Named "a promising young conductor," Christophe Huss (Le Devoir), and one of CBC’s “30 Hot Canadian Classical Musicians Under 30,” Francis Choinière is a versatile musician, active as a conductor, concert producer, pianist, and composer. Winner of the Hnatyshyn Foundation’s prestigious Christa and Franz-Paul Decker Conducting Fellowship, Choinière completed his Master’s Degree in Conducting at McGill University, studying with Alexis Hauser.
As co-founder of the OPCM, the ensemble unites for Mr. Choinière his two great passions, choral music and symphonic music, with the aim of elevating the experience of these genres and thus inspiring a new generation of music lovers, or mélomanes.
Mr. Choinière is also the Principal Conductor and Co-Artistic Director of l'Orchestre FILMharmonique and leading the orchestra through symphonic masterworks, including Holst’s The Planets and Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique, paired with classics from 21st-Century cinema. In addition to his work as a conductor, Mr. Choinière is the co-founder and president of GFN Productions. This Quebec entertainment company is passionate about expanding and developing classical music audiences through the presentation of cinema screenings with live music including Fantasia, Star Wars, Titanic, and Lord of the Rings, and now represents a roster of artists in addition to offering marketing and production services to arts organisations in Montreal.
In the 2020-2021 season, Mr. Choinière served as assistant and cover conductor of the National Arts Centre Orchestra under Alexander Shelley. Similarly, from 2018 to 2020, he worked with the Choeur Fernand Lindsay for the Festival de Lanaudière as chorus master and conductor, collaborating with conductors such as Stephen Layton (Trinity College) and Corrado Rovaris (Philadelphia Opera). Mr. Choinière has refined his conducting in masterclasses with renowned conductors including Francois Xavier Roth, Yoav Talmi, and Colin Metters.
Sam Champagne is a Canadian tenor and arts administrator with a voice described as having “…impeccable intonation, accurate diction, expression and musicality,” Ludwig Van Montreal. Mr. Champagne is currently performing as one of three members in the classical crossover group LYRICO and has held the position of Executive Director of the Orchestre philharmonique et chœur des mélomanes (OPCM) since 2019.
Formed in 2021, LYRICO’s premiere concert entitled “A Very Operatic Christmas,” was held in front of a packed audience at the Maisonneuve Theatre of Place des arts, and was described as “...a very pleasant moment and which – judging by the applause that rang out, and the final standing ovations – was a resounding kick-off…,” Atuvu.ca. Following their successful premiere, the ensemble went on a tour of Quebec with a new show entitled “The Best of Broadway'' with stops in Quebec City, Gatineau, Sorel-Tracy, and Montreal. In March 2022, the group debuted at the Montreal Symphony House with a performance entitled “An Evening of Dreams.“
Originally from Ottawa, Mr. Champagne began learning piano when he was seven years old and started singing when he was 12. He studied voice at Allegro Music School with Dr. Janet Hamilton, and attended Canterbury High School as a member of the vocal arts program. He received a B.Mus. in voice performance, studying with international tenor John Mac Master, and a minor in music entrepreneurship from McGill University between 2017-2021.
A London, Ontario native, Floydd Ricketts regularly works as a musical director in theatre and in concert, having conducted performances throughout Canada, the US and Europe. He is the artistic director and conductor of Ensemble Noir, a chamber choir in Montreal that specializes in the music of underrepresented communities, especially those from the African diaspora. Floydd is the co-founder of the Greater Toronto Philharmonic Orchestra, and the former conductor of the King Edward Choir, the McGill University Chorus.
He has been described by his peers as a highly skilled conductor and orchestrator, and has written a number of chamber works for choir and orchestra. He regularly leads workshops on African-American Spiritual performance practice, and recently had the privilege of working with soprano Kathleen Battle in concert as rehearsal conductor on her Underground Railroad tour. Last year he was bestowed the Outstanding Contribution to Theatre Award from the Montreal English Theatre Awards for his work as MD/arranger for Centaur Theatre's production of Choir Boy, and is currently nominated for a Sterling Award for Outstanding Musical Direction for his work on The Color Purple (Citadel/RMTC co-production). Floydd is absolutely delighted to be joining the National Theatre School of Canada’s faculty, alongside some of the most talented theatre professionals, and future stars.
Canadian violinist Mary-Elizabeth Brown enjoys parallel careers as a performer and pedagogue. In concert, she has delighted audiences around the world and earned accolades for her “ability to unfold bittersweet magic” (Rhein Main Presse) and “perfect command of her instrument” (Florsheim Zeitung). In recent seasons, she has appeared as an invited soloist with orchestra more than forty times in Europe, Asia, North and South America, as well as numerous chamber music festivals including Festival Campos do Jordao (Brazil), Mozarteum Uruguay, The White House (USA), the Aldeburgh Festival (UK), Indian River Festival, Elora Festival and Banff Summer Arts Festival (Canada). Her recording of the last 3 Mozart Violin Concerti for Mozart Effect recordings released worldwide in 2017.
Equally at home as in the first chair, critics have praised Mary-Elizabeth as “superbly confident in her role as leader” (Norfolk Times) and “…an outstanding concertmaster” (El Adelantado, Spain). Over 15 years as a concertmaster, she led nearly 1000 concerts on 4 continents under the direction of some of the most noted conductors of our time including Lorin Maazel, Placido Domingo, Carlos Miguel Prieto, and Vasily Petrenko. She was the solo violinist for the recording of John Burge’s Flanders Fields Reflections that won the 2009 Juno for best composition. Leader posts include Orchestra of the Americas (2006-2008), the Britten-Pears Orchestra (2007-2009), Orchestra London Canada (Assoc. CM, 2006-2015), the award-winning chamber orchestra Sinfonia Toronto (2007-2016), Montreal’s longstanding McGill Chamber Orchestra (2016-2019) and the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra (2017-2020).
In addition to a rich career as a soloist and concertmaster, she is a sought-after teacher, clinician, adjudicator and speaker in Canada and abroad. Since founding the AVIVA Virtual Young Artist Program (the first web-based pre-college music program in the world) in 2012, she has touched lives around the world, teaching thousands of lessons to students on five continents via webcam, piloting projects aimed at accessibility, and training hundreds of teachers and creative entrepreneurs. She was one of the youngest in history to be named a Teacher of Distinction by the Royal Conservatory (2020).
Mary-Elizabeth is widely recognized as a pioneer in the world of innovation in classical music and technology. She was the lead musician on Canada’s first federally funded project exploring 3D printed string instruments, and her work in developing effective methods for distance music education has been featured in numerous broadcasts and publications including CBC’s “Q,” The Strad Magazine, the Canadian Suzuki Journal, and the American String Teacher.
Mary-Elizabeth plays on a Giuseppe Gagliano violin, c.1766 (Naples)
Board of Directors