Our 2023 Festival Adjudicators
Rhonda Sylvester (Musical Theatre)
Rhonda Sylvester has been a proud part of the arts community since an early age and over the years, her love and passion for music, theatre and performance have continued to grow and blossom. Growing up in Stettler, AB, she was offered the wonderful opportunity to study voice with Elaine Pitt and her national winning award choir Pitt's Pets. It was through Mrs. Pitt that Ms.Sylvester first found that special spark of magic only music can give to your soul. With great nurturing and development, this gift of music became not only a passion for her, but also became her life career choice. She has obtained degrees in both Teachers and Vocal Performance from the Royal Conservatory of Toronto (Distinction) and Conservatory Canada, a music Performance degree (Honours) from Red Deer College, and a Bachelor of Music Vocal Performance (Honours) from U of A Augustana Campus. After obtaining her degrees, Ms.Sylvester lived in Kassel Germany for 2 years where she had the privilege of teaching English, Choral and Orchestra in the German school system for grades five to thirteen. She has been the recipient of numerous scholarships and awards of her own, but she is most proud of the awards that her own students have earned in world wide competitions, including the Heritage Festival series in New York, where her Gracenotes Choir placed at a Gold level and were also the recipients of the esteemed Spirit of New York Award. Ms.Sylvester has had several students also hold successful auditions to be a part of the Honour Choir at Carnegie Hall series in the past several years and well as having numerous choirs, solo vocal students and musical theatre students go on to win top marks and placements at the Alberta Provincial Choral and Music Festival. In addition to teaching and conducting, Ms.Sylvester loves to perform. Some of her performance and musical directing credits include shows such as “Ready Steady Go”, “The Wizard of Oz”, “Oliver”, “Little Women”, “Bring Them Home”, “Pets”, “Fiddler On the Roof”, “The Music Man”, “My Fair Lady”, “Matilda”, “Moana Jr.” and her two most favourite roles as Sister Mary Amnesia and the Narrator in “Nunsense” and “Nunsense: the Second Coming” and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”. Ms.Sylvester is a sought-after clinician and adjudicator in the disciplines of solo voice, choral and musical theatre. In addition to her busy teaching career, Mrs.Sylvester also holds a position with the Clearview School District as an Educational Assistant and Kindergarten music teacher. She wishes all participants in this music festival the best of luck and encourages them to, “Go forth and shine!”.
Dr. Joy Berg (Classical Voice & Speech)
For over 20 years, Joy conducted the Concordia Concert Choir and Community Chorus, was the founding director of Bella Voce Women’s Choir, and, as a professor, taught CUE’s church music history courses. A fixture in the music community, Joy has been an organizer and conductor in the Sacred Music Festival and instrumental in creating the Women’s Choral Festival at this annual Skirts A Fire Festival in the Alberta Avenue community. Joy sang for 16 years as an Alto with Procoro Canada (Edmonton’s professional choir), and is the curator for the Cypress Publishing church choir series, Songs for the Sanctuary. She has written several articles, a few hymns, and, as a collegial collaborator, has won service awards in her community (particularly the Companion of the Worship Arts national award from Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada in 2014, and the “Con Spirito” community service award, a provincial award from the Alberta Choral Federation in 2008). She holds a Doctorate of Music degree in Choral Conducting as well as a Doctorate of Worship Arts, and as a longtime church musician, she has focused her research in hymnody, liturgy, Canadian hymn-writers, and worship planning and is actively involved in national and synodical church events. Since retiring from Concordia, Joy started her business, Sanctuary Sounds, which includes Cantabo Women’s Ensemble. Joy and her husband have moved to Camrose this past summer, and she continues to commute into Edmonton for work at Christ Church Anglican (which includes a day as musician-in-residence at Canterbury Foundation each week), as well as to conduct The Kings Community and Alumni Chorus.
Jodi Groenheide (Band & Instrumental)
Jodi Groenheide graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a Masters of Music in Percussion Performance where she studied with Dr. John Wooton. She completed her Bachelor of Music in Flute and Percussion Performance at the University of Lethbridge where she studied with Adam Mason and Sarah Gieck. Jodi's primary creative outlet, along with her husband, Matt (percussion), is the jamani duo. The duo plays a fun and energetic assortment of music on an impressive collection of instruments from around the world, including Caribbean steel pan, flute, vibraphone, hand drums, and more. Jodi and Matt's unique sound draws on traditions from world, classical, popular, and jazz music to create something entirely new and infectiously groovy! Jodi began playing flute at age 10 and most recently studied with Sarah Gieck in Lethbridge and Brazilian flutist Dr. Danilo Mezzadri in Mississippi. She completed her flute Graduation Recital in November, 2009 and has remained an active performer and teacher since then. She is currently Principal Flute with the Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra (while also filling in with the percussion section once in a while). Jodi studied classical and world percussion with Adam Mason. She has been a member of the University of Lethbridge Global Drums Percussion Ensemble since 2005 and performs with the group regularly throughout Alberta. She has also performed with Global Drums in China, Japan, London, Amsterdam, Trinidad, Hawaii, and Florida. In Mississippi, her studies with Dr. John Wooton included a focus on Afro-Cuban percussion, drumset, and jazz vibraphone. In November, 2008, Jodi competed in the Keyboard Individuals competition at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC) in Austin, Texas. In 2009, she studied at the International Katarzyna Mycka Marimba Academy in Frankfurt, Germany with world renowned marimbists Katarzyna Mycka, Eric Sammut, Ney Rosauro, and Svet Stoyanov. Jodi has also studied steel pan with international steel pan artist Tracy Thornton. Jodi has also performed in Albania, where she spent six months attending Udhëkryq Bible school. In addition to several solo pan performances, Jodi had the opportunity to perform with Ilia Lulo, a professional Albanian flutist, and at the Global Leadership Summit in the capital, Tirana. One of Jodi's favorite places to perform is on a sunny street corner - she loves to see the surprise and joy on people's faces when they see her steel pan, and she happily stops to explain her instrument time and time again. Jodi teaches flute and percussion, including marimba, steel pan, and world percussion.
Jeremy Legault (Band)
Currently, Jeremy is the Director of Bands at St. Mary’s High School in Calgary AB. The St. Mary’s Music Program has received both local and international accolades, and is very active in Calgary’s music community, frequently working with local musicians and clinicians, as well as world renowned CADME guest artists. In 2006 Jeremy co-founded the “Metropolitan Winds” performing the role of Artistic Director and Principal Conductor from Fall 2008 the Spring of 2013. Jeremy is currently the director of the “Silver Jazz Band” one of the ensembles within the “Westwinds Music Organization”. He is an executive and performing member (Trumpet) with the “Alberta Winds” Wind Ensemble. Jeremy is an active volunteer in the Calgary music community, is a member of the AIBF band festival volunteer team in the role of “Honour Band Coordinator”, and is an active member of the executive committee for CADME. Jeremy is often working as an adjudicator for local and regional festivals and is frequently the guest conductor for bands attending the “Rocky Mountain Retreats” in Banff Alberta. Jeremy received a Bachelor of Music from the University of Calgary (1999) and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Toronto (2001). After completing a Diploma in Wind Conducting from the University of Calgary (2003), Jeremy completed a Master of Music Degree, specializing in Wind Ensemble Conducting, while studying with Dale Lonis, Fraser Linklater and Earl Stafford at the University of Manitoba (2005-2006).
Laurie Syer (Strings)
Laurie Syer is a violin and viola teacher in the small community of Bergen, Alberta. A former member of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, she has performed as soloist in a wide variety of venues in western Canada and in Europe. Laurie is a founding member of Calgary’s Allegra String Quartet, and has performed as a chamber musician with such groups as the Lyric Chamber Players, New Works Calgary and many other ensembles, both in Alberta and British Columbia. She was founding Artistic co-Director of Strings & Keys: a summer music workshop which welcomed dozens of students to Bergen beginning in 1995. Laurie has served as adjudicator for music festivals throughout British Columbia and Alberta. She is involved with many community projects, and enjoys gardening, baking in her outdoor wood-fired oven, and hanging out with her Border Collie, Ryak.
Lana Henchell (Junior Piano)
Calgary native, Lana Henchell, is an award-winning pianist and educator whose dedication to performing Classical music has taken her across Canada, U.S.A., France and Portugal. After her orchestral debut with the Calgary Civic Symphony at the age of 13, Lana has since performed as soloist with several orchestras including the Orquestra Classica do Centro (Portugal), the Montreal Chamber Orchestra, the Calgary Civic Symphony, the McGill Symphony and the University of Calgary Orchestra.
After completing her doctorate at McGill University (Richard Raymond) and her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Calgary (Marilyn Engle), Lana performed in prestigious events such as the Coimbra World Piano Meeting (Portugal) and L'Académie Musicale Internationale (France). She was the winner of the Eckhardt-Gramatté National Piano Competition, the Coimbra World Piano Competition, and received top prizes in the International Stepping Stone of the Canadian Music Competitions and the Stravinsky Awards International Piano Competition. Her penchant for contemporary music has been shown by numerous performances at the New Works and Happening New Music Festivals in Calgary. Her most recent projects have featured the colorful music of Juno-nominated composer, Vincent Ho—including newly commissioned works for saxophone and piano duo. In addition to performing, Lana currently teaches piano privately and at the University of Calgary’s School of Creative and Performing Arts. She is an avid adjudicator—having served as a juror for the Honens ProAm Piano Competition, the Steinway Piano Competition and the Canadian Music Competitions, held across Canada. Lana fosters a community of aspiring pianists and music lovers through her social media presence and outreach initiative, Soundboard Music Tour. She aims to engage with fellow musicians locally and beyond, sharing her creative endeavors and processes in a quest to educate, enlighten and inspire.
Dale Wheeler (Senior Piano)
After teaching piano and various courses at the post-secondary level for over thirty years Dale Wheeler is now enjoying life as an independent musician. Living in Red Deer, Alberta he teaches part-time at Burman University and maintains a small private studio. He holds the doctorate in piano performance and pedagogy from the University of Oklahoma where his dissertation focused on the Roman-period works of Franz Liszt. He also holds degrees and diplomas from the University of Saskatchewan and Trinity College of Music, London. He is a long-standing member of The RCM College of Examiners and serves as a contract specialist for the Adjudicator Certification Program. Dr. Wheeler has appeared as a recitalist, accompanist, adjudicator, and lecturer from coast to coast in Canada and throughout the U.S. He has presented at major conferences throughout North America and Europe, the most recent being the International Society for Music Education in Baku, Azerbaijan. His performing interests range from the core classics to out-of-the-way and new repertoire. He presented an all-Liszt recital for the Liszt Bicentenary and more recently performed several of the Bach multiple keyboard concerti along with collaborating in the premiere of a work for three pianos. Another program included works that focused on birds – Liszt, Messiaen, Ravel, Balakirev, Rameau, Beach, and Bernstein. Dr. Wheeler particularly enjoys working with teachers young and old who are developing their own playing and pedagogical skills. For a number of years Dale was a regular columnist for Clavier magazine and has had articles published in the CFMTA Journal, American Music Teacher, and The Journal of the American Liszt Society. He has recently served as president of both the Red Deer Symphony Orchestra and the Alberta Piano Teachers Association. In 2012 Dr. Wheeler received the Mayor’s Recognition Award for his contribution to the fine and performing arts. When not making music his interests include water and snow skiing, classic cars, touring on his Harley motorcycle, and collecting vintage piano recordings. He and his wife have twin college-age sons.