Board of Directors
Sarah is the Founder and Chair of the Sarah McLachlan School of Music and holds an honorary Doctorate from Simon Fraser University. She has an active presence within the School as an advocate for the profound potential of music education to empower, motivate, and transform lives. As the key visionary Sarah brings an enthusiasm and passion to every facet of the school. In her celebrated career, she has sold over forty million albums, received three Grammy’s, eight Juno’s and founded a music school.
Dan Cleland has over 30 years of experience within the music industry. His path has included work as audio engineer, production manager, tour manager, and music school board member. Following his tour management of such celebrity musicians as Avril Lavigne, the Barenaked Ladies, Norah Jones, and The Chieftains, Dan has come to work as a major member of Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan’s management team. Dan brings a wealth of energy, industry knowledge, and professional acumen to his work, and though he is undoubtedly a workaholic, he does maintain one of his favorite hobbies as a pilot, as well as his own endeavors in music. Dan’s experience and insights is invaluable to our team.
Donna is President, Chief Executive Officer, Senior Wealth Advisor and owner of OmniVita Custom Wealth Management Inc., an IIROC regulated dealer member firm she founded in November of 2016, after spending 25 years at ScotiaMcLeod. While with the bank owned firm, she was a long-standing member of their Chairman’s Council, an elite group of top advisors nationwide. Her new firm provides customized, client driven, service. She has earned the designations of Financial Management Advisor, Fellow of the Canadian Securities Institute and Certified International Wealth Manager.
Her understanding of finance and business management has allowed her and her late husband, Kim, to successfully run businesses since 1988. In addition to her wealth management firm, she currently owns and oversees the operation of Innovative Parts & Solutions, a railway parts manufacturing company that provides parts and tools to railways globally.
Ashif, President and CEO of Trust Science, was awarded the 2002 Ernst & Young Prairies Entrepreneur of the Year award and in 2005 was named as one of Canada’s Top 40 under 40 and in 2007 named BDC’s Entrepreneur of the Year (Alberta) and has received Canada’s 50 Best Managed companies award three years in a row. Ashif received NAIT's Alumni of Distinction Award and was also recognized as one of the Top 50 Graduates in 50 years. In 2014, Ashif was named an Honorary Lt. Col for the 20th Field Artillery Regiment (Canadian Army) in addition to receiving the Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubilee medals. He has serves/served on several boards, including Stollery Childrens Hospital Foundation, Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation, Kids Kottage, Alberta’s Promise, Economic Development Edmonton, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, Corent Technology, University Hospital Foundation, Citadel, Edmonton Opera and others. Ashif is also a national judge for the Entrepreneur of the Year program and a member of the Henry Crown Fellowship program, part of the Aspen Institute.
David is one of the few creative directors in Canada with experience in all agency disciplines: media, account management and creative. Over the course of his career, he has written and produced over 500 commercials and corporate films, including creative work for clients like Labatt’s Breweries, Goldcorp, Rio Tinto, Vancouver Playhouse, Grouse Mountain, President’s Choice, Sunlight, Rugby Canada, and Knowledge Network. He also created the motto and thematic campaign for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, and was the Director of ‘The Gathering’, an award-winning documentary on the Aboriginal participation in the Opening Ceremony for the 2010 Games.
David’s work has been awarded at international advertising shows including Cannes, Clios, London International, Hollywoods, Marketing and the Bessies, as well as four golds at the Cassies, the Canadian awards for advertising effectiveness. David is a former Instructor at the Institute of Communication and Advertising, where he taught for 20 years. He is also a former Director of the National Advertising Benevolent Society (NABS) West, and Past-President of the Advertising Agency Association of British Columbia (AAABC).
Anna Baignoche is a student, performer, and a teacher of jazz, latin, and folk music traditions of Cuba, Mexico, Brazil, West Africa, and South African. After completing a degree in Contemporary Voice at Vancouver Community College, Anna has composed, arranged and performed music for 15 years in the Vancouver music scene. In 2013, Anna completed a Master of Arts in Ethnomusicology at UBC. Teaching is Anna’s main passion, leading Local Vocals, a large community choir, and song circles for underserved youth and children in various school and afterschool contexts where she hopes to inspire a love and enthusiasm for music-making.
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Ciele is a singer-songwriter, currently honing her skills in the electronic music realm. While a lot of her composition involves computers and programming, she is trained in piano, guitar and voice. Ciele has been studying music in various capacities since she was a child, participating in competitions and recording a few albums. Ciele graduated from the University of Victoria in 2013 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts; Visual Arts Major. That being said, when she isn't making music, Ciele is a painter/graphic designer.
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Marlie Collins is a multi disciplinary singer-songwriter. She has an extensive background in dance, musical theatre and performing. Having studying classical music and musical theatre for over 10 years she began as a voice major at the University of Saskatchewan, which then led her to the Canadian College of Performing Arts in Victoria, BC. Since then she has performed as a lead in an Arts Club Theatre production and went back to her roots performing as a soul singer. She has travelled from Malaysia to Vietnam to Dubai and all over North America singing lead vocals with multiple bands. Along side performing she loves to teach and share her knowledge especially with our youth today. Her experience in the different realms of performing has enabled her to help her students find their style, with ease and technique. Her goal is to inspire our youth using music as an outlet, giving them a chance to not only grow as a singer but in their life as well.
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Gordon received his BFA from SFU and his MMus in Composition for New Media from the London College of Music in the UK. He also completed a PhD in Arts Education at Simon Fraser University where his research explored multimodal composing practices and transformative music engagement in music video production with urban youth. His work as a music composer and sound designer has been showcased in numberous public venues, including two Olympic Games commissions (Torino 2006 and Vancouver 2010), the VanDusen Botanical Gardens Festival of Lights 2011, the New York City Ballet, and the Cedar Lake Ensemble, New York; on television with The Knowledge Network, and with The National Film Board of Canada where he was the recipient of a 2013 Leo Award nomination; and in Vancouver with various progressive dance companies, such as Emily Molnar Dance, MovEnt, and Amber Barton Funk. More information about Gordon's work and research can be found at www.GordonCobbPhD.com.
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Growing up in El Salvador and moving to Victoria at age 13, Raul Espinoza taught himself to use turntables in the year 2000 and soon after became DJ Su Comandante. Since then, he has opened for acts such as K-OS, Wyclef Jean of the Fugees, Yellowman, Kinnie Starr, Kytami, Native Guns,the Boom Booms, Long Beach Shortbus, The Furios, and Fishbone. He has also been featured at events such as Groovefest, Skafest and YoFest in Victoria along with Diwali and Under the Volcano in Vancouver, and he has hosted a radio show of underground hip hop for 5 years at CFUV radio in Victoria. Raul is currently one of the staff at Highlife Records on Commercial Drive and spins regularly at the Reef Restaurant on Main Street. He is also a youth empowerment workshop facilitator who works with Hip Hop Hope, the Surrey Urban Youth Project, Leave Out Violence and the Metaphor project.
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Boris holds an A.R.C.T. Diploma in piano from the Royal Conservatory of Music, a Jazz Diploma from Vancouver Community College and a Bachelor of Music Degree from UBC. Though formally trained in classical piano, Boris’s true passion is for jazz and world music. He currently performs with children’s entertainer Music with Marnie, Latin-Jazz artist Deborah Ledon, traditional French-Canadian trio Pastiche and as bassist for the Celtic-Funk band Mad Pudding with whom he has toured extensively throughout Canada, the US and Europe for over a decade. Boris is also an established bagpipe maker, producing instruments for customers around the globe.
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A veteran of the Canadian jazz community, guitarist/bassist/vocalist Stephen Fisk has built a respected reputation for his creativity and musical openness. He has performed and/or recorded with numerous national and international artists including Bill Coon, Francois Houle, Buff Allen, Chris Tarry, Ian Froman, George Lewis and George Russell.
Fisk has apprenticed over the years with acclaimed jazz artists Jim Hall, Paul Bley, Danilo Perez, George Russell and Gary Peacock, studying all facets of improvisation, composition and musical philosophies. Holding degrees in Arts, Composition and a Masters in Jazz Performance from the New England Conservatory in Boston, Stephen has been the recipient of numerous awards for his studies and touring.
In addition to his long time work at Sarah McLachlan School of Music, Stephen also teaches in the Contemporary & Jazz Guitar faculty at Vancouver Community College mentoring up and coming professionals. He is active as a performer, composer, songwriter, recording engineer and producer as well as leading his own projects. Fisk has recorded numerous CD’s on the Plunge Records label.
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Sean Fulton is a pianist, keyboardist, and composer with over 15 years of teaching experience. He has a Diploma of Contemporary Instrumental Music from the School of Music at VCC, where he also received the Chris Gage Memorial Scholarship for Jazz Piano, and the Notable Event Music award. Sean has joined fellow musicians on stages as far away as Hanoi, Vietnam to Iqaluit, Nunavut. In addition to Jazz, he has performed and recorded in numerous projects with styles ranging through Hip Hop, Country, Folk, Latin, and more. Sean has also performed in theatrical productions, and accompanied silent film. As a composer, Sean helped to score the PBS children’s cartoon series “Martha Speaks” under Daniel Ingram. As a member of Cloud People Productions he sound designed and scored Vancouver/Winnipeg produced short film “Tender Wild Animal”, appearing in film festivals and broadcast on the CBC. Sean is excited to be involved with Cloud People on the current production of a feature length film project. As a teacher, Sean joyfully seeks to innovate, facilitate and inspire, drawing from his own experiences and those of others to connect worlds both within and outside of studio and classroom, hoping to impart the tools useful for free creative expression in music.
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Jeff Gammon is a Canadian contemporary/jazz bassist, composer and educator. He is a sought-after emerging musician in the Vancouver jazz scene, playing with well-known creatives such as Steve Kaldestad, Jesse Cahill, Bill Coon, Brad Turner, Hugh Fraser, Mike Allen, and Cory Weeds among others. Jeff has also been involved in pit orchestras for Theatre Under The Stars and Align Entertainment, played at the TD Vancouver Jazz Festival, Vancouver’s CBC’s Musical Nooners and even toured Canada with Blues/Gospel group The Sojourners and Reggae group Mostly Marley. His growing reputation as a flexible, open and multi-disciplinary bassist has catapulted him into performances with international artists such as Naoko Sakata, Mike Murley, Ian Froman, and Randy Brecker. As an educator, Jeff honed his teaching craft as teacher’s assistant to Jodi Proznick at the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s annual Summer Jazz Workshop for three years in a row. He currently holds a Diploma in Music Performance - Jazz from Mt. Royal University and a B. Mus. in Jazz from Capilano University. In his spare time, you’ll find him in one of Vancouver’s many music stores looking to build his collection.
Christina Gaspar is a UBC Music and Theatre graduate. She currently performs world music, Portuguese Fado and children’s music under the banner of Gaspar Studios. Christina has been teaching for the past ten years, and focuses on early childhood or youth-at-risk arts programs. She endeavours to equip children and youth with the tools, resources and knowledge to exceed their goals, and develop a lifelong passion for music and the arts. www.gasparstudios.com.
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As the youngest performer in the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, and the winner of a 2016 Emerging Artist Award, Allyson MacIvor is consistently gathering recognition for her percussive work in ensembles and collaborations across the country. In the past, her bands have performed with such artists as Library Voices, the Wooden Sky, Good for Grapes and Close Talker, and her collaborations this summer led her to the main stage of Edmonton Folk Music Festival, ArtsWells, and Burning Man. This year, her production prowess was put to the test as she worked as production assistant for the Juno Awards, CMW Awards Shows, and the annual CHUM FM Breakfast in Barbados (with Shaggy and DNCE). This season, you can find her performing with the Edmonton Opera, the Zelda Symphony, and accompanying several local singer-songwriters on drum kit and electronic percussion. With a BMus (Performance), and a background in both classical and popular music, she is keen to provide any performance help, and cultivate a diverse, healthy, creative space with the School of Music.
Erin Kay is multi instrumentalist singer-songwriter and recording artist with extensive touring experience, who resides in Edmonton. Alberta. Over the past 4 years she has been a part of many musical projects, including her own and has already made an indelible mark on the Western Canadian music scene. Initially trained in Royal Conservatory Piano, she is also trained in guitar and voice and brings a wide range of skills to the Sarah School of Music. Erin has also been a part of many songwriting and performance workshops over the past 6 years as a mentor with March Music, while teaching private piano, guitar and voice lessons from her home. When she is not teaching and performing in various musical projects, she is busy being a mom to her young daughter, which in part inspired her to become a certified Music Together Teacher, which she has taught for the past two years. Currently she is in studio recording her sophomore album while completing a four-month extensive artist development program with Project Wild (formerly Peak Performance). A huge part of Erin’s musical journey has been giving back to the community around her and she is so grateful to be able to continue to do this with the Sarah School of Music.
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Tyson Kerr is a stylistically diverse, award-winning composer, arranger, clinician, and multi-instrumentalist. He is involved in numerous projects; pianist/composer for WCMA-nominated jazz quintet The Writers' Guild, singer and music director for acclaimed vocal group 6 Minute Warning, organist for St. Paul's United Church, and accordionist and composer for his quirky improvising folk quartet, Myrtle's Turtle. Past and present collaborations include Christine Duncan, Brou-Lala, Martin Kerr, Grex, The Element Choir, Óran, the Don Berner Big Band, and Christian Mena/Jeff Hendrick. He is a graduate of the Banff School of Creative Music, University of Toronto Jazz Program, Grant MacEwan Music Program, and is completing a Master's degree in Social Work (University of Calgary). Tyson currently teaches through Grant MacEwan University Outreach and the Sarah McLachlan School of Music.
Justin Khuong is an Edmonton-based performing musician, composer, and teacher. He has twelve years combined experience providing musical instruction for individuals and facilitating groups, workshops, and classrooms. He was a self-taught musician for most of his life, and has been playing and performing for sixteen years. As a performer, he is most well-known for his acoustic guitar duo Bardic Form, who have been featured at hundreds of live music events and festivals, including the Edmonton Folk Festival, on Global Television, CKUA and CJSR radio. He also accompanies singer-songwriters and provides live music for restorative and yin yoga practices and meditations. He has earned a B.Ed in Secondary Education from the University of Alberta, and a Music Composition Diploma from Macewan University, and is currently in his second year working as a Teaching Artist with the Sarah McLachlan School of Music, where he delights in having the opportunity to inspire a sense of self-confidence, self-expression, and community with students. His personal and professional development practices are focused around intrapersonal and interpersonal relationships through the lens of communication and language, self-expression, and emotional intelligence.
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Sean Sonego, one of the most dynamic, active and soulful musicians in the Edmonton music scene is continually trying to engage in social justice and human rights work within our local community through music. Being the youngest musician to ever work at Edmonton's Dueling Piano Bar, the Red Piano, on a regular basis, opening the 2nd Annual Edmonton Rock Music Festival where he played alongside Trooper, April Wine, and Blue Oyster Cult, singing back up for Johnny Reid at Rexall Place, and having the opportunity to share the stage with world renowned musicians including William Joseph, Nathan East, Dean Parks, John JR Robinson, Matt De La Pola, Tommy Banks, and David Foster’s orchestra, Sean has developed a strong musical foundation within the local and national music industry, as he continues to incorporate elements of social justice within his musical performances however he can. Currently, Sean is active in regular community engagement with the iHuman Youth Society and The Edmonton Institution for Women. His debut EP, “In the Heart,” was created in support of the YMCA Welcome Village - an initiative that is a part of Edmonton’s 10 year plan to end homelessness, with proceeds from the EP going towards the project. Recently, Sean was selected as one of the Top 20 Under 30 for his continued community work.
With a BMus (Composition), Sean is thrilled to be joining the team at The Sarah McLachlan School of Music in Edmonton to help provide an anti-oppressive and safe space for people to get creatively active.
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Courtney grew up in the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood and has been actively involved in the community through her volunteer work with children and young adults for about 6 years. A recent alumni of the Sarah McLachlan School of Music Youth Choir, Courtney is greatly familiar with the programs at SoM and a wonderful ambassador for the school. She will soon be attending Langara College, with plans to study child and youth care, and is also looking to further develop her vocal talent on the side. Courtney is grateful for the opportunity to be working at SoM and already feels at home with the great staff and amazing students.
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Rob Appleton joined the team at the SoM in November 2013 with a mission to bring stability to the operations and to develop and implement a strategic plan with the Board of Directors. Rob enjoys listening to and experiencing music of all types and is delighted to be part of bringing this excitement into the lives of all those involved in the programs at SoM. He holds a Masters in Business Administration from UBC a Bachelor in Science from the University of Alberta. Rob has worked with Canuck Place Children’s Hospice, the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada and most recently was the Executive Director of H.R. MacMillan Space Centre.
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Gordon received his BFA from SFU and his MMus in Composition for New Media from the London College of Music in the UK. He also completed a PhD in Arts Education at Simon Fraser University where his research explored multimodal composing practices and transformative music engagement in music video production with urban youth. His work as a music composer and sound designer has been showcased in numerous public venues, including two Olympic Games commissions (Torino 2006 and Vancouver 2010), the VanDusen Botanical Gardens Festival of Lights 2011, the New York City Ballet, and the Cedar Lake Ensemble, New York; on television with The Knowledge Network, and with The National Film Board of Canada where he was the recipient of a 2013 Leo Award nomination; and in Vancouver with various progressive dance companies, such as Emily Molnar Dance, MovEnt, and Amber Barton Funk.
Gordon has been an instructor at SoM since the pilot project in 2002 and also is on the faculty in the music department at Kwantlen Polytechnic University where he teaches music technology and music video production.
More information about Gordon's work and research can be found at www.GordonCobbPhD.com.
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Chantal joined SoM full-time in June 2015 as the Director of Development. Her passion for improving the lives on young people has lead her to work through both private and non-profit sectors primarily gaining experience in the health care, human rights and client services fields. Chantal also has a background in relationship management, stakeholder engagement and event management. In her role at SoM, she will grow our donor base, engage donors in our work and provide our donors with a rich and rewarding philanthropic journey. She holds an M.A. in Interpersonal Communication from New York University, as well as a B.A. in Psychology and Political Science from McGill University. Chantal is comfortable navigating different cultures and contexts and loves to travel, having lived, since childhood, in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Canada.
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Stephen joined SoM in September 2002, recognizing the great potential that Sarah’s vision for the school could have upon the future of music education. Over the years Stephen has become a rigorous champion of all things innovative at SoM, mentoring peer dialogue, forward looking teaching practice, inclusive administrative practice and modelling the community building values inherent in SoM’s motto ‘find your voice’. As Creative Director, Fisk stewards instructors and students alike in the artistic abundance that SoM’s culture affords to all. With his extensive background in liberal arts and all things musical, Stephen remains active as a professional performing artist, writer, producer and teacher of over 30 years. Fisk holds degrees in Arts, Composition and a Masters in Jazz Performance from the New England Conservatory in Boston. In addition to his work at SoM, Stephen teaches on faculty in the Contemporary & Jazz Guitar department at Vancouver Community College, mentoring up and coming professionals.
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Dorothy Mills joined the Sarah McLachlan School of Music in 2004, where she supports and works closely with the instructional team on a variety of administrative projects. Before joining the Sarah McLachlan School of Music, Dorothy worked at the Tom Lee Music Academy overseeing a staff of over fifty instructors and managing the Yamaha Program as well as group and private lessons. She has extensive experience in the fields of administration and customer service and is fluent in Cantonese and English.
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Jen joined our team in July 2011. She was drawn to the School through a dual love of music and a desire to extend a hand to her community. Jen holds an Honours Degree from Kings College in Halifax Nova Scotia, where she studied political science and philosophy, and began her involvement with Students for Literacy, implementing volunteer programming across Halifax for underserved youth.
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Petra joined the Sarah McLachlan team in 2013. She graduated from UBC with a degree in Political Science and continued in the banking industry after graduation. After 12 years in that industry she left to pursue other interests. She has always been drawn to the nonprofit sector and has enjoyed working with the Zajac Ranch for Children, Easter Seals/The 24 Hour Relay, The BC Centre for Ability, as well as The Scotiabank Dance Centre.
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Rhea March has been active in the music scene for over 25 years as a performer, producer, radio host, live performance coach and artist development specialist and youth advocate.
For nearly a decade Rhea has partnered with the Edmonton and Canmore Folk Music Festivals to launch the careers of emerging young songwriters by coaching them in the fundamentals of developing authentic confidence and professionalism.
Rhea has hosted the Sunday Night Song Stage in Edmonton for 11 years - a weekly event that fosters a deep sense of community and belonging for Edmonton’s emerging musicians. Her work with youth has been recognized with a Governor General’s Award for ‘Outstanding Contributions to a Community’ and a Global Woman of Vision Award.
She is in her third year of hosting and producing a weekly campus radio program called ‘It Takes A Village’. Rhea truly believes that it does indeed take a village to raise a musician and dedicates her show to providing a platform for artists of all ages to grow and launch from.
She is also in her third year teaching ‘Managing in the Music Industry’ at MacEwan University. The course provides DIY musicians and managers with the knowledge and tools they need to pursue a rewarding and sustainable career in the music industry.
Rhea is extremely proud to work with the talented team at The Sarah McLachlan School of Music in Edmonton.
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