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.

Benjamin Gabbay

Associate Composer

Benjamin Gabbay is a classical pianist and composer. He holds a Master of Music in Composition from the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music, having studying under Dr. Alexander Rapoport and Gary Kulesha. 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

Katerina 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).

Emma Verdonk

Assistant to the Director

Emma Verdonk is a composer and vocalist from Brantford, ON. She holds her Bachelor of Music in Community Music (’20) from Wilfrid Laurier University and her Masters in Music Composition from Western University (’22). She has written music for the Laurier Symphony Orchestra, the Penderecki String Quartet, Arcady Ensemble, and various chamber ensembles. Her catalogue includes over 200 children’s songs that she has arranged and composed for the Musical Safari program at Queen Street Music School in Cambridge. From September 2019-February 2020 she facilitated an opera writing workshop hosted through Vera Causa Opera. In 2021, she had the honour of being an Emerging Artist with Arcady and currently works on staff with Arcady as the assistant to the director. As Emma Theresa, she released her first album, a collection of piano solos, entitled Reflections on Spotify and YouTube and is currently creating her second album for piano, vocals, and electronics entitled This Is Me.