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2023 Faculty

Natalie Dawe

Natalie Dawe began playing cello at the age of 7. In 2007, she travelled to Beijing, China with the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra to perform and record a CD that won an East Coast Music Award for Best Classical Recording. After moving to Winnipeg in 2007, Natalie studied with Yuri Hooker, principal cellist with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. In 2011, she toured Sweden and Finland in collaboration with the University of Manitoba Singers. She was the winner of the the Holtby Scholarship and the Madeline Gauvin Scholarship through the Women’s Musical Club Annual Scholarship Competition. During her time at the University of Manitoba’s Desautels Faculty of Music, she was a prize winner in the Genser Competition, as well as a winner of the Concerto Competition. In 2013, she graduated with a B. Music degree in cello performance from the University of Manitoba’s Desautels Faculty of Music where she studied with Dr. Minna Rose Chung. In the summer of 2014, she performed with Rod Stewart at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg. She also performed at the Government House of Manitoba during the Royal Tour for The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall. Natalie has attained a M. Music degree in cello performance at the University of Western Ontario's Don Wright Faculty of Music where she was studying with Thomas Wiebe. She currently enjoys collaborating with other local artists of various genres and teaching young aspiring cellists.

River Sawchyn

Violinist and Composer River Sawchyn was born in Winnipeg in 2003. He studied violin with WSO concertmaster Gwen Hoebig and now attends the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. Participating in local festivals and competitions since he was eight, River is a five time trophy winner at the Winnipeg Music Festival and has taken the stage twice as a Virtuosi Young Artist of the Virtuosi concert series. Also busy writing music, River has studied composition with Canadian composer Michael Van der Sloot and had an original orchestral composition premiered by the Winnipeg Youth Orchestras in 2021. As well as an accomplished classical musician, River is a frequent collaborator with a variety of folk ensembles, choral and instrumental groups and is a skilled fiddle player. Also experienced on the technical side of music production, River has produced many collaborative music and video projects, both self-organized and in collaboration with organizations such as Rosamunde Music Academy, the Back to Bach Project and Sopilka Ukrainian Dance School. River appreciates music in all forms and enjoys performing in a wide range of venues.

Leanne Zacharias

Cellist Leanne Zacharias is an interdisciplinary artist whose dynamic practice crosses genres and geographies. She curates Music for Spaces, reimagining public and natural sites with sound, with work featured in the International Cello Festival of Canada, Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Winnipeg Design Festival and Warming Huts Art & Architecture competition. She received a ‘Best Performer’ nomination by the Austin Critics Table for River Measures, a solo series along the Colorado River in Texas, and residency awards in Iceland and Churchill’s Northern Studies Research Centre. Her project Listening Booth: solo recitals for solo audience member, was presented by the Agassiz Chamber Music Festival and she was soloist in the Portal Zero installation at the Winnipeg Symphony New Music Festival. Numerous premieres and recordings include Pat Carrabre’s Prairie Sky concerto, Concerto Laguna by Travis Weller (performed from a boat on a Texan lake), the premiere recording of Rand Steiger’s Elusive Peace for cello and percussion with Ben Reimer, sound artist Steve Bates, percussionist Eric Platz, songwriter John K Samson, The Mountain Goats, and her longtime collaborator Christine Fellows.Her first solo recording, featuring modern works in unique sites across rural Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario, arrives this fall.

On faculty at Brandon University’s School of Music, Leanne adjudicates across Canada and has also taught at Domaine Forget International Academy, the Cadenza and Rosamunde Festivals, Prairie Cello Institute, and given lectures at Parsons School of Design in New York, the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s 10x20x20 series, and Banff’s Research In Culture workshop. She co-directs two unique art programs for emerging artists: A Wild Studio: Excursions in Art, Sound and Performance in Canadian National Park, and the Hybrid Intensive interdisciplinary workshop in San Francisco.

Jason Vanwynsberghe

Southern Manitoba born, Violinist Jason Vanwynsberghe holds a Bachelors of Violin Performance from the Brandon University School of Music, as well as Minors in Music Composition and English Literature. Since his studies, he has been actively involved in the southern Manitoba music community.

Jason enjoys performing in a wide variety of settings and styles. He has played as Concert Master of the Brandon Community Orchestra and Brandon University Orchestra, as well as performing with the Manitoba Underground Opera Company, the Grande Prairie(AB) Symphony and Singing Concert series, and Numerous Musical Theatre shows with CandleWick Productions. Additionally Jason has performed both as a solo act and as a freelance/session musician, often featuring the Electric Violin, his Voice, and a loop pedal.

Equally interested in Music Education, Jason also operates a large violin Studio in and around the communities of Manitou, Morden and Winkler. As a conductor, Jason is the current Director of DKSM string ensemble Post Road Strings. He has served as guest conductor and clinician of the Brandon Community Orchestra, and Music Director for the Manitoba Oak Valley Passion Play.

As a composer, Jason has also written several commissioned or frequently performed Compositions. Notable among these: ‘A Prairie Sunset’ (Brandon Community orchestra, 2018), ‘Impromptu’ for Solo Violin (2015), and ‘Mass of Kenosis’ (2019).

Theresa Thordarson

Theresa Thordarson’s insatiable creative drive stems from a lifetime of  musical risk-taking. Whether writing original compositions, playing  piano in traditional settings, or collaborating with artists across genres  and disciplines, she thrives in the imperfections and questions inherent  in performance practices. 

Theresa performs traditional, remixed, and contemporary repertoire as  a soloist and collaborative pianist, with recent engagements including  concerts for Nuit Blanche Winnipeg, Lethbridge’s Centric Festival and  masterclasses with Edgar Meyer, Libby Larsen, and Angela Hewitt. She  also sings, synths, and writes pop music as one half of the duo Bicycle  Face with guitarist Ava Glendinning. 

Theresa has served as a sessional instructor and staff collaborative  pianist at Brandon University and the State University of New York,  Fredonia. She currently makes her home in Winnipeg, Manitoba. 

Meagan Reimer

Manitoba-grown mezzo soprano, Meagan Reimer, returned to southern Manitoba in late 2020 after almost ten years performing as a classical vocalist in Toronto, southern Ontario, and Europe. Meagan holds a Bachelor of Music from Canadian Mennonite University, and Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Vocal Performance from the University of Manitoba Desautels Faculty of Music.

Meagan has been a featured soloist in a broad range of repertoire, her performance has been primarily as a classical soloist. Oratorio works have covered the music of composers such as Duruflé, Fauré, Händel, Mozart, Haydn, Allegri, a host of Bach cantatas, Saint-Saëns, and Pergolesi/Durante. Opera and operetta credits include the core repertoire of the lyric mezzo soprano with Toronto-based companies such as Opera by Request, Toronto Operetta Theatre, Voicebox Opera in Concert, Opera Sustenida, Tapestry Opera, Windsor Symphony Orchestra, York University and the Talisker Players.

Meagan was a finalist of the Cathedral Bluffs Symphony Orchestra Clifford Poole Vocal Competition in Toronto, and a semi-finalist of the Doris MacLellan Competition in Winnipeg. She made her European musical debut in Berlin, Germany at the Knutson Studio presenting favourites of the French and Canadian art song repertoire.

She was scheduled return to Weimar, Germany to sing the title role of Angelina in Rossini’s La Cenerentola before the pandemic, having previously appeared as Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni with Lyric Opera Studio Weimar. Meagan was an invitee to the Grandi Voci vocal competition at the Oper im Berg Festival in Salzburg, Austria, and after attending, subsequently spent time in Vienna in masterclass with Maestro Maurizio Scardovi. This spring she again joins Opera by Request as Desdemona in Rossini’s rarely performed Otello.

Meagan comes to the DKSM Admin Team this year with extensive experience in music school administration in the Toronto area. She’s delighted to be reconnecting with her hometown music community and to be joining the great work DKSM does in bringing music to all. During regular work hours, Meagan can be found in your friendly neighbourhood law office, in the subdivisions and development department.

Dianna Neufeld

Dianna Neufeld has a Bachelor of Music (Major in Piano performance) and Bachelor of Education (Major in Elementary Music) from the University of Manitoba, and is currently completing her Graduate studies at the Brandon University as a Collaborative Pianists. She has taught Elementary music and high-school chorale in the school system for several years before switching primarily to private piano teaching.

She enjoys accompanying various soloists, choirs, chamber groups, and performing with a women’s vocal trio. Dianna is a published composer within the Northern Lights CNCM Piano Repertoire books, a graded educational series that features primarily Canadian composers. She writes duets and solos for students of all levels, and also composes chamber works. She resides in Margaret, Manitoba, and teaches privately from her music studio located at the Arts Hall in Boissevain, MB. She is on staff at the Eckhardt-Gramatté Conservatory within the Brandon University as a private piano instructor, and as the STEP piano educator. Currently, she has taken on the position as President of the Manitoba Registered Music Teachers Association of the Brandon and Westman Branch. She enjoys adjudicating, creating musical opportunities for piano, voice, violin, Suzuki-piano, and composing music for performance and educational


Ainsley Kroeker

Born and raised in Morden, MB, Ainsley's upbringing was rich with musical experiences,

starting violin at age 4 under the instruction of Lilian Toews. She started performing regularly at

a young age, both solo and in all levels of the Winnipeg Youth Orchestra’s. She received the

Loreena McKennit scholarship and trophy for her years of outstanding achievements in the

Morden Festival. She received her ARCT Diploma in Violin Performance from the Royal

Conservatory of Music, as well has her Grade 8 Piano. She continued her studies at the

University of Manitoba, studying with Karl Stobbe and Oleg Pokhanovski. While studying she

maintained a large teaching studio and was the founder, manager and performer for Hesed

String Quartet, a professional ensemble for hire in Winnipeg. She graduated with a Bachelor of

Music and Bachelor of Education in 2012. Her love for teaching lead her to complete her

Suzuki Book 1 Teacher Training, as well as the Orff teaching method for Early Years. She enjoys

teaching all levels, using a variety of material, and has prepared many students for RCM exams

and had several students be awarded medals for their high achievements. She has experience

as a festival adjudicator and clinician for string players and ensembles. After taking time off to

raise her young family, her husband, three boys and dog are now settled in Winkler.

Jimmie Kilpatrick

"Shotgun Jimmie" is the stage name of Jim Kilpatrick, a Canadian singer-songwriter. Formerly associated with the band Shotgun & Jaybird. Since that band's breakup, he has released several albums as a solo artist.

His 2011 album Transistor Sister was named as a longlisted nominee for the 2011 Polaris Music Prize.

On March 24, 2017, a 30-track tribute album to Kilpatrick and his songwriting was released via, by a fan-driven label known as “Comin’ Around Records".

Everett Hopfner

A self-described new music explorer, Canadian pianist Everett Hopfner is celebrated for his passionate and inventive performances. With his dynamic approach to multi-disciplinary pieces incorporating electronic media, improvisation, movement and speech, Everett has been praised as “a surreal performer who gives flesh and life to music.” 

Everett has toured across Canada as winner of the 36th Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition, where he was commended by the jury as “an actor, a poet, a true artist” and “a figure of the future.” Graduate studies in Germany led to European tours with the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie and broadcasts on Hessischer Rundfunk and CBC Radio. Everett has been presented by Cluster New Music + Interactive Arts Festival in Winnipeg,  in Karlsruhe, and Lachenmann Perspektiven in Stuttgart.

An eager collaborator, Everett is involved in a broad spectrum of activity from traditional chamber music settings to interactive Fluxus installations. Residencies at the Banff Centre and Casalmaggiore International Music Festival have placed Everett in a diverse community of creative artists expanding musical horizons in Canada and Europe. His mentors include Megumi Masaki, Catherine Vickers, and Nicolas Hodges, and his projects have been supported by grants from the Manitoba Arts Council.

Committed to education, Everett maintains a private studio at the Eckhardt-Gramatté Conservatory of Music and teaches sessionally at Brandon University, where he is also engaged as a collaborative pianist. He enjoys sharing his enthusiasm, imagination and constructive pedagogical approach with musicians of all levels in workshops, festivals and masterclasses.

Alyssa Hildebrand

Alyssa has been teaching for several years, and works with students of many different levels and abilities. She works as a private voice teacher independently in Winkler, through the Steinbach Arts Council, and the Community School of Music and the Arts (CSMA) at Canadian Mennonite University. At CSMA she has had the opportunity to teach individual voice students, group classes, and lead a voice masterclass in February of 2020.  Prior to the pandemic, she worked at Providence University College as an instructor of music.  She returned to Manitoba after completing her Master of Music degree in Literature and Performance at Western University, studying with Jackalyn Short. Prior to this she attended Canadian Mennonite University where she received a Bachelor of Music with a concentration in vocal performance, studying with David Klassen.  Throughout both of these degrees, Alyssa had the opportunity to take courses on vocal pedagogy and early music education.  

Throughout her studies, Alyssa has had several performance opportunities, which included various recitals and concerts.  She has also had the opportunity to perform operatic roles including; the role of Oscar in Handel’s Alcina at the Halifax Summer Opera Festival, Barbarina in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro through Accademia Europea Dell’Opera in Italy, and Josephine in HMS Pinafore (CMU), Bastienne in Bastien und Bastienne (CMU) and understudying the role of Anne Page in the Merry Wives of Windsor.   She has been the finalist in several music competitions, including the Verna Mae Janzen Competition and Winnipeg’s Tudor Bowl.  

Candace Hamm

Originally from Morden, MB, Candace Hamm's instructors have included Dr. Darryl Friesen, Barbara Cornish, and Cameron Friesen (piano) and Dr. Charles Horton and Dr. Karen Sunabacka (theory). Her education has included the completion of degrees with the Marcel A. Desautels Faculty of Music (University of Manitoba) and the Royal Conservatory of Music as well as pedagogical studies with Dr. Edmund Dawe, Gregory Chase, and Irina Gorin among other notable instructors.

Candace is a member of the Manitoba Registered Music Teachers Association, the Southeastern Manitoba Music Teachers Association, a Royal Conservatory of Music certified Piano and Theory specialist at all levels, and is privileged to be on faculty with the Cadenza Music Week affiliated with the Douglas Kuhl Foundation. In heavy demand for her creative, invested teaching style, Candace maintains a piano and theory studio of over sixty students. Her students have met with success in competition, auditions for post secondary music studies, and in other performance opportunities at a local, provincial, and national level. Former students have gone on to study piano performance, music education, music theory, music therapy, and composition at various schools across Canada.

Candace lives in Steinbach with her husband and son, where she spends her spare time gardening, working a search and rescue dog, and reading as many books as possible! 

Tatiana Friesen

More about Tatiana coming soon.

Bery Filsaime

A Florida native, Mr. Filsaime began playing the violin at the age of seven before switching to the cello at the age of nine. He earned his Bachelor of Music in cello performance at the University of North Florida, studying with Dr. Nick Curry. He completed his Master of Music Degree at the University of Tennessee where he served as Professor Wesley Baldwin’s teaching assistant. In 2017, Bery was a finalist in the University of Tennessee Symphony Concerto Competition and for the New World Symphony. He was also a member of the National Repertory Orchestra the summer of 2017 in Breckenridge Colorado. Bery just graduated with his Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Music Performance at the University of Manitoba, studying with Dr. Minna Rose Chung. He was also selected as a winner of the University of Manitoba Concerto Competition in 2018.

Rochelle Drudge

Rochelle has enjoyed teaching violin, piano and music theory in Winkler since 1993, with one year spent teaching music in Loma Plata, Paraguay.  Her musical involvements have also included directing student strings ensembles, conducting children’s choirs, piano accompanying and playing violin or viola in various string ensembles.  She is the founder and director of Winkler’s Homeschool Harmony Choir (since 2009) and has directed community string ensembles and violin group classes in Winkler since 2009.  She is also the founder and program director of Cadenza Summer Music Week (since 2013). Rochelle and her husband, Kevin, have lived in Winkler since 1993 and have three daughters; Kayla, Hannah and Amie.

Andrea Bell

Born in Winnipeg, Andrea Bell holds Bachelor Degrees in Music and Education from the University of Manitoba and a Masters Degree in Cello Performance from the University of British Columbia. Andrea is the founding member and cellist of the Rembrandt String Quartet. A passionate music educator, Ms. Bell is the Director of the String Orchestra Program at Westgate Mennonite Collegiate. She maintains a large and vibrant private cello studio and is the Director of the “Mini-Rosie” program at the Rosamunde Summer Music Academy. Andrea has taught cello, conducted youth and adult amateur orchestras and adjudicated music festivals across Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and in Australia. Andrea is the Conductor of the Winnipeg Mennonite Community Orchestra and  the conductor of the Winnipeg Youth Symphony Orchestra.

Sarah-Lynn Bergen

Sarah-Lynn Bergen began playing the violin here in the Pembina Valley at the age of 7. She performed with the Winnipeg Youth Orchestra for 4 years while taking lessons with Simon MacDonald and Karl Stobbe. She continued her studies at the University of Ottawa where she completed a Bachelor of Music under the tutelage of Yehonatan Berick, Jean-Hee Lee and Micheal van der Sloot. While in university, Sarah had the pleasure of performing with the University of Ottawa Orchestra, the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra, the Ottawa Pops Orchestra, and the Manitoba Underground Opera. Sarah discovered a passion for music education through volunteering with Ottawa’s El Sistema program, Orkidstra, and teaching violin and piano at a local music school. Sarah-Lynn has had the honor of being a student teacher at Cadenza Summer Music Week since 2013 and is excited to be back teaching in Manitoba! In her spare time, Sarah enjoys baking bread, knitting, and cross-country skiing.

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