ARTISTIC DIRECTOR & CONDUCTOR
John Wiens is a dynamic and versatile conductor with a wide-ranging repertoire hailed as "A new force in our world." Equally at home in chamber or orchestral settings, he is widely recognized for his eloquent interpretations and persuasive musicality.
Born into a musical family in small – town Manitoba, John aspired to be a musician from an early age. He studied violin and piano, and sang in the All Saints Men and Boys choir in Winnipeg. He holds degrees in Violin, Voice, and Conducting, studying with Robert Ingari, Christopher Jackson, and Andrew Megill.
John's conducting career has ranged from Belgium (University Chorus for L'Université Catholique de Louvain) to Morocco (Ensemble Voca Me) to Montreal (St. Matthias Anglican Church in Westmount, Early music chamber choir Ensemble Bellechose) and more recently John has appeared with Camerata Nova and Polycoro.
Polycoro presented their debut concert Musica Reservata in May 2015, featuring Waters of Rest, a work for thirteen voices by Canadian composer Oleksa Lozowchuk, and the Frank Martin mass for eight voices. This concert led immediately to touring and guest appearance requests at the Winnipeg Symphony's New Music FestivaI and the University of Brandon. Polycoro recently finished their second season with a concert dedicated to the story of immigration called Worlds Apart which featured music by Penderecki, Gorecki, and debuted a new cycle by Norbert Palej.
Zohreh Gervais, soprano
Zohreh Gervais studied violin and viola at the Alberta Conservatory before moving to Winnipeg to continue her musical studies at the University of Manitoba. An accomplished soprano as well as a violist, Zohreh earned a bachelor's of music degree under the tutelage of Tracy Dahl and Mel Braun. Zohreh's voice has been described as "sparkling," "gorgeous and crystal-clear," and her passion for baroque and early music have made her a sought-after soloist and collaborator.
Zohreh sings with Canzona as a soloist and chorister, and was a frequent soloist with The Musical Offering. Zohreh is a Suzuki Violin and Early Childhood Educator with the Winnipeg Suzuki Program and the University of Manitoba Preparatory Studies Division. She has released two albums: “Acquiescing,” (2004) an album of her original compositions for voice, piano and strings, and “My First Songs and Rhymes,” (2010) an album of children’s nursery rhymes and lullabies. A versatile musician, Zohreh is also the singer and songwriter of the Winnipeg-based bluegrass band, Hay Fever.
Jane Fingler, soprano
Jane Fingler is a soprano from Winnipeg, Manitoba who recently graduated with a voice degree from the University of Manitoba's Faculty of Music. Choral singing continues to be one of Jane's most favourite things to do in this life, as is evidenced by her enthusiastic participation in several choirs (lately Camerata Nova and Canzona). She will gladly attempt singing any style and feels at home singing very high notes. Jane feels very lucky to be a part of it all!
Dayna Lamothe, soprano
Soprano Dayna Lamothe is an accomplished soloist and chamber musician. Her clear and easy sound is particularly suited to early music performance; she has performed and recorded with some of Canada’s finest vocal ensembles, including the Studio de musique ancienne de Montreal, the Theatre of Early Music, Ensemble Viva Voce, Voces Boreales, the Montreal Consort, the Ottawa Bach Choir and les Violons du Roy. Over the years, her career has taken her to Germany, Austria, England, France, Italy and Mexico.
Recent highlights include a debut performance of Joby Talbot’s Path of Miracles, appearances in the roles Amour in Rameau’s Pygmalion and Iris in Handel’s Semele with the Mont-Royal Baroque Collective, a recital with Ensemble Seraphina and a performance of François Couperin’s Leçons de ténèbres. Her most recent recording with Viva Voce, Scenes from the Gospel, featuring the music of Josquin des Prez, Gombert, Machincourt and Willaert, was released in 2014 under the Naxos label.
Sara Clefstad, mezzo-soprano
Sara Clefstad holds a Bachelor of Music (Voice) from the University of Manitoba and a Bachelor of Education (Music) from Lakehead University. Her vocal versatility and communicative sensibilities make her a highly sought-after collaborator, having been invited to sing in concerts and music festivals across Canada, Russia, Argentina, Latvia, Estonia, and The United States. Sara has performed under the baton of such greats as Martin Neary (Westminster Abbey), Oscar Escalada (Conservatory of La Plata), Andrey Boreyko (Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra), Tadeusz Biernacki (Royal Winnipeg Ballet), Alexander Mickelthwate (Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra), and Sanna Valvanne (Finland's Tapiola).
Sarah Hall, mezzo-soprano
As a professional choral singer and soloist, Sarah has appeared in venues across the United States and in Canada, England and Italy. She has sung under the batons of such distinguished conductors as Tamara Brooks, Paolo Carignani, Henry Engbrecht, Janet Galvàn, John Harbison, David Hoose, Stephen Mercurio, Donald Nally, Alice Parker, Daniel Pinkham, Donald Teeters, and Constantina Tsolainou, to name a few. She has appeared in opera and concert settings with Canzona and MusikBarock (Winnipeg), Brandon Chamber Players,Festival dei Due Mondi (Spoleto, Italy), Boston Cecelia, The Cantata Singers and Ensemble (Boston), The Bridge Ensemble (Philadelphia), and The Delaware Singers and Orchestra. Recent solo appearances include the world premiere of Ken Nichols’ The River Merchant’s Wife at the Clear Lake Chamber Music Festival and in Bach’s Magnificat with Canzona and MusikBarock.
Sarah received her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from West Chester University of Pennsylvania and obtained her Masters in Music Vocal Pedagogy from New England Conservatory, as well as her Masters in Musicology from New England Conservatory.
Karla Ferguson, mezzo-soprano
Karla Ferguson learned to sing harmony with her family in Saskatchewan and hasn’t stopped since. She studied voice at Brandon University, and received further training and inspiration from various provincial, national, and international youth choirs. Karla is proud to have been a founding member of two choirs, the Canadian Chamber Choir and the unconducted female chamber choir das Femmes in Brandon. After spending three years singing with the Elmer Iseler Singers, Karla is now back in Manitoba where she works for the Winnipeg Folk Festival, sings regularly with the Winnipeg Singers and Canzona, and sometimes moonlights as an accordionist in the roots band, the Dust Poets. She counts among her choral mentors CCC Conductor Emeritus Iwan Edwards, Diane Loomer, Helmut Rilling, and her cousin Duff Warkentin.
Dan Peasgood, countertenor
Dan Peasgood (counter-tenor) has been singing in and around Winnipeg for the past fourteen years. In that time he has sung with numerous choirs including The Winnipeg Singers, Antiphony, Camerata Nova, The Canadian Chamber Choir, and Canzona. Dan is currently pursuing a bachelors degree in Music at the University of Manitoba and is a member of Mel Braun's studio there.
Scott Reimer, tenor
Scott Reimer grew up in a family in which singing together was second nature. Since moving to Winnipeg from the Gretna area, he has enjoyed a wealth of choral experience, having sung with many of Winnipeg's premier choirs, most notably Canzona, The Winnipeg Singers, and Camerata Nova. He has sung as a soloist with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and has represented Manitoba in the National Youth Choir, as well as Canada in the World Youth Choir. He has also been active as a choral director for many years and currently works as a choral teacher, arranger, composer, and clinician.
James Magnus-Johnston, tenor
A versatile ensemble artist and soloist, James has sung for decades with the Winnipeg Singers, Camerata Nova, and Antiphony; stage highlights include shows with Rainbow Stage, Shakespeare in the Ruins, and the Little Opera Company. He was an Cantor and music scholar with Holy Trinity Anglican Church for 10 years and has worked as a soloist for First Mennonite Church, All Saints Anglican, and the Winnipeg Philharmonic Choir. James is a graduate of the University of Winnipeg’s Theatre program and he studied and taught voice for many years through the Royal Conservatory. During business hours, James is an Instructor at Canadian Mennonite University, where he is the Director of the CMU Centre for Resilience, and he’s a Board Director for the Assiniboine Credit Union. He has an MPhil in Economics from Cambridge University.
Paul Wiens, baritone
Paul Wiens is a mainstay on the stage in Manitoba, whether singing with Manitoba Opera, Canzona or other local choral organizations. Paul’s past roles with Manitoba Opera include Sargent in La Boheme as well as The Old Gypsy in Il Trovatore . He also appeared as a soloist in the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s Opera on the Rooftop concert in 2013.
Other opera roles performed include the title role in Gianni Schicchi, Dandini in La Cenerentola, Guglielmo in Così Fan Tutte, and Bob in The Old Maid and the Thief. Paul has been involved with Canzona since 2003, both as a soloist and chorister. Most recently, he portrayed the roles of Peter and Pilate in Canzona’s St. Matthew Passion. Other highlights as a chorister include recording multiple Robert Turner selections for the album entitled “Amoroso Canto”, and performing the Bach Motet’s in 2012 with B’achtet, a Manitoba based octet founded by Paul and John Wiens. Paul works as a Commercial Banker with Cambrian Credit Union. When he is not performing or working, he enjoys spending time with his family.
Scott Braun, bass-baritone
Scott Braun is a graduate of the University of Manitoba School of Music where he was the winner of the Lawrence Genser Scholarship for top student performance. Since then he has been actively involved in the Winnipeg music scene, appearing with the Winnipeg Singers, CBC’s Hymn Sing, and as a founding member of Canzona, Winnipeg’s premier Baroque vocal ensemble. Known for his love of the Oratorio repertoire, Scott has appeared as soloist with Canzona, Musikbarok, and the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra. Scott is also a regular with the Gilbert and Sullivan Society, having appeared in their recent productions of The Mikado (Pooh Bah), and HMS Pinafore (Captain Corcoran). He also appeared in their 2014 production of The Gondoliers as Don Alhambra. When not singing, Scott is an active triathlete, and is training for another Ironman Triathlon.
Jereme Wall, bass
Jereme Wall holds a Bachelor of Music (Voice Performance) from Brandon University and a Bachelor of Science (Microbiology and Zoology) from the University of Manitoba. He has recently sung in various professional choirs based out of Winnipeg, including The Winnipeg Singers and Canzona, and currently sings with Polycoro. Jereme has been a proud member of the Canadian Chamber Choir since 2008. Jereme is a professional server and self-proclaimed foodie. He loves to travel and has hiked & biked in countless glorious locales around the globe. Jereme is currently working at pursuing a career in healthcare.
Merina Dobson - soprano
Merina Dobson-Perry is a seasoned singer, and has been part of the Winnipeg choral scene for nearly two decades - performing with most of the city’s top choirs, including Camerata Nova, Canzona, Winnipeg Singers, University of Manitoba Singers and Prairie Voices, to name a few. She has had the opportunity to tour internationally with some of these, performing in venues across Europe and South America. Merina is a versatile singer, and her light, agile voice lends itself well to Early Music. She especially enjoys singing anything coloratura! She holds Bachelor of Music and Bacherlor of Education degrees from the University of Manitoba. She has been the Soprano Soloist at Young United Church for over 12 years, and runs South Winnipeg Studio - a private in-home music instruction studio. Merina is an Orff-certified Early Years Music Specialist, and taught classroom Music in French Immersion prior to starting her family and opening her studio in 2014.