Kathleen Allan is the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Amadeus Choir of Greater Toronto, and Artistic Director of Canzona, Winnipeg’s professional Baroque choir. Originally from St. John’s, NL, Ms. Allan is in high demand as a conductor, composer and clinician and is equally comfortable working in early, contemporary, and symphonic repertoire. Recent guest conducting engagements include the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Victoria Symphony, Regina Symphony Orchestra, Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra, Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, and Early Music Vancouver. In 2015, Ms. Allan made her Asian debut conducting Handel’s Messiah and Bach’s Christmas Oratorio in Japan, and in 2016, she was the recipient of the Sir Ernest MacMillan Prize in Choral Conducting. She is a founding co-Artistic Director of Arkora, an electric vocal chamber consort dedicated to blurring lines between the music of our time and masterworks from the ancient repertoire. A passionate educator, she was a Visiting Professor of Conducting at Western University from 2019-2021 and now serves on the music faculty at the University of Toronto where she teaches conducting to undergraduate and graduate students. Ms. Allan’s compositions have been commissioned, performed and recorded by ensembles throughout the Americas and Europe and have been featured at two World Symposiums on Choral Music. Her music is published by Boosey and Hawkes, Cypress Choral Music, and she is a MusicSpoke composer. Also an accomplished soprano, she has appeared as a soloist with the National Broadcast Orchestra, Berkshire Choral Festival, and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. In addition to freelancing regularly in Canada and the US, she has performed with the Vancouver Chamber Choir, the Arnold Schoenberg Chor (Vienna), Skylark Vocal Ensemble (Atlanta), and the Yale Schola Cantorum. She holds a degree in composition from the University of British Columbia and a master’s degree in conducting from Yale University.
Paolo Griffin is a composer and curator whose work explores contextual ontologies, and non-hierarchical forms of action/interactions between processes and systemic organizations. In 2018, Paolo founded Freesound, a contemporary classical music performance collective that emphasizes collaboration and experimentation, and which operates as a non-hierarchical collective, with all members acting as curators, performers, and commissioners. As a curator with Freesound, Paolo organizes concerts and events and collaborate with artists from different artistic disciplines around Canada. Paolo is also an advocate of accessible arts and disability inclusive practices. He works as the Managing Director of Xenia Concerts, a charity that focuses on presenting accessible concerts and musical events for neurodiverse and disability communities. In this role, he helps to design neurodiversity-friendly, accessible concerts for those who might otherwise not have access to such events due to a variety of systemic and social barriers. Paolo holds degrees in music composition from the University of Toronto and the Royal Conservatoire of the Hague, where he studied with Peter Adriaansz, Martijn Padding, and Gary Kulesha (Canada). Paolo sits on the board of Musicworks Magazine. His work and research are supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Canadian New Music Network.
Olivia Shortt is a weirdo, noisemaker, video artist, wannabe fashion icon, curator, and troublemaker. Shortt's work is inspired by their love of camp, drag, and gender expression and its relation to Indigeneity. Shortt was featured in the 2020 Winter edition of Musicworks Magazine. Career highlights include Shortt’s world premiere performance (Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC) of ‘For Olivia Shortt’ Pulitzer Prize Composer Raven Chacon (as part of Chacon’s series ‘For Zitkala-Ša’ as featured at The 2022 Whitney Biennial); their Lincoln Center (NYC) debut playing percussion in 2018 with the International Contemporary Ensemble; their film debut in Atom Egoyan’s 2019 film ‘Guest of Honour’; and recording an album of Robert Lemay’s music two kilometres underground in the SnoLAB, a Neutrino laboratory in Sudbury, Canada. Recent projects and works created over the last few years include commissions from the Blueridge Chamber Festival (Vancouver), Long Beach Opera (California), the JACK Quartet (NYC), and Din of Shadows (Toronto). Shortt is working on a new site-specific opera about museum repatriation/rematriation, ‘The Museum of the Lost and Found: gaakaazootaadiwag.’ Shortt was a finalist for the 2021 Toronto Arts Foundation Emerging Artist Award, winner of NUMUS’ 2019/2020 Emerging Curators Competition and was named and awarded one of the 2020 Buddies in Bad Times Emerging Queer Awards. They were also a 2020 cohort member of Why Not Theatre’s ThisGEN Fellowship in Sound Design, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre’s 2020 Emerging Creators Unit, Musical Stage Co.’s 2021 RBC Apprentice Program in Sound Design and Generator’s 2021 Artist-Producer Training Program. Shortt studied at the University of Toronto and Dartmouth College (USA). In 2023-24 their positions include: Artist-in-Residence at Carleton University’s Music Department and the University of Toronto Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies, as well as Indigenous Artist-in-Residence at Hamilton Arts Inc.
Vanese Smith. For over a decade and a half, Vanese Smith has been composing mostly instrumental music that seamlessly blends deep machine soul, experimental hip-hop and heavy hitting, genre-bending cinematic dub. Pursuit Grooves is the long-running musical project of Vanese Smith. She’s an alum of the 2008 Red Bull Music Academy in Barcelona, and since has released material on numerous labels including Rush Hour, Tectonic, Brownswood, Deepblak and her own label What Rules. She has officially remixed the Swedish art duo The Knife, and been described as "eternally underrated" by FACT Magazine. She has been covered by Musicworks Magazine, NOW, Exclaim, Wax Poetics Japan, and Afropunk. In 2018, she released her twelfth album, Felt Armour, to great acclaim. The following year, she released Bess, a tribute to the first Black American female pilot Bessie Coleman, filled with narrative titles and historical interludes. Smith has performed with her trusty hardware gear at festivals such as Australia's Inner Varnika, Barcelona's Sonar, Austria’s Elevate, Detroit's Movement and Montreal's MUTEK to name a few. She has co-founded and run the TAC and CCA grant supported music producer organization Loop Sessions Toronto since 2019, where she hosts monthly workshops and interviews Canadian musicians such as Shad and queen of Canadian hip-hop, Michie Mee. In 2020/21, Smith served as consultant and instructor for the Disney film Spin about young DJs and electronic music creators.