Whistler - Adjudicators

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**These are adjudicators from 2023, this page will be updated in the fall of 2023**

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.

Dr. Robert Ambrose (Concert Band)

whistler festival adjudicator

Conductor Robert J. Ambrose enjoys a highly successful and diverse career as a dynamic and engaging musician.  His musical interests cross many genres and can be seen in the wide range of professional activities he pursues.  Ambrose studied formally at Boston College, Boston University, and Northwestern University, where he received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in conducting.

Ambrose has conducted professionally across the United States as well as in Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan.  His interpretations have earned the enthusiastic praise of many leading composers including Pulitzer Prize winners Leslie Bassett, Michael Colgrass, and John Harbison. He has conducted over two dozen premiere performances including works by Michael Colgrass, Jonathan Newman, Joel Puckett, Christopher Theofanidis, and Joseph Turrin. In addition, a recent performance of Igor Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms under his direction has been given repeated airings on Georgia Public Radio. 

Dr. Ambrose is founder and music director of the Atlanta Chamber Winds a professional dectet specializing in the promotion of music by emerging composers as well as lesser-known works of established composers.  Their premiere compact disc, Music from Paris was released in 2009 on the Albany Records label and has received outstanding reviews in both Fanfare Magazine and Gramophone Magazine.

As a guitarist Ambrose has performed in dozens of jazz ensembles, combos, rock bands and pit orchestras. His rock band "Hoochie Suit," formed with members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, received rave reviews throughout the Chicago area.

Ambrose currently serves as Director of Bands, Professor of Music and Associate Director of the School of Music at Georgia State University, a research institution of over 50,000 students located in Atlanta, Georgia.  As Director of Bands he conducts the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, maintains a highly selective studio of graduate students in the Master of Music in Wind Band Conducting degree program, and oversees a large, comprehensive band program comprised of four concert ensembles and three athletic band organizations.  He lives in Peachtree City, Georgia with his wife Sarah Kruser Ambrose, a professional flute player and daughters Isabelle and Hannah.

Allan McMurray (Concert Band)

whistler festival adjudicator

Allan McMurray is an internationally acclaimed artist conductor, teacher, author and collaborator. He has conducted professional orchestras, ballet, opera and contemporary chamber ensembles, but it is his passion for wind music and the teaching of conducting that has inspired the majority of his artistic career. As Professor of Conducting Emeritus and Distinguished Professor at the University of Colorado, where he served as Director of Bands from 1978-2013, Professor McMurray established the Masters and Doctorate degrees in Wind Conducting and for three decades hosted and taught the College Band Directors National Association Conducting Symposium. Former conducting students currently hold leadership positions at colleges, universities and conservatories in America and abroad. As a result of his impact, Professor McMurray has been recognized as one of the leading teachers of wind ensemble and conducting in America.

In demand as a visiting artist, Allan McMurray has guest conducted and taught conducting throughout the United States, Asia, Australia , Europe and Central America.. He has also created and published a three volume set of DVDs on the teaching of conducting entitled Conducting from the Inside Out.

Professor McMurray is past president of the College Band Directors National Association and is a recent recipient of CBDNA’s prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.

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. Jacquie Dawson (Concert Band)

whistler festival adjudicator

Dr. Jacqueline Dawson is in demand as a guest conductor, clinician and adjudicator across Canada, appearing at numerous festivals and conferences coast to coast. Engagements have included Musicfest Canada, the Alberta Band Asociation Wind Symphony, The Maritime Youth Wind Ensemble, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra New Music Festival, the International Music Camp, and numerous provincial, regional and divisional honour bands in Canada and the United States. She was awarded the 2003 University of Manitoba School of Music Excellence in Music Education Award, the 2013 University of Manitoba Teacher Recognition Award and the 2015 Manitoba Band Association Award of Distinction.

Dr. Dawson is currently the Director of Bands at the University of Manitoba Desautels Faculty of Music where she conducts the Concert Band and Wind Ensemble, teaches courses in music education and oversees the graduate wind conducting program. The University of Manitoba Wind Ensemble has been featured at festivals such as the Cantando Festival in Edmonton and Sunpeaks, the Canadian Rocky Mountain Music Festival, has performed in the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra New Music Festival and has participated in numerous consortium commissions and world performances. Prior to her appointment at the University of Manitoba, she taught in the public school system for twenty years and served as a sessional instructor at the University of Manitoba. Jacquie served on the board of directors of the Manitoba Band Association from 1999 – 2005 and remains active with numerous MBA projects and is the treasurer of the Canadian Band Association. She was the Artistic Director of The Winnipeg Wind Ensemble from 2009-2020. Under her leadership the group has expanded in infrastructure, artistic standard and programming, and in 2016 launched a new division of the organization, The Winnipeg Youth Wind Ensemble. She continues to spend as much time as possible with young students and band programs and is a strong advocate for music education.

Dr. Dawson has been published in the Canadian Music Educator Journal and the Canadian Winds Journal and has presented at conferences internationally, including the Canadian Music Educators’ Association National Conference, the Kansas Music Educators Conference and the International Society for the Research and Promotion of Wind Music Conference. She is an active proponent in the promotion of new wind band works and has led or participated in numerous commissions and premieres of works by Gary Kulesha, Kenley Kristofferson, David Scott, Viet Cuong, Steven Danyew, and Peter Meechan. Jacquie received undergraduate degrees in music and music education from Memorial University of Newfoundland and holds a masters degree in conducting from the University of Manitoba where she studied with Dr. Dale Lonis and Earl Stafford. She completed a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in conducting from the University of Kansas under the tutelage of Dr. Paul Popiel.

Robert Spittal (Concert Band)

whistler festival adjudicator

Robert is an award-winning composer, conductor, flutist and saxophonist whose music has been described as “inventive”, “clever” and “full of musicality” by critics and musicians alike. He is Professor of Music at Gonzaga University (USA) where he teaches conducting, music theory and composition. Dr. Spittal led the Gonzaga Wind Ensemble for 27 years, and received a doctorate in wind conducting from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. His compositions have been commissioned and performed by some of the finest professional and academic musicians in North America, Europe, South America and Asia, including The Bay Brass, Borealis Wind Quintet, Atlanta Chamber Winds, Monmouth Winds, New England Conservatory, National Chamber Winds and North Texas Wind Symphony. Robert’s work combines sophisticated art music forms and techniques with an appealing musical vernacular that reaches across boundaries of genre and style. This concern for aesthetic sophistication and artistic integrity in combination with a satisfying and often intentionally enjoyable appeal to the listener’s ear, has been developing since his adolescent years, when he was both a serious flute student in the Cleveland Institute of Music’s Prep program and a free-lance saxophonist in horn sections of jazz, r&b and other dance bands.

Dinah Lindberg Helgeson (Concert Choir)

whistler festival adjudicator

Dinah Lindberg Helgeson recently retired from International School Bangkok after nine years as high school choir director and Head of the Fine Arts Division. She is invited as guest conductor, choral clinician, motivational speaker, and artist in residence throughout the U.S., Canada, and Asia. In addition she has conducted All-State, ACDA and Provincial Honor choirs.

Dinah is known for her holistic teaching method. She works with the body, mind and spirit of the singer. Often times, the word “love” is used to describe her gift. But it is more than that; it is a sense of empathy she has for the individual throughout the rehearsal at a personal level. She engages the “one to one” method of teaching and produces choirs that learn to care, love and trust one another. This creates life changing moments throughout the rehearsal and performance; music is the vehicle in which she changes the hearts of her singers.

Dinah was born in Montana and received her undergraduate degree in Music Education from Pacific Lutheran University. Her graduate studies include the University of Southern California studying with world renowned educator, Rodney Eichenberger. She considers Maurice Skones, Richard Nace, Geoffrey Boers, Mary Moore and the late John Trepp her lifelong teachers and mentors.

Dinah enjoys her home on Vashon Island overlooking Puget Sound and Mt. Rainier. Her greatest joys are her children and grandchildren.

Dr. Andrea Ramsey (Concert Choir)

whistler festival adjudicator

Dr. Andrea Ramsey enjoys an international presence as a composer, conductor, scholar, and music educator. Her teaching experiences range from work with adolescent and children’s voices to high school and collegiate voices. She enjoys regular opportunities to conduct all-state and divisional level honor choirs, festival events at Carnegie Hall, and serves as a principal conductor for the Pacific International Young Women’s Choral Festival in Eugene, Oregon. Before leaping into full time composing and guest conducting, Andrea held positions in music education and conducting at The Ohio State University and the University of Colorado, respectively.

An ASCAPlus award-winning composer, Andrea believes strongly in the creation of new works. Her compositions are available with traditional publishers and also through MusicSpoke, a digital sheetmusic marketplace. She enjoys residency collaborations with ensembles and festival choirs, some of which have included: the Allegro Choirs of Kansas City, Ithaca College, and the Crescent City Choral Festival in New Orleans.

As a scholar, she has presented for state, divisional, and national conventions of the American Choral Directors Association, the 6th Annual Symposium on Sociology in Music Education, as well as The Phenomenon Singing Symposium in St. Johns, Newfoundland, Canada. She has co-authored articles published in the Choral Journal, as well as the Journal of Research in Music Education. A native of Arkansas, she has experienced in her own life the power of music to provide a sense of community, better understanding of our humanity, and rich opportunities for self-discovery.

Kathleen Allan (Concert Choir)

whistler festival adjudicator

Kathleen Allan is the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Amadeus Choir of Greater Toronto and the Artistic Director of Canzona, Winnipeg’s professional Baroque choir. Originally from St. John’s, NL, Ms. Allan is in high demand as a conductor, composer and clinician and is equally comfortable working in early, contemporary, and symphonic repertoire. Recent guest conducting engagements include the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra, the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra and Early Music Vancouver. In 2015, Ms. Allan made her Asian debut conducting Handel’s Messiah and Bach’s Christmas Oratorio in Japan, and in 2016, she was the recipient of the Sir Ernest MacMillan Prize in Choral Conducting. She is a founding co-Artistic Director of Arkora, an electric vocal chamber consort dedicated to blurring lines between the music of our time and masterworks from the ancient repertoire.

Her compositions have been commissioned, performed and recorded by ensembles throughout the Americas and Europe and have been featured at two World Symposiums on Choral Music. Her collaboration with Labrador youth choir Ullugiagâtsuk was featured at the National Arts Centre celebrations for Canada 150 on July 1, 2017. Her music is published by Boosey and Hawkes, Cypress Choral Music, and is a MusicSpoke composer. Also an accomplished soprano, she has appeared as a soloist with the National Broadcast Orchestra, Berkshire Choral Festival, and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. In addition to freelancing regularly in Canada and the US, she has performed with the Vancouver Chamber Choir, the Arnold Schoenberg Chor (Vienna), Skylark Vocal Ensemble (Atlanta), and the Yale Schola Cantorum. She holds a degree in composition from the University of British Columbia and a master’s degree in conducting from Yale University.

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.

Bruce Cable (Concert Choir)

whistler festival adjudicator

Bruce began his teaching career after graduating from the University of Alberta, teaching choir and band at Junior High and High Schools in the Edmonton area. The Musical Director of St. Albert Children’s Theatre for eight years, Bruce is currently a choral and vocal jazz teacher at Victoria School of the Arts, where he has been musical director for over 20 musicals. Since completing his Masters in Choral conducting from the University of Miami, he has been a baritone in Pro Coro Canada, the director of the MacEwan University jazz choir, the assistant conductor of the youth choir Kokopelli, the Musical Director for the Citadel Theatre, and an active choral clinician throughout Canada. Bruce is thrilled to be in beautiful Whistler, sharing musical ideas with choirs and directors from across Canada.

Kim Nazarian (Jazz Choir)

whistler festival adjudicator

For the past 29 years Kim Nazarian has been harmonizing all over the world with New York Voices (NYV). In 2012 Ms. Nazarian was recognized as one of the top 50 most influential Armenian artists, and inducted into her High School’s Hall of Fame.

Along with the many recordings Kim has made with NYV, she is proud to be one of the featured voices on Bobby McFerrin’s “VOCAbuLarieS” CD. Another recent professional highlight is Ms. Nazarian’s collaboration with the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra and the Manchester Craftman’s Guild on a concert tour dedicated to the late, great Ella Fitzgerald. Kim also enjoys being part of a special program called “Vocalese,” (created by visionary producer, Larry Rosen), which integrates NYV with Manhattan Transfer, and Jon Hendricks.

In addition to being a requested vocalist, Kim’s work as a lyricist is in rising demand. Of course, you can hear her contributions on the NYV CD’s; and now you can hear her other original lyrics throughout the world, including Russia, Brazil, the Netherlands (with Brazilian composer, Ivan Lins and the Metropole Orchestra), and Japan. Most notably, Kim wrote the title track to the accompanying CD of Bill Strickland’s best selling book “Making the Impossible Possible”. You can find her song “World of Possibilities” on iTunes.

In addition to her extensive studio credits as a movie score and jingle singer, some of Kim’s other recordings include “Red Dragonfly in NY” (JVC Victor) produced by Jazz Ambassador, Jiro Yoshida; “Long Ago and Far Away” (MCG Jazz), an original children’s radio show; and guest appearances on “An Afternoon in Rio” (MCG Jazz) with extraordinary guitarist Joe Negri (“Handyman” for Mr. Rogers); “Two Worlds” with Boston based band “El Eco”; and Mark Shilansky’s “Join the Club” release.

Ms. Nazarian also specializes in teaching vocal technique and the art of ensemble singing. For the past 3 years she has represented the USA as a judge for the International A Cappella Competition in Graz, Austria. She will also be a guest teacher in Germany this summer, and continues her long‐standing position as an Artist in Residence at Bowling Green State University (host of the annual BGSU/NYV Vocal Jazz Camp!) Kim has conducted the New York and Arizona All State Jazz Choirs, and many all area and district jazz choirs in the US. Her highly acclaimed workshops have been presented at JEN and many state MEA conferences.

The near future holds a solo CD release for Kim entitled, “Some Morning”. Remarkable guests include: Paquito D’Rivera; Gary Burton; John Pizzarelli, and Sean Jones.

Kim is a magna cum laude graduate of Ithaca College. She presently resides on a 6.5 acre farm in Oberlin, Ohio with her husband, son and 2 cats.

Touring the globe for the last 1⁄4 century has provided some favorite venues, countries and audiences. That amazing list includes: Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, the Montreal Jazz Fest, the Jazz Cruise; Ouro Preto, Brazil; Leipzig, Germany, Armenia, Columbia, France, Holland, Indonesia, Japan, Norway, and Uruguay to name a select few.

“Whether I’m singing with the Boston Pops Orchestra, the Count Basie Orchestra, or the next up and coming rhythm section, it is an honor to make my living in music. I do believe it is my mission in this particular lifetime.”

Darmon Meader (Jazz Choir)

whistler festival adjudicator

Recognized in both the jazz vocal and instrumental worlds, Darmon Meader is a highly respected vocalist, arranger and saxophonist. Darmon has achieved international recognition as the founder, musical director, chief arranger, composer, producer, saxophonist, and vocalist with New York Voices. As a member of New York Voices, he has released numerous recordings on the GRP, RCA/Victor, Concord and MCGJazz labels. In 2013, NYV will release two new CDs: New York Voices, Live with the WDR Big Band Cologne and their long awaited Christmas CD, Let it Snow, both of which feature Darmon’s extensive arranging skills. In 2008, Darmon released his much anticipated debut solo CD, And So Am I. This solo project is a collection of jazz standards and original works, which reflects his varied interests and skills as a singer, saxophonist, writer and arranger.

With New York Voices, Darmon has collaborated with a variety of artists including Ray Brown, Mark Murphy, Bernadette Peters, Ivan Lins, Bob Dorough, Don Sebesky, Nancy Wilson, Ann Hampton Callaway, Jim Hall, Paquito D’Rivera and the Count Basie Orchestra. He has toured internationally, performing at such renowned venues as Carnegie Hall, North Sea Jazz Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival and Blue Note Jazz Clubs (New York and Japan). In addition to Darmon’s New York Voices touring and recording commitments, he is increasingly busy as a soloist, sideman, studio musician and composer. Darmon continues to be actively involved in music education, working as a clinician and guest artist at both the high school and university levels.

Darmon has been the guest conductor for All-State Jazz Ensembles in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma and Wisconsin, and has made artist-in-residence appearances at numerous schools, including Northwestern University, University of Louisville, American River College, Humber College, Columbia College and University of Georgia. Darmon has also taught at numerous domestic and international music workshops including the Inzigkoven Vocal Jazz Workshop in Germany, various IAJE Teacher’s Training Institutes, the Western Michigan University Vocal Jazz Camp, the Vocal Pop & Jazz Days workshop in the Netherlands, the Tritone Jazz Fantasy Camp and the NYV BGSU Vocal Jazz Camp. Many of Darmon’s choral, vocal jazz, and instrumental arrangements are available through the following publishers: Carl Fischer Music, Shawnee Press, Hal Leonard, Alfred Music, Belwin Mills and UNC JazzPress.


Kevin Lee (Jazz Ensemble)

whistler festival adjudicator

Kevin is an experienced professional musician and music educator. He has performed with a variety of musical groups across Canada, USA and Europe. Kevin was a full-time musician for 12 years prior to starting his teaching career. He has recorded for radio commercials, movie scores, television shows, and a variety of CD/Record projects. Kevin attended Western Washington University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Music Degree in Jazz Studies. After University, Kevin began a career as a professional musician in Vancouver as a freelance musician with many types of groups ranging from small jazz groups, big bands, cruise ships, studio sessions and orchestras. Kevin also worked as a composer/arranger.

In the early 80’s, Kevin moved to Los Angeles, California to study arranging/composition and trumpet. After his time in Los Angeles, Kevin returned to Canada and resumed working as a professional musician.

While working as a musician, Kevin became a Teacher-On-Call for music classes at the request of the Surrey School District. Kevin would substitute teach whenever he was not touring or performing for the next three years. Kevin fell in love with teaching and decided to become a full-time music teacher and enrolled at the University or British Columbia where he received a Bachelor of Education Degree in Secondary Music.

Close to completing his Bachelor of Education Degree, Kevin was offered a job at Semiahmoo Secondary and worked alongside old friend, David Proznick. Kevin began teaching at Semiahmoo in 1993 and retired in 2019.

Kevin has maintained his involvement in a variety of musical groups and enjoys all aspects of making music and teaching the art of making music. Kevin’s retirement plans have included substitute teaching, practicing trumpet, performing, writing music, and travelling.

Joel Gray (Jazz Ensemble)

whistler festival adjudicator

Edmonton-based freelance trumpeter and music educator with 25-years of experience, Joel Gray has shared the stage with some of the world's finest artists, including Tommy Banks, PJ Perry, Slide Hampton, Diana Krall, Nikki Yanovsky, Lew Tebackin, Allen Vizzutti, Gino Vannelli, Kent Sangster, Hugh Fraser, Jens Lindemann, and commercial talents Frank Sinatra Jr., the Temptations, Gino Vannelli, Wayne Newton, and Rollanda Lee, to name a few. ​

Known for his versatility, Joel is in high demand in both jazz and classical genres. He is a regular performer with many local artists and diverse musical ensembles, including the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, The Edmonton Jazz Orchestra, The Edmonton Jazz Collective, Edmonton Opera, Pro Coro Canada, the Don Berner Sextet, the Prime Time Big Band, the Retrofitz, the Polyjesters, the Tommy Banks Big Band, The New Orleans Connection, and Capital Brass, to name only a few.

Joel is also a veteran in the orchestra pit, having performed many professional musical theatre productions, including the National Broadway Tours of Book of Mormon, Wicked, Marry Poppins, A Chorus Line, Billy Elliot, Beauty and the Beast, The Wizard of Oz, as well as many local professional productions presented at the Citadel Theatre. He has recorded on over 30 CDs and performed numerous times for CBC radio, and played assistant principal trumpet with the ESO in Carnegie Hall in May of 2012, and was a featured soloist with the ESO in January of 2018 doing a "Tribute to Louis Armstrong." ​

As a music educator, Joel has been teaching since 1995, and teaches trumpet at MacEwan University and has taught at Augustana University and Keyano College. He is an instructor at MusiCamp Alberta and has adjudicated for the Cantando Music Festival, the Rocky Mountain Music Festival, the Foothills Jazz Festival, and the Kiwanis Music Festival. Since 2004, he has been the director of the award-winning “Littlebirds” big band.

Steve Kaldestad (Jazz Ensemble)

whistler festival adjudicator

A resident of Vancouver since 2008, Steve Kaldestad has established himself as one of the most in-demand saxophonists on the scene, performing as a member of the Dan Brubeck Quartet, Jesse Cahill’s Nightcrawlers, the Jodi Proznick Quartet, the Jill Townsend Jazz Orchestra, and many other groups. Steve has released 4 CDs on the Cellar Live label to great acclaim including his latest, Live at Frankie’s, and New York Afternoon featuring Canadian jazz master Renee Rosnes. Originally from the prairies, Steve spent the ’90s in Montreal, obtaining his Bachelor and Masters degrees from McGill University. During this time Steve was awarded a grant to study with Lee Konitz in New York.

In 2000, he began an eight year stint in London, England and joined the Kate Williams Quartet, the Matt Wates Sextet, the Pasadena Roof Orchestra, the Gareth Lockrane Septet, and played regular gigs in the BBC big band, the Humphrey Lyttelton Group and others. He has also played and/or recorded with Renee Rosnes, Denzal Sinclaire, Mike LeDonne, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Peter Bernstein, the Karl Jannuska Group, Kevin Dean and many others.

A full time instructor at Capilano University, Steve is a D’addario artist and plays D’addario Select Jazz reeds on all his saxophones.

Dennis Esson (Jazz Ensemble)

whistler festival adjudicator

Since moving to Vancouver in 1980, Dennis has established himself as a highly respected and sought after trombonist and educator for a wide variety of musical activities.

He has recorded music for cartoons, movies, jingles and soundtracks in addition to albums with many pop and rock groups such as Stephen Fearing, The Paperboys, Buddy Miles, The Salteens, Veda Hille and others. He has also been in the pit orchestras for Broadway shows such as “Chorus Line”, “The Full Monty”, and “42nd Street”. As a jazz musician Dennis has performed with the “Vancouver Ensemble of Jazz Improvisation (VEJI)”, “Orquesta Goma Dura”, “Jill Townsend Big Band”, “Hard Rubber Orchestra”, “Ian McDougall Big Band” and the “Fred Stride Jazz Orchestra”. Some of the musicians he has performed with include Kenny Wheeler, Phil Woods, Eddie Daniels, Marvin Stamm, David Foster, Maynard Ferguson, Natalie Cole, Clark Terry, Bud Shank, and Phil Nimmons. He has appeared and performed at all the major jazz festivals across Canada.

As a music educator Dennis is currently the Jazz Studies Coordinator at Capilano University where he also directs one of the three Big Bands as well as teaching other jazz courses. He was also a faculty member at UBC for many years where he was the director of the UBC Jazz Ensemble 2. In addition he has been on the faculty of the Courtney Youth Music Center, the Okanagan Summer School of the Arts, Douglas College Jazz Intensive, UBC Summer Music School, Victoria Conservatory Summer Jazz, and Kwantlen University Summer jazz camps.

Dennis is a frequent adjudicator and clinician at Music Festivals across B.C. as well as nationally and is a Yamaha trombone clinician.

2019 Festival Staff:

  • Craig Winter (Concert Band/Drumline)
  • Andy Collinsworth (Concert Band)
  • Allan McMurray (Concert Band)
  • Jacquie Dawson (Concert Band)
  • Dr. Angela Schroeder (Concert Band)
  • Colin Clarke (Concert Band)
  • Dr. Gary Weidenaar (Choral)
  • Scott Leithead (Choral)
  • Kellie Walsh (Choral)
  • Katy Luyk (Choral)
  • John Chalmers (Choral)
  • Frank Lee (Choral)
  • Dorothy Dyck (Choral)
  • Tom Van Seters (Jazz Band)
  • Ray Baril (Jazz Band)
  • Craig Brenan (Jazz Band)

2018 Festival Staff:

  • Robert Ambrose (Concert Band)
  • Erin Bodnar (Concert Band)
  • Gordon Brock (Concert Band)
  • Robert Spittal (Concert Band)
  • Rob Taylor (Concert Band)
  • Brad McDavid (Concert Band)
  • Katy Luyk (Choral)
  • Elise Bradley (Choral)
  • Carrie Tennant (Choral)
  • Frank Lee (Choral)
  • Allison Girvan (Choral)
  • Joel Gray (Jazz Band)
  • Jodi Proznick (Jazz Band)
  • Jerrold Dubyk (Jazz Band)

2017 Festival Staff:

  • Barry Valleau (Concert Band)
  • Larry Gookin (Concert Band)
  • Shelley Jagow (Concert Band)
  • Don Owens (Concert Band)
  • Mark Lane (Concert Band)
  • Jacquie Dawson (Concert Band)
  • Chee Meng Low (Concert Band
  • Dean Mcneill (Jazz Band)
  • Fred Stride (Jazz Band)
  • Ray Baril (Jazz Band)
  • Scott Leithead (Choral)
  • Dominic Gregorio (Choral)
  • John Chalmers (Choral)
  • Frank Lee (Choral)
  • Allison Girvan (Choral)

2016 Festival Staff:

  • Barry Valleau (Concert Band)
  • Allan McMurray (concert band)
  • Gary Green (Concert Band)
  • Robert Taylor (Concert Band)
  • Fraser Linklater (Concert Band)
  • Robert Spittal (Concert Band)
  • Christin Reardon MacLellan (Concert Band)
  • Chee Meng Low (Concert Band))
  • Robert Ambrose (Concert Band)
  • Jerrold Dubyk (Jazz Band)
  • Jared Burrows (Jazz Band)
  • Craig Brenan (Jazz Band)
  • Allison Girvan (choral)
  • Carrie Tennant (choral)
  • Lhente-Mari Pitout (choral)
  • Kathleen Luyk (choral)
  • Lisa Ward (choral)
  • Scott Leithead (Choral)
  • Benila Ninan (Choral)
  • Frank Lee (Choral)

2015 Festival Staff:

  • Larry Gookin - Central Washington University (concert band)
  • Allan McMurray - University of Colorado (concert band)
  • Mark Lane (concert band)
  • Don Owens(concert band)
  • Chee Meng Low (Concert band)
  • Carrie Tenant (choral)
  • Scott Leithead - Kokopelli Choir Director (choral)
  • Jennifer Riley (choral)
  • Jennifer Moir (choral)
  • Jared Burrows (Jazz Band)
  • Brad Turner (Jazz Band)
  • Dave Robbins (Jazz Band)

2014 Festival Staff:

  • Larry Gookin - Central Washington University (concert band)
  • Allan McMurray - University of Colorado (concert band)
  • Dr. Gillian MacKay - University of Toronto (concert band)
  • Robert Taylor - UBC (concert band)
  • Gary D. Green - University of Miami (Concert band)
  • Jonathan Girard (Concert band)
  • Scott Leithead - Kokopelli Choir Director (choral)
  • Chandelle Rimmer (choral)
  • Scott Goble (choral)
  • Raymond Baril (Jazz Band)
  • Craig Brenan (Jazz Band)
  • Dean McNeill (Jazz Band)

2013 Festival Staff:

  • Scott Leithead- (Choral), Kokopelli Choir Director
  • Lhente-Mari Pitout- (Choral), South Africa Director World Youth Choir
  • Fred Stride- (Jazz Ensemble), UBC Director of Jazz Bands
  • Ray Baril- Grant McEwan University of Edmonton
  • Allan McMurray- Conducting Department Chair, University of Colorado
  • Don Owens (Concert Band), Director of Jazz Studies, Northwestern University
  • Larry Gookin (Concert Band), Director of Band University of Central Washington
  • Angela Schroeder (Concert Band), University of Alberta
  • Dennis Beck (Concert Band), Master Educator, University of Toronto
  • Dr. Mark Hopkins (Concert Band), Associate Professor, Acadia University

2012 Festival Staff:

  • Mr. Don Owens- Director of Jazz Studies, Northwestern University
  • Dr. Rob Taylor- Director of Bands and Assistant Professor UBC
  • Dr. Gillian MacKay- Associate Dean, Graduate Education University of Toronto
  • Ms. Catherine Glaser Climie- Founder, the Calgary Cantare Children's Choir
  • Mr. Larry Gookin-Director of Bands, Central Washington University
  • Mr. Allan McMurray- Conducting Department Chair, University of Colorado
  • Fred Stride- Senior Sessional Lecturer, Director Jazz Ensemble UBC
  • Special guest artists Allen Vizzutti and Epsilon