An experienced conductor, clinician and pedagogue, Maria Conkey is a graduate of Memorial University and the University of Alberta, where she studied choral conducting under the direction of Dr. Debra Cairns and Dr. Leonard Ratzlaff. She currently holds the position of Junior Choir Conductor at St. Michael’s School in Toronto, ON. Prior to this appointment, Maria was the Director of the award-winning senior choirs at St. Bonaventure’s College in St. John’s, Newfoundland, the Choral Director at the Basilica of St. John the Baptist, the Artistic Director of the St. John’s Choir and the Founder and Artistic Director of Farfalla Vocal Ensemble. Maria has worked with internationally acclaimed conductors such as Maria Guinand, Jon Washburn and Fred Sjoberg. She has also worked with Shallaway – Newfoundland Youth in Chorus and several children’s, youth and adult choirs, including the Alberta Youth Choir and the University of Alberta Madrigal Singers.
Born in Toronto, Ontario, Elizabeth Cattell graduated from Mount Allison University with a Bachelor’s degree in Education and has taught in New Brunswick, Montreal and Toronto. She retired in 2017, after a 32-year teaching career at the elementary and junior levels with the Toronto District School Board. Elizabeth has taught a variety of subjects with a focus in music, dance, special education, and French.
Elizabeth has always aimed to share her love of choral music, dance and the arts through teaching. She built and developed the choral music program at Rosethorn Junior School, with choirs for Primary and Junior students, and later included specialized choirs for grade one students as well as a boys’ choir. These choirs competed at The Kiwanis Music Festival with high levels of success, winning scholarships, best of class, gold and platinum recognition and provincial qualifier. Community endeavours are also an integral part of Elizabeth’s music philosophy. While working at the Toronto District School Board, she collaborated with a local community choir, The Queensmen Male Chorus, and created an annual school-wide production featuring all students and choirs in the school. Recognizing that not all students want to express themselves through vocal music, she pursued courses in Orff at the Royal Conservatory of Music, and has used Orff, voice, dance, ASL, drama and visual arts to develop alternative approaches to music and creativity in every child.
Throughout her teaching career, Elizabeth has lived by her belief that music is tantamount to creating a child with a strong understanding of their inner selves. She uses music and the arts to give students confidence and a sense of freedom. She has dedicated her career to the value of the arts in an ever-changing world. Elizabeth is delighted to share her passion for music in collaboration with young minds.
Sheldon is a graduate of St. Michael’s Choir School in Toronto and of the Faculty of Music (B.Mus. Theory and Composition) at the University of Toronto. He has extensive choral experience, serving as Director of Music and Organist for more than a decade at St. Clare’s Church (Toronto), as Choirmaster for the Appleby College Chapel Choir (Oakville) and as piano accompanist to the Oakville Children’s Choir for seven seasons. He has been accompanist to YVT since 2006.
Sheldon has also written many fine choral compositions, many of which have been performed by Young Voices Toronto, some of which have won national awards and some of which have been published by Alliance Music Publishing (Texas) and Rhythmic Trident Music Publishing (Vancouver). You can learn more about Sheldon and his musical work at www.watermarkmusic.ca/sheldonrose
Christian Umipig is an alumnus of St. Michael’s Choir School from the graduating class of 2017. He is currently a student at the University of Toronto pursuing a Bachelor’s in Vocal Performance.
He either cantors or plays the piano for a number of churches, and also accompanies rehearsals for both the Tallis Choir of Toronto and Young Voices Toronto.