Thomas Torok, piano

Thomas Torok

Celebrated for his imaginative playing and virtuosic stage presence, young Canadian pianistThomas Torok has already established himself as one of Canada’s brightest upcoming talents.The award winning artist has earned international recognition for his musicianship as a finalist in the MostArts Piano Competition 2014, and the New York International Piano Competition 2016, as well as being a silver medalist in the Vienna International Music Competition 2019. Most recently, Thomas was a finalist in the first ever series of Classicalia, a new televised competition aimed at promoting the best young classical artists across the globe. 

Already performing in such esteemed venues around the world such as Carnegie Hall and the Wiener Konzerthaus, recent performance engagements have taken him to renowned Canadian venues such as Toronto’s Koerner Hall and the Canadian Opera Company’s Four Seasons Performing Arts Centre. Thomas made his orchestral debut as a soloist at age fifteen, and has since then performed together with several orchestras including the Academy Chamber Orchestra, the Toronto Concert Orchestra, the Huronia Symphony, as well as the Royal Conservatory Orchestra, to name a few.

With his recent orchestral engagements, Thomas has collaborated and studied with some of Canada’s most preeminent conductors including Claudio Vena, Earl Lee, Oliver Balaburski, Ivars Taurins, Kerry Stratton and Jennifer Tung. Thomas’s performances have been broadcast on numerous radio and television stations across Canada and the United States, including WRTI Philadelphia, PBS SoCal, The New Classical 102.9 FM, and Yamaha Canada’s “Going Solo” podcast.

Born in Hungary in 1998 and raised in a culture where the love for music and the performing arts was predominant, Thomas began piano lessons at the age of six. After he and his family immigrated to Canada, Thomas began his formal musical education at the The Royal Conservatory of Music’s Young Artists Academy (Phil and Eli Taylor Academy for Young Artists) with renowned pianist Li Wang. He completed his Bachelors degree in 2022 at the Glenn Gould School studying with James Anagnoson, one of Canada’s most sought after pedagogues.

As an avid soloist in the international masterclass scene, Thomas has played for and studied with several world-renowned artists such as Stephen Hough, Emanuel Ax, Ronan O’Hora, John O’Connor, Andre Laplante, Marc Durand, Stephen Prutsman, Anton Nel, and John Perry. Additional summer studies have taken place at the Miami International Piano Festival, and the Philadelphia Young Pianists Academy at the Curtis Institute of Music. As a current full scholarship student, Thomas is pursuing his Artist Diploma at the Royal Conservatory’s Glenn Gould School.

Maghan McPhee

Maghan McPhee is a revered lyric coloratura soprano thanks to her sensitive artistry, precise musicianship, and luscious instrument. She is adept with standard rep and highly sought after for premiering new works by established contemporary composers such as Monica Pearce, Andrew Ager and Daniel Mehdizadeh. Her soaring soprano suits the difficulty and high tessitura of many Mozart roles including his concert arias and main characters from his most notable operas. Other signature roles include Micaela in Bizet’s Carmen, and Berta in Rossini’s Barbiere di Siviglia where she made her mark and “immediately had the public holding their
breath during her brief but remarkable solo”(LeDroit).

An accomplished concert performer, she has sung at Carnegie Hall, and with notable orchestras including Thirteen Strings, Symphony Nova Scotia, The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the American Symphony Orchestra. A regular with the National Art Centre Orchestra, she worked with Alexander Shelley in Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream along with acclaimed actor Colm Fiore, was the soprano soloist in their Messiah and was recently featured in their recent Christmas Playlist concert with Jean-Marie Zeitouni. Ms. McPhee launched her debut recording “Portrait” with pianist Parvaneh Eshghi, to great reviews: “[Maghan has] full command of her instrument, precise in her attacks, and stylish in her approach to the songs…” -Barcza Blog.

Maghan is a curious artist and forever dedicated to her passion for exploring the human voice’s power and possibility. She imparts the training she received in New York and holds a virtual studio with students all over the country and abroad. She is the founding executive director of Breno Italy International Music Academy. BIIMA is celebrating its 10th season enabling participants to awaken their artistry in an idyllic and nurturing setting in voice, piano, choral and composition.

Gilles Thibodeau, French Horn

Gilles Thibodeau grew up in the small Northern town of Kapuskasing, Ontario.  Having discovered the horn at the age of 14, he instantly fell in love with the instrument, and never looked back.  From the University of Western Ontario to the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory, he honed his craft and learned the ropes. An active orchestral freelancer, teacher and chamber musician, Gilles is also a senior administrator in the post-secondary education sector. Mr. Thibodeau would like to encourage everyone to speak up for the support of music in our public schools, without which he, and many of his colleagues, would have never discovered the magical world of classical music.

Matt Antal

Matthew Antal is a violist born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. He attended Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts where he began playing viola at age 12 because he was told “you look like a violist”. He holds a bachelor’s degree in viola performance from the University of Toronto under Katharine Rapoport and a master’s degree in viola performance from the University of Victoria under Joanna Hood. Matthew is a regular performer with several music ensembles including Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra/Opera Atelier, Theatre of Early Music, Elixir Ensemble, and Odin Quartet. He also holds an advanced certificate in early music performance from the University of Toronto where he studied with Patrick Jordan and Stefano Marcocchi.

Vanessa Yu, pianist

Named one of CBC Music’s top 30 emerging musicians under 30, Toronto-based pianist Vanessa Yu is establishing herself as a sensitive and vibrant musician. As the Grand Prize winner of the 2021 Pacific Rim International Music Festival, she was invited to perform at Carnegie’s Weill Hall in New York City.

Vanessa has presented solo and chamber programs for the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra’s NewGen series, Confluence Concerts, Chautauqua Institution, and the University of Toronto’s Thursdays at Noon series. Most recently, Vanessa gave solo recitals for the International Holland Music Sessions in the Netherlands and the Nine Sparrows Arts Foundation in Canada. Other performances have taken her to Italy, Germany, Spain, Austria, the United States, and across Canada. Vanessa has had recordings nationally broadcasted on CBC Music, in addition to being featured on OMNI Television and 680 News. As a finalist at the Classicalia competition, her performance at the Vienna Konzerthaus was televised by PBS SoCal and Stingray Classica.

A seasoned concerto soloist, Vanessa has performed Beethoven, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, and Rimsky-Korsakov concerti with the Central Texas Philharmonic, Vienna Opera Ball, Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber, Mississauga Symphony, Oakville Chamber, York Symphony, Burlington Symphony, North York Concert, and Etobicoke Philharmonic orchestras. Upcoming engagements include performances of Saint-Saëns’s Fifth Concerto with the Toronto Concert, Scarborough Philharmonic, and Kindred Spirits orchestras.
Garnering awards in Canada and beyond, Vanessa has received top prizes at the Chicago and Città di San Donà di Piave international competitions, among others. Recently, she was the youngest contestant and prizewinner at both the 2023 Eisemann International Young Artists Competition and the 2022 Thousand Islands International Piano Competition, as well as the Grand Prize winner of the 2023 International Music Festival and Competition held in Ontario.

Vanessa recently graduated from the BMusPerf program at the University of Toronto where she was a full merit scholarship student under the tutelage of Steven Philcox and formerly Enrico Elisi. She will be starting graduate studies at the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University this fall as a student of Boris Slutsky.

Inspired by her mentors, Vanessa enjoys teaching; her students have won awards at competitions including the OMFA provincials. She has recently taught masterclasses at the Orrett Music Academy and Berkovsky-Solomon Academy of Music, and adjudicated for the Ontario Registered Music Teachers’ Association (ORMTA)’s Central Toronto auditions.

As an avid designer, Vanessa is also a calligrapher and bullet journalist, and has taught workshops for partners including Google.

amuna baraka-clarke

Amuna Baraka-Clarke
Amuna Baraka-Clarke

Poet, Storyteller, Community Organizer

amuna baraka-clarke is striving to leave the world more beautiful than she inherited it.  She is a published poet and award winner who has been featured in various anthologies, textbooks, documentaries and magazines.  She is a strong supporter of cultural arts production and inclusive communities where different perspectives can take flight.  amuna dances every single day and is never not thinking about travel. 

Máté Szűcs, viola

Hungarian born violist Máté Szücs has had a career as an award winning soloist, chamber musician and orchestral player.

Máté was principal viola in the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra from 2011 to 2018 where he also appeared as a soloist playing the Bartók Viola Concerto in September 2017.

Máté was seventeen when he switched from the violin to the viola and graduated from the Royal Conservatory of Brussels and the Royal Conservatory of Flanders in Antwerp with the highest distinction. He further undertook a session at the Chapelle Musicale Reine Elisabeth in Waterloo, Belgium where he obtained his diploma, also with the highest distinction.


Máté was eleven when he won the Special Prize of the Hungarian Violin Competition for Young Artists. Not much later he won First Prize of the Violin Competition of Szeged (Hungary) and the First Prize for the Best Sonata Duo of the Hungarian Chamber Music Competition. Since then, he has won First Prize at the International Violin and Viola Competition in Liège in Belgium, as well as finalist of the International Viola Competition “Jean Françaix” in Paris and Laureate of the International Music Competition “Tenuto” in Brussels.

As a chamber musician, Máté has been a member of various chamber ensembles including the Mendelssohn ensemble; Con Spirito piano quartet, Trio Dor, Enigma Ensemble and “Fragments” ensemble. He has worked with prominent musicians such as Janine Jansen, Frank-Peter Zimmermann, Christian Tetzlaff, Vadim Repin, Ilja Gringolts, Vladimir Mendelssohn, László Fenyő, Kristof Baráti and István Várdai, Camille Thomas, Kirill Troussov and Julien Quentin.

In addition to performing solo with the Berlin Philharmonic, he has soloed with orchestras such as the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Flanders, the “Bamberger Symphoniker”, the “Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden”, the Frankfurt Radio Orchestra and at the “Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen”., where he was as well principal viola.

Máté is also a sought after pedagogue. Since the summer of 2006 he has been a regular professor at the “Thy Masterclass” chamber music summer festival in Denmark and between 2012 and 2014 was also teaching at the Britten-Pears Festival in Aldeburgh, England. He has taught two years at the University of Music in Saarbrücken, between 2014 and 2018 at the Karajan Academy of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, between 2015 and 2018 at the “Hanns Eisler” University of Music in Berlin and between 2015 and 2016 the Music Academy of Budapest.

Máté gives masterclasses all over the world including New York, Los Angeles, Michigan, London, Berlin, Brussels, Shanghai, Taipei, Seoul and Tokyo.

Since 2018, he has been the Professor of Viola at the Geneva University of Music in Switzerland.

In 2020 he got his PhD Diploma and became Doctor of Arts.

Jacob Clewell

American musician Jacob Clewell stands in the vanguard of musicians of his generation. Gold Medalist of the 2017 Vancouver International Music Competition, he leads a multifaceted career as a soloist, recitalist, chamber player, and educator. In his home base of Toronto, Canada, he has appeared in the contemporary music festival 21C, and has recorded Brahms’ 2 Gesänge for the Canadian Broadcasting Company with Wallis Giunta and Steven Philcox. Jacob also collaborates with painter Karen Mosbacher on Paint:Music, a project focusing on the audio/visual manifestations of synesthesia.

Recent activities include solo and chamber performances at the Scotia Festival, Green Lake Chamber Music Festival, Le Domaine Forget, Lake District Summer Music, Northern Lights Festival de Febrero in Ajijic, Mexico, and Festival Pablo Casals in Prades, France. Jacob has appeared alongside members of the Escher, Emerson, Endellion, Cypress, and Penderecki quartets, Berlin Philharmonic and Seattle Symphony, Manhattan Chamber Players, Gryphon Trio, Pedja Muzijevic, Andrew Armstrong, and Benjamin Bowman. In May 2018 he gave his first solo performance in Chicago’s Symphony Center, performing on the VIMC winner’s tour with works by Henri Vieuxtemps.

Together with his duo partner, pianist Sasha Bult-Ito (The Ezra Duo), he has appeared coast to coast in Canada and the United States. In November 2017 they appeared in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall in New York, and in April 2018 performed as guests at a G7 Summit event held at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. In 2019 Ezra toured with their “Women in Music” and “Art of the Duo” programs, and in the midst of the 2020 lockdowns appeared in Toronto’s Koerner Hall, performing in a celebration of composer Patricia Morehead’s 80th birthday. Ezra began traveling again in 2022 with “Colorfully Contemporary”, a program highlighting relatable works by living composers. Ezra is currently ensemble-in-residence for the Emerald Coast Chamber Music Festival and Institute in Niceville, Florida, where Jacob and Sasha are co-artistic directors and Artist Faculty alongside their colleagues Nicholas Hatt and Jordan Galvarino in the Velox Quartett.

Upcoming highlights include chamber appearances with the Mosbacher Salon Collective, as a guest with the Toronto-based Odin Quartet, and concerts with Ezra and Velox in Canada and the United States. As part of Paint:Music, in November 2023 Ezra will present a finished collaboration with Karen Mosbacher on the complete Beethoven sonatas for violin and piano. Ezra will also release their first album during the 2023-2024 season, and continue their livestream series using electric instruments Ezra Electrified.

Born in Raleigh, North Carolina, he holds diplomas from the Cornish College of the Arts, Stony Brook University, and The Glenn Gould School, where he studied with Mara Gearman, Nicholas Cords, Lawrence Dutton, and Steven Dann, and spent two years of intensive study under the Emerson String Quartet. He has undertaken additional study in Europe with Yuko Inoue, Roger Chase, and Nobuko Imai. Jacob completed his Doctor of Musical Arts at the University of Toronto under the guidance of Masumi Per Rostad and Annalee Patipatanakoon, where he was a teaching assistant in violin, viola, and chamber music.

Jacob draws influence from many fields, citing William Primrose, Itzhak Perlman, Martha Argerich, Boris Kroyt, My Chemical Romance, Hayao Miyazaki, and Satoru Iwata among his greatest inspirations. Away from the viola he enjoys board games, soccer, tennis, and brewing specialty coffee. He can often be found transcribing rock and video game music for Ezra.

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Lorne Grossman

Lorne started playing piano at age 8 and drums at age 12. He attended University of Toronto studying music and percussion but left his studies in 1971 when he accepted steady work with the Stratford Festival, the Royal Alexandra Theatre, the National Ballet Orchestra, the Canadian Opera Company and the house drummer at the O’Keefe Centre (now the Meridian Hall).

Lorne was also regular member of a popular and busy band called The Nova Sounds lead by Alan Shiner.

Lorne also became known as the percussionist who owned ALL of his own instruments (in triplicate) making him the “go-to” person for renting and delivering percussion instruments, meaning Lorne owned a very large cube-van.  This also made Lorne the prime candidate for moving OTHER people’s musical instruments and equipment (and home contents) as he knew the value and maintained respect for his cargo.  He worked for years for Manta Electronics delivering large sound boards and recording equipment and for internationally renowned harpist, Erica Goodman, who trusted very few with her treasured and expensive instrument. 

During the 1970’s, Lorne was very busy recording jingles at the big studios in the Greater Toronto area such as Eastern Sound, Phase One, Metal Works, McClear Place, Manta Sound, Sounds Interchange, Zaza Sound, Inception Sound, Comfort Sound, Cherry Beach Sound, working with noted music and jingle producers such as Howard Baer, Andy Krehm, Sammy Nestico, David Fleury, Ted Rosnick, Eric Robertson, Pete Coulman, Sid Kessler, Einstein Brothers, Bev Crompton and, most famous, Phil Ramone.

The occasional tour with The Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the Charlottetown Festival took Lorne across all of Canada and through the midwest of the United States. Tours to Mexico and Germany with the National Ballet of Canada were other exciting musical points of Lorne’s career.

All the while, Lorne had his own recording studio in his Willowdale home – Seneca Sound – where he recorded jingles and demos for Lenny Solomon (violinist with Bowfire and noted jazz violin player), The Tait Brothers (Rick Tait would later form the famous jazz fusion band, Manteca), Robert Pilon (who performed the lead in Phantom of the Opera in Toronto), Tova (Teresa Tova – the Yiddish Diva), Erica Goodman (noted Harpist), Vivienne Williams (singer), Dave Blamires (later to sing with Pat Metheny), Vito Rezza (noted drummer within GTA) and Barry Elmes (also noted GTA drummer) to name a few. And also taking equipment out to record on location for groups such as the Hannaford Street Silver Band.

From 1991 to 1994, Lorne joined the Canadian tour of “The Phantom of the Opera” and went across Canada again, to Alaska and to Hawaii twice.  He then toured with “Music of the Night” throughout the United States. Back home in Toronto and off the road, Lorne played two stints with Donny Osmond in “Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat” and a run of “Into the Woods” at the St. Lawrence Centre. During the holiday season, from 1973 until 2004, Lorne was in the orchestra pit for Toronto’s famous British pantomimes, later to be produced by Ross Petty.

By 2000, things were different on the music scene around Toronto, so Lorne did some regional theatre productions: Petrolia – “I Do I Do”; Orillia – “Cats”, “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Kiss Me Kate”; Waterloo – “Menopositive”; Sheridan College – “Two Gentlemen of Verona”; St. Lawrence Centre – “Hey Marilyn”; Drayton Entertainment – “Anne of Green Gables”.  In 2013, Lorne was back with a 4-month run of “Cats” at the Panasonic Theatre in Toronto and in 2015, “Anne of Green Gables” for Drayton.

While it seems, Lorne was busy playing theatre, he worked even more with orchestras and has rarely let up since. A favourite gig was being the drum set player for the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa from 1996 to 2012, playing their pops concerts whether it was jazz, rock or show style of playing. Lorne also played, first as a percussionist and then as the timpanist, with the Hannaford Street Silver Band based in Toronto from 1996 – 2015 and still performs occasionally with this great dynamic ensemble.

Lorne is presently the Principal Timpanist with the Oakville Symphony, Peterborough Symphony (also being their Personnel Manager) and Rose Orchestra in Brampton. He plays occasionally as the timpanist or a percussionist with the Toronto Concert Orchestra, Ontario Philharmonic and Brantford Symphony.

Lorne and his life-partner, Wendy, live in Midland, Ontario (more time on the road but less time in traffic) and obviously, to keep as busy as he is, all of the province gets to see Lorne’s van on the road as he heads to yet, another gig.

Alejandro Céspedes

Alejandro Céspedes, M.Mus, is an active freelance percussionist and educator who studied at the University of Toronto and Amadeo Roldán Conservatory in Havana, Cuba. He performs classical percussion, body percussion, Latin percussion and steel pan. Céspedes performed with the National Opera and Ballet Orchestra of Cuba and the Niagara, Kingston and Toronto Symphony Orchestras. He has performed with Bobby McFerrin, Jane Bunnett, the Buena Vista Social Club, and was featured at the Toronto Body Percussion Festival. He was a musician/dancer/actor for Venom of Love and The Power of Harriet T! Céspedes founded and conducted the steel pan ensembles at Music By The Lake (Toronto District School Board Music Camp) and the Regent Park School of Music, which performed with 2Cellos and events such as the Luminato and Toronto Jazz Festivals. He has also taught percussion at the National Music Camp of Canada, Manuel Saumell and Amadeo Roldán Conservatories in Havana. He has conducted body percussion workshops at Lizt Alfonso Dance Company in Havana and McGill University in Montreal. He co-founded Oregano Percussion, which combines styles from Latin and Caribbean to Songwriting, Pop, and chamber music. Céspedes is an artist/endorser of Pearl/Adams Musical Instruments, and Humes & Berg. 

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