Jenny Crober Artistic Director, Conductor
JENNY CROBER, B.Mus., B.Ed. (UWO) has been a collaborative pianist, coach and teacher for 36 years. She studied piano with the distinguished pianist, coach and clinician Gwen Beamish, and choral conducting with the legendary Deral Johnson. Ensembles she has performed with include the Canadian Opera Company, Toronto Operetta Theatre, the Nathaniel Dett Chorale and the Orpheus Choir of Toronto. She has worked with several noted conductors, including Elmer Iseler, Lydia Adams, Brainerd Blyden-Taylor and Robert Cooper, and with numerous renowned composers, including Norwegian/NYC-based composer and pianist Ola Gjeilo, British conductor/composer Bob Chilcott, and Canadian composers Stephen Hatfield and Stephen Chatman.
Jenny has had a richly varied career as a professional musician: as a choral conductor, collaborative pianist, choral arranger, choral accompanist, piano teacher, vocal coach, clinician, adjudicator, dance accompanist and composer, chorister and a cappella jazz vocalist. Several of her choral arrangements have been premiered by the VOCA Chorus of Toronto, in collaboration with renowned guest artists, including guitarists Michael Occhipinti and Charlie Roby, and percussionist Ray Dillard, and have been performed by choral ensembles (including the Bach Children’s Chorus) in both Canada and the U.S.
Jenny has also performed with/composed for modern dancers, was a founding member of/composed for the vocal jazz sextet “Union Station” (heard on CBC Radio’s ‘Musical Friends’), and has done back-up vocals and played piano on several CDs. She accompanied singer Patricia O’Callaghan on her critically-acclaimed classical/cabaret debut CD, “Youkali” (recipient of a “Critic’s Choice” review in Billboard Magazine), and in videos for Bravo TV.
For several summers, Jenny has conducted both children’s and adult choirs, and has coached and accompanied at Lake Field Music Camp, in Lakefield, Ontario. She has been invited to participate as guest conductor, coach, rehearsal accompanist and chamber clinician with several other groups, including the Elmer Iseler Singers, The Nathaniel Dett Chorale, the Orpheus Choir of Toronto, Young Voices Toronto (formerly the High Park Choirs of Toronto), the Bach Children’s Chorus, the TDSB Cabaret Ensemble, CAMMAC, the Riverdale Youth Singers and the Orillia Vocal Ensemble.
She has been a member of the Claude Watson (Earl Haig Secondary School) voice and piano audition panel for several seasons, and coaches at the arts high school on a bi-weekly basis. She is also an accompanist and vocal coach at Rosedale Heights School for the Arts. Jenny has been the pianist for several TDSB massed choir projects, and presently accompanies the choirs at Frankland Community School.
In September 2015, she conducted the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir’s first Singsation workshop of their 2015-16 Season, and has recently been asked to conduct TMC’s first Singsation workshop of their 2016-17 Season (Sat., Oct. 1, 2016).
Jenny was honoured to co-conduct a mass choir of singers (including several VOCA Chorus members) from six Canadian provinces in a performance of Scott Macmillan’s “Celtic Mass for the Sea” in May 2015 – at New York City’s legendary Carnegie Hall.
She is also honoured to have been asked by the renowned composer Ola Gjeilo to put together a group of choristers (mostly from VOCA, in conjunction with DCINY) to perform his works – with full orchestra and the composer at the piano – at Carnegie Hall in April 2018!
Elizabeth Acker Accompanist
ELIZABETH ACKER received her B.A. from York University. She studied piano with Gladys Angley, Edna Hawkin, Slavka Dimitroff, and James Anagnoson; harpsichord with Michael Kearns; and jazz with Jon Gittens and Frank Falco. She received her BFA from York University in 1980. Versatile in many musical styles, Elizabeth is well known for her work as an accompanist, chamber musician, orchestral pianist, coach, adjudicator, and teacher. She records for Film, TV, Radio, Ballet, and many corporate events.
Elizabeth’s credits include keyboardist for Phantom of the Opera, Assistant Music Director for the Broadway cast of “Those Were the Days”, Music Director for Tarragon Theatre’s “A Country in her Throat”, appearances on CBC Radio, at Premiere Dance Theatre and at the Glenn Gould Studio. She has performed with the Niagara Symphony, Arraymusic and the Severn Players, premiered contemporary works with the Esprit Orchestra, as well as many recording engagements, including the CD, Magic Breath – Songs for Soprano and Piano by the Canadian composer, Helen Medeweff – Greenberg.
Recently, Elizabeth has been indulging her love of chamber music with summers at the musical retreat, “Heaven”, an affiliation of professional musicians in New York State. She also performs and coaches chamber music at the Vermont Music and Arts Centre, a camp for advanced adult chamber music performers, in Lyndonville, Vermont.
She has taught both Suzuki and traditional methods for over 30 years, and is currently teaching privately.
Elizabeth also teaches yoga and tai chi, and is married to composer, Doug Wilde.
Kelsey Taylor Soprano Lead, Soloist
Praised by Opera Canada as “eye catching […] with a charming, rich voice,” soprano Kelsey Taylor is quickly gaining acclaim as a versatile young artist on both the concert and opera stage.
Kelsey is a recent graduate of the University of Toronto’s prestigious opera division, where she was featured in mainstage productions as Norina in Don Pasquale and Miss Jessel in The Turn of the Screw. Additional role credits include Cis (Albert Herring), Servilia (La Clemenza di Tito), Frasquita (Carmen), Yum-Yum (The Mikado), and Giulietta (Les Contes d’Hoffmann).
Kelsey cultivated her love of early music in “Songs of Love and War,” a collection of baroque scenes presented by the U of T in collaboration with Tim Albery and Kevin Mallon. This fully staged production featured Kelsey as Ninfa in Monteverdi’s Lamento della Ninfa, and Clorinda in Monteverdi’s dramatic cantata Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda.
On the concert stage, Kelsey has performed as a soloist with the Mississauga Symphony Orchestra and the University of Western Ontario Symphony Orchestra, including performances as the soprano soloist in Vivaldi’s Gloria and Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass.
Kelsey holds a Bachelor of Music from the University of Western Ontario and a Master of Music from the University of Toronto, and is currently studying with soprano Nathalie Paulin.
Jennifer Routhier Alto Lead, Soloist
Praised for her “warm, clear mezzo” (Opera Canada, 2014), Jennifer Routhier is a rising young mezzo-soprano on the Canadian stage. Opera and musical theatre credits include: Hodel in Fiddler on the Roof (Opera NUOVA), La Badessa in Suor Angelica (COSI), Mère Marie in Dialogues des Carmélites, Cherubino in Le Nozzze di Figaro (Opera by Request), and Imelda in the Canadian staging premier of Verdi’s Oberto (TrypTych Opera). In July 2015, she travelled to France to work with internationally lauded directors Jeanette Aster and Hans Nieuwenhuis at La Roche d’Hys, sponsored by the Canada Council for the Arts.
In concert, Jennifer has appeared with the Kingston Symphony, Queen’s Symphony Orchestra and the Greater Toronto Philharmonic Orchestra, performing the Mozart Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, the Vivaldi Magnificat and Saint-Saëns’ Christmas Oratorio. She was alto soloist in a recent performance of the Vivaldi Gloria under the direction of renowned British conductor, Paul McCreesh. In May 2015, Jennifer made her New York debut singing Scott MacMillan’s Celtic Mass for the Sea with the Canadian Celtic Choir at Carnegie Hall.
In recital, she has toured with collaborative pianist Helen Becqué, and this January 2017, she will be performing with collaborative pianist and Music Director of MYOpera, Natasha Fransblow.
Ms. Routhier holds an Advanced Certificate in Performance from the University of Toronto and a dual degree in Engineering and Music from Queen’s University. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Voice Performance at the University of Toronto.
Jacques Arsenault Tenor Lead, Soloist
Acadian tenor Jacques Arsenault began his musical career as a virtuoso accordionist before discovering his vocal talents, first as a baritone. He obtained his Master of Music from the U. of Alberta and a Bachelor of Music from the U. of Prince Edward Island, with further studies at the Franz-Schubert-Institut in Austria.
Following his transition to tenor, Jacques made his professional debut in 2015, singing and dancing in the role of Pritschitsch in Edmonton Opera’s The Merry Widow. Jacques joined the cast as Kaspar in Opera Nuova’s production of Amahl and the Night Visitors, and starred as Archie in Archiebaldo, Cowtown Opera’s raunchy operatic cabaret about the romantic life of the famous comic book character.
Jacques sang Monostatos in Die Zauberflöte and Gastone in La Traviata for Opera on the Avalon, the Gamekeeper in Rusalka and Roy Johnson in The Light in the Piazza with Opera NUOVA, as well as Orphée in Orphée aux enfers, and Léon in Signor Deluso at the U. of Alberta.
Concert performances include Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music with Edmonton’s Richard Eaton Singers. Upcoming concerts for Jacques include a recital as part of University of Prince Edward Island’s Recital Series.
In the summer of 2016, Jacques displayed his amazing step-dancing skills portraying several roles in the The Bells of Baddeck in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia; this charming music-drama was created by Lorna MacDonald with music by Dean Burry, based on the life of Alexander Graham Bell.
Jacques returned as Archie in sold-out performances of Archiebaldo, presented by Calgary Opera at their 2016 “Opera in the Village” festival.
In 2017, Jacques looks forward to singing the role of The Young Man in Miracle Theatre’s production of The Last Romance in Prince George, B.C.
Janaka Welihinda Bass Lead, Soloist
Praised for his “clear talent for comic acting” and “clear voice” (Opera Canada, 2015), comic baritone Janaka Welihinda is quickly establishing himself amongst audiences as a captivating young artist with “considerable panache” (Reviews and Views, 2017).
This past season, Mr. Welihinda made his professional debut with Toronto Operetta Theatre as the Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance. In 2015, Indian River Festival and Stratford Summer Music Festival as Papageno in Brent Krysa’s whimsical adaptation of The Magic Flute. Janaka joined the His other roles have included Claudio in Béatrice et Benedict, Uberto in La Serva Padrona, Bartolo and Antonio in Le Nozze di Figaro, Pooh-Bah in The Mikado, Frank in Die Fledermaus, Ben in The Telephone, and Gulgielmo and Don Alfonso in Così Fan Tutte, and Harry Easter in the professional Canadian premiere of Kurt Weill’s Street Scene. In 2007, Janaka developed the role of Meursault in the world premier of Ian Cherry’s new opera based on the novel by Camus: L’Étranger.
Janaka holds a Bachelor of Music in Performance and Literature from Brandon University and a Masters of Music in Performance and Literature from the University of Western Ontario.
Matthew Dalen Guest Chorister, Soloist (Tenor)
Tenor Matthew Dalen is a second year Master’s student in Opera Performance at the University of Toronto, studying with Darryl Edwards. This season with UofT Opera, he performed the role of Orphée in Orphée aux Enfers. Last season, he sang Inkslinger in Paul Bunyan as well as creating the role of the Lecturer in The Machine Stops. Matthew began his musical training in the Grande Prairie Boys’ Choir. While earning his undergraduate degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Alberta, Matthew developed skills as a section leader, vocal coach and soloist with Edmonton Metropolitan Chorus.
Matthew has been a featured soloist in performances with the Alberta Baroque Ensemble, University of Alberta Madrigal Singers, and at the Grande Prairie Boys’ Choir Symphony and Singing in the City concert series. He is a recipient of the Richard Eaton Singers’ Scholarship in Voice (2012, 2013), the Barryl Barns Recruitment Scholarship (2012), and has received many other acknowledgements based on his vocal merit and community-focused spirit. Matthew has performed the roles of Tebaldo in Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi with Opera NUOVA, Lucano in Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea, and Mercurio in Cavalli’s La Calisto at the Centre for Opera Studies in Italy (COSI), and understudied Nemorino with Cowtown Opera in a new production of Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore, entitled Love Potion No. 9.
Tonatiuh Abrego Guest Chorister, Soloist (Tenor)
Winner of the St. Andrew’s council of the arts International Aria Competition, Tenor, Tonatiuh Abrego has performed across Canada as a leading artist. He is a graduate of the Calgary Opera Emerging Artist program and a grant recipient from Jeunesses Musicales du Canada. Previous credits include, Romeo in Romeo and Juliet from Jeunesses Musicales touring production; Male Chorus in The Rape of Lucretia as well as The Witch in Hansel and Gretel, both with Calgary Opera; Nemorino in Opera Nuova’s production of L’Elisir d’amore, Count Almaviva in Capital City Operas production of Il barbiere di Sviglia, Don Ottavio and Mr. Craven in The Banff Centre’s Opera productions of Don Giovanni and The Secret Garden and Scaramuccio and Tanzmeister in Opera Nuova’s production of Ariadne auf Naxos. He was seen in many of Opera McGill’s productions, including Britten’s The Turn of the Screw (directed by Tom Diamond) singing the Prologue and sang the roles of Edgardo from Lucia de Lamermoor, The Duke of Mantua from Rigoletto, Nadir from Les Pêcheurs des Perles, Ferrando from Cosi fan tutte and Tamino from Die Zauberflöte in various Opera scenes performances. He recently finished his Master’s degree in Voice Performance at the Schulich School of Music in Montreal after having also completed his Bachelors of Music under the guidance of Professor Stefano Algieri.
Tonatiuh was a semi-finalist in the prestigious Lotte Lenya Competition and the recipient of the Elizabeth Wirth Opera Scholarship at McGill. Tonatiuh is the winner of the St-Georges Provincial Music Festival in the Maestoso Category, a finalist in the Ottawa Orchestra Concerto competition and a winner of the Ontario Provincial Music festival for Classical Voice.
With an extensive list of concert experience, Tonatiuh has performed as a guest Tenor soloist with the Calgary Festival Chorus directed by Mel Kirby, the Kanata Choral Society, directed by Gloria Jean-Nagy, and the Ottawa Welsh choir in various pieces including: Handel’s Messiah, Haydn’s The Creation, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Ariel Ramirez’ Misa Criolla, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, and Camille Saint-Saens’ Oratorio de Noel.
Nicholas Borg Guest Chorister, Soloist (Baritone)
Baritone Nicholas Borg recently completed his Masters in Opera at the University of Toronto with Wendy Nielsen. With UofT Opera, Nicholas portrayed Ben in The Telephone, Hel Helson in Britten’s Paul Bunyan, Sir Joseph Porter in HMS Pinafore and The Man with the Cornet Case in Postcard from Morocco. He recently performed Tarquinius in The Rape of Lucretia with MYOpera.Other roles include Peter Quince in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Curio in Giulio Cesare, Count in Le nozze di Figaro, Masetto in Don Giovanni,and Simone in Gianni Schicchi.
This summer, Nicholas participated in the St. Andrews Arts Council Opera Workshop and performed the title role in Eugene Onegin for the Muskoka Opera Festival.