Matthew Jaskiewicz, Music Director and Co-founder
Matthew Jaskiewicz received his musical training at the Warsaw Academy of Music in Poland, and after graduating, he soon established his reputation as a conductor with the Warsaw Chamber Opera, Ars Antiqua Chamber Choir and Orchestra, and the Warsaw University Choir. He also directed an award-winning men’s and boys’ choir in France.
Soon after arriving in Canada in 1984, Mr. Jaskiewicz founded the Polish Canadian Society of Music and the Musica Antiqua chamber orchestra (now the Toronto Sinfonietta), of which he is still the Music Director, and co-founded the Oakham House Choir at Ryerson University. Since then he has been instrumental in establishing both the choir and the Sinfonietta as respected performers on Toronto’s musical scene.
Mr. Jaskiewicz is also well regarded for his work with the Northumberland Orchestra and Choir in Cobourg, Ontario, which he directed for 17 years, and for his work with the Baycrest Music Society.
More recently, he has directed the Polish Symfonia Choir in Hamilton and the Angel Choir, for children in Toronto’s Chinese community.
In 2005, he helped to establish the Toronto Sinfonietta’s annual Concerto Competition for young musicians and, since then, has served regularly on the jury as Artistic Director of the competition.
In recognition of his contribution to the arts and culture in his adopted home, Mr. Jaskiewicz was awarded the “Knight’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta,” one of the highest honours bestowed by the President of Poland, and the “Gloria Artis” medal for his contributions to Polish culture.
Alexander (Sasha) Kats, Accompanist
The Oakham House Choir’s long time rehearsal and concert accompanist is Alexander Kats, a Russian-trained concert pianist and teacher, who is a graduate of Moscow’s prestigious Gnessin Russian Academy of Music. In Russia, he performed regularly in major concert halls as a recitalist, as a soloist with symphony orchestras and as an accompanist.
Since emigrating to Canada in 1991, Mr. Kats has become well-known to classical-music audiences as a recitalist and a collaborative artist. He has appeared at well-known musical venues in Toronto and throughout Ontario and has organized and performed in numerous concerts.
Currently, Mr. Kats is the music director at St. Margaret’s in the Pines Anglican Church in Scarborough and is the accompanist for various musical ensembles.
For the last six years, Mr. Kats has served on the jury of the annual Toronto Sinfonietta Concerto Competition for young musicians.
Mr. Kats has always maintained a busy teaching schedule. Many of his pupils, both in Russia and Canada, have been winners in major competitions. At present, he is a piano professor at the Mississauga School of Music and also teaches in his private studio in North York.
Allison Cecilia Arends
Canadian soprano Allison Cecilia Arends is a graduate of Calgary Opera’s Emerging Artist Program, the University of Toronto Opera School, where she obtained her Masters of Music, and the University of Victoria Voice Performance Program, where she obtained her Bachelors of Music. Her various teachers and mentors have included W. Stephen Smith, Mary Morrison, Timothy Noble, Wendy Nielsen, Selena James, Alexandra Browning, Diana Woolrich, and Norma Bertsch. She is in high demand as an interpreter of opera, oratorio, and concert repertoire across Canada, and her international performances have taken her to China, Germany, Austria, Italy, England, Jamaica, Israel, and the United States.
Formerly a faculty member of St. Michael’s Choir School and Timothy Eaton Memorial Church’s Choir School, she is a registered member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, Ontario Registered Music Teachers’ Association, and the Canadian Music Festival Adjudicators Association. She has conducted public masterclass and workshops for the music department at the University of Mississippi, Opera Atelier, the Saskatchewan Music Festival, the British Columbia Provincial Music Festival, the Regina Conservatory of Music, Ryerson Oakham House Choir, the Royal Canadian College of Organists, the voice studio of Diana Woolrich in Regina, Grande Prairie’s Registered Music Teachers’ Association, and the Edna Manley Music College in Kingston, Jamaica. A member of the Royal Conservatory of Music’s College of Examiners, she has adjudicated music festivals and competitions from coast to coast. Currently, the resident voice instructor for Univox Choir and the Toronto Concert Choir, Allison enjoys a full roster of voice and theory students, whom she teaches from her home studio and [currently] on-line.
For more information, please visit her website: www.allisonarends.com