressed, while provoking creative thought and solutions.”

In 2016 John Trotter (BMus’98), an associate professor at Wheaton College in Illinois, directed a production at Wheaton College called Handel’s Messiah: Unexpected. This was the culmination of Trotter’s years-long dream to offer a convincing and semi-staged performance of Handel’s masterwork during the Easter season. It featured 10 student soloists and a number of unexpected elements. Watch the performance here.

Pianist and composer Lisa Cay Miller (DMA’07) debuted “Lessing Stories,” a piano concert inspired by the work of British writer Doris Lessing, at Pyatt Hall in October 2016. Guest artists who performed alongside Miller included fellow UBC alumna Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa (DMA’07).

Composer Christopher Tyler Nickel (BMus’01) received a 2016 SOCAN Award for Achievement in Music for a Television Movie, for his score for the TV movie Honour Student. Always busy, Nickel recently completed scores for the movies Anything for Love, starring Erika Christensen, Love in Paradise, starring Luke Perry, as well as for the TV series Highway Through Hell for Discovery Channel.

Annie Yim (BMus'02) 

Annie Yim (BMus'02) 

Pianist and Minerva Piano Trio founder Annie Yim (BMus’02) recently completed her DMA at City University of London and was selected — alongside her group — for the prestigious St. John’s Smith Square Young Artists’ Scheme. They will perform three different concerts at St John Smith’s Square in London over the course of the concert season.

Antonio Bittar (MMus’16) is now working at Vancouver’s Goh Ballet Academy as Administrative and Operations Coordinator. In his other life as an opera singer, he recently performed in Opera Kelowna’s production of The Magic Flute.

Clara Shandler (BMus’12), also known as the Sidewalk Cellist, recently released “Lights in the Dark,” a brand new single. You can listen to it here

Three School of Music alumni won prizes at the SOCAN Music Foundation Young Composer Awards. Roydon Tse (BMus'13) won the Sir Ernest MacMillan Award for his composition "Genesis 2015," while Joseph Glaser (BMus'14) was second runner up in the same category for "Ecstasis."  David Storen (MMus'16) was first runner up for the Serge Garant Awards for "Mångata." Tse also placed third overall in the Pierre Mercure Award category for "Meditation."   

Music theorist and pianist Dr. Lucas Wong (BMus’04) published “Humour in Late Debussy: multiple perspectives on Douze études,” a fresh take on the composer’s Twelve Etudes, in the British journal The Musical Times. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Piano at Soochow University School of Music in China.  

Sergei Saratovsky (DMA’12) and his brother, Nikolai, recently completed their tour of British Columbia. The four-hand piano duo performed in Nelson, Oliver, West Vancouver, and Vancouver.

Pianist Natalie Lo (BMus’16) won the 2016 Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra Clef Concerto Competition (Senior Category). 

Pianists Jocelyn Lai (BMus’13) and Natalie Lo won second and fourth prize, respectively, in the 2016 Shean Piano Competition, taking home prizes of $5,000 and $3,000. Natalie also won the $1000 Paul J. Bourret Memorial Award for Best Performance of a Test Piece. She played The Lark by Mikhail Glinka, transcribed by Mily Balakirev, revised and edited by Leopold Godowsky.

Mark Takeshi McGregor (BMus'95, DMA'12)

Mark Takeshi McGregor (BMus'95, DMA'12)

Mark Takeshi McGregor (BMus’95, DMA’12) recently stepped down from his role as artistic director of the Powell Street Festival Society to join the faculty at the University of Victoria School of Music as Instructor of Flute for the fall semester. He also recently served as invited flute faculty for Nucleo Musica’s International Symposium of New Music 2016, a week-long festival of masterclasses, workshops, and performances in Curitiba, Brazil. 

Harpist Samantha Ballard (BMus’15) performed at the Rio Harp Festival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2016. Ballard played two full programs and made special appearances at two other concerts. She performed a number of works by Canadian composers, as well as some of her own arrangements.

A number of UBC alumni have performed with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra recently! They include violinist Sunny Chan (BMus'16), clarinetist Syndey Tetarenko (BMus'16), and percussionist Graeme Tofflemire (BMus'15).

Pianist Amy Seulky Lee (BMus) has been appointed a fellow for the 2017 Toronto Summer Music Festival. Lee studied with Terrence Dawson during her time at UBC School of Music.

Engineering’s loss is music’s gain

Photo: Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

Photo: Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

Kathleen Allan (BMus ‘11) talks about her love of singing, conducting, and writing music; the three-headed monster that is her career; and her return to the West Coast.

By Emma Lancaster

Math and science whiz Kathleen Allan was anticipating a career in engineering when she stumbled across the composition program at the UBC School of Music. “I had all but accepted a full scholarship to Waterloo for electrical engineering,” she says, but decided to apply to UBC and “get music out of my system for four years. Yeah… That didn’t work at all.” The busy grad is an in-demand singer, conductor, and composer, with a growing reputation throughout North America.

“UBC was fantastic, in that it allowed me the flexibility to do a lot of different things.” Bruce Pullan was an early choral mentor, and when he retired Graeme Langager proved a wonderful teacher and mentor. Studying composition with Stephen Chatman, whose music Allan performed growing up in Newfoundland, was very exciting for her. Later, Dorothy Chang supervised her first orchestral compositions. “It was a place that allowed me to do it all. It really gave me the platform to do what I wanted to do,” she says.

After UBC, she attended Yale University for her MMus in Conducting, and then relocated to Toronto, where she was managing a busy career. But then she got a call from the Vancouver Academy of Music with a unique opportunity: the position of Director of Choral Studies and Associate Conductor of Orchestras. Allan jumped at the chance to run the new, privately endowed choral program. “I’m really looking forward to having a set of ensembles of my own, to working on creating my sound as a conductor with the same group on a regular basis; really exploring that relationship,” she enthused.

In addition to her duties at the Academy, Allan maintains a thriving career as a soloist and choral singer, and manages numerous commissions as a composer. “It sort of works itself out,” she says of balancing singing, writing, and conducting. “I enjoy all three, and I feel that each provides a respite from and informs the other. When I conduct I like to put myself in the composer’s shoes and think about why the composer may have written certain things, and likewise as a conductor and singer I get to study all these incredible works that have been written and allow that to influence, either subconsciously or consciously, the works that I compose.”

Upcoming for Allan is the premiere of a piece by the Vancouver Cantata Singers, commissioned by Redshift Music. This concert takes place at the Planetarium, which Allan is very excited about. “They’ll actually fire up the projectors and have an exploration of outer space during the concert in the observatory. The theme of the concert is otherworldly ideas, and my piece is a setting of the Ave Maris Stella, which is a very ancient Latin prayer. It is based on the chant melody and is written in six parts, so the choir will ideally be spread around the auditorium and surrounding the audience. I think it will be really cool.”

Allan will not be able to attend the concert, as it is during her tenure as Apprentice Conductor with the National Youth Choir in May. She is also off to Austin, Texas with Arkora, the new music ensemble she co-directs with her husband Benton Roark (DMA’13). Allan is also conducting her first full length opera, The Barber of Seville, and serving as Assistant Conductor of the Bach Choir. She is busy, and she would not have it any other way.