Melissa Bencic is the Founder and Artistic Director of Bravo Academy for the Performing Arts in Toronto where she works extensively in developing innovative performing arts programs for young and emerging professional artists. In addition, Melissa is part of the Vocal Faculty at Sheridan College. Melissa is active as a voice instructor, adjudicator, master class clinician, producer, stage director and performer. She holds a M.Mus. in Opera Performance from McGill, a B.Mus. in Opera Performance from UBC and studied Bel Canto Opera at Liceo Musicale “F. Manzato” in Treviso, Italy. Melissa performs both nationally and internationally and favorite roles include Susanna (Le Nozze Di Figaro), Zerlina (Don Giovanni), Gretel (Hansel & Gretel), Adele (Die Fledermaus) and Serpetta (Die Gartnerin aus Liebe). Melissa has produced over 150 musicals and stage directed over 50 musicals and operas. Melissa is also the Founder and Artistic Director of the inventive New Music Theatre Intensives (NMTI) which is a specialized music theatre program designed to teach students contemporary music theatre skills through developing new musicals and working directly alongside the writers. As part of the program Melissa has worked with some of Canada’s leading music theatre composers and has developed 5 new Canadian musicals including; Super School (Canada's first live virtual musical) and Drama 101 (Best Musical Fringe 2019). Other recent credits include directing a workshop production of Dean Burry's new opera Pygmalion and producing the viral hit musical Be More Chill which was nominated by Broadway World Toronto for Best Community Theatre Production. Currently, Melissa is stage directing The Theory of Relativity with Bravo Academy's Teen Troupe which will be performed as a live digital musical. Many of Melissa's students have gone on and are professional working artists working internationally in music theatre, theatre, opera, film and pop. She holds much experience teaching artists in all styles of music in all ages and levels. Melissa is a member of the Music Theatre Educators' Alliance, MTEA Voice, National Alliance of Music Theatre, Theatre Ontario, Toronto Alliance of the Performing Arts, Ontario Registered Music Teachers' Association and the National Association of Teachers of Singing. Melissa loves adjudicating and working with young artists and is honoured to be part of South Simcoe Arts Council Festival.
Canadian pianist, Penny Johnson holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Piano Performance from the Manhattan School of Music. As the recipient of the Helen Cohn Award, given to an outstanding doctoral student, Penny also holds a Master of Music and Bachelor of Music degree with High Distinction from the Eastman School of Music.
Best known for her performances of the music of J. S. Bach, Penny is a frequent soloist at concert series around the GTA. A semi-finalist at the 8th International J. S. Bach Piano Competition in Würzburg, Germany, Penny has participated in residencies at The Banff Centre and is the recipient of grants from the Canada Council for the Arts. She has published online, an edition of the composer’s Two-Part Inventions arranged for inverted voices, as well as the ending that she composed for the unfinished final movement of Art of Fugue. In 2016, Penny released a recording of the complete Inventions and Sinfonias.
As the creator of The Great Pianists: Stories, Music & More, Piano Listening For Kids and the adult spin-off, New Adventures in Piano Listening, Penny is passionate about bringing unique and insightful experiences to lovers of piano music. Her audiobook podcast, From Stage to Page, is devoted to the forgotten stories and memoirs of female performing artists from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Penny is also the creator of Glenn Gould 905: A Triple Birthday Multi-Media Celebration for The Chamber Music Society of Mississauga.
In addition to her private teaching, Penny is in demand as a clinician and adjudicator, having adjudicated numerous festivals, including the Peel Music Festival and Beckettfest at Laurier. A former member of the College of Examiners for The Royal Conservatory, her workshop, From the Pianist’s Toolbox: Techniques for Effectively Practicing the Music of J. S. Bach has been presented at various branches of ORMTA and at Steinway Piano Gallery Toronto where, from 2014-16, she served as a sales representative and teacher liaison. Penny has also worked at the historic Steinway Hall in New York City.
Currently, Penny is at work on a book about her teacher, the American concert pianist, Constance Keene. In addition to her Glenn Gould blog, Further North, Penny’s articles have been published by Canadian Musician magazine and The Glenn Gould Foundation. Penny also serves as the Vice President of The Chamber Music Society of Mississauga. Penny resides in St. Catharines, Ontario. (pennyjohnsonpiano.com)
Dr. Vanessa Mio
Dr. Vanessa Mio is currently an Assistant Professor of Music Education in the Western
University Don Wright Faculty of Music, teaching Group String Instruction (Violin/Viola) and String Pedagogy. Vanessa completed a Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Studies degree (with a focus on violin pedagogy) from the University of Windsor. Vanessa also earned a Master of Music, a Bachelor of Music, and a Performance Diploma in Violin Performance from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music where she studied violin with Mimi Zweig, Kathleen Winkler, Baroque violin with Stanley Ritchie, and string pedagogy with Dr. Brenda Brenner.
Vanessa’s passion for teaching was sparked at Indiana University where she was appointed as an Associate Instructor from 2005-2008. Vanessa has spent summers touring with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada; participating in the Casalmaggiore International Festival in Italy; teaching in Tuscany for a Professional Teachers Workshop alongside Mimi Zweig; and studying at the Banff Centre for the Arts with the Très Chic Piano Trio (Chamber Music Residency for Pre-Formed Ensembles). Recent performances have included concerts with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra, the Penderecki
String Quartet, and the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Orchestra.
In addition to teaching and performing, Vanessa has pursued a variety of professional
development opportunities and has become a sought-after clinician, teacher, and adjudicator. Vanessa is a String Examiner with The Royal Conservatory of Music, College of Examiners. She has presented her research at provincial and international conferences (including the International Society for Music Education, the American String Teachers’ Association, the Ontario Music Educators’ Association, and the Canadian Society for the Study of Education), and has recently published articles in the International Journal of Music Education and Update: Applications of Research in Music Education. Vanessa has also adjudicated various festivals across Canada, including the upper string division of the Ontario Music Festivals Association Provincial Competition in May of 2017. She has taught at the Nova Scotia Suzuki Violin Institute in Halifax, NS, attended the Starling-DeLay Symposium for Violin Studies at The Juilliard School, participated in a workshop led by Brian Lewis at the Southwestern Ontario Suzuki Institute, and attended a Retreat for Violin and Viola Teachers at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.
For more information, see: www.vanessamio.com