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Three choir members outside the Ivey Business School located in London, Ontario.

London Composers Exposed

Composer Profiles for the KSS Concert:
London Composers Exposed! Creativity up close and personal
April 2, 2016

Jeff Christmas

Jeff ChristmasJeff Christmas studied at York University (Toronto), Western University (London) and Berklee College of Music (Boston).

He has conducted many orchestras across North America, appearing with artists such as Michael Burgess, The Rankins, Ashley McIsaac, and the legendary Michael Bolton.

Jeff’s compositions and arrangements have been performed by symphonies and ensembles worldwide. His music for the Opening Ceremonies of the Canada Games premiered on national television in 2001, and, recently he wrote Rainbow Through The Rain, commissioned to commemorate efforts after the 2013 Alberta floods. He has written for Randy Bachman, Tom Cochrane, Guido Basso, and many others. Jeff has composed theme and background music for films and television such as “High Point Casinos” (Global TV) hosted by Kenny Rogers and “Chatroom” (HBO, BET).

In musical theatre he wrote Jazzabel, a one-woman show, for Denise Pelley, and performed it at the National Museum for Women in the Arts in Washington DC and Off Broadway in New York City.

Jeff travels throughout the US and Canada as drummer and guest conductor for the popular Jeans ‘n’ Classics series. He has created and conducted numerous Pops concerts internationally. In 2014, he formed The Jeff Christmas Orchestra with his new series “Tapestry Of Sound”, originally produced by his father’s musical theatre company.

Jeff was recently inducted into the Western University, Don Wright Faculty of Music “Wall of Fame”. He runs an online music store and publishing company “Write On Music”.

KSS is excited to sing two of Jeff’s gospel arrangements, “The Rain Is Over and Gone” and “I Go to the Rock”.

Donald Cook

Donald CookDonald Cook is a native of St. John's, Newfoundland. He holds degrees from Mount Allison University (B.Mus., Composition), Union Theological Seminary (M.Mus., Church music) and King's College, University of London in England (PhD, Musicology). He helped establish the School of Music at Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland and was its founding director. Its new recital hall is named in his honour.

In 1992, Don moved to London to become principal of Western Ontario Conservatory of Music, which, under his guidance, became Conservatory Canada, writing its current Theory textbooks for Grades 1-4. As well, he became organist and choir director of Dundas Street Centre United Church.

Don has served on the boards of the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra and several national boards for music, the arts and humanities. He is past-chair of the International Mozart Chamber Music Competition and has served as juror for the Juno Awards and the Ontario Arts Council. In 1993 he was named a member of the Order of Canada.

Don has written over 50 compositions on an “as needed” basis and is a passionate promoter of Newfoundland folk music. His suite of five sea songs for voice, clarinet and piano has been performed around the world.

He and his wife are avid sailors, having frequently sailed their 30-foot sailboat between Lake Superior and the North Atlantic.

KSS is performing his rollicking Newfoundland story of “The Landfall of Cabot”.

3) Matthew Emery

Matthew EmeryThe music of Matthew Emery (b.1991) has been performed across North America, Europe and Asia and has been heard on national television and radio. Emery’s vocal works are regularly used at renowned festivals: VISI, Songfest, Canadian Art Song Project (Canadian Opera Company) and recently the Wigmore Hall Song Recital Series in London, England.

His music is published by Alfred Music (Lawson-Gould), Alliance Music Publications, Boosey & Hawkes, Cypress Choral Music, Dorn Publications, E.C. Schirmer, GIA Publications, G. Schirmer, Leslie Music Publications, Pavane Publishing, Plangere Publishing, Sulasol, and Santa Barbara Music Publishing.

Matthew holds a B.Mus from the University of British Columbia where he studied with Stephen Chatman and Jocelyn Morlock, and is a fellow of Melodious Accord studying with Alice Parker.

Matthew was the Composer-in-Residence for the Amabile Choirs of London, Canada: 2014-2015. He is an Associate Composer with the Canadian Music Centre and a member of the Canadian League of Composers. Matthew is the recipient of the ACDA Raymond W. Brock composition contest (USA) and the ACCC Diane Loomer award for Choral Writing (Canada), among many other awards from across North America.

Presently, Matthew is doing graduate work in composition at the University of Toronto.

We will sing two beautiful pieces by Matthew, “Love, Will We Stay”, and “When the Sun Comes After Rain”.

Steve Hardy

Steve HardyOriginally from Toronto, Steven Hardy is a songwriter, composer, and lyricist whose songs have been recorded by some of Canada’s favorite artists, including Murray McLauchlan, John McDermott, Quartette and Lunch at Allen’s.

A Western University Don Wright Music Faculty theory and composition honors graduate, Hardy has composed music for theatre, choir, dance, and television, including scores for two national award-winning documentaries, Slippery and Lost April. His songs have been licensed for film and television in Australia, Ireland, Iceland, and the U.S.A.

In 2004 his song “If Never” was performed by London, Ontario singer Jessie Ross at the Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece, and was featured in the CBC Television Special Celebrate!.

His songs have been heard on CBC radio and television programs including Vinyl Café, After Hours, Sounds Like Canada, Morningside, Quirks and Quarks, DNTO, Tonic, The Sunday Edition, and As It Happens. He is the inaugural recipient of the SOCAN Advanced Songwriter’s Workshop Award.

Steve was recently honoured on the “Jazz for the People” Concert Series with A Salute To Songwriter Steven Hardy, at Wolf Hall.

KSS will sing a delightful piece by Steve, “A Slice of Wedding Cake”, and a powerful gospel song he wrote for KSS and Denise Pelley, “How Hard Can It Be?”!/artists/Steven-Hardy

Steve Holowitz

Steve HolowitzStephen Holowitz, from Thunder Bay, completed a B.Mus. in Performance (Pipe Organ, Church Music and Piano) and a B.Ed (Music, Dramatic Arts) at The University of Western Ontario. He teache music at A.B. Lucas Secondary School, and is the Director of Music for St. James (Westminster) Anglican Church.

A well-known pianist in jazz and pop styles, Steve has performed with the London Encore Concert Band (Duke Ellington and Hoagy Carmichael), the Amabile Choirs, London ProMusica, Brassroots, soloist Denise Pelley and frequently with the Karen Schuessler Singers (Missa Gaia/Earth Mass, Road to Freedom, et al). He is keyboardist and co-composer for the Antler River Project, an ensemble that blends jazz, world music, and contemporary compositions into a unique musical experience.

He has recorded two CDs of original arrangements of hymns and gospel music, in addition to playing piano on many recordings by various ensembles in London.

Stephen composed music for the Grand Theatre's world premier of 'North' by Greg Nelson (2000) as well as 'The Wind in the Willows' (1998) and 'Anne' (1999). He frequently arranges pop songs for choirs.

Steve recently was Steven Hardy’s pianist of choice for his tribute, A Salute To Songwriter Steven Hardy, at Wolf Hall.

KSS will perform Steve’s haunting “The Crown of Roses” for women’s voices.

Sarah Quartel

Sarah QuartelComposer and educator Sarah Quartel is known for her fresh and exciting approach to the choral experience. Her works are performed throughout the world and her curriculum documents are used to connect the excitement of choral festivals with meaningful classroom learning.

Sarah’s compositions have been featured by groups such as the National Youth Choir of Canada, the Nathaniel Dett Chorale and the a cappella group Rajaton. Snow Angel has been performed around the globe. Her 2015 ACDA commissioned work “Wide Open Spaces” premiered under the baton of Bob Chilcott at the American Choral Directors Association national conference in Salt Lake City. In 2016 she will speak at the Association of British Choral Directors Convention in Winchester, England.

Other credits include: Inaugural Composer for the Edge Island Festival for Choirs and Composers, composer of mass choral works for Kathaumixw Choral Festival 2016, Composer-in-Residence for the women’s vocal ensemble Project Sing!, works recorded on multiple commercial releases, and a host of choral commissions and performances.

Sarah is published by Oxford University Press. Now living in Gananoque, Ontario she is a regular guest clinician at various music education and choral events internationally.

We are performing two movements from Sarah’s well-loved Snow Angel.

Jeff Smallman

Jeff SmallmanBorn in 1965 in Brantford, Ontario, Jeff holds an Honours Degree in Theory and Composition from the University of Western Ontario. He describes his music as a blend of Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Impressionist styles.

Jeff has written for a wide variety of ensembles, ranging from solo instruments to full orchestra, and covering a vast range of styles and levels of difficulty. He has received numerous commissions for orchestra, concert band, solo instrument, chamber groups, and choirs of all sizes. His trumpet sextet, "Fanfare for Prince Henry", was written in celebration of the birth of Prince Henry of Great Britain, and was accepted by Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1984. Most recently he has written a ballet and a chamber opera.

Jeff is a member of the Canadian League of Composers and is a competition winner. His music has been performed throughout Canada, the United States, Hungary, Holland, Lithuania, Finland, South Korea, England, Wales, Poland, China and beyond.

He has been a Lecturer at the Don Wright Faculty of Music of Western University, and since 2004, has served as composer-in-residence for the Woodstock Fanshawe Singers. Jeff is also an author and owns Lighthouse Music Publications.

We are performing a set of two contrasting pieces that we commissioned of Jeff for our 2010 concert “River: Reflections on the Thames”.

Bert Van der Hoek

Bert Van der HoekBert immigrated to London from The Hague in the Netherlands in 1952. A long-time lover of organ and choral music, he was awarded the Associate Diploma in Organ from the Royal Canadian College of Organists (RCCO). His teachers included T.C.Chattoe, William Wickett and Barrie Cabena.

For many years he was a familiar face at the music store, Hysen Music, on Dundas Street, where he could always give you advice about what was the latest hot item in print music. As well, he became the organist and choir director at Elmwood Avenue Presbyterian Church and served that congregation with high standards and a rich musical tradition for almost 50 years. There, he was blessed by having a fine choir, and it was for them that he often composed his anthems and descants.

Bert has always felt drawn to the music of English cathedral tradition, including Ralph Vaughan Williams and William Howells. He is the composer of several published church anthems (Leslie Music Publications, Jaymar, Waterloo Music and the RCCO) which are performed frequently and widely by choirs of all levels throughout Canada, the United States, and in Europe.

On the program are two of Bert’s most well-known pieces, “Christ, Whose Glory Fills the Skies” and “Let All the World in Every Corner Sing”.

Brian Ratcliffe

Brian RatcliffeBrian holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance from the University of Western Ontario. He composes and arranges on an “as needed” basis, primarily for the annual benefit concert for Canadian Aid to Southern Sudan (at least 15 so far) (, for which he arranges and composes for several high school choirs as well as soloists Denise Pelley and Saidat.

In 2011 he wrote the music and lyrics for Abuk: A Musical (concert version), which tells the story of the Dinka people of Sudan through the life of one child, Abuk, in her struggle to survive without a mother, before being adopted by Jane Roy and Glen Pearson. It was performed to sell-out audiences at Wolf Hall in London.

When he’s not composing, Brian is the London Food Bank manager and, with his wife, teacher and percussionist Karen Pincombe, operates and teaches at Arts For All Kids, which provides free fine arts lessons for children of low-income families.

KSS will perform Brian’s wonderful arrangement of “Deep River”.

Kevin White

Kevin WhiteKevin White was born on the east coast of Canada, in the province of New Brunswick. No matter what else he was doing as a career—medicine, university teaching, or professional medical writing—Kevin has written songs. Self-taught, he wrote his first song when he was twelve years old and has been writing about 20 new songs every year since then.

His over 400 copyrighten songs span different genres: from folk to folk-rock to folk-country to folk-jazz to what he likes to call 'thoughtful pop'  (i.e., pop music that has a message). If you look for an east coast influence, you will most definitely find it.

At the bottom of Kevin’s composition is story telling. He loves telling stories about people he’s met and places he’s been and the history behind his beautiful country, Canada. In addition to writing novels and children’s books, all his songs tell stories.

His music has often been compared to that of Gordon Lightfoot, James Gordon and the late great Harry Chapin, who was Kevin’s big inspiration as a social activist who wrote songs.

KSS will join with Kevin on his toe-tapping song about the great Jackie Washington, “Pullman Porter”.