simone osborne

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 or

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.

New Recordings

CD_John Stetch_Ballads_2018.jpg

Graduate composition student John Stetch released his 16th record, Ballads, an album of “quiet classics from the 1930's to the 1950's that never get louder than mezzo forte. Perfect for non-intrusive background ambience, but also for discerning listeners and tough critics of creative music. All tracks are complete takes with no editing.” Available on CD Baby, iTunes and Spotify.


Alumna Simone Osborne (DMPS'09) released her debut album, Simone Osborne: Live in Concert with Anne Larlee. A classical song recital by Osborne, a celebrated Canadian soprano, including works by Mozart, Fauré, Schumann and Canadian composer Matthew Emery. Available on CDBaby, iTunes and Spotify.


Opera alumna’s success rooted in mentorship

By Michelle Keong

Simone Osborne in Vancouver Opera’s production of Rigoletto  Photo: Tim Matheson

Simone Osborne in Vancouver Opera’s production of Rigoletto
Photo: Tim Matheson

Simone Osborne’s (DMPS’09) star continues to rise. The soprano recently reunited with Professor Nancy Hermiston who directed Vancouver Opera’s Rigoletto. It was their first time working together since she graduated in 2009.

“It’s pretty surreal for me,” says Osborne, 29, who first learned Gilda’s aria in Hermiston’s studio during her student days. “The truth is, about half of the roles that I’ve done professionally, I already did at UBC. I’m a singer because of UBC and I’m a singer because of Nancy.”

For Hermiston, who founded the UBC Opera Ensemble in 1995, working professionally with a former student marks a major accomplishment.

“It’s especially wonderful for me to be working with Simone on a role like this. It’s one of the great soprano roles of the repertoire,” says Hermiston, chair of the voice and opera divisions. “I have known her since she was 15 years old and it has just been so great to see this wonderful development.”

Based in Toronto, Osborne has maintained close ties with Hermiston over the years; she has even sung a line or two over the phone, asking for advice. Hermiston has flown to see her former student in career-defining performances, including Osborne’s debut at Carnegie Hall, her performances as Pamina and Gilda in Toronto, and her debut as the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor at Edmonton Opera.

“Nancy has always been a point person for me in my career,” says Osborne, who relies heavily on what she calls a personal board of directors. “That board is very small for me but Nancy has a prominent seat. So to do any kind of project with her is just a gift.”

A trusted circle of advisors plays a huge role in the program that Hermiston has built from the ground up. During her career and tenure at the prestigious Nürnberg Opera, her mentors—including James Craig, Constance Fisher, Irving Guttman and Herman Geiger-Torel, founder of the Canadian Opera Company—saw her potential as a singer and director.

“It’s because of them that I do what I do at UBC and I can give Simone and all those students that kind of training,” says Hermiston, who was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada for her achievements as an opera singer, stage director and educator. “It’s like a direct heritage from the founder of the Canadian Opera Company—that’s the heritage from which I came.”

In the final year of her studies, Osborne already had a contract with Wexford Opera and engagements in the USA and Europe. She then landed a coveted spot in the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio.

“I went right from UBC to an operatic career, which I feel so grateful for, and it’s a testament to the training that I got at UBC and to the time I spent with Nancy,” says Osborne, whose 2015-2016 season includes returning to the Canadian Opera Company to debut the role of Micaela in Bizet’s Carmen and crossing the USA, appearing in 14 cities with the Metropolitan Opera’s Rising Stars Concert Series.

“My UBC opera family of Irving Guttmann, Judi Forst, and most importantly Nancy, is just as influential to this day. Everything they told me is true, and everything they prepared me for has happened.”