FACULTY - to be confirmed
Praised for her “ability to unfold bittersweet magic” (Rhein Main Presse) and “perfect command of her instrument” (Florsheim Zeitung), violinist Mary-Elizabeth Brown enjoys a busy schedule as a chamber musician, recitalist and concertmaster. In recent seasons, she has toured as a soloist in Europe, Asia, North and South America, and has appeared with distinguished colleagues at the Festival Campos do Jordao (Brazil), Mozarteum Uruguay, The White House (USA), the Aldeburgh Festival (UK), Arts and Letters Club of Toronto, Indian River Festival, Elora Festival and Banff Summer Arts Festival (Canada).
Recently appointed the concertmaster of McGill Chamber Orchestra, Mary-Elizabeth is in demand as an orchestral leader and has led orchestras under the direction of noted conductors Lorin Maazel, Kryszstof Penderecki, Carlos Miguel Prieto, Helmuth Rilling, Isaac Karabtchevsky and Placido Domingo and others. She served as Concertmaster of YOA Orchestra of the Americas from 2006-2008, led the Britten-Pears Orchestra (at the Aldeburgh Festival) from 2007-2009, and has been concertmaster of the critically acclaimed chamber orchestra Sinfonia Toronto since 2007. She currently is a Schmeelk Fellow at the University of Montreal.
Following parallel paths as a performer and pedagogue, Mary-Elizabeth is a sought-after teacher, clinician, adjudicator and speaker.
Mary-Elizabeth Brown began studying the violin in her local Suzuki program at the age of 5 and holds degrees from the University of Toronto and l’Université de Montreal where she received the Prix d’Excellence en Interpretation in 2006. Her principal teachers and mentors include David Zafer, Mark Skazinetsky, Ilya Kaler, and Jean-François Rivest. She plays on a 1766 Giuseppe Gagliano violin on loan from an anonymous donor.
Thomas J. (TJ) McAvaney is a native of Scranton, Pennsylvania. Mr. McAvaney earned his Bachelor's Degree in Music, with honors, from Marywood College in Scranton, and his Master of Music Degree in Performance and Suzuki Pedagogy from Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY. Pi Kappa Lambda Music Honor Society Alpha Nu Chapter, Ithaca College. He served as Director and Teacher of the Quinte Suzuki School for Strings in Belleville, Ontario, Canada, and as Orchestra Director at Ilion Central School, Ilion, NY. He serves as Music Department Chair and Orchestra Director for New Hartford Central School, New Hartford, NY. Mr. McAvaney performs as principal violist of the Clinton Symphony and Delta String Quartet. He is a section member of the Catskill Symphony Orchestra and has performed as Principal Violist of the Utica Symphony, section, Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, Ithaca, and Violinist with the Kingston Symphony, Kingston, Ontario. He has guest conducted Youth Orchestra’s and Suzuki Pedagogy throughout the United States, Canada, Bermuda, and France. He served as NYSSMA Regional Representative to the Oswego/Mohawk Valley Region in Central NY and as NYSSMA All-State Orchestra Chair. He is a member of NaFme, NYSSMA, Suzuki Association of the Americas, American Federation of Musicians and New York State United Teachers. He resides in Ilion, NY with his wife Marge and is the proud father of four sons.
Guitar and Drumming
Kevin graduated from the Queen’s University with a Bachelor of Music in Guitar and Education. He has taught guitar for 20 plus years to groups and individuals. He is also a choral conductor, clinician and a festival coordinator for the Ontario Vocal Festival (which is a regional choir festival for MusicFest Canada). Currently, he teaches at Bowmanville High School where he conducts 3 choirs, guitar ensembles and the junior band.
Stories with Music
and Sing Together
Tamara grew up as a Suzuki student in both violin and piano. She attended the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto as a vocal major. Currently, Tamara is soprano soloist at Church of the Redeemer in Toronto and a French Immersion teacher for the Toronto District School Board.
Violin and Co-Director
Laurie Mitchell studied music at the University of Western Ontario and received her M.A. from the University of Toronto. She studied Suzuki pedagogy at Suzuki Institutes in the U.S. and Japan. She has been String Director for the La Jeunesse Youth Orchestra since its inception and has been Principal Second Violin with the Northumberland Orchestra for 14 years. As well, Laurie is a Special Education and Music teacher for the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board; she has a large studio of violin students of all ages; she serves on the Suzuki Association of Ontario board and, she is founder and co-director or Durham Music Camp.
Tak Kwan was born into a musical family. His father was a violin maker in Hong Kong and Tak started playing the violin at the age of seven. In 1988, he received a scholarship from the Hong Kong Bank to attend Wells Cathedral School in England, as Music Specialist. During his study, Tak represented the school to perform with visiting musicians from West Germany for the Dvorak's Piano Quintet in A major. He was invited to give a violin recital in West Germany the following year. He also received scholarships to study at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto from 1989-1995. During his studies, he received full scholarships to attend Summer Music Camp in Colorado Springs in both 1994 and 1995. Later in 2011, he was invited to attend Starling-Delay Symposium at Juilliard School of Music. From 2002 to 2011 Tak toured the United States and France as a soloist and a chamber musician.
Tak's many roles include Music Director and Founder of Lavender Chamber Ensemble, Conductor of GYMC String Orchestra,
Concertmaster of Northumberland Orchestra and Choir Conductor of Yip's chamber Orchestra. He is also a Member of the Canadian Music Festival Adjudicators' Association
As one of Canada’s upcoming young cellists, Kevin Odorico is constantly evolving and developing new sounds and collaborations to assert his presence in the Toronto and Canadian music scene. Originally from Pickering Ontario, as a student Kevin established and showcased his talents within the community by competing and winning various local competitions which include the Pickering Rotary Festival, and Oshawa/Whitby Kiwanis Festival. His skills and knowledge were refined at Western University (Undergraduate), and then at the University of Toronto (Masters). Kevin also maintains a Youtube channel called ‘Kocello’, where he posts original music and creative covers of songs. In his spare time, Kevin enjoys playing and watching hockey, as well as exercising and playing drums. He plays on a beautiful cello made by Raymond Schryer.
Mary Burke has taught piano in Clarington/Durham since 2001. She began her training with Carole Bigler in Kingston and continued with Gail Lange at the Southwestern Ontario Suzuki Institute in Waterloo from 2001-2007. As well, she continued Conservatory training in practical, music theory and music history until 2011. She has served as Secretary on the SAO board and maintains a home studio of 15-20 students.
Alanna grew up in an Irish-Canadian family of traditional music lovers. Her musical journey began at the age of 6 when she started classical piano lessons, and soon expanded to include the fiddle. Alanna has over ten years of performing experience and is widely sought after as both a lead and back up musician. She has toured professionally with groups such as the Scott Woods Band, as well as The Great Canadian Fiddle Show. As a studio musician, Alanna has completed work for Canadian Country group Runaway Angel, as well as folk artists Hunter Sheridan and Jacob Henley. This past fall, Alanna was honoured to be nominated as Fiddle Player of the Year (CCBAs).
As a classical musician, Alanna earned her Bachelor of Music with Honours from the University of Toronto in 2017. She completed her Grade 10 Royal Conservatory Violin Exam in 2012, and has also achieved advanced certification in Music Theory.
Jo-Anne Westover began her piano lessons at 10 years old. By the age of 15, she was in Grade 10 piano, studying at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, and went on to complete her ARCT in Pedagogy and Performance. She credits her piano teachers Simone Lesley, Laurie Evan Fraser, Earle Moss, Leslie Kinton and Joseph Macerollo for their contribution to her learning and her success.
Jo-Anne’s goal is to provide as many learning opportunities for her students as possible. Mock exams, master classes, trips to the opera, and various festival and performance opportunities are just some of the ways that Jo-Anne has given her students confidence in themselves and their abilities. Many students under her care have gone on to win medals and scholarships for their achievements. Every year for the past 10 years, she has been honoured to have her senior students chosen to compete at the Provincial Level, in which many of these students have won awards or received Honourable Mention. This year, Jo-Anne was voted by her peers to receive an award from the Ontario Registered Music Teachers Association (ORMTA) for her teaching. She will be travelling with her daughter this July to Ottawa to receive this.
With a little encouragement and guidance, students rise above and exceed what they think is possible. Jo-Anne’s hope is that the lessons learned from her teaching will help students achieve great things in whatever field they choose.