Matthew Otto is an innovative leader, educator, and collaborator. As the Assistant Artistic Director of the award-winning Toronto Children’s Chorus, Matthew is conductor/co-founder of the Toronto Youth Choir, and conducts Chorealis, Chorale, and Training Choir III. He was privileged to direct the TCC’s Chamber Choir on tour to Russia, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, USA, as well as at the 2017 World Choral Symposium in Barcelona. In April 2018, Matthew led the Toronto Youth Choir on its first international tour, travelling to New York City to sing with The King’s Singers in Carnegie Hall. The TCC has also premiered his treble arrangements of works by Bach, Mendelssohn and Vaughan Williams.
Committed to choral excellence, Matthew is founder/artistic director of Incontra Vocal Ensemble, a choral-arts collective of likeminded conductors, composers, vocal pedagogues, professional-level singers, and emerging artists.Passionate about music’s role in liturgy, Matthew has served as a pastoral musician since the age of 12. Since 2006, he has worked as music director at a number of Toronto churches and was appointed Choir Director & Organist at Christ Church Deer Park in 2014.
As a strong advocate forthe choral arts in Canada, Matthew served as President of Choirs Ontario from 2015-17 and represented the province on the board of Choral Canada. He has actively contributed to many choral communities in Toronto, including Pax Christi Chorale (Assistant Conductor), and Toronto Mendelssohn Choir (Associate Conductor). He is also in demand as an adjudicator and clinician, recently adjudicating choirs at the Toronto Kiwanis Music Festival. Matthew has guest conducted the Elora Festival Singers, Toronto Cantata Chorus and University of Auckland Chamber Choir.
Matthew holds a Bachelor of Music in Composition and a Master of Music in Conducting.
His conducting mentors include Doreen Rao, Helmuth Rilling, Karen Grylls, Simon Carrington and Maria Guinand. Currently, Matthewis pursuing a Ph.D. in Music Education at the University of Toronto, where his research interests include belonging, collaboration, agency, and the role of vocal pedagogy in choral music education. He recently presented papers at the International Symposium on Singing and Song IIand Podium 2018.
Conductor Sarah Maria Leung is known for her gentle yet commanding music direction. She believes in seeing fellow musicians as genuine collaborators. To make music of the highest-possible calibre, she adopts a pedagogical approach in her work at all levels as vocal and musicianship skills are at the heart of good music performance.
Equally interested in chamber vocal music and major choral-orchestral works, Sarah is adept in working with forces of any size. As music director at Calvin Presbyterian Church/ Deer Park United Church, she has put together the church's first outdoor concert “Celebrating 10 Years of Sundays Together: Songs & Sundaes with the Neighbourhood” with the 16-voice choir, performing music ranging from Renaissance classics to the contemporary, Broadway tunes and popular music. She has also attended choral-orchestral masterclasses where she studied and conducted Mozart’s Requiem and Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms with a large choir and chamber orchestra.
Sarah’s conducting teachers include Hilary Apfelstadt, Cristian Grases, Uri Mayer (orchestral conducting), Jo-Michael Scheibe, and Tram Sparks.
Soprano Allison Cecilia Arends is a graduate of Calgary Opera’s Emerging Artist Program, the University of Toronto Opera School (M.Mus) and the University of Victoria Voice Performance Program (B.Mus). Having performed across Canada, the United States, Germany, Austria, Italy, England, Israel, and China, she is in high demand as an interpreter of opera, oratorio, and new music. Allison toured with the Brahms Symphony Orchestra across China in a series of Viennese concerts, and was honoured to perform at Rideau Hall, as well as for International Dignitaries in Calgary and Toronto. She has been the recipient of numerous awards and grants, including the Hnatyshyn Foundation Artist’s Grant, a Metropolitan Opera Encouragement Award, and a B.C Arts Council Senior Award, among others. In addition to her performing, Allison maintains a busy private music studio in Toronto, is a voice examiner for the Royal Conservatory of Music, and regularly adjudicates music festivals from coast to coast. Having formerly taught for St. Michael’s and Timothy Eaton Memorial’s Choir Schools, Allison has conducted choral, vocal, and educational workshops and masterclasses for the Edna Manley Music College in Jamaica, University of Mississippi, British Columbia Provincial Music Festival, Regina Conservatory of Music, Ryerson Oakham House Choir, Opera Atelier, and the Royal Canadian College of Organists. A few years ago, Allison was thrilled to combine her passion for teaching, children, music, and social justice by co-founding and running the Mini Mozarts Music Camp for underprivileged children in Kingston, Jamaica.
Acadian tenor Jacques Arsenault began his musical career as a virtuoso accordionist while growing up on Prince Edward Island before discovering his vocal talents. In Toronto, he starred as Freddy in Tapestry Opera’s Bandits in the Valley, earning nominations for two BroadwayWorld Toronto Awards. He was Ambroise Lépine in the Canadian Opera Company and National Arts Centre’s acclaimed co-production of Harry Somers’ Louis Riel and was Alfred in Die Fledermaus at the Glenn Gould School.
This year, he portrayed Lui in his own adaptation of Poulenc’s La Voix humaine for Against the Grain Theatre and returned to the National Arts Centre as Basilio and Curzio in Le nozze di Figaro. Next season, he debuts as the Italian opera singer Piangi in The Phantom of the Opera with Opera on the Avalon and plays Basilio in Figaro’s Wedding, Against the Grain Theatre's modern adaptation of Mozart’s classic.
Mezzo soprano Julia Barber is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Musical Arts at the University of Toronto under Professor Lorna MacDonald. On the opera stage, she has performed Zerlina (Don Giovanni), Hänsel (Hänsel und Gretel), Stéphano (Roméo et Juliette), Paquette (Candide), and Jo (Little Women). As a soloist, she has been featured in choral and oratorio works with The Elora Singers, Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, and Mississauga Symphony Orchestra; art song with the Aldeburgh Discovery Series and Bayfield Festival; and music theatre and popular classics with Jewish Music Week and the Toronto Festival Singers. She is also in demand as a choral singer, performing with The Elora Singers, Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, Toronto Festival Singers, Incontra Vocal Ensemble, Choir of Christ Church Deer Park, St. James Cathedral Choir, and Hedgerow Singers.
A native of London, Ontario, J. Scott Brubacher is a composer of vocal, chamber, and choral music. His choral works have been performed across North America by such ensembles as the DaCapo Chamber Choir, the Exultate Chamber Singers, Incontra Vocal Ensemble, UWO Singers, and the Amabile Youth Singers. Scott has written song cycles on the poetry of E.E. Cummings, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Jacques Prévert. His most recent works for voice include two songs by French Canadian poet Émile Nelligan, recorded on the disc Le Menu des Mélodies(Centaur, 2014) by baritone Stephen Lancaster and pianist Martin Katz, and an orchestral song cycle on poems by Toronto native, Gwendolyn MacEwen. He is currently composing a large song cycle for baritone voice and piano on poems by Toronto poet David Brock, inspired by the Epic of Gilgamesh. Scott completed the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Composition in 2012 at the University of Toronto, where he studied with Gary Kulesha.
Brian is an active choral musician singing in the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and Incontra Vocal Ensemble. In the media, he known for his work as a musical journalist, writing for Ludwig Van Toronto and The Wholenote. Visit brainchange.ca to see his work and follow him on social media: @bfchangTO
A business analyst with Ontario Power Generation for over 30 years, Maureen began her adventures in song at Bellefair United Church, where she was a soprano soloist. She has studied with Halina Wyszkowski, Ann Monoyios and Gabrielle McLaughlin, and specializes in baroque repertoire.
Maureen has been active in the Toronto choral community for many years. She has sung with the University of Toronto MacMillan Singers, Bach Festival Singers, Studio Sixteen, Toronto Choral Artists, to name a few, and has had several appearances as a featured soloist at the Ottawa Valley Music Festival. In addition to Incontra, Maureen sings with Cantabile Chamber Singers under Cheryll Chung, and Babel, a chamber choir specializing in Canadian/Chinese repertoire led by Elaine Choi
Outside of her musical life, Maureen serves on the boards of a number of arts organizations, and still finds time for bicycle touring with her husband Stewart and daily kickboxing at her local gym.
Photo credit: Anna Haines
New Zealand born baritone Bradley Christensen has been garnering an excellent reputation in Canada and abroad. Equally as comfortable on both concert and operatic stages, Bradley has continued to earn praise for his “most well-rounded instrument... focused, rich, and sympathetically communicative” (Ottawa Citizen), and “his imposing height, handsome stage presence and attractive lyric baritone” (Opera Canada). Bradley obtained his Master’s degree from the University of Toronto, receiving the University of Toronto - Faculty of Music Vocal Performance and Pedagogy Graduate Award. Bradley is also an alumnus of the prestigious Rebanks Family Fellowship and International Performance Residence Program at The Royal Conservatory. In 2017, Bradley made his professional U.S. debut performing the role of Agamemnon in Offenbach’s La belle Hélène with Opera North, and since, has been busy performing right across Canada with companies such as Fraser Lyric Opera (Prince George), Manitoba Underground Opera (Winnipeg), Opera Atelier (Toronto), Canadian Opera Company (Toronto), Southern Ontario Lyric Opera (Burlington), and Opera on the Avalon (St. John’s) to name a few.
Stewart is a lawyer and civil litigator with a not so secret life outside of law that includes cycling, astronomy, and music. He studied trombone and voice at Queen’s University before completing his M.A. in music history and ethnomusicology at the University of Toronto. Professionally, Stewart started as an instrumental music teacher with the Scarborough Board of Education before turning to law. At Osgoode Hall Law School he discovered other like-minded students wanting to escape the books through music.
Today you may see Stewart and these same lawyer friends playing community events in their Rhythm and Blues band: Tokyo Giants. His love of singing has meant he is a familiar face in Toronto choirs. Three bear mentioning: Cantabile Chamber Singersunder Cheryll Chung, an ensemble showcasing Canadian contemporary works; Babel Chorus under Elaine Choi specializing in Chinese repertoire; and Incontra under Matthew Otto, an ensemble exploring the best in choral repertoire.
Photo credit: Anna Haines
Stephen has been a member of Incontra since its inception in 2013 and relishes the opportunity to perform regularly with such talented and committed singers. He has had the distinct pleasure of performing in every one of Incontra’s Christmas concerts, as well as several convocations at Regis College. Stephen has had the joy of performing in six musical productions at various community theatre groups across the GTA and his choral experience includes numerous liturgical choirs in addition to Incontra. Stephen is a permanent construction technology teacher with the Durham Catholic District School Board and shares his love of music and performance with his wife, Paola, and hopes to one day share that same passion with his children.
Canadian-American soprano Sonya Harper Nyby has performed the roles of Zerlina (Don Giovanni, Ottawa, ON), Pamina (Die Zauberflöte, Toronto, ON; St. John’s, NL), Susanna (Il segreto di Susanna, Toronto, ON), Zweite Dame (Die Zauberflöte, Teplice, Czech Republic), Gianetta (L’elisir d’amore, Vancouver, BC), and Vittoria (The Gondoliers, Campbellford, ON). Her concert credits include Verbotenlieder(Tongue In Cheek Productions), the VOCALISseries (University of Toronto), Lunchtime Chamber Music (Nine Sparrows Arts Foundation), A Child’s Christmas in Wales (with Tom Allen, Lori Gemmell, and Etsuko Kimura), Gounod’s Messe solennelle de Sainte Cécile (Toronto Korean Canadian Choir), Mozart’s Mass in C minor (St. Anne’s Anglican Church), Vivaldi’sGloriaand Pergolesi’s Magnificat (Glenview Presbyterian Church). She sings regularly with Incontra Vocal Ensemble, the choir at Christ Church Deer Park, and The Hedgerow Singers. Sonya is a DMA candidate at the University of Toronto and an alumna of the NATS Intern Program (2017).
Dr. Bina John is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto. She teaches undergraduate/graduate courses in Music and Urban Engagement, Psychological Foundations, Keyboard Skills, Curriculum, and Music in Childhood. Dr. John received the Faculty of Music Excellence in Teaching Award at the University of Toronto in May 2014. Currently, Dr. John is working on two collaborative projects; one is to bring music education to vulnerable and at-risk youth in the Greater Toronto Area. As a successful co-applicant for a CIHR Grant, she will be developing a music curriculum for a mixed reality video game to provide early childhood music education for children with cerebral palsy. Dr. John is the organist and choir director at Lakeview Gregorios Indian Orthodox Church. Her choir is looking forward to their debut DCINY performance of Handel’s Messiah, conducted by Jonathan Griffith, on December 1st, 2019 at Carnegie Hall, New York City.
Choral conductor, pianist, alto, and scholar, Dr. Christina Labriola is ever interested in the interplay of music, beauty, and spirituality. Christina recently earned a doctoral degree in Pastoral Theology (ThD) from Regis College, Toronto School of Theology, at the University of Toronto, with a thesis on music’s sacramental potential through the lens of theological aesthetics. She is a graduate of the Master of Sacred Music (MSMus) program at Emmanuel College (TST, U of T), where she specialized in choral conducting. Prior to this, she received a Bachelor of Music (BMus) degree with Honours from the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music as a Piano major, and a Performer’s A.R.C.T. in Piano from the Royal Conservatory of Music. Christina is active in Toronto as a church musician, conductor, teacher, singer, accompanist, performer, and lecturer in a variety of settings.
Georgia is a mezzo-soprano and third year student at Victoria University in the University of Toronto pursuing an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Equity Studies, Diaspora and Transnational Studies, and History. She is an avid choral performer, having been a chorister in the Toronto Children’s Chorus for over eight years. She has performed with a variety of choral ensembles, including the University of Toronto MacMillan Singers, the Ontario Youth Choir, and the Toronto Youth Choir. Georgia was the 2018 National Youth Choir of Canada’s alto representative from Ontario, and she currently sings as the second soprano section lead at St. Paul’s Bloor Street Church. She was the winner of the Alliance for Canadian New Music Projects’ Contemporary Showcase Advanced Voice Award in 2016, and she made her Toronto Symphony Orchestra debut as the soprano soloist in its production of How the Gimquat Found Her Song in 2017.
Anna Lubinsky has been a member of the Incontra Vocal Ensemble since its inception in 2013. She was the Music Director for Campus Ministry at the University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto from 2009 to 2013 and has been a member of the Elora Festival Singers and Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. In April of 2019, she directed the Halton-Peel Community Aphasia Program choir, which presented a filmed performance at The Entertainers’ annual concert in Burlington. Anna currently volunteers with HPCAP’s community-based conversation groups for individuals with aphasia and works as a caregiver for seniors with memory care needs. She graduated from the University of Toronto in 2014 with an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics and Music History and is currently studying Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
Tamara grew up in a musical family, singing and playing the violin from a young age. She pursued studies in voice and music education at the Faculty of Music, U of T. Following this, she received her B.Ed and M.Ed from OISE and is currently a French Immersion teacher for the TDSB. Tamara enjoys singing with various groups in the city, including acting as a soprano lead at Church of the Redeemer, and in a cute little doo-wop group, The Redeemers! She is honoured to sing alongside the talented musicians in Incontra.
Praised by Opera Canada as “eye catching [...] with a charming, rich voice,” soprano Kelsey Taylor is a versatile young artist currently based out of Toronto, Ontario. A graduate of the University of Toronto Opera Division, Kelsey’s role credits include Norina (Don Pasquale), Miss Jessel (The Turn of the Screw), Servilia (La Clemenza di Tito), and Frasquita (Carmen). As a concert soloist, Kelsey has appeared with the Toronto Sinfonietta, Georgetown Choral Society, and Mississauga Symphony Orchestra, including performances as the soprano soloist in Vivaldi’s Gloria and Handel’s Messiah. Kelsey is also highly in demand as a featured soloist and choral section lead, and has collaborated locally with Toronto Masque Theatre, Cor Unum Ensemble, and Incontra Vocal Ensemble. Additionally, Kelsey is a passionate arts educator, and currently teaches at Earl Haig Secondary School’s Claude Watson Arts Program, where her choral ensembles have been awarded gold and platinum standings by the Toronto Kiwanis Music Festival and Ontario Vocal Festival.
Canadian bass Michael Uloth is a graduate of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio, the Seattle Opera Young Artists Program and the Glimmerglass Festival Young Artists Program. His opera credits include Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte, Sparafucile in Rigoletto, Leporello/Il Commendatore in Don Giovanni, Enrico VIII in Anna Bolena, Il Re di Scozia in Ariodante, Collatinus in The Rape of Lucretia, Pistola in Falstaff, Truffaldino in Ariadne auf Naxos, and Theseus in A Midsummer Night's Dream. His concert performances include Jesus in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion and St. John Passion, Judas in Elgar’s The Apostles, Haydn’s The Creation and Nelson Mass, Balthasar in Amahl and the Night Visitors, and Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle. He has been the recipient of numerous awards and generous support from the Canada Council for the Arts, and also holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature.
Up-and-coming Bass-Baritone Peter Warren continues to thrill on the operatic stage. His most recent appearance was as Ernesto in La Gazza Ladra by Rossini with the Teatro Nuovo Bel Canto Festival in New York City. Prior to that Mr. Warren was seen in La Boheme as Colline with Muskoka Festival Opera, Mustafa inL’Italiana in Algeri with MYOpera, as well as O’Neill and O’Reilly in the international debut of SHOT! by Canadian composer Abigail Richardson Schulte with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra. Aside from opera, Mr. Warren also enjoys performing Sacred Music, of which he recently performed as the bass soloist in Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass with St. Michael’s College Schola Cantorum in Toronto, and as the bass soloist in Rossini’s Stabat Mater with CAMMAC Toronto.
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