JUNO nominated composer John Estacio has served as composer in residence for the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, the Calgary Philharmonic, the Calgary Opera, and Pro Coro Canada. His residencies have yielded numerous orchestral works, several of which appear on Frenergy, the Music of John Estacio, released by CBC Records.
The last decade has seen Estacio focus on operatic works. Together with librettist John Murrell, he was written three operas including Lillian Alling which premiered in October 2010 by the Vancouver Opera. Filumena, his first opera, premiered in 2003 in Calgary and Banff and went on to receive four Betty Mitchell Awards including the award for outstanding production of musical theatre work. Additional productions soon followed in Ottawa and Edmonton. Filumena was filmed for television and has been broadcast on CBC and PBS.
Estacio recently completed an orchestral score for Cincinnati Ballet’s original production of King Arthur’s Camelot. With choreography by Victoria Morgan, the ballet premiered in Cincinnati February 2014. Baritone Russell Braun and violinist James Ehnes recently premiered Away and Awake in the Night, a new song cycle in the spring of 2013.
Estacio is the recipient of the NAC Award for composers which will result in three commissioned works for the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the first of which was premiered in Ottawa and throughout the Atlantic provinces in the fall of 2011. Conductor Pinchas Zukerman and the NACO also performed Brio during the tour of China in 2013 and will include the work during their UK tour in the fall of 2014. Other awards include an AMPIA Award for his film score for The Secret of the Nutcracker, and his frequent performances and broadcasts have earned him several SOCAN Concert Music Awards.
His works have been performed at Carnegie Hall, including performances by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and a performance of his Triple Concerto in May 2012 by the Edmonton Symphony. The Richard Eaton Singers toured Europe with his new choral work branche. The Royal Winnipeg Ballet featured several of Estacio’s orchestral works in a new ballet Wonderland with choreography by Shawn Hounsell.
The work of Governor General’s Award winning playwright Robert Chafe has been seen across Canada, the UK, Australia, and in the United States. He is the author of eighteen stage scripts and co-author of another ten. He frequently collaborates with director Jillian Keiley.
Chafe was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for Drama for Tempting Providence and Butler’s Marsh In 2004, and won the award for Afterimage in 2010. Tempting Providence, directed by Keiley and produced by Theatre Newfoundland and Labrador (Corner Brook, Newfoundland), is entering its eleventh year of Canadian and international touring.
He has been writer in residence at Artistic Fraud, Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre, Playwrights Workshop Montreal, Forest Forge Theatre, (Hampshire, UK) and Memorial University of Newfoundland, and a guest instructor at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, and The National Theatre School of Canada.
His plays include Oil and Water, Tempting Providence, Emile’s Dream, and Fear of Flight. Oil and Water, about the USS Truxton disaster and survivor Lanier Phillips, premiered in a sold out run in February 2011 in St. John’s and continues to tour Canada. Robert is Artistic Director and playwright for Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland.
Glynis Leyshon is one of Canada’s most respected opera and theatre directors. Her most recent project was Otello for Pacific Opera Victoria, a work she remounts in January of 2016 for L’Opéra de Montréal. During the 2014/2015 season her productions included Don Giovanni in Buffalo, Lucia di Lammermoor for Pacific Opera Victoria and Mikado for Calgary Opera. In recent seasons she has directed Falstaff and Die Fledermaus for Opera Hamilton, Albert Herring for Vancouver Opera and Pacific Opera Victoria and Madama Butterfly and La Traviata for Calgary Opera. Her special association with these two companies has also resulted in acclaimed productions of The Rake’s Progress, Barber’s Vanessa and Der Fliegende Holländer for Pacific Opera Victoria and Don Giovanni in Calgary. Ms. Leyshon directed productions of Rigoletto for Vancouver Opera and Die Zauberflöte in both Victoria, British Columbia and London, Ontario. Further credits include Cenerentola, The Merry Widow and Tales of Hoffmann for Calgary Opera; Salome, and Madama Butterfly for Vancouver Opera; Trail by Jury for Edmonton Opera and Falstaff for Opera Lyra, Ottawa. From 2002-04, Ms. Leyshon was Head of the Opera as Theatre Programme at The Banff Centre where she mounted original opera programmes, created by renowned opera librettist John Murrell, focusing on operatic works based on the plays of Shakespeare. During her longstanding relationship with Pacific Opera Victoria, Ms. Leyshon has created over 20 new productions. Highlights include Eugene Onegin, Macbeth, Madama Butterfly, two separate productions of Don Giovanni, Pirates of Penzance, and a rare revival of Vittorio Giannini’s The Taming of the Shrew and the Canadian premier of Blitzstein’s Regina. While the majority of this operatic work has been in the traditional repertoire, Ms. Leyshon’s experience as a dramaturge and director of new theatre work has led her to develop and direct a number of new opera productions including Game Misconduct by Leslie Uyeda and librettist Tom Cone, which had a successful premier at Festival Vancouver. She has also been invited to workshop a number of contemporary pieces at The Banff Centre and assisted in the preparation of Mary’s Wedding, a new opera based on Stephen Massicotte’s award-winning play for Pacific Opera Victoria’s world premiere in 2011. As Artistic Director of the Playhouse Theatre Company in Vancouver (1997 – 2009), Ms. Leyshon directed a wide range of work, including a Jessie award-winning production of Equus, Copenhagen with Tony award winner Brent Carver, A Little Night Music, Mrs. Warren’s Profession (co-production with The Citadel Theatre, Edmonton), The Beauty Queen of Lenane (co-production with the National Arts Centre) and Wit (co-production with Canadian Stage, Toronto). Glynis Leyshon -2- Before the Playhouse, Ms. Leyshon served as Artistic Director of the Belfry Theatre in Victoria for 11 seasons. During her tenure she directed over 25 productions, including national tours of The Ballad of Phil Ochs and was instrumental in heading a capital campaign that allowed the theatre to purchase and renovate a landmark heritage building. Ms. Leyshon has also been invited to direct for theatre companies across the country, including the hugely successful Gershwin musical Lady Be Good and the rarely mounted Sullivan musical The Zoo for the Shaw Festival. Other theatrical works include the Chalmers award-winning The Hope Slide at the Tarragon Theatre, The Taming of the Shrew at Vancouver’s International Shakespeare Festival Bard on the Beach, Vigil for Theatre Calgary, and the world premiers of Warriors by Michel Garneau and Moo by Sally Clark at the international ATP Playrites Theatre Festival. In June of 2008 she premiered a new play, Where the Blood Mixes, at Luminato, Toronto’s Festival of Arts and Creativity and at the Magnetic North Festival in Vancouver. Ms. Leyshon has a particular passion for working with and teaching young and emerging artists and is the recipient of Canada’s Commonwealth Medal for her contributions to the arts. She has conducted master classes for opera training programmes in Calgary, Victoria, Courtenay, and Banff. In addition to this work, she has also conducted courses at the University of Victoria, William Head Penitentiary, the Victoria Conservatory
Cheryl Hickman has served as Artistic Director of Opera on the Avalon since 2009. Top prize winner in the George London Competition in New York, she debuted with Florida Grand Opera as Desdemona in Otello, sang the role of Mary in the New York City Opera’s Ballad of Baby Doe and starred in Saint-Saëns’ La Princesse Jaune for l’Opéra Français de New York conducted by Yves Abel. She was heard with the Canadian Opera Company as the Female Chorus in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia, the Mother and the Witch in Hänsel und Gretel and covered the role of Senta in Wagner’s Der Fliegende Holländer.
Other roles include Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream which she performed at the Aspen Festival, Kathleen in Vaughan Williams’ Riders to the Sea and Susan B. Anthony in The Mother of Us All. Other highlights include Madame Lidoine in Dialogues des Carmélites for Calgary Opera and her engagement as the cover artist for Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder and The Immolation Scene from Götterdämmerung with the Vancouver Symphony. She appeared in the Canadian premiere of Dead Man Walking for Calgary Opera and sang Berg’s Sieben Frühe Lieder for Orchestra Toronto and Beethoven’s Choral Fantasia and Symphony No. 9 for Symphony Nova Scotia. In 2006-2007 she returned to Calgary for Clorinda in La Cenerentola. Dates with the Newfoundland Symphony include Dvorak’s Te Deum and an all Wagner programme including the Immolation Scene from Wagner’s Götterdämmerung.
Featured in Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi at New York City Opera, Ms. Hickman’s roles at City Opera include Erste Dame in Die Zauberflöte, Fortuna in Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria and Eve in Drattell’s Lilith. In Alberta, Calgary Opera audiences heard her as Gertrude/die Hexe in Hänsel und Gretel and she debuted as the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro for Pacific Opera Victoria. Ms. Hickman appeared in performances of Bernstein’s ‘Kaddish’ Symphony with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir.
She debuted with Manitoba Opera as Donna Anna in Don Giovanni and sang Micaëla in Carmen for Pacific Opera Victoria and Marianne in Der Rosenkavalier for Vancouver Opera. Ms. Hickman received her Master of Music degree in voice from the prestigious Juilliard School of Music and was also a member of the Juilliard Opera Center where she was featured in Die Zauberflöte, Monsieur Choufleuri, A Hand of Bridge, Il Capello di Paglia di Firenze and Liasons. The St. John’s, Newfoundland native holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Toronto and also received a Diploma from the Opera Division.
Judith Yan is a Canadian conductor, born in Hong Kong. Equally adept at conducting opera, ballet, and symphony, her career has taken her internationally, conducting for major companies in Germany, Italy, Hong Kong, South Korea, New Zealand, and the United States. She is currently the Artistic Director of Guelph Symphony Orchestra and Music Director and Principal Conductor of Opera on the Avalon. She has held Staff Conductor positions at the San Francisco Opera, the Canadian Opera Company, and the National Ballet of Canada.
Her professional career started in Canada at the Canadian Opera Company, where she served as the Conductor-in-Residence, a position created for her by then General Director, the late Richard Bradshaw. For the Canadian Opera Company, she conducted in the Altamira-sponsored outdoor concerts, a workshop production of Alexina Louie’s The Scarlet Princess, and Benjamin Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia. Critic Peter Dyson, in his review for UK’s Opera Magazine wrote: “The chamber orchestra, under Judith Yan’s energetic conducting, skillfully projected the score’s rhythmic variety…its striking harmonic shifts, always allied to and furthering the action on stage.” While at the COC, she also served as Rehearsal and Cover Conductor for productions of Xerses, Don Giovanni, Idomeneo, Il barbiere di Sivilglia, La Traviata, Il Trovatore, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, Die verkaufte Braut, and Pel!éas et Mélisande. During her tenure with the Canadian Opera Company, she collaborated with members of Stratford Festival, Ballet Jorgen and the Toronto Symphony on a program of Prokofiev, Bernstein and Gounod in the Romeo and Juliet MODD project.
Her career continued in the United States, where she was appointed Staff Conductor of the San Francisco Opera. While with the San Francisco Opera she conducted the 2005 Merola production of Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress, garnering critical acclaim. Critic Joshua Kosman, in his review for the San Francisco Chronicle, wrote: “the evening’s principal hero was conductor Judith Yan, who led this daunting score with astonishing precision and fluency. She never downplayed or regularized the score’s sharp edges, but she made them sound natural and even commonsensical, like poetry recited in the speaker’s own language.” The performances were later included in the San Francisco Chronicle’s list of Top Ten Classical Performances of 2005. Along with The Rake’s Progress, she conducted the world premiere of the Pulitzer Prize winning composer Lewis Spratlin’s Earthrise, an opera commissioned by the San Francisco Opera, and made her company debut in 2002 with Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera. As a member of the San Francisco Opera music staff, she served as the cover and rehearsal conductor for productions of La Damnation de Faust, Otello, Falstaff, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, Hänsel und Gretel, Samson et Dalila and Giulio Cesare, and assisted on productions of St. Francois d’Assise, Jenufa, Alcina and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.