Okanagan - Adjudicators/Clinicians

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Dr. Robert Taylor (Concert Band)

whistler festival adjudicator

Robert Taylor is Professor of Music and Director of Bands at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC, where he conducts the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, teaches graduate and undergraduate conducting, and serves as Chair of the Woodwind Brass and Percussion Division. With a career in music education spanning over twenty-five years, previous appointments include the University of Puget Sound in the state of Washington and Eureka High School in northern California, where ensembles under his direction earned recognition by Downbeat Magazine, the Selmer Corporation, and Grammy Signature Schools.

Dr. Taylor maintains an active schedule as a guest conductor. Past engagements include performances with the Vancouver Brass Orchestra, Pacific Symphonic Wind Ensemble, and Chicago-based contemporary music group, the Maverick Ensemble, in addition to collaborations with a wide range of international artists—from brass virtuosi Allen Vizzutti, Gail Williams, Jeff Nelsen, and Daniel Perantoni; to composers Jodie Blackshaw, Michael Colgrass, John Corigliano, David Maslanka, Cait Nishimura, Joel Puckett, Alex Shapiro, Frank Ticheli, and Dana Wilson; to jazz and pop performers Ingrid Jensen, Manhattan Transfer, and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. As a passionate advocate of music in the schools, Dr. Taylor is in high demand as a festival adjudicator, rehearsal clinician, and guest conductor throughout North America and internationally. His frequent appearances with young musicians include serving as principal conductor of the Puget Sound Youth Wind Ensemble and guest conductor of numerous honor groups, such as the National Youth Band of Canada, California Orchestra Directors Association Honor Symphony, and many provincial and all-state bands across Canada and the United States.

Taylor received the Master of Music and Doctor of Music degrees in conducting from Northwestern University, where he studied with Mallory Thompson, and the Bachelor of Arts degree in Trumpet and Music Education from Humboldt State University. His research on wind literature, rehearsal techniques, and the use of technology in the training of nascent conductors and performing musicians has been presented in leading wind band publications and featured in presentations at regional and national music conferences, including appearances at the Midwest Clinic and College Band Directors National Association. Recent research focuses on diversity, equity, and inclusion, through contemporary, socially-conscious programming and as co-author of The Horizon Leans Forward, a new resource that amplifies the talent and voices of the many underrepresented communities in the wind band field. Dr. Taylor is a Killam Laureate, Jacob K. Javits Fellow, and has served as on the executive boards of the British Columbia Music Educators Association and College Band Directors National Association (Northwest Region). He is a member of the Phi Kappa Phi and Pi Kappa Lambda National Honor Societies, World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles, and National Association for Music Education.


Dr. Scott MacLennan (Concert Band)

whistler festival adjudicator

Dr. Scott MacLennan is an active adjudicator, clinician, and guest conductor who frequently works with ensembles, schools, honour groups, and festivals across Canada. He is an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia and has been the Music Director of the Kwantlen Polytechnic University Wind Ensemble and the Music Director at the Byng Arts Academy in the Performing and Visual Arts in Vancouver, B.C. For more than 30 years, he has taught bands and orchestras at all levels from elementary to post-secondary and performed extensively on bassoon. He has conducted his award-winning ensembles in various locations throughout the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, China, the United States, and Canada. His ensembles have performed in such notable venues as Carnegie Hall, New York, USA, and Santa Maria della Pieta (Vivaldi’s Church) in Venice, Italy. In March 2011, with Johan de Meji’s endorsement, Dr. MacLennan conducted the Canadian premiere of his composition At Kitty O’Shea’s.

He holds a Bachelor of Music (1988) and a Bachelor of Education (1990) from the University of British Columbia, a Master of Music (2010) in Conducting (Wind Band) from Sam Houston State University, Texas, and a Ph.D. (2015) from the University of British Columbia. He studied conducting with Ken Hsieh, Morihiro Okabe, and Wayne Toews and participated in numerous conducting master classes given by Kazuyoshi Akiyama, Anthony Maiello, Ralph Hultgren, and Robert Ponto.

As an active music educator, he has worked for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra to edit and draft curriculum for their VSO Connects (Secondary) program, chaired the BC Music Educator’s Association’s Conference Pulse 2006, and currently sits as a board member of the Chamber Music in the Schools Society, and the BC Band Association. He is a recipient of the BC Music Educators’ Association’s Outstanding Professional Music Educator’s Award in recognition of exemplary commitment, talent, and leadership for music education in British Columbia.

Allison Girvan (Concert Choir)

whistler festival adjudicator

Allison Girvan is an internationally respected Canadian singer and choral director known for her exploration of songs spanning genre, style and language. She has been a featured soloist in performance and on recordings with ensembles ranging from jazz trios to full orchestra and is a studio vocalist for T.V. and feature film. In addition to being a past collaborator with Celtic Tenor, John McDermott and frequent collaborator with composer, Don Macdonald, she has recorded 3 solo albums – “Resonance”, “Fishing By The Light of the Ancestors” and the most recent concept album of her staged production, “Quintessence”. Allison is the founder of the children’s choir, VoixVive; youth choirs Solstice and Corazón; and founder and director of the young adult choir, Lalin. She is an award-winning educator and was named Nelson’s official Cultural Ambassador for 2019. Allison lives in Nelson BC where she continues to create, perform, record and teach.

McKenna Stenson (Concert Choir)

whistler festival adjudicator

As an innovative conductor, teacher, and vocalist, McKenna Stenson has built a career inspiring students to sing with confidence and motivating communities to create lasting change through song. Her energetic demeanor permeates positivity throughout the ensemble, creating a community of compassion, trust, and resilience.

Stenson currently serves on the faculty at the University of Kansas (KU) as the Associate Director of Choral Activities/Professor of Practice starting in the fall of 2022 where she will conduct KU Glee (Tenor-Bass Choir) and The Oread Singers. In addition to leading ensembles, Stenson teaches classes in choral methods, undergraduate conducting, and voice.

Prior to her appointment at KU, Stenson was a DMA student in Choral Conducting at the University of North Texas (UNT) where she studied under Dr. Allen Hightower, Dr. Kristina MacMullen, and Dr. Jessica Nápoles. She directed the UNT Camerata and assisted Dr. Kristina MacMullen with the UNT University Singers. Additional teaching appointments at UNT included Music Fundamentals and serving as a teaching associate for Undergraduate Conducting and Vox Aquilae, the university's flagship early music ensemble.

Stenson enjoys serving as a guest conductor, clinician, presenter, and adjudicator for choirs throughout the United States and abroad. Upcoming engagements include teaching internationally with The Cornish-American Song Institute “Music Across the Pond”, where she will lead seminars in choral conducting and choral masterclasses, and directing the Kansas Treble All-State Honor Choir in 2023. She has served in state leadership roles as well as presented sessions at state and regional conferences. Stenson was nationally recognized as a Country Music Award Foundation Music Teacher of Excellence for 2020. Most recently she was named third-place winner of the 2021 American Prize Conducting Competition and a finalist for the 2022 South-Western American Choral Association Graduate Conducting Masterclass.

Stenson earned a Bachelor’s of Music in Vocal Performance and Bachelor’s of Music in Music Education from The Ohio State University and a Master of Music from Michigan State University. Stenson enjoyed serving as a public school teacher as the Choral Director and CFPA Vocal Director at Charles J. Colgan High School. Stenson, who was named “New Faculty Member of the Year” in 2017, directed five choirs during the day and three after-school ensembles at Colgan High School. Under the direction of Stenson, the Colgan Choral Ensembles were invited to perform at venues such as the Kennedy Center Millenium Stage and served as arts ambassadors throughout the Virginia Commonwealth. In 2018, the Colgan High School Chamber Ensemble was selected to perform at the Virginia Music Educators Association conference and received a standing ovation for their performance. In her free time, she enjoys running, singing with her husband Bryan, and interviewing female conductors on her new podcast conduct(her).

Scott Leitheid (Concert Choir and Vocal Jazz)

whistler festival adjudicator

Scott Leithead is the founder and Artistic Director of Edmonton's Kokopelli Choir Association and TIME Association. He has been invited to conduct provincial and state honour choirs on twenty-five occasions and he has presented workshops in North America and beyond. Notable appearances include: adjudicating the Tampere International Festival in Finland; conducting the 2013, 2015-2019 Ellison Canadian Honour Choir; and headlining the 2017 University of Toronto Summer Conducting Symposium. He has adjudicated both the ACCC National Competition for Amateur Canadian Choirs and the Kathaumixw International Choir Festival (2014 and 2016). Under his direction, Kokopelli was the winner of both the 2015 CBC National Competition for Canadian Amateur Choirs and both the 2015 and 2016 Canadian National Music Competition. In the summer of 2019, Kokopelli was invited to perform at the IFCM World Choral Expo in Portugal, where they represented Canada on the world stage. Also in 2019, Kokopelli was featured on an episode of CTV's "The Amazing Race Canada”. ​

Scott has a passion for music from southern Africa, and he has been invited to work with choirs in South Africa and Namibia on numerous occasions. In 2008–2009, Scott was on sabbatical in Namibia, where he worked with the Mascato Youth Choir and many other choirs in southern Africa. Scott’s passion for innovative and unique choral music experiences has shaped the direction of the Kokopelli Choir Association. In February 2023 he will conduct the ISSEA Mass Choir in Johannesburg South Africa featuring international schools from across the African continent. ​

Also this year he will conduct the Saskatchewan Youth Choir, The Ellison Canadian Honour Choir (Niagara Falls) and the BC Chorfest Adult Choir. He will guest conduct at Mosaik 2023 in Ottawa and return to adjudicate the 2023 Kathaumixw International Choral Festival. Scott is a longtime member of the advisory committee for the Canadian Rocky Mountain Music Festival and the Edmonton, Kelowna and Whistler Cantando Festivals. ​

Scott was awarded Choir Alberta’s top honour, the Richard S. Eaton Award, in 2015. He also received Edmonton’s Salute to Excellence award in 2016. He has also been awarded the Syncrude Award for Innovative Direction.

Craig Thomson (Jazz Band)

whistler festival adjudicator

Craig Thomson is an award-winning saxophonist and educator currently based in the beautiful Okanagan region of British Columbia. Through his dedication to the arts and music education, Craig’s public school and private students have earned numerous national and international honours over the past decade, including multiple wins at the instrumental AAAA level of the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival.

Raised in an area of BC long known for its top-quality music programs, Craig was inspired by his teachers at an early age to pursue a career in both music performance and music education, leading to study at Grant McEwan University in Edmonton, Capilano University in Vancouver and the University of British Columbia.

Craig is the Artistic Director for the B.C. Interior Jazz Festival, an annual three-day educational event that brings together over 1000 students from around Canada and the United States and connects them with the expertise of North America's finest music professionals. He was also the festival Coordinator for ten years. In 2011, he founded the Live at Five Jazz Jam at Kelowna’s Rotary Centre for the Arts. This program gives local students a chance to perform with professional musicians in front of a live audience for up to two hours every week.

In 2013, Craig was honoured as the Okanagan Musician of the Year, and in 2016 he was honoured as the GWBOT Performing Artist of the Year. In 2014, he was thrilled to join the Yamaha Canada artist roster as a Yamaha Artist Educator. He presents regular educator workshops for the annual BCMEA conferences, student and educator workshops and clinics throughout the Okanagan, and has adjudicated for the Washington State University Jazz Festival and the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Performing Arts.

As well as promoting music education on a local and national level, Craig is an extremely busy and in-demand performer and session musician whose 2012 solo debut CD of all-original compositions, entitled Bright Beginnings, garnered much acclaim and received play on CBC radio. A second album is currently in production. Craig can be seen performing across the Okanagan Valley as a jazz and classical artist with his own projects, as a guest soloist, or as a symphonic musician.

Craig is proud to be a Yamaha Artist Educator. He performs on the YTS 82ZUL (WOF) II tenor sax, the YAS 82ZUL alto sax, and the YSS 82ZSII soprano sax.