Please find the biographies for the 2019 Provost Music Festival Below.
Adjudicator: Cheryl Vandergraaf
Cheryl is a professional actor, playwright, and improviser who has spent upwards of fifteen years in the performing arts. Cheryl has trained at the Company of Rogues and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Drama and English from the University of Alberta. As a previous student of the Speech Arts and Drama Program at Mount Royal University, she is excited to now be back as an instructor at the Conservatory.
While at school in Edmonton, she taught drama at a homeschool program for Grades 1-12, and she held the position of Executive Director of the New Works Festival for two consecutive years. In the spring of 2016 she led a playwriting and development workshop at the Edmonton Youth Council for Social Equity, providing an opportunity for underprivileged youth to express their voice through theatre. Her scripts have been produced for the New Works Festival and the Collaborative Faculty Development Conference at the U of A, and she was recently awarded the Frank Bueckert Prize for playwriting.
Cheryl believes in the importance of fostering creativity and imagination, celebrating excellence, and refining the art of speech and drama to a level of expertise worthy of its full potential.
Adjudicator: Jeanette Comeau
Jeanette Comeau is an avid orchestral and chamber music performer, having earned her Artist Diploma from The Glenn Gould School of The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, where she studied with Steven Dann. Jeanette has also studied with Thomas Riebl in Austria, and earned her Bachelor of Music from the University of Alberta.
Jeanette is the Principal Violist of The Alberta Baroque Ensemble, and performed as a soloist with the ensemble in 2014 and 2015. She is also a member of the Chamber Orchestra of Edmonton, and performs regularly with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. One of Jeanette’s career highlights was performing with the ESO at Carnegie Hall in 2012.
Jeanette enjoys teaching Viola, Violin and Piano students of all ages at her studio in Sherwood Park, Alberta.
Adjudicator: Dawn McLean Belyk
Dawn McLean Belyk graduated from the University of Saskatchewan in 1981 with a degree in Music Education. After a 5 year itinerant band position with the Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools, she took a leave in 1987 to attend Northwestern University where she completed her Masters Degree in Music, specializing in Bass Trombone performance. Upon her return to teaching, she recently completed a 30 year career at St. Joseph High School as Director of Bands.
Dawn is currently the Bass Trombonist with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra, the Saskatoon Jazz Orchestra, the University of Saskatchewan Brass Quintet and the Saskatchewan Brass Quintet. She also teaches Low Brass at the University of Saskatchewan, both undergrad and graduate students. Active as a Low Brass Specialist, she has a growing studio at home, and teaches clinics throughout the province.
Dawn has adjudicated bands in Alberta and Saskatchewan, and has received the Dwaine Nelson Award for Teaching Excellence at the U of S, the Saskatoon Preschool Foundation Champion of Children Award in 2009 and in 2013 she received the Saskatchewan Band Association Distinguished Band Director Award.
In 2014, she guest conducted the Saskatoon Symphony Core Players. She has also performed on Dean McNeill's Prairie Fire CD, Neil Currie's Urban Diversions CD and as a soloist with the Saskatoon Concert Band in 2015, performing a commissioned work for her - Concertino by Howard Cable for Bass Trombone and Concert Band.
Adjudicator: Alison Kilgannon
Canadian pianist Alison Kilgannon has performed in North America as well as in Spain, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, and Ecuador. She has appeared with the Orquesta Santa Cecilia Cullera, the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, and the Red Deer Symphony Orchestra and has received awards at competitions including the Concours Prix d’Europe, the Northern Alberta Concerto Competition, the Festival de Musique de Bas-Richelieu, and the STARS Award for Young Artists. Her chamber music performances have been broadcast on the radio station Avenue Vincent D’Indy.
Alison is passionate about sharing music through her teaching, coaching, and performing and draws on her research involving music theory and music psychology to continually improve her approach. She is an active member of the Alberta Piano Teachers’ Association and of the Alberta Registered Music Teachers’ Association with whom she holds convenorship positions.
Alison completed a Doctor of Music degree in piano performance at the University of Montreal under the guidance of Dr. Jean Saulnier. Other teachers include Marc Durand, Janet Scott Hoyt, and Claudio Martínez-Mehner. To complement her formation, she has participated in numerous masterclasses with internationally known artists in Europe and North America.
Currently based in Alberta where she holds a position as Assistant Professor at Burman University, Alison remains active as a soloist, recitalist, collaborative artist, and adjudicator while still finding time to enjoy hiking in the Rocky Mountains. In 2014, she was honoured to become a fellow of the Schmeelk Canada Foundation in recognition of her interest in promoting understanding and exchange between Canada’s Anglophone and Francophone cultures.
Adjudicator: Michelle Minke
Pushing the boundaries of opera, Calgary's Michelle Minke has made a career out of inspired disruption. Michelle's recent debut album, Expect the Unexpected, confidently merges genres and invites creative collaborations across the musical spectrum and brings Michelle's years of top training and international experience to new audiences. With her boundless vitality and powerful voice, Michelle performed throughout Europe and North America before returning to her home town of Calgary. As founder and artistic director of Calgary's Cowtown Opera, Michelle's heartfelt excitement for contributing to the cultural identity of her city has earned her a place among arts champions.
Michelle has been named as one of Calgary’s Top 40-Under-40 by Avenue Magazine, was a recipient of the Mayor's Enbridge Emerging Artist Award and was recently named one of Alberta’s 25 Inspiring Artists by Alberta Foundation for the Arts. Upcoming performances include high profile private performances across Canada of "Carmen Remix", an operatic collaboration with Hip Hop Artist, James Noble and the release of an operatic children's album, "M.O.M- Minkee's Opera Music, the first Canadian operatic children's album to be released in over a decade.
She currently teaches voice at Mount Royal University Conservatory, can be heard on CBC as an unconventional panelist and was one of the judges in the finals of The Calgary Stampede Talent Showcase. Michelle is thrilled to have just been named A woman of inspiration and Cultural Ambassador for the Canadian Business Chicks and was also recently nominated for Female Artist of the Year by the YYC Music Awards. Michelle holds a post graduate diploma from the Opera School at the Royal Academy of Music in London England and a Masters in Vocal Pedagogy from the University of Toronto.