The WCM emphasizes excellence and artistry in lessons and performance. Our certification ensures that our instructors are well-educated and experienced teachers. Teachers at the WCM are active performers and leaders in their fields of expertise.
Voice & Conservatory Pops
WCM Director Julie Biggs holds a Master of Music in Voice and Opera Studies from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Music Performance and a Bachelor of Music Education from Minot State University in North Dakota.
Julie is an active member of the Association of Manitoba Arts Festivals and adjudicates throughout the province. Julie is a frequent judge of the Western Canadian Music Awards as well as Canada’s music awards- the Juno’s.
In addition to teaching Julie is an active performer and recording artist. Her debut album My Loving Days was nominated for a Prairie Music Award for Outstanding Classical Recording. Julie’s second album Passions: Art of Seduction was released January 2009 and is distributed by Outside Music. She has performed in many operas and musicals as well as given many concerts and recitals in Canada, the United States and abroad.
Recent operatic performances include the Fargo-Moorhead Opera Company; the Western Plains Opera Company; the Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Winnipeg; and The Little Opera Company. Recent concerts and recitals include performances with The Minot Symphony; the Ost-West Symphony (Altenberg,Germany), The Missouri Valley Chamber Orchestra (Bismarck, N.D.), Pan- American Games; and The International Peace Gardens.
BTheology, BMus Perf, MMus (Solo Voice)
Sandra Bender completed her Bachelor of Music (Performance) at the University of Manitoba in 2005 and her Master of Music (Solo Voice Performance) at McGill University’s Schulich School of Music in 2009. Hailed for the power and clarity of her voice, Sandra has sung a variety of roles including the title roles of Turandot and Tosca (Puccini), Elsa von Brabant in Lohengrin (Wagner), 3rd Norn in Götterdämmerung (Wagner), Lady Billows in Albert Herring (Britten), Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte (Mozart) Elettra in Idomeneo (Mozart), Blanche de la Force in Les Dialogues des Carmélites (Poulenc), and many others. A seasoned recitalist, Sandra has performed over twenty solo concerts in Winnipeg, Montréal, Québec, and Berlin, with a hugely varied repertoire in over eight languages. She has performed in operas, oratorios, choirs, Gregorian and other plainsong chant, experimental new music, art song of every type, Early Music, cabaret, jazz, and pop music and enjoys all of it!
Sandra has been a semi-finalist and finalist in competitions such as the Canadian Music Competition, the George London Foundation, the Liederkranz Foundation Opera Competition, the Gerda Lissner Opera Competition, and most notably has twice been the District winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
Sandra has also directed numerous choirs, most recently serving as Choirmaster and Director of Liturgy at Québec City’s Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. Other choirs have included McGill University’s New Earth Voices, a variety of choirs at St. Margaret’s Anglican Church here in Winnipeg, and the Young Adult Ensemble at First Mennonite Church. She has maintained a busy teaching schedule since 2002 and welcomes students of every age and level of experience!
Linda De Pauw
Linda De Pauw
BMus, POST BAC DIP., OPERA COURSE DIP.
Mezzo-Soprano, Linda De Pauw, received her B. Mus. Degree from the University of Manitoba and completed her Graduate Studies in Vocal Performance at the Guildhall School of Music, London, England. She has sung with New Sadlers’ Wells Opera, Buxton Opera, World of Gilbert & Sullivan, and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Linda was a member of London Voices and The Stephen Hill Singers. This enabled her to perform and record with most of London’s leading orchestras and with top international conductors. Linda played Miss Philips in the London West End production of Call Me Madam, and in the BBC series of musicals for Radio 2 and on the DG recording of Berstein’s On the Town with Michael Tilson Thomas. In Winnipeg, Linda has sung with Manitoba Opera Association, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, MusikBarock Ensemble and the Little Opera Company.
Linda began teaching voice in 1986. She established a busy studio in Winnipeg when she returned to the city in 1997. She is a member of MRMTA and NATS. In addition to private voice lessons at the Winnipeg Conservatory of Music, Linda teaches theory, lyric diction courses for singers, a popular Summer Singing course and often adjudicates and facilitates workshops.
Lee Houghton Stewart
Lee Houghton Stewart
Lee Houghton Stewart has a Bachelor of Music in piano performance and accompaniment from Brandon University and has done Masters work at McGill University. Her teachers have included Lawrence Jones, Don Henry, Tom Plaunt and Michael McMahon.
Lee has returned to Winnipeg from North Bay, Ontario where she taught piano, theory and history both as an instructor at Nipissing University and in her own private studio. She performed frequently as a soloist and accompanist with groups such as the Sudbury Chamber Singers, the Rapport Singers of North Bay as well as with her duo In Tandem which traveled to perform in small communities in Ontario.
In Winnipeg Lee maintains a private teaching studio, travels as a festival adjudicator and works as an examiner for Conservatory Canada. She has recently served as Co-Director of Music and organist at Trinity United Church and Broadway Disciples United Church. Lee is also active as a collaborative pianist with instrumentalists, vocalists and choirs which have included the Winnipeg choral group Renaissance Voices.
Piano, Theory and Composition
Annie is a graduate of the University of Manitoba- Faculty of Music where she specialized in piano. From a very early age, Annie knew that she wanted to have a career in music. She is very passionate about playing and about sharing music with others. It is her belief that as a teacher, she can nurture her students as artists and give them the tools they need to successfully find their own creative voice. In her lessons, Annie focuses on technique, repertoire, musicianship, creative skills, and theory.
Annie has performed as a soloist in many recitals, as well as in collaboration with various chamber ensembles. Annie is at home performing many styles of music in addition to classical and has collaborated with contemporary music groups playing various including church music, rock, and ska.
Annie’s hope is to inspire a love for music in those who she teaches and who hear her perform.
Piano, Conducting, Theory and Composition
Michelle holds a Master’s Degree in Orchestral and Operatic Conducting from Indiana University, as well as a B.Mus in Piano Performance from Brandon University.In addition to teaching at Winnipeg Conservatory of Music Michelle is a pianist and music teacher for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and serves as the conductor for Winnipeg’s Gilbert and Sullivan Society. An engaging and elegant presence on the podium, Michelle served as Conductor in Residence of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra under Maestro Andrey Boreyko and as Artistic Director of the Brandon Chamber Players. She has guest conducted the Victoria Symphony, the Toronto Symphony, Symphony Nova Scotia, the Grand Forks Symphony, Soundstreams Canada, and Groundswell.
For a number of years she was Creative Director for Grant Memorial Baptist Church and Music Director at Broadway First Baptist Church. Michelle accompanies instrumentalists, coaches singers, and teaches piano and music theory.
Michelle is a recipient of a number of honours including the Heinz Unger National Conducting Award from th Ontario Arts Council and the Jean-Marie Baudet Award from the Canada Council.
Violin & Music Therapy
Judith is an experienced teacher at ease with classical violin and fiddle. Her violin lessons include instruction in notation, rhythm, sight-reading, ear training, and performance skills. Lessons are planned individually to help students reach their own goals, be it learning to transcribe and play favorite songs, developing repertoire to perform for others, practicing for an audition, or learning music to help de-stress.
Judith enjoys performing classical violin and Celtic fiddle music with a variety of ensembles.
Judith completed her music therapy training in the school setting with children with neuro-behavioral disorders and neurological conditions, with infants and their mothers with substance abuse in a Vancouver hospital, and adults and seniors with neurological conditions and physical disabilities within care homes within British Colombia and Manitoba. She now continues her work in a Winnipeg and is eager to once again work with children and adults who live with a variety of needs.
No previous music experience is needed to benefit from music therapy sessions.
Voice & Songwriter
Erin Propp is a singer/songwriter from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Her songs and her delivery are full of beauty, high-artistry, and heart-breaking honesty. A recent graduate of the Jazz Studies program at the University of Manitoba, Erin has given her folk roots technical and artistic grounding, and she has effortless command of her voice. She has a crystalline sound, unaffected delivery, and an irresistible emotional frankness. Erin has made all the right moves to grow her art, and displays it with a keen sense for lyrical imagery and intuitive melodies.
Of all her collaborations, Erin Propp’s most vibrant and rewarding work has been with Winnipeg guitarist, professor and producer Larry Roy. Together they released their full-length album, Courage, My Love, in December 2012 of original works and their own takes on jazz standards. Their writing collaboration has been hailed as a match to the mastery of their instruments.
Visit www.erinpropp.com for a listen of what Erin Propp has been working on.
Piano, Theory and Composition
Kirk has extensive experience teaching in private studios, and the public school system. Kirk holds a Bachelor of Music with a piano major as well as a Bachelor of Music Education graduating with honors from the University of Manitoba in 1995.
Kirk is an active composer and producer for film and television, with many original works being used commercially. His recording studio Oakstream Music Productions has produced many works that receive regular airplay across Canada
Kirk is an enthusiastic instructor teaching students ranging in age from four to seventy.
Classical guitarist, Skender Sefa has recorded four classical guitar CD’s on the GFI Masterworks, Uncontrollable Records and Marquis Classics labels: one solo CD, two duet CDs, and one chamber music CD. The CD ”Sefarad – The Music of Sid Robinovitch”, on which Skender performs on four tracks in trio with Ryszard Tyborowski and Michael Daher, was nominated for two Western Canadian Music Awards and a Juno.
Skender has performed at the University of Manitoba, the University of Brandon, the University of Winnipeg, the University of Edmonton, the University of Montreal, the University of Texas (San Antonio), the Guitar Foundation of America International Convention in California, the Winnipeg MTS Centre, the Winnipeg Concert Hall, and the Manitoba Museum. Performance highlights include two performances with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra in October of 2006 as a featured soloist in the WSO’s prestigious Masterworks series performing Osvaldo Golijov’s ”Oceana” and three performances with the WSO and the Manitoba Opera Association performing Verdi’s ”Otello” in April 2007, a performance with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra in April 2008 at the MTS Center, two concerts with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra in 2012 performing Mahlers 7th Symphony, three concerts in November 2013 with the WSO and the Manitoba Opera Association performing Donizetti’s “Don Pasquale”, four concerts in 2016 with the WSO and the Manitoba Opera Association performing Verdi’s “Falstaff”, a ten day concert tour performing numerous concerts with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra in 2016, and several full length recitals for the Winnipeg Classical Guitar Society.
Skender completed the Bachelor of Music (Performance) and Master of Music (Performance) degree programs at the University of Manitoba Faculty of Music under professor Ryszard Tyborowski. He also completed a Bachelor of Arts (Advanced) degree and was a scholarship student at the prestigious Domaine Forget Music and Dance Academy in Quebec, where he studied under renowned classical guitar pedagogues Bruce Holzman (USA), Jean Vallieres (Quebec) and Patrick Roux (Ottawa). As a student, Skender was awarded the Best Overall Performance Award at the 1999 Winnipeg Music Competition Festival by adjudicator Alexander Dunn (Victoria) and was awarded the Winnipeg Classical Guitar Society Scholarship Prize by Ian Hodges (Winnipeg). In 2000, Skender was again awarded the Best Overall Performance Award at the Winnipeg Music Competition Festival this time by adjudicator Fabio Zanon (Brazil) and again won the Winnipeg Classical Guitar Society Scholarship Prize and was a finalist in the U of M’s prestigious Lawrence Genser Performance Competition. Skender performed in master classes with some of the leading classical guitarists in the world including Leo Brouwer (Cuba), David Russell (Scotland), Roland Dyens (Paris), Fabio Zanon (Brazil), Denis Azabagic (Bosnia), Pia Gazarek-Offermann (Germany), Ricardo Cobo (Columbia), Alvin Tung (Toronto) and Norbert Kraft (Canada).
Skender’s students have also won numerous competitions, awards, and scholarships and have become professional musicians. Skender was the recipient of RCM Teaching Award’s in 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013. In addition to performing, teaching and recording, Skender is an active adjudicator. Notably, Skender was a judge alongside Michael Angelo Batio at Winnipeg’s SHREDFEST electric guitar competition in 2009, in February of 2010, Skender adjudicated the classical guitar classes at the Brandon Music Festival and in March 2017, Skender adjudicated the guitar classes at the Steinbach Festival of the Arts.
In recognition of his career in classical guitar performance, Skender has received awards from both the Canada Council for the Arts and the Manitoba Arts Council.
BMus, BEd, MMus
Guitar, Bass, Recording Arts, Theory and Composition
Jerry Semchyshyn is a music educator who specializes in guitar and composition. He holds a Bachelor of Music and Education degrees, as well as a Masters of Music degree from the University of Manitoba.
Jerry is well versed in a variety of playing styles and has taught group and private lessons for over thirty-years. His students have performed at The Legislative Grounds, The Winnipeg Music Festival, and SAGE, as well as numerous Manitoba Chamber Orchestra pre-concert events.
Jerry is an active composer and has received commissions from organizations including Trio 86, GroundSwell, The Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, The Manitoba Museum, and The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. In 2011, The Manitoba Chamber Orchestra premiered Semchyshyn’s, ‘Mercury Dreaming of Venus for eight nylon string guitars and reduced chamber orchestra’.
In addition to teaching at the WCM, Jerry teaches at Tech Voc High School where he enjoys coaching rock bands for Tech Stock, a Rock and Roll Concert series at Tech Voc High School.
Violin & Piano
Yaroslava is a violin and piano teacher that joined WCM team in September 2015. She was born in Kyiv, Ukraine, where at the age of six she started her musical training. Through 25 years of her music education background she learned from numerous internationally recognized musicians from all over the world. She holds a Master’s Degree with Honours in Music from the Tchaikovsky Music National Academy of Ukraine, Postgraduate Diplomas from Menuhin International Music Academy in Switzerland, Queen Sofia High Music School and Royal Music Conservatory in Madrid, Spain. Yaroslava has an extensive carrier as a soloist. She is also a prize winner at national and international competitions.
Yaroslava believes that her broad musical education allows her to find the best teaching approach for each individual student. She enjoys working with students of all ages. Yaroslava believes that in addition to a teacher’s professionalism and experience it is essential to nurture confidence in a student. Yaroslava uses an individual training approach to each student to make the process easy and create a beautiful connection with the music they love. ” I am very happy to see my students progressing while keeping their interest and love for music.”
Katrina Van Humbeck
Katrina Van Humbeck
BA Hons, BEd
Voice & Vocal Jazz Project
Katrina Van Humbeck is a fine addition to the Winnipeg Conservatory of Music faculty, after twenty-three years of teaching Music, Choir, Voice, and Theatre at all grade levels, in both the public and private school setting. Katrina possesses a Bachelor of Arts Honours Degree in Theatre and Music Performance from the University of Winnipeg, and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Manitoba. Her additional qualifications include a Grade 10 Voice, and Grade 8 Piano from the Royal Conservatory of Music. She has directed numerous successful choirs at all grade levels (Concert Choirs, Boys’ Ensembles, Vocal Jazz groups), taught vocal technique to hundreds of choristers, participated in festivals, headed up music trips, and directed and produced many school musicals.
Katrina’s strengths as a Music, Choral, Voice, and Theatre Educator, are in her innate ability to make connections with people, through being knowledgeable, passionate, and energetic. She considers herself to be a life-long learner, who seeks out new challenges. Some of her personal musical and theatrical achievements have included, performing with Opera Manitoba, The Little Opera Company, The Philharmonic Choir, The University of Manitoba and University of Winnipeg Choirs, performing as a soloist/actor in Handel’s Messiah (Calvary Temple Church), The Victor (Springs Church), Voyage of The Dawn Treader (Grant Memorial Church), as well as theatrical productions through the University of Manitoba Black Hole Theatre, and the University of Winnipeg Theatre Program. She currently sings in the Worship Choir at her home church.
In addition to teaching Music, Voice, Choir, and Theatre, Katrina has recently launched a Jazz Solo career, with the release of her debut album, “Blue & Beyond,” in February 2017. This Jazz album is comprised of her original songs, which are infused with elements of Classical, Musical Theatre, and Soul. Katrina can be found performing around Winnipeg, at The Park Theatre, Sam’s Place, Joe Black’s Coffee Bar, Folio Cafe, and other venues that welcome live music.
Helen M. White
Helen M. White
Voice & Songwriter
Originating from near London (U.K.) Helen has been immersed in music since her early years. After training in Classical music she expanded her interest in music to writing and performing rock, pop and folk songs with various bands. She has studied electro-acoustic music and jazz in the U.K., the U.S.A. and Canada. Helen has performed and recorded in all three countries, most notably with her releases No (More) Dinosaur Bones (2009), and P.A.R.I.S. (2012) – diverse and exciting mixes of and folk, jazz and “British pop sensibility” originals; and also Midnight Sun (2010) a recording of jazz standards arranged by Helen.
Since completing her Masters in Music Performance, Helen has been performing around the city and has been an act in the Winnipeg International Jazz Festival four consecutive years. She is now a regular at many of the city’s favourite jazz venues and has also performed with the prestigious Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra and Music n’ Mavens series.
Helen has taught privately for over ten years and will be on faculty for the third consecutive year at the International Music Camp. She has directed the University of Winnipeg Downtown Vocal Jazz Choir since 2008.