Staff

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Ronald Beckett, Director & Resident Composer
Michaela Chiste, General Assistant
Emma Verdonk, Assistant to the Director
Katerina Gimon, Compositional Assistant
Matthew Campbell, Technical Assistant
Benjamin Gabbay, Associate Composer:


Michaela Chiste, General Assistant
Michaela Chiste is a young soprano hailing from Okotoks, Alberta. Originally trained as a stage actor, she spent most of her life studying the dramatic arts and musical theatre before crossing over to the world of classical singing. She completed her Bachelor of Music at the University of Alberta in 2017, under the tutelage of John Tessier. She has performed as a concert soloist and recitalist both internationally and across Canada, and has premiered several pieces, including The Dream, a cantata for soprano and pianoforte (Muskins, 2016), La jugement (Langan, 2019), and Songs of Fracture (Beckett, 2019), which was set to her own poetry. Michaela received praise for her 2019 portrayal of Mimì in Puccini’s La bohème with Mercury Opera. Opera Canada described her performance as “a fine balance of fragility and hopefulness”. Her other roles include Fiordiligi (Così fan tutte), Principal (.Gabriel), Giannetta (L’elisir d’amore), Frasquita (Carmen), Emmie (Albert Herring), Mimi (City Workers in Love), The Dormouse (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland), Jennie Hildebrand (Street Scene), Gustave (Pomme d’Api ), and The Boy (Der Jasager). Michaela is an alumna of Arcady’s Emerging Artist Program and former roster singer for Cowtown Opera. michaelachiste.com

 

Benjamin Gabbay, Associate Composer 
Benjamin Gabbay is a classical pianist and composer. He holds a Bachelor of Music in Composition (Hons.) from the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music, where he is currently pursuing his Master’s in Composition, studying under Dr. Alexander Rapoport. He is also an Associate of the Royal Conservatory of Music (Piano Performance). 

Benjamin’s compositions have received recognition by Toronto’s St. James Cathedral (co-winner of the cathedral’s 2018-2019 composition competition), Fondation Jeunesses Musicales Canada (Artistic Prize, “Do Mi Si La Do Re” Competition, 2020) the Amadeus Choir (hon. mention, International Seasonal Song- Writing Competition, 2015) and the Ruth Watson Henderson Choral Competition (hon. mention, 2017). He has composed works for major choral ensembles, including highlight premieres for the Mississauga Summer Chorale’s 2018 end-of-season concert (Requiem l’homme armé, 2018), Musicata choir in Hamilton (Prelude to Winter, 2019), and a fully virtual double-choir premiere for the University of Toronto’s MacMillan Singers (The Answer, 2020). 

Benjamin is also a digital designer and the author of two fantasy fiction novels. His music and other activities may be viewed on his website at https://www.benjamingabbay.com.

Katerina GimonKaterina Gimon, Compositional Assistant 
Katerina Gimon is an award-winning Canadian composer, improviser, and vocalist based in Vancouver, British Columbia, and Burlington, Ontario. Her catalogue includes works for voice, choir, electronics, solo instruments, and chamber ensemble, as well as music for opera, theatre, and video games. Recently named as one of Canada’s ‘hot 30 classical musicians under 30’ by CBC, Katerina’s music has been presented across Canada, the United States (most notably at Carnegie Hall), and Europe by ensembles including the Vancouver Youth Choir, Musica Intima, Redshift Music Society, Erato Ensemble, Vancouver Opera, re:Naissance Opera, and Dulciana Choir. Katerina holds a Master of Music in Composition from the University of British Columbia (’17) and an Honours Bachelor of Music degree in Composition and Improvisation from Wilfrid Laurier University (’15). www.katerinagimon.com

 

Emma Verdonk, Assistant to the Director. Emma Verdonk grew up in Brantford, ON, surrounded by a musical family. At an early age, her mother taught her to play piano and once she had an understanding of the language of music, she began voice and violin lessons. In 2020, Emma completed her Bachelors of Music at Wilfrid Laurier University and has just begun the Masters in Music Composition program at Western University. In the past, she has had the opportunity to write for the Laurier Symphony Orchestra, the Penderecki String Quartet, and various small ensembles. From September 2019-February 2020 she facilitated an opera writing workshop hosted through Vera Causa Opera.