Jenny Crober: Artistic Director, Conductor
JENNY CROBER, B.Mus., B.Ed. (UWO) has been a collaborative pianist, coach and teacher for 39 years. She studied piano with the distinguished pianist, coach and clinician Gwen Beamish MacMillan, 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/pianist Ola Gjeilo, British conductor/composer Bob Chilcott, and Canadian composers Andrew Balfour, Sarah Quartel, Matthew Emery, Elise Letourneau, Stephen Chapman and Stephen Hatfield.
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 performed as a back-up vocalist and pianist on several CDs. She was the collaborative pianist on singer Patricia O’Callaghan’s 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, near Peterborough, Ontario. She has been invited to participate in various capacities (guest conductor, coach, rehearsal accompanist and chamber clinician) with several ensembles, 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 continues to coach there. She is also a collaborative pianist 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.
Jenny has been invited to conduct several workshops, including two Toronto Mendelssohn Choir ‘Singsation’ events, and two choral/orchestral CAMMAC Readings.
She 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.
Jenny was also honoured to have been asked by the renowned composer Ola Gjeilo to assemble a group of choristers (mostly from VOCA, as part of a massed choir in conjunction with DCINY) to perform two of his major works, “Dreamweaver” and his SATB setting of “Song of The Universal” – with full orchestra and the composer at the piano – at Carnegie Hall in April 2018! VOCA was then thrilled and honoured to perform the Canadian premieres of both of these stunning choral/orchestral works at their May 2018 “Dreamsongs” concert.
She is thrilled that the VOCA Chorus of Toronto has been invited to perform at Roy Thomson Hall as part of its Noon hour Choir & Organ Concert Series. Jenny and VOCA are very much looking forward to presenting their upcoming “Star Songs” concert at RTH and Eastminster United – with guests Shawn Grenke, organ, Colleen Allen, soprano sax and Jamie Drake, percussion, featuring a World Premiere by Cree composer, Andrew Balfour – as soon as the pandemic will allow.
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.
Dallas Chorley: Soprano Lead, Soloist
Known for her bright tone (Ludwig van Toronto), Canadian soprano DALLAS CHORLEY is an exciting new face on the opera and oratorio scene. Dallas was thrilled to begin her first season with VOCA (in Fall 2019) as the soprano soloist for the Vivaldi Gloria. Ms. Chorley also performed Vivaldi’s Magnificat with B-Xalted!, was the soprano soloist in Handel’s Messiah in Wingham, Ontario and performed the role of Annina in La Traviata with the Mississauga Symphony Orchestra.
Dallas’ operatic roles have included Flora and Annina in La Traviata, Musetta in La Bohème, Pamina in Die Zäuberflöte, La Ciesca in Gianni Schicchi, Una Conversa in Suor Angelica, Erste Knabe in Die Zauberflöte, Eccho in Ariadne auf Naxos and Yum Yum in The Mikado.
Dallas holds a Master of Music Degree from the University of Toronto, a Bachelor of Music Degree from McGill University and a Graduate Certificate in Arts Administration and Cultural Management from Humber College. Other studies include the St. Andrew’s Opera Workshop, Orford Festival, Opera Nuova, Vox Musicae, Summer Opera Lyric Theatre and Halifax Summer Opera Festival.
Alex Hetherington: Alto Lead, Soloist
Mezzo-soprano and composer ALEX HETHERINGTON recently finished her Bachelor of Music at the University of Toronto, and was the recipient of a prestigious Faculty of Music Graduating Award.
Since graduating, Alex has had a busy season, making role debuts as Nicklausse in Toronto City Opera’s Tales of Hoffmann, and Juno in Toronto Lyric Opera Centre’s Semele. She performed in Ana Sokolović’s groundbreaking song cycle dawn always begins in the bones, first in Winnipeg (for the work’s Manitoba premiere), and later in Toronto. Both performances were funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.
Alex sang Ligeti’s Öt Arany-dal (Five Gold Songs) in Classical Context’s spring concert, Prehistoric Ligeti, and performed at Toronto Summer Music Festival as a 2019 Art of Song Fellow.
She was a Sidgwick Scholar with the Orpheus Choir of Toronto (2018-2020). Highlights of recent seasons include performing as a soloist with Tapestry Opera (Songbook VIII, 2018), Camera Ensemble (Art Song Project, 2016) and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (The Bear, 2014).
Alex is a versatile performer, with a wide range of experience from classical to contemporary to jazz music. She performed with the Toronto All-Star Big Band from 2014-2016, both in Southern Ontario and on tour in the U.S.
Kevin Mulligan: 1st Tenor Lead, Soloist
KEVIN MULLIGAN is a Toronto-based musician, hailing from Kamloops, British Columbia. He is a versatile artist, working as a tenor, accompanist, educator, and composer.
His singing and acting have taken him to stages across the provinces, from solo, chamber, and cabaret concerts, to productions of Les Misérables (WCT) and Le Comte Ory (DAM Opera). Equally comfortable performing multiple genres, Kevin has worked in masterclasses with crossover artists, including soprano Cindy Townsend and Elaine Overholt, and pedagogues such as Scott McCoy. He has also premiered dozens of contemporary classical works by Canadian composers. Kevin’s own compositions have been performed across North America by many emerging professional artists and by professional ensembles, including Women on the Verge, the Kamloops Symphony Orchestra, and the University of Toronto Opera Division and Wind Symphony.
Kevin is a co-founder and Program Director of the Marigold Music Program, providing holistic music education to Toronto’s marginalized youth. As an educator, he is proud to be on Faculty at the Kamloops Interior Summer School of Music where he teaches youth K-12 in areas of musical theatre, choir, and piano. Kevin holds a BMus. in Composition and Voice and a MMus. in Composition (specializing in Voice Pedagogy) from the University of Toronto Faculty of Music.
Eli Theocharidis: 2nd Tenor Lead, Soloist
Of Greek and Italian descent, Canadian tenor ELIAS THEOCHARIDIS has been noted as “…raw…and exuberant” (John Gilks, operaramblings). He has attended programs such as the Highlands Opera Studio, the Chautauqua Institution under the direction of Marlena Malas, SongFest, the Banff Centre, & St. Andrew’s by-the-Sea workshops. He is a graduate of the Classical Voice Performance program at the University of Toronto, and the UofT Opera Program.
Elias’s most recent roles include Don José in Peter Brook’s La Tragédie de Carmen (an adaptation of Bizet’s Carmen), Don Ottavio in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Mr. Rushworth in the Canadian Premiere of Jonathan Dove’s Mansfield Park and Nemorino in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore. In 2019, he was the tenor soloist in Mozart’s Requiem with the Toronto Sinfonietta under Maestro Matthew Jaskiewicz.
A lover of new works, during the summer of 2019, Elias workshopped the roles of Alex Bello in Lizée/lvany’s No One’s Safe and Cornelio in Prestini/Vavrek’s Silent Light at the Banff Centre’s Opera in the 21st Century Program, in collaboration with Against the Grain Theatre (AtG) and National Sawdust. Elias was also an Art of Song Fellow at the Toronto Summer Music Festival (TSMF), working with collaborative pianist Warren Jones and tenor Anthony Dean Griffey.
Elias is passionate about Italian and Bel Canto repertoire. He finds great inspiration from the language and its aural and vocal traditions. He grew up in a very artistic Mediterranean Canadian family, coming from a long line of Broadway performers, classically trained pianists, folk singers, ballroom dancers, fashion models and disc jockeys. Elias found his artistic path in opera and classical music, and as a freelance graphic designer and audio/visual content creator.
James Coole-Stevenson: 1st Bass Lead, Soloist
At the age of 23, baritone JAMES COOLE-STEVENSON has impressed audiences with his vocal maturity, musicality and dynamic performing range. His performance history includes Demitrius in Britten’s Midsummer Night’s Dream as a participant in the Opera NUOVA performance program, where he also played the role of Clerval in the premier of Andrew Ager’s Frankenstein. As the lead in Mozart’s Don Giovanni with the University of Ottawa, James was praised for his contemporary and thoughtful portrayal of the lascivious adulterer. He continued to develop his stage skills in Harry Somers’ Louis Riel as a chorus member at the National Arts Centre, Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro as Antonio with the University of Ottawa, chorus member in Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci, and the role of Superintendent in Massenet’s Cendrillon.
James has appeared as a soloist in numerous sacred works, including Rossini’s Petit Messe Solonelle, the Fauré Requiem, and Brahm’s Ein deutsches Requiem with the Pontiac Enchanté Music Festival. He was also a solo recitalist in Music and Beyond’s Emerging Artist Series, which will be repeated this coming summer. He has won numerous awards, including the 2016 Ottawa Chamber Fest’s Rising Star Award, the Ontario Registered Music Teachers’ Association’s Provincial Championship Prize, and the Schubert Performance Scholarship every year while he was a student at the University of Ottawa.
James is truly passionate about music, and hopes to pursue a career which integrates his interests in both vocal performance and computer science. Following his graduation from the University of Ottawa in 2021, he began a Master’s degree in Opera at the University of Toronto, where he is currently studying with the world-renowned countertenor Daniel Taylor.
Parker Clements: 2nd Bass Lead, Soloist
Originally from Prince Edward Island, baritone PARKER CLEMENTS graduated with his Master’s in Music in Literature and Performance from the University of Western Ontario. While there, he had the opportunity to perform with the Opera Workshop as Escamillo (Carmen, 2017), and Marco (Gianni Schicchi, 2016), as well Don Giovanni at l’Accademia Europea dell’Opera (2017).
Since graduating, Parker has appeared as soloist in Handel’s Messiah with the Confederation Centre Chorus and members of the PEI Symphony, as well as Brahms’ Requiem with Luminous Ensemble (Charlottetown).
After moving to Toronto, he sang the role of The Lecturer in Dominick Argento’s solo baritone opera, A Water Bird Talk in a joint project with Opera by Request and Abridged Opera. He also performed in SOPAC’s (Ottawa) production of Menotti’s The Telephone.
Parker recently graduated from the University of Toronto Opera Diploma program, having played Bartolo in Le Nozze du Figaro and Edmund in the Canadian premiere production of Jonathan Dove’s Mansfield Park, based on the novel by Jane Austen.
Parker is also a two-time alumnus of the National Youth Choir of Canada (2014, 2016), working under the direction of Dr. Hilary Apfelstadt and Michael Zaugg.