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.
Piano and Jazz Styling
Jonathan Alexiuk was born and raised in Winnipeg, MB. After graduating from John Taylor Collegiate, he began performing in Winnipeg and Kenora, and soon after on Princess Cruise Lines. He joined the Air Command Band in 2004, and served there as pianist, trombonist and arranger until 2007.
Jonathan has performed and recorded as a pianist, trumpeter, saxophonist, trombonist, clarinetist, and is a largely self-taught arranger. He has taught and conducted at the International Music Camp at the Peace Gardens for the past six years, as well as arranging for their vocal jazz choir; his arrangements have been played by the Ron Paley Big Band, the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra, the Memory Lane Orchestra, Those Guys, the U of W Downtown Vocal Jazz Choir, the Air Command Band, among many others. When not performing on various cruise lines, he is performing around Winnipeg with his own groups or as a sideman.
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.
Voice, Ukulele, Songwriting
Grace Hrabi is a singer songwriter born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba. After graduating from the University of Manitoba in 2008 with a BA in Vocal Jazz Performance, Grace began writing, arranging and performing her own original music, diving into the folk genre while keeping herself rooted in the jazz scene. Along the way she picked up the ukulele and hasn’t put it down since! With a passion for teaching music, ranging from early years to adults, her teaching style provides a safe space to try new things while keeping students engaged, encouraged and relaxed.
When she is not teaching Grace is a member of the folk trio Casati, who tour across Canada sharing music and stories.
Clarinet, Flute, Saxophone
Monica Jones has always had a passion for music. She began studying piano as a child and moved onto clarinet in junior high and saxophone in secondary school. Her studies with Janice Finlay and Brian Zimmerman during secondary school offered her a solid foundation in saxophone and jazz improvisation, while earning her recognition through provincial awards and honour band invitations.
Monica furthered her studies in jazz saxophone at Brandon University where she studied with Greg Gatien, Director of Jazz Studies and Professor of Saxophone. She developed her musicianship and performance abilities in the Brandon University Big Band, in numerous small jazz ensembles and through her concentrated studies in jazz improvisation, music theory, ear training, and composition.
Since 2015, Monica has been a valued member of Winnipeg’s East Side Jazz Band. While her main instruments are tenor and alto saxophone, she also doubles on soprano saxophone, flute, clarinet and vocals. Under her own name in small ensemble settings, she performs on saxophone and as a vocalist in genres of R&B/soul and jazz.
Monica has had a private saxophone studio since 2005 and coaches in the Winnipeg school district on saxophone and wood winds. She provides jazz and classical instruction as well as aural skills, theory, music history and improvisation.
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.
Brian brings 30 years of practice as a psychologist to his teaching of the violin. While respecting the basics, he introduces the violin to new students with an appreciation of play and improvisation in the Orff tradition. He has worked extensively as a volunteer with disadvantaged children using music to build confidence and learn cooperation.
For individuals, his skill-building process promotes both ear training and comprehension of written music.
Brian also conducts Superstrings –a group for 4-6 year olds and their parents. This class utilizes parents to support their children learning violin basics in a fun group setting.
Andrew is an active member of the Winnipeg music scene and is gaining attention and recognition across Canada as an accomplished multi-genre trumpet performer. He shares his warm, lyrical sound and effortless technique within the musical genres of jazz, funk, soul and pop music.
Having grown up in a musical family, Andrew knew at a very young age that music was his passion and the trumpet was his voice. Andrew has studied jazz music formally with some of the world’s finest musicians, while attending both Brandon University (B.Mus) and the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music (M.Mus) in Boston, MA.
Since moving to Winnipeg in 2010, he has become a highly respected member in Winnipeg’s jazz community, playing regularly with the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra and performing as a founding member of both the Dirty Catfish Brass Band and the Winnipeg Jazz Collective. He lends his talents to other Winnipeg groups such as the Ron Paley Big Band, Big Dig! Band, Hot & Dirty Dance Party, Sunny Roseland, PRZM, and The “B” Side Champs.
Andrew is also a highly respected educator, clinician and adjudicator and he finds great joy sharing his passion for music with musicians of all ages. He has had the opportunity to adjudicate The Brandon Jazz Festival (2014, 2015), and be on Faculty at both the International Music Camp (2015) and the University of Manitoba’s Summer Jazz Camp (2015).
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 the 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.
Guitar and Ukulele
Jesse Popeski began learning the guitar at a young age with private instructors, continuing his education at the University of Manitoba where he received his BMus, specializing in Jazz guitar. He has been teaching either privately or in various studios for ten years, instructing everyone from young kids learning their first instrument to high school students preparing for a University audition, to adults honing their skills for a gig.
Jesse performs regularly in Winnipeg as a freelance guitarist, playing in a variety of styles with cover bands and jazz groups. He is a member of the Folk trio Casati, and has toured across Canada performing with the group. Jesse is also the musical director of the Chai Folk Ensemble, who perform traditional Israeli music each year at Folklorama and other events in Winnipeg and worldwide.
Praised for her “fierce artistry” and “poetic” pianism, Winnipeg-based pianist Lisa Rumpel is an active member of Manitoba’s artistic scene. Since completing her Master of Music (Collaborative Piano) at the University of Manitoba in 2015 under the tutelage of Dr. Laura Loewen and Dr. Judy Kehler-Siebert, Lisa has built her reputation as a coach and pianist for musicians of all experience levels. In addition to her continued work at the University of Manitoba as a staff vocal coach and pianist, Lisa has an extensive freelance career which includes performing with numerous local opera companies and community concert organizations, accompanying the Winnipeg Boys’ Choir, and working as a coach and collaborator.
As an alumna of the Franz Schubert Institute, Vancouver International Song Institute, and Opera NUOVA, Lisa has been privileged to perform in masterclasses and lessons for renowned musicians from across the world including Margo Garrett, Jean Barr, Elly Ameling, Julius Drake, Roger Vignoles, Michael McMahon, Graham Johnson, Helmut Deutsch, and others. As a lifelong learner herself, Lisa has honed her ability to discover each student or collaborative partner’s unique learning style and goals, as well as to encourage self-compassion, creativity, problem-solving skills, and self-awareness.
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.
Clair (He) Tang
Clair (He) Tang
Clair (He) Tang began studying violin at the age of 6. By high school, she would go on to study under the tutelage of Professor Zhang Chengye of Nanjing’s University of the Arts. Later, she received her Bachelors of Arts in violin from Xiamen University’s Music department. During her second year of university, she interned at Xiamen musical theatre orchestra’s (Xiamen symphony) first violin section and retained employment in the second violin section with the orchestra after graduation. Since 2006, she has taught violin, composition and music theory to countless students aged 3 – 65 years.
By 2010, Clair became one of Xiamen’s premier contemporary violinists performing both as a soloist and on stage in conjunction with some of the East Asia’s most prestigious performers such as jazz pianist Miao Zi, Taiwanese jazz saxophonist Cheng-Yu Lee, and Rock Record’s group Yu Hou Nan Li. Over the years she has also engaged in studio work for most notably MojoStone recording studio, Fang Yu Cheng music studio and Shi Yin Guang Nian recording studio.
Clair has spent years teaching England’s standard ABRSM with distinction and now applies the same fervor to teaching RCM where students ranging from beginner to advanced levels can learn violin techniques, performance skills, music theory, sight reading, ear training and improvisation in both classical and contemporary music fields in either English or Mandarin Chinese.
Katrina Van Humbeck
Katrina Van Humbeck
BA Hons, BEd
Voice & Vocal Jazz Project
Katrina Van Humbeck is a private voice teacher for all ages, and directs the Vocal Jazz Ensemble at the Winnipeg Conservatory of Music. Katrina joined the WCM after twenty-three years of teaching music, choir, voice, and theatre at all grade levels, in both the public and private school setting. Katrina has 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. Additional qualifications include grade 10 voice, and grade 8 piano from the Royal Conservatory of Music. She has directed numerous successful choirs at all grade levels and has 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 an educator are in her innate ability to make connections with people by being knowledgeable, passionate, and energetic. 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, 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.
She is also a professional musician (singer, songwriter, pianist) and a recording artist with two studio-recorded albums to her credit. Her debut album, Blue & Beyond, was released in February 2017, and her sophomore album, Doing A New Thing, in October 2018. Katrina delights in performing classic jazz and soul standards, as well as her original music, around Winnipeg and abroad.
Adele M. Wilding enjoys a busy career as a professional jazz vocalist, composer/songwriter and music educator. Having studied classical piano, voice and choral singing during her formative years in Manitoba, Adele led a dual career as a performer and music educator for 20 years in the United Kingdom. Among her various qualifications, Adele holds a Master of Arts in Music Education (Institute of Education, University of London) and a Diploma in Jazz
and Popular Music Studies (Goldsmiths College, University of London). She has performed in fine jazz and singer-songwriter venues in the UK and Western Canada, and her original recordings have earned her excellent, international reviews and radio airplay and appearances.
As music educator, Adele has taught in a variety of contexts: classroom, applied one-on-one instruction, adult education, private studios and college conservatory. Highlights of her teaching career include Guest Vocal Tutor for Louise Gibbs at the UOL Goldsmiths College and Invited Member of the Vocal Working Party, contributing a curriculum on vocal improvisation for A Common Approach 2002 (Publishers: The Federation of Music Services, The National Association of Music Educators and the Royal College of Music). In 2015, Adele was an Adjudicator for the Saskatchewan Music Festival, and in pre pandemic 2020, she successfully launched the Melody & Harmony Vocal Masterclass Weekend in Greater Vancouver with esteemed jazz artists Darlene Cooper, Cecile Larochelle and Bill Sample.
Adele currently enjoys writing for and performing with her acclaimed live music project, Caribbean & Blue. The project showcases original and standard repertoire, arranged and performed with a fusion of contemporary jazz and Caribbean grooves.