Choralfest North

March 11-14 • McDougall United Church 
Evaluators • Heather Fraser, Benila Ninan, Kevin Zakresky

All Choralfest North 2017 performances are open to the public! Admission is by donation. 

View the Choralfest North schedule here!


Festival Evaluators

Heather Fraser is a dynamic and energetic choral music educator hailing from Nova Scotia. She is Artistic Director of the Annapolis Valley Honour Choirs and incoming Artistic Director of the Aeolian Singers (Halifax). Other engagements have included the Halifax Regional School Board All City Music Honour Choirs, resident conductor of the Nova Scotia Youth Choir, and the Thomas’s Preparatory School Choirs and Choral Society (London, UK). She has also prepared choirs for Symphony Nova Scotia, including a recording project with the CBC. 

As a clinician, Heather has presented for the Nova Scotia Music Educator’s Association, the Nova Scotia Choral Federation and has adjudicated for the New Brunswick Competitive Music Festival and the Atlantic Music Festival. She is active with the “Perform NS! Artists in Residence Program,” conducting workshops across Nova Scotia on choral methods for both students and teachers, and is developing the “Singing Schools” program for Junior High schools without choral opportunities.

Believing strongly in the power of choral music to create and build community, Heather is privileged to serve as Program Director for the Nova Scotia Choral Federation, developing and coordinating programs to meet the diverse needs of Nova Scotia singers. She also sits on the Advocacy and National Youth Choir Committees for Choral Canada. 

Heather got her start in conducting while in Montreal, as apprentice for Iwan Edwards and Concerto Della Donna. She was Apprentice Conductor of the 2010 National Youth Choir of Canada under Victoria Meredith, has studied at the Westminster Choir College Summer Institute with Charles Bruffy, and last fall was the Conducting Fellow with Julia Davids and the Canadian Chamber Choir.  Most recently she was honoured to be a part of the Emerging Conductor program of Pro Coro Canada with Michael Zaugg.

Ms. Benila Ninan is a music teacher, conductor, and clinician living in Vancouver, British Columbia. She is originally from Edmonton, Alberta, where she pursued her studies. Along with her degrees in Music (Voice Performance) and Education at the University of Alberta, Ms. Ninan also studied at the Kodály Institute of the Liszt Academy of Music in Hungary, where she specialized in Music Pedagogy.

Ms. Ninan has worked as a school music teacher and clinician in both British Columbia and Alberta. She has taught all age levels from Kindergarten to Grade 12, including General Music at the elementary level, Grades 6 to 12 Choir, Jazz Choir, and provided musical direction for Musical Theatre. She has inspired many students to develop a passion for choral music; her approach to teaching encourages students to discover their individual voices while singing in different styles and genres. Ms. Ninan was a vital member of the performing arts team at Edmonton's Victoria School of Performing Arts. She has also taught at Collingwood School in West Vancouver, and currently teaches at The Westside School in Vancouver.

Ms. Ninan's experience as a choral singer and soloist is vast and accomplished. She has sung with Canada's professional choirs including Pro Coro Canada (Edmonton), musica intima (Vancouver), and Luminous Voices (Calgary). Ms. Ninan was selected as a singer to represent Canada by the International Federation for Choral Music to participate in five tours with the World Youth Choir, where she had the opportunity to sing under the direction of master conductors and teachers such as Frieder Bernius, Steve Zegree, Peter Erdei and more. In 2008 and 2009 she was invited back to be a section leader for the choir. Highlights from these tours include performing for the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympic Equestrian Events in China and Europa Cantat in the Netherlands.

Ms. Ninan draws on her passion for education, her choral experiences from around the globe, and her strong musicianship skills in her approach to sharing the art of choral music with her students.

Kevin Zakresky is founder-director of the Sea to Sky Symphony and the conductor of the Pacifica Singers in Vancouver. Kevin is Associate Conductor of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses, a production that has seen him directing orchestras in Charlottesville, Columbus, Miami and London (with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra in Wembley Arena). Future dates of Zelda include Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.

Zakresky is the past Music Director of the Prince George Symphony Orchestra and has recently conducted the St Louis Symphony, Sudbury Symphony, West Coast Symphony, Vancouver Chamber Choir and two concerts with Sea to Sky. He completed his Doctorate at Yale University in 2012.

Zakresky made his CBC broadcast debut conducting Monteverdi with the Vancouver Chamber Choir and the Vancouver Chamber Orchestra in 2014. During his time with the Prince George Symphony, he worked with many soloists including Jane Coop, Dale Barltrop, Nadina Mackie Jackson and Lucas Wong. He has been a faculty member of the Vancouver International Song Institute, directed choirs at Douglas College and has taught conducting at the School for Contemporary Arts, Simon Fraser University. He currently teaches at the Vancouver Symphony School of Music.


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