Meet our festival chairmen!
Concert Band Division Chairman
Sharon Fitzsimmins, Mus. Bac, B.Ed, is a respected educator, international adjudicator, clinician and conductor. She is past president of The Ontario Music Educators’ Association (OMEA) and was co-editor of The Recorder for 8 years, conductor at National Music Camp of Canada and examiner for The Royal Conservatory of Music. She has received numerous teaching, professional development and leadership awards. In November 2006, Sharon received the highest award from the OMEA, an Honorary Life Membership. Sharon is proud to have taught for thirty years at Barrie North Collegiate where she conducted award winning bands and choirs. She has written three teacher resources and is working on a fourth. Sharon was Chair of PRIMO 11, the OMEA annual conference.
- Location: Midhurst, ON
Choral/Vocal Jazz Division Chairman
John is a music educator who has worked with musicians of all ages, from preschool children to senior citizens. He is currently a Vice Principal at Central Peel Secondary School in Brampton, ON and is musical director at Heart Lake United Church. John is active as an adjudicator and clinician throughout North America and has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Ontario Vocal Festival and part of the Executive Committee of MusicFest Canada for over 25 years. For over a decade he served as a Resource Team Member for the International Association of Jazz Educators. John has also taught at music at Humberview Secondary School, Mayfield Secondary School, Humber College and the University of Toronto Jazz Performance Program where his groups received national and international recognition, performing at conferences and festivals throughout Canada and the United States and winning nine DOWN BEAT Magazine Student Music Awards. John has received the I.A.J.E. “Outstanding Jazz Director Award” for Canada, the Jazz Report Award for “Best Secondary School Jazz Program” and was inducted into the MusicFest Canada “Hall of Fame” for outstanding service to young Canadian musicians.
- Location: Toronto, ON
Wayne Toews is retired from teaching for the Saskatoon Public Board of Education from 1969 until 2001, and as director of the Saskatoon Youth Orchestra. Wayne remains active as a clinician, adjudicator, guest conductor, composer, arranger and teacher of conducting through his Conductor School. Mr. Toews holds a Masters of Music degree and a certificate in Educational Technology from Northwestern University. Award in 2009 and the Honorary Life Membership Award from the Saskatchewan Music Educators Association in 2013. Mr. Toews has served as guest conductor of honor groups and professional orchestras and has conducted the premieres of contemporary works by Twelve Canadian composers.
He started the band program at City Park Collegiate and neighbourhood schools and in 1976 began a twenty-five year career at Aden Bowman Collegiate where he taught band, orchestra, choir, general music and jazz band. Groups under his direction earned more than 50 first place awards. His jazz groups won two first place awards at the Canadian Stage Band Festival. He has served as president and board member of several professional organizations.
- Location: Saskatoon, SK
Instrumental Jazz Division Chairman
Neil Yorke-Slader is well known throughout Canada for his dedication to education and the arts, as a teacher, school and board administrator, composer, clinician, adjudicator, author and publisher. Neil has composed numerous works at various levels for jazz ensemble, over 45 of which are available through UNC Jazz Press and Burnihla Music Publishing. several are preserved by the National Library of Canada (Archives). He taught music at the elementary and secondary levels for 17 years in Ottawa. He is the Regional Coordinator of the Capital Region Music Festival.
Neil was the recipient of the 1999 Ottawa International Jazz Festival’s “Achievement Award” and in 1991 received the International Association of Jazz Educators Award for Contribution to Jazz Education. He was a contributor to “Jazz Pedagogy, A Canadian Perspective” (available through ArtistShare). He received the 1998 City of Nepean’s Distinguished Service Award for Education, and their 1995 Distinguished Award for Arts and Culture. He was honoured with the 2007 Marjorie Loughrey Lifetime Achievement Award for continual and distinguished excellence in arts education over the course of a teaching career. He was named to the Musicfest Canada Hall of Fame in 2016.
He directs the renowned Nepean All-City Jazz Band, one of Canada’s pre-eminent student jazz ensembles for the last 30 years. NACJB are 8-time recipients of the biennially-awarded CMEA/MIAC Don Wright Award for Excellence in Canadian Jazz. They performed at the 2016 Ottawa International Jazz Festival, the 2014 Music & Beyond Festival, the 2015 Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, the 2009 Thousand Islands Jazz Festival, and the 2006 Governor General’s Summer Concert Series at Rideau Hall. NACJB performed two concerts in April 2015 with the National Arts Centre Orchestra. They were the headline entertainment for the 2012 U.S Ambassador’s July 4th celebrations. NACJB has performed with many jazz artists, including Bob Mintzer, Randy Brecker, Oliver Jones, Guido Basso, Pat LaBarbera, Ian McDougall, Christine Jensen, Denny Christianson, Kirk MacDonald, Mike Tomaro, Brian Lynch, Alex Dean, Al Kay, Steve McDade and Chase Sanborn. Find out more about the Nepean All-City Jazz Band at www.nacjb.com.
- Location: Ottawa, ON