Zimfira Poloz is a highly respected conductor, educator and adjudicator with a distinguished international reputation. She has been decorated with numerous awards in her long career, including the Honoured Representative of Education of the Republic of Kazakhstan Award, the city of Hamilton’s V.I.P. Award, and the Leslie Bell Prize Award for Choral Conducting from the Ontario Art Council . She is invited regularly to serve as clinician for festivals, lead workshops for educators, and jury International Choir Competitions, including the renowned Choir Olympics. Zimfira first established her musical credentials in Kazakhstan, founding the country’s first Choir School. The school provided an outstanding music program that grew to employ 35 music teachers with an enrollment of 450 children. In addition to her duties as Principal of the school, she also served as Artistic Director and Conductor of the school’s Concert Choir, “Koktem”. It was through her strong leadership, vision and musical expertise that “Koktem” attained top international choral status and was a recurring prize-winner in choral competitions and festivals around the world. Immediately upon her arrival to Canada, Zimfira’s boundless energy and her passion for choral music found an outlet, first as a member of the Toronto Children’s Chorus Artistic Staff and later as vocal coach at St. Michael’s Choir School. At present, Zimfira is the Artistic Director for both the Hamilton Children’s Choir and the High Park Choirs of Toronto. She has enjoyed the recognition earned at national and international festivals/competitions with both choirs. As a leader in her field, Zimfira has been awarded the Audience Choice Award & 2nd Place at the Tolosa Choral Competition in Spain (2006), won the CBC Radio National Choral Competition in both the Children’s Category and Best Canadian Performance by a Children/Youth Choir (2008), earned the Cantabile ‘Grand Prize’ Award for best performing choir at the CBC Radio National Choral Gala Competition in Quebec (2008), obtained the Grand Prize Award at the World Choral Singing Competition (2009) and was awarded first place in the Children’s Category at the 2009 “Let the People Sing’ Euroradio Choral Competition in Oslo, Norway. In addition to her global travels as clinician and conductor, Zimfira still continues to teach, lecturing on ‘Vocal Pedagogy for Young Choirs’ at the University of Toronto. She now makes her family home in Toronto, and she continues to work tirelessly with educators and children alike in the pursuit of music excellence.
Melanie Tellez brings an active, energized approach to choral leadership. An experienced conductor, clinician and pedagogue, Melanie holds a Bachelor of Music in Voice and Choral Conducting from Dalhousie University and a Master of Music in Choral Conducting from the University of Alberta. Melanie currently directs the Early Education Music Programme at Hillfield Strathallan College and has been a conductor with the Hamilton Children’s Choir since 2010. A finalist in the 2012 Sir Ernest MacMillan Foundation Award in Choral Conducting, Melanie is an emerging leader in Canada’s choral community. Past engagements include: Toronto Children’s Chorus, High Park Choirs of Toronto, Chorus Niagara Children’s Choir, Sherwood Park Festival Singers, and The King’s University College Concert Choir.
Kate Boose holds a Master of Music Degree in music education and choral conducting (Westminster Choir College – Princeton, New Jersey), an Honours Bachelor of Music Degree (Wilfrid Laurier University – Waterloo, ON) and a Bachelor of Education (The University of Western Ontario – London, ON). As well, Kate has earned the ARCT diploma in piano performance from the Royal Conservatory of Music, holds a service playing certificate from the Royal Canadian College of Organists, and an Intermediate Level certificate from the Royal Academy of Dancing. Kate also plays a lead role at Hillfield Strathallan College in the development of its choral music program in the position of Vocal Music Specialist.
A life-long member of the Salvation Army, Leslie Kent’s musical training began at a young age in both vocal and brass music. Leslie received many awards for vocal achievements in the Salvation Army and traveled extensively during her teens, performing at churches and events in the province. Leslie also discovered her love of conducting during the six years she worked with the ‘Singing Company’ (junior choir)
Leslie Kent was the founding conductor of the Prelude chorus of the Hamilton Children’s Choir from its inception in 2001until 2010. She was pleased to return to the Hamilton Children’s Choir in such a role after having spent 7 years as a chorister under David Davis from 1986-1992.
As a teenager, Leslie was privileged to perform with the Hamilton Philharmonic, the Bach Elgar Choir and Opera Hamilton in a choral and solo capacity.
Leslie received her Bachelor of Music (Sacred Music) in 1999 from the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois. During her five years there, Leslie was the co-founder and director of the Moody Memorial Children’s Chorus.
Since returning to Canada, Leslie has taught voice and piano at the Stoney Creek Alliance School of Music, West Highland Academy of Music and currently teaches at Harmony House Music Studios in Brantford. She also keeps a small number of private music students. From 2008 to the present, Leslie has conducted with Ancaster based Strings, Etc!, recently renamed Young Voices of Greater Hamilton.
In 2010, Leslie traveled to Wheaton, IL to take her first Musikgarten training course (ages 3-5) and continued with her training in October of that year with a trip to Dallas, TX to complete Musikgarten certification for ages 15 months to 3.5 years.
A dynamic musician, Brent Fifield enjoys a multi-faceted career as a performer, teacher, singer, conductor, accompanist, and choral clinician. ‘Born and raised’ in St. John’s, NL, he was surrounded by music from an early age. In 1993 he moved to London, ON, to study at Western University (BMus, BEd) and went on to pursue a MMus in Organ Performance at the University of Toronto. He has performed recitals across Canada, a number of which have been broadcast on CBC, and has performed in numerous cathedrals in the UK while accompanying visiting choirs on tour. He has taught elementary and secondary school music to all grades in Nova Scotia and Ontario, was an Adjunct Lecturer in Music at Redeemer University College from 2006-2015. As a Baritone, he sang with the Elora Festival Singers and the Exultate Chamber Singers of Toronto. In 2001 Brent accepted the position of Director of Music at Hamilton’s Christ’s Church Cathedral, a post he held until 2010. Currently he is Director of Music at Trinity Anglican Church in Cambridge (Galt). He conducts Ensemble Lyrica, a Hamilton-based choir that performs concerts for local charities. Previously he conducted the Brock University Chorus, the Redeemer University Concert Choir, and the Pro Musica Choir of Burlington. This past year, Brent was delighted to return to Western University to teach choral conducting; he is also thrilled to be teaching instrumental and vocal music at Hillfield Strathallan College in Hamilton. In addition, he is an accompanist for the Hamilton Children’s Choir, Esprimas Choir. Brent, his wife Stephanie, and their daughters Audrey and Elizabeth, make their home in Hamilton.
Laura Pin has worked extensively as a collaborative pianist, playing with many talented soloists and choirs including Maureen Forrester, The Amabile Youth Singers, Vox Nouveau, and The Faculty of Music Singers (Western). She completed music studies at the Banff School of Fine Arts and Western University where she studied with Arthur Rowe and was awarded the Alumni Gold Medal. She also holds an Associate of Music in piano performance from the Western Ontario Conservatory of Music. As a choral accompanist Laura has toured in Europe, the U.S.A. and Canada. Most recently she enjoyed participating in the America Cantat 8 festival with Illumini in the Bahamas. Based in Hamilton, Laura divides her time between playing for The Harlequin Singers, The Ambassadors Christian Male Choir and HCC’s Illumini as well as working as a studio accompanist at both McMaster University and Redeemer College. She also provides music as cantor and keyboardist for several churches in the Hamilton Diocese. Laura recently enjoyed guest performances with The Arcady Singers, as an orchestral player with both the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony and the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra and as a duo pianist for Chorus Hamilton’s performance of Carmina Burana. She also runs a successful music studio from her home where she shares her love of music with her students, husband and clarinettist, Michael Pin, and their two sons.
Laura’s intuitive musicality continues to win the admiration of many soloists, conductors, and music critics.
Jamie Drake is a Toronto-based percussionist, drummer and composer. He received his MMus from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and has pursued doctoral studies at the University of Toronto with Dr. Russell Hartenberger, where he was a two-time winner of the University of Toronto Concerto Competition. His solo and chamber performances have included premieres by Christos Hatzis, Elinor Armer and John Luther Adams. As a member of TorQ Percussion Quartet, he has performed numerous concerts, workshops and educational shows across Canada, the United States and Europe. He is also a founding member of the acclaimed Toronto indie/prog/jazz group Muskox and piano-percusion duo Tandem (with pianist Lily Ling). A busy freelance percussionist, he has performed with Evelyn Glennie, NEXUS, Soundstreams, Amici, Niagara Symphony, Aradia Ensemble, and percussionist Beverley Johnston, and regularly plays percussion with Toronto Motown band The Big Sound. Equally at home playing drum set, Jamie is also an active theatre musician; he has played for more than 50 musicals, including Canadian Stage’s award-winning London Road and has recorded theatre music for the Shaw Festival and composer Andrew Lippa. He is also the drummer/percussionist and assistant orchestrator for Acting Up Stage’s “UnCovered” concert series. Recently he also served as percussion instructor at Acadia University, and as a composer, percussion consultant, and performer for the second season of the CBC television show “Canada’s Smartest Person”. His discography includes music for Broadway Records, CentreDiscs, Bedoint Records, New Toronto Records, Standard Form and Naxos. His compositions and arrangements have been performed by the Mississauga Symphony, TorQ Percussion Quartet, OnnanoKo Taiko, University of Toronto Percussion Ensemble, Hillfield Strathallan College Choir, and more. He released his first solo album, Night (featuring the music of James Tenney, Paul Elwood, Stuart Saunders Smith and Kevin Volans), in July 2014.