After enjoying an operatic and concert career in North America and Europe, Alexandra Kosachukova Babbel founded the Opera Kelowna Society, a non-profit charitable status regional opera company. As Opera Kelowna’s Artistic Director, she brings to the organization years of proven artistic vision. Her intention is to bring various artists and art forms together to present peerless performances for the community in accessible and innovative ways. Ms. Babbel has a keen eye for identifying new talent and is known to provide a sound educational environment in which artists can fully develop their craft.
Cellist Andrea Case has a Master’s Degree in cello performance from McGill University Andrea is co-founder and cellist of the Lily String Quartet, a group that has completed multiple tours across Canada and recently released a jazz CD with the award-winning Hutchinson Andrew Trio. As well as being an avid chamber musician, Andrea is sought after as an orchestral musician, coach, recording artist and teacher. Andrea has played with orchestras in Europe, Japan, California, Quebec and Alberta and can be heard on recordings in multiple genres including pop, folk, jazz and classical. While recently living in England, she was principal cellist of the Cambridge Philharmonic Orchestra. She is the cellist for multi-honoured folk group 100 Mile House, has adjudicated at festivals across Western Canada and takes pride in teaching the next generation of musicians at Amici String Program and Mount Royal Conservatory.
Joe Berarducci resides in Kelowna B.C. where he teaches piano and theory at the Kelowna Community Music School.
His music studies began in Revelstoke with Janice Patrick and from the age of 6 -18 played in the Kamloops Festival. He has a BMUS from UBC and a Master of Arts in Music from Western Washington University.
He has been involved with Carl Orff Canada for thirty years having served as president of the B.C. Chapter and the National. He has worked at many universities and adjudicated festivals throughout BC, including Kamloops, in piano, voice, choral and ensembles. At present he exams for the Royal Conservatory of Music. For five years he worked for the Ministry of Education as they prepared the Fine Arts Curriculum.
Joe has co-authored the “Windsong” Recorder series with Birthe Kulich and completed a Teachers Guide for Books 1-4 in the series available through Empire Music. He and his wife have co-authored twelve music stories for a three season series with Orange County’s Pacific Symphony to be repeated with the Okanagan Symphony this next season 2014-15.
In 2006, Joe received the award of Honorary Life Member to Music for Children, Carl Orff Canada. Other honours include Professional Teacher of the Year in North Vancouver and in BC.
Since her debut with the Toronto Symphony, Jane Hayes’ concerts have taken her across Canada, the United States, Europe and Mexico. An active recording artist, she has 17 CDs available on the Fanfare, EMI, Centrediscs, ATMA, Artifact, CBC-Musica Viva and CBC SM5000 labels. Jane moved to BC in 1993 to become a faculty member in the newly opened Music Department of Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Langley. Her passion for teaching was recognized when she received the 2015 Distinguished Teaching Award in the Faculty of Arts. In recent years she has appeared regularly on concert stages in every combination from duo through large ensemble, as soloist with orchestra to chamber collaborator. She is a founding member of Vancouver’s Turning Point Ensemble, the Yarilo Ensemble and Sea and Sky with clarinetist François Houle and violinist Joan Blackman. Two new CDs will be released this March featuring music for saxophone, violin, clarinet and piano with Sea and Sky and saxophonist Julia Nolan. This year, Jane is on sabbatical from her teaching position and will devote her time to two projects: researching possibilities for long-distance music education in northern BC; and giving a series of recitals and master classes in the Henan and Guangdong provinces in China to foster professional development among Chinese piano professors.
“Not everyone can bring (the Mendelssohn Concerto) such a cool freshness and momentum, in which there was not the slightest feeling of haste… it was a performance to be remembered.”
“The music soared effortlessly to its conclusion. This was fine music-making by pianist, conductor, and orchestra and this was the kind of experience one so often looks forward to and fails to get.”
“It had such an impact that I wanted to hear it again, right away. No small reason was pianist Jane Hayes’ galvanizing yet superbly poised performance in a difficult part….”
In demand internationally as both a guest artist and instructor, Schwonik has taught students of all ages at over two hundred educational institutions. He regularly lectures on a broad range of topics in jazz, music business and artists coping with disabilities. Some of these institutions include: University of Toronto, Indiana University, The Banff Centre, Brandon University, University of Lethbridge, Red Deer College, Denver School of the Arts, and Triton College Chicago.
Among the many honours, awards and distinctions Schwonik has received are winning the TD Grand Jazz Competition at the Montreal International Jazz Festival, the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta’s Emerging Artist Award, the VSA Arts International Young Soloist Award, the AFM International Diversity Award and the Queen’s Jubilee Award. The list of supporters of his projects, research and initiatives includes the Canada Council for the Arts, Alberta Foundation for the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Anne Burrows Music Foundation and numerous others.
Schwonik plays Yamaha drums and Hardware, as well as Vic Firth sticks.