Our Mentors

Dr. Daniel Mehdizadeh

Composer & Mentor
Harmony | Counterpoint | Composition | Orchestration
D.M.A. - University of TorontoM.A. - University of OttawaB.A. - University of Ottawa​

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There is something vividly distinct about Mehdizadeh's music. This Canadian composer is revered for his intricate, unpredictable and haunting works. The sound and gesture of his pieces bury themselves deep in complex imagination, participating you in an exploration of uncertain visceral implications. His unique musical language is perceived as complex yet engaging, bringing together a hybrid of musical expression including contrapuntal textures and the Mehdizadeh Modes.


Dr. Daniel Mehdizadeh (DMA, University of Toronto) is currently based in the Greater Toronto Area and is the Composer-in-Residence for the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra. He has been involved in both national and international festival series. He is regularly commissioned and holds numerous performances in Europe and North America. His works have had global exposure and have been broadcasted across Canada and the US including appearance as guest composer on CBC Radio.


Mehdizadeh has worked closely with conductors Ronald Royer, Simon Rivard, Jeffrey Reynolds and pianist and conductor Jean Desmarais. Influential mentors include childhood teacher Abbas Khoshdel (Iranian traditional composer), Steven Gellman (Canadian composer) and Gary Kulesha (Canadian composer and conductor). Both as a lecturer and educator, Mehdizadeh has mentored many young and early-career composers, internationally, through various workshops including East Chamber Music's Emerging Composer Festival Series and the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra's New Generation Composer Workshop.


Together with the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra, Mehdizadeh kickstarted a new podcast series, SPOGreatMusic, helping develop new community partnerships including Scarborough Arts, FabCollab, Stratford Symphony Orchestra, the Canadian Music Centre, Canadian Sinfonietta, the Brantford Symphony Orchestra, and the Cathedral Bluffs Symphony Orchestra. As a result, the orchestra was awarded the Canadian Music Centre's 2021 Beckwith Award.


Mehdizadeh’s works receive funding through commissions and private patrons (long-time donor and supporter Nicole Senécal), as well as institutions including the latest Ontario Arts Council studio recording grant. He has collaborated with Orchestre de la Francophonie, Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra, Georgian Bay Symphony, the Princeton Singers and the Ewashko Singers amongst many others. Notable world-renowned performers include Belgian flautist Marc Grauwels and Dutch theremin player Thorwald Jørgensen with multiple commissions and performances in festivals around the world.

Ron Royer

Composer & Music Director of the Scarborough Philharmonic OrchestraPerformed by over 70 orchestras world-wide

With numerous performances, commissions and commercial recordings, Ronald Royer is a prominent Canadian composer who strives to connect with audiences. Justin O’Dell of The Clarinet magazine writes: “Ronald Royer’s music is beautifully appealing and communicative”, while Stanley Fefferman of Showtimemagazine.ca contributes, “These masterful and witty pieces live up to Royer’s reputation for music that is both entertaining and imaginative.”


His concert music has been performed by more than 70 orchestras, including the international iPalpiti Orchestra in Disney Concert Hall (Los Angeles, USA), Sinfonia Finlandia (Finland), Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic Orchestra (Czech Republic), Athens La Camerata (Greece), Joensuu City Orchestra (Finland), and Members of the Wurttemberg Chamber Orchestra (Germany). Canadian performances have included the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, Victoria Symphony, Hamilton Philharmonic, Orchestra London, Niagara Symphony, Thunder Bay Symphony and Symphony New Brunswick. The Ontario Festival Symphony Orchestra performed his composition Exuberance on tour in China (available on YouTube). He has served as the composer-in-residence for Sinfonia Toronto, Mississauga Symphony (supported by the Canada Council for the Arts), Toronto Sinfonietta, Scarborough Philharmonic and the Brantford Symphony.


Born in Los Angeles into a family of professional musicians, he began his career as a cellist, performing with such ensembles as the Toronto Symphony, Utah Symphony, Pacific Symphony, and American Ballet Theatre Orchestra, as well as working in the Motion Picture and Television Industry in Los Angeles during the 1980’s. Having been inspired by working with a number of concert and film composers, Mr. Royer began serious studies in composition in the 1990’s, receiving a master’s degree in composition from the University of Toronto in 1997. His principal composition teachers were Alexander Rapoport, Walter Buczynski and Lothar Klein. Mr. Royer has received commissioning grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the Toronto Arts Council, the Laidlaw Foundation and more. He is an associate composer of the Canadian Music Centre.

In addition to composing, Mr. Royer is presently serving as the music director and conductor of the Scarborough Philharmonic and has guest conducted a number of orchestras. For 21 years, he worked as an Instructor of Music for the University of Toronto Schools. He continues to teach private lessons and be an advocate for music education. Mr. Royer is married to clarinetist Kaye Royer and has composed several works for her.

Thorwald Jørgensen

Theremin

Thorwald Jørgensen is known as one of the leading classical theremin players in the world. After graduating from the conservatory he quickly established himself as one of the most prominent players of the instrument and made full time career of playing the instrument. Since the playing technique also resembles that of a string instrument, Thorwald was coached by Saskia Boon, former cellist with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.


Having a busy concert schedule, Thorwald has played to great reviews as a chamber musician, soloist and orchestral thereminist in Europe, both North and South America, Asia, Australia, Canada and Russia. A remarkable highlight was the Dutch premiere of the theremin concertino by Anis Fuleihan.

Besides these concerts Thorwald also performed for radio and television and played at festivals, like Ravinia Festival (USA) Festival Classique (NL), Bach Festival (NL), Without Touch (DE) Hands Off (UK), Klassifest (NL), Node (CH), Music and Beyond (CA), Festival Electromagnética Santiago (CL), Klarafestival (BE), Fête de la Musique (CH), MAGFestival (HRV), Lunigiana International Music Festival (IT) International Film Festival Rotterdam / IFFR (NL) Gaudeamus Music Week (NL), November Music (NL), Wonderfeel (NL), Ars Musica (BE), Albury Chamber Music Festival (AU) New Music Festival Montréal (CA) and the Thereminology Festival in Moscow and St Petersburg (RU). He was also invited as a guest teacher/lecturer/performer at renowned institutions like the Conservatory of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, St. Petersburg (RU), Nizhny Novgorod (RU), Stanford University (USA) and Harvard University (USA) and the University of Havana (CU)


Thorwald played as a soloist with numerous orchestras around the world, like Philharmonie Zuid-Nederland, Brussels Philharmonic, Cyprus Symphony Orchestra, Norrköping Symphony Orchestra, Opera2Day, kammerphilharmonie bremen, Eskişehir Symphony Orchestra, Dutch Theatre Orchestra, Antalya Symphony Orchestra, Ottawa Chamber Players, Antwerp Symphony Orchestra, Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Chamber Orchestra of Wallonie, Bursa State Symphony Orchestra, KODA Chamber Orchestra, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Bremer Philharmoniker and the Presidential Symphony Orchestra of Turkey.


As a chamber musician Thorwald works together with both pianist Kamilla Bystrova and the Utrecht String Quartet. A highlight was the world premiere of Canadian composer Simon Bertrand "The Invisible Singer - an album for theremin and string quartet" , performed during the Gaudeamus Music Week in the Netherlands.


Thorwald is an advocate for new theremin repertoire and composers from all over the world have written pieces for him. Recently Thorwald also started composing himself, resulting in several solo pieces for theremin. His first composition Distant Shores for theremin, voice and loop-station was an instant success and was recorded for TV and radio in Canada, Croatia, Turkey, Australia, Russia, USA and the Netherlands.


Thorwald currently plays a MOOG Etherwave Pro theremin.

Dr. Matthew Tozer

Composer & Educator
PhD Composition - University of Western OntarioM. Mus - Composition University of Western OntarioB. Mus - Queen’s University


Dr. Tozer currently resides in London, Canada, and holds a PhD in Music Composition. He works as a freelance composer, university instructor, and operates a private piano, theory, and composition studio. Described as ‘highly lyrical’ and ‘rich in harmony’ his music explores the juxtaposition of sound and silence and the evolution of musical timbres over time. He is an associate member of the Canadian Music Centre, The Canadian League of Composers, and is a registered teacher in the Ontario Music Teachers Association. Dr. Tozer is a strong advocate for music education having completed multiple university level instructional courses and specializes in teaching composition, harmony and analysis, counterpoint, and beginner piano. Dr. Tozer is actively involved in the creation of new work through the collaborative process with his compositions being programmed and performed by ensembles and in festivals across Canada, the United States, and Europe.


Kaye Royer

Clarinet

Kaye Royer is an active soloist, chamber musician and orchestral performer. She is principal clarinet with the Brantford Symphony, Canadian Sinfonietta, Sinfonia Toronto, Scarborough Philharmonic, Toronto Sinfonietta, and the Stratford Symphony. She has performed with orchestras such as the London Sinfonia, Kitchener Waterloo Symphony, Hamilton Philharmonic, Niagara Symphony, Windsor Symphony, Ontario Philharmonic, Talisker Players, Toronto Concert Orchestra, Arcady Orchestra, Mandel Philharmonic and Orchestra London. She performed with the orchestra on the Ontario portion of a Diana Krall world tour and toured China where she performed as principal clarinet with the Ontario Festival Symphony Orchestra. She has performed in the orchestra for such legends as Sarah Brightman, Michael Bolton, Il Divo, Il Volo, Richard Margison, Diana Kroll, Loreena McKennitt, Natalie McMaster and film composer David Rose.

As a recording artist, she was a featured soloist on Toronto Sinfonietta’s Romancing Chopin and The Winds of the Scarborough Philharmonic’s Canadian Panorama. She has played on The Hollywood Flute of Louise DiTullio, Conrad Chow’s Premieres, and the children’s album The Storyteller’s Bag. She has worked on the soundtracks of such films as Gooby (starring Robbie Coltrane and Eugene Levy), Prisma, The Dog and The Happy Couple as well as an Alexanian Carpet commercial (actor and musician). She has been heard on radio broadcasts on Canadian stations CFMZ, CJRT-FM, CFWC-FM and nationally on CBC 1 and 2. Her recordings have been broadcast numerous times in the United States on Satellite Radio and various National Public Radio stations. Recent engagements include performing and recording a quintet with Máté Szűcs (soloist and former Principal Violist of the Berlin Philharmonic), violinist Joyce Lai, cellist Andras Weber and pianist Talisa Blackman in the fall of 2019.

As a teacher, Kaye has an active private studio, as well as serving as the clarinet instructor at Havergal College, St Clements School, Bayview Glen and Cardinal Carter Academy of the Arts. She has presented workshops and clinics at a number of schools, including St. Andrews College, Hillfield Strathallan College, Rosedale Heights School of the Arts, and the University of Toronto Schools. She is a Certified Advanced Specialist of the Royal Conservatory of Music.

Kamilla Bystrova

Pianist
Faculty Member at The Hague Royal ConservatoryMA - Hague Royal Conservatory

Kamilla Bystrova was born in Moscow and began studying piano with her mother, a music professor. She is a graduate of the famous piano school founded by Heinrich Neuhaus, who taught Sviatoslav Richter, Emil Gilels and Radu Lupu. She earned a Master’s degree from the Conservatory of St. Petersburg and went on to perform with the Moscow Philharmonic Society across Europe. She attended master classes of Emanuel Ax, Mstislav Rostropovich and Ruth Nye.


After she received another Master’s degree from The Hague’s Royal Conservatory with Naum Grubert, Bystrova was invited to join the faculty, and performed as a soloist and with chamber ensembles. In 1992, she won The Link Prize for her performance of Pictures At An Exhibition.


She has transcribed songs by Schumann and Tchaikovsky, and has recently expanded the repertoire by adapting Schubert’s Winterreise for solo piano. Her performance of this new work will be released soon.


In addition to her busy teaching and performing schedule, Bystrova paints, draws and sculpts. Her work can be found in private collections. An avid outdoors enthusiast, she enjoys hiking and skiing.

Naoko Tsujita

Percussion | Marimba
M. Mus (Percussion Performance) - University of TorontoB. Mus - Acadia UniversityMusic & Education Diploma - Oita Prefectural College of Arts and Culture

Naoko Tsujita is a Japanese percussionist whose diverse career has led her to give performances in cities in Canada, the US, Europe, and Japan. As a marimba soloist, she won the University of Toronto Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition and was a finalist at the South Japan Music Competition. As a percussionist, she has performed in concert with many world-renowned musicians, including Gary Kulesha, Kristina Szabo, James Campbell, and Pius Cheung at festivals and venues such as Ottawa Chamberfest, Spectrum Music Canada, and the Alte Schmiede Kunstverein Vienna. She also has worked with a variety of musicians in various genres and has had her playing featured in albums by JUNO award-winning artists including Canadian composer Derek Charke and Madagassi singer-songwriter Donné Roberts. In addition to her chamber experience, she also has performed in the percussion section for the Mandle Philharmonic Orchestra, Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra, and Greater Toronto Philharmonic Orchestra in Canada as well as Opera Teatro Lirica, Kumamoto Ballet, and Ensemble Lab Kumamoto in Japan.


Aside from her performance career, Naoko’s compositions have received several international awards. Most recently, "Itsuki Lullaby" for Carillon won first place at the 2020 Sally Slade Warner Arrangements & Transcriptions Competition and was published by the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America. “Nocturne Dance" for the carillon duet received a Special Jury Mention at the Perpignan Carillon Composition Competition in 2019, which was performed at the Perpignan Sacred Festival 2020 in France and published by the American Carillon Music Editions in the same year. Meanwhile, she received a commission from Trinity College, Hartford in the United States for the 2021 Virtual Congress of The Guild of Carillonneurs in North America and the World Carillon Federation, the Metropolitan United Church for the Rededication of the Metropolitan United Church’s Carillon in 2020, and Spectrum Music Canada for their concert series “Voyages Extraordinaires”.


Naoko has studied with marimba artists Beverly Johnston, Mika Stoltzman, percussionists Aiyun Huang, Mark Duggan, Mark Adam, Ken Shorley, and Takashi Fukuda, as well as Christos Hatzis and Peter Togni in composition. She started piano at the age of 4, percussion at the age of 9, and marimba at the age of 11. She completed her master’s degree in Percussion Performance from the University of Toronto, a bachelor's degree from Acadia University, and a diploma in music and education at the Oita Prefectural College of Arts and Culture.

Daniel Ramjattan

Classical Guitar
Guitrar Instructor at Wilfrid Laurier University DMA (Classical Guitar & Music Performance Anxiety) - University of TorontoM. Mus (Classical Guitar) - University of OttawaB. Mus (Classical Guitar) - University of Ottawa

Daniel Ramjattan is rapidly emerging as an ambassador for the classical guitar in Canada, and is becoming increasingly sought-after as a performance coach and teacher. He was recently appointed as a guitar instructor at Wilfrid Laurier University's Faculty of Music as of September 2020.

Past performances have taken him to Vienna, Austria, Italy, and various locations across Canada, the United States, and Japan. He has performed in concert with many world renowned musicians, including Vittorio and Duccio Ceccanti, Gary Kulesha, Kristina Szabo, Raphael Weinroth-Browne, and many others. He has performed in festivals and venues such as the Alte Schmiede Kunst Verein, Vienna, the Livorno Music Festival, Ottawa Chamberfest, Stratford's Inner Chamber, and the Toronto Contemporary Music Lab.

Daniel has received awards for his playing on the provincial, national, and international levels, placing second in the FCMF National Music Competition, receiving second place prize in the National level of the Canadian Music Competition and First Prize in the Concours de Guitare Outaouais-Gatineau. He also received the Domaine Forget International Music Academy guitar award in 2013 as well as the first prize in the Open Level of the Ontario Music Festivals Association Provincial Guitar competition in both 2014 and 2016. He also placed as a finalist in the Hamilton International Guitar Competition and the Montreal International Guitar Competition in the past.

He has received lessons and masterclasses from world-renowned guitarists such as Denis Azabagic, Jorge Caballero, Pavel Steidl, Sergio Assad, Lorenzo Micheli, Pepe Romero, Fabio Zanon, Bruce Holzman, Remi Boucher, Patrick Roux, and Jerome Ducharme. He also received the Nalini Perera Scholarship from the University of Ottawa, which permitted him to study with Lorenzo Micheli in Austria and Italy in Summer 2017.

Daniel has a particular love for new music and the music of new composers. He premiered a set of six works for guitar and marimba at the Alte Schmiede Kunstverein, in Vienna, Austria, with percussionist Naoko Tsujita in January 2018. In the past, he has premiered works by Daniel Mehdizadeh, Raphael Weinroth-Browne, Dr. John Armstrong, Alex Eddington, Ricardo Tovar Mateus, and several other composers.

Daniel holds a Master's degree and a Bachelor of Music Degree in classical guitar performance from the University of Ottawa, where he studied with the renowned composer-performer Patrick Roux. He also studied with world-renowned pedagogue Bruce Holzman in Tallahassee, Florida for a semester in Fall 2014.

Daniel is currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree at the University of Toronto with Dr. Jeffrey McFadden, where he is studying music performance anxiety (stage fright) for his dissertation. He often shares the insights from his research with students, and is active as a performance coach for musicians who suffer with severe music performance anxiety.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Daniel founded Concerts for the End of Time, a livestream concert platform on Twitch that features high level guitarists and musicians from all over the world every other Saturday, at https://twitch.tv/concertsfortheendoftime.

Daniel performs on a 2010 left-handed seven-string Kolya Panhuyzen guitar.

Asher Farber

Collaborative Pianist Conductor
M. Mus (Collaborative Piano) - University of TorontoB. Mus - University of Ottawa

Now situated and proudly serving the Toronto community, Asher remains true to the 'collaborative' title and nature of his education. Currenty, Asher is the conductor of the Miles Nadal JCC Daytime Choir and the Prosserman JCC Shalom Singers. He is also the collaborative pianist for the Miles Nadal JCC Community Choir and the North York Choralairs; he is a regular chorister and pianist with the Beth Tzedec Shir Hadash ensemble. Asher regularly reads Torah and confidently leads and participates in synagogue services. Always looking towards new and exciting projects, he is currently teaming up with Class Act Productions, bringing extracurricular musical theater programming into public schools.

Sadaf Amini

Santour (trraditional instrument)
M. Mus - University of TorontoB. Mus - Tehran University

Sadaf Amini began learning the Santur when she was a child. In 2012, she received her Bachelor’s degree in Iranian Music Performance at Tehran University. After immigrating to Canada, she received her Master’s degree in Music Technology at the University of Toronto in 2018. She has performed at various music festivals and received prizes, which the latest were the 2019 YGK emerging musician competition (Kingston), and the 2020 Kingston Film Festival Local Music Video Showcase Jury Prize (Kingston). She has also collaborated with various ensembles which have led to several album recordings; her most recent release was her original Santur solo album “Flow”.

Currently, she is expanding her repertoire from traditional Iranian music to a more personal style that expresses her inner feelings to a greater extent. Sadaf is also very much active as an educator, creating youtube education content. Check out her Educational YouTube videos by clicking here.


Zac Pulak

Percussion
B. Mus - University of Ottawa

Hailing from Winnipeg; Ottawa based percussionist Zac Pulak has been described as a “funky, well oiled machine” (Ottawa Citizen) and was recently named as one of CBC’s 30 Hot Canadian Classical Musicians Under 30. “One of Ottawa’s most dynamic Musicians (CBC Classical). Zac has worked with world class organizations such as the National Arts Centre, Music and Beyond, Ottawa International Chamberfest, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, Scotia Festival of Music, Tuckamore Chamber Music Festival, and many others. Zac has completed artist residencies at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and SMU (Dallas, TX). In his work as a freelance orchestral musician Zac has performed with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra, and the symphony orchestra’s of Ottawa, Thunder Bay, and Winnipeg.

Zac also performs in his piano/percussion chamber project SHHH!! Ensemble (with pianist Edana Higham). Together they have toured nationally, performing recitals, outreach concerts, and masterclasses.

Zac is an artist/endorser of SABIAN Cymbals.

Risa Tonita

Collaborative Piano
D.M.A. - University of British Columbia (enrolled) M. Mus - University of OttawaB. Mus - University of Ottawa

Currently working on a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at UBC, Risa Tonita is a vibrant performer and teacher who communicates generously through her music. A very versatile musician, Risa performs as a solo and collaborative pianist, a singer, and a vocal coach. Some recent highlights include performing for The Old School House “Music on Sundays” concert series with bassoonist Ingrid Chiang and oboist Emma Ringrose (2020), currently working as studio pianist for the students of Peter Barcza and Dale Throness at the University of British Columbia, working as rehearsal pianist for the Best of Broadway POPS concert at the National Arts Centre in 2018, and performing Gerswhin’s Concerto in F with the Parkdale Orchestra in Ottawa in 2016. Since moving to Vancouver in September 2019, Risa has begun to establish herself as a pianist in the city working with a number of singers and instrumentalists at UBC and in the community. Risa is also committed to fighting stigmas associated with mental health, gender inequity, and cultural oppression, and seeks out opportunities to combine this interest with her love of Canadian repertoire.

In addition to being a dedicated pianist, Risa is a voice teacher and collaborative pianist. Her experience in theatre, dance, and singing contribute to her ability to create characters within any genre or style of classical music, and she loves to encourage students to be creative with their own ideas and to experience their music-making from a personal angle. Risa's studio is currently based in Vancouver where she continues to inspire her students to be creative, to take risks, and to face challenges with enthusiasm.

Natalya Gennadi

Voice/ OperaRussian Dictation Coach
M. Mus - University of Toronto (Opera Performance)B. Mus - University of Ottawa
Moscow Lomonosov State University (Specialist Diploma in Russian Linguistics and Literature)


Ukrainian-Canadian soprano Natalya Gennadi is gaining attention in North America for her performances in wide-ranging repertoire. Natalya caused a sensation in the leading role of Oksana G, Tapestry Opera’s harrowing tale about human trafficking. Her Dora Award-nominated performance in this world premiere was described as “stunning... piercing in its openness and vulnerability” (Toronto NOW Magazine).


As Mimi in La Boheme with Highlands Opera Studio, Dawn Martens of Opera Canada wrote: “Natalya was a gorgeous Mimi; not only did she look the part of the consumptive heroine, she allowed her powerful voice to ebb and flow producing gorgeously rich tones in Act I and sweeter, melodic phrases in Act IV."


In 2020 Natalya makes her Pacific Opera Victoria debut as Gerhilde (Die Walküre), and stars as Helen in Michael Rose’s A Northern Lights Dream with Toronto Operetta Theatre in 2020. In the previous season she portrayed Violetta (La Traviata) and Donna Anna (Don Giovanni) with Opera York, Countess Almaviva with Southern Ontario Lyric Opera’s Le Nozze di Figaro, and Mimi in La Bohème with Brott Opera.


Recent concert performances include guest appearances with Toronto’s Pax Christi Chorale, followed by performances with Kitchener Waterloo Community Orchestra’s Gala Opernball, and Messiah with Ottawa’s Rideau Chorale, Matthew Larkin, conductor.


Natalya earned a Specialist Diploma in Russian Linguistics and Literature from Moscow Lomonosov State University, graduated from University of Ottawa (BMus), and received her Master’s in Music (Opera Performance) from University of Toronto. She shares her love of Slavic music as a professional Russian diction coach and an avid supporter of Ukrainian vocal repertoire.