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!
Jaime Carrasco, born in Chile, has been playing drums since 1985, and has been teaching since 2005. He received a College diploma in Jazz Studies from Malaspina University-College (now Vancouver Island University) in 1999, and an Honours Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from York University in Toronto in 2002, where he majored in Jazz drumset, South Indian (Carnatic) classical percussion (mrdangam & kanjira), and West African Drumming.
In 2003, he was selected to participate in the prestigious International Jazz Workshop at The Banff Centre for The Arts, where he studied with Dave Douglas, Jason Moran, Mark Turner, and Clarence Penn. From 2003-2005, Jaime performed in Jazz Trios on three Carnival Cruiseships. Since returning to Winnipeg in 2005, Jaime has been freelancing, performing and touring with groups/bands such as: Jane Bunnett, Brandi Disterheft, Papa Mambo, The Perms, Knappen Street All-Stars, Marco Castillo, C Ladd, Michelle Gregoire, Chuck McClelland, Jeff Presslaff, Karl Kohut, Janice Finlay, Rick Boughton, Dave Lawton, Amber Epp, Joey & Dave Landreth, Dr. Hotbottom, Flying Fox and The Hunter Gatherers, Andrew Littleford, Mike Swickis, along with many others.
In 2013, Jaime recorded 3 albums: Flying Fox and The Hunter Gatherers’ “Fruit & Ash” EP, Beefdonut’s “Famous For Quality” album, and Greg Rekus’ “Punkoustic” album. Jaime has also been teaching drumset and percussion since 2005.
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.
Ashley Fredette is a music teacher and musician born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba. After obtaining her Bachelor of Music at Canadian Mennonite University in Voice Performance and Music Education, she went on to earn her Bachelor of Education and begin teaching in the public school system. Ms. Fredette holds experience in both performing in and directing musicals, and in her career thus far, she has taught ages 5-17. Recently, she was the Music Director of the Musical Theatre program at Grant Park High School, where she co-directed Mary Poppins and put on two Life Skills musicals, shows modified for children with special needs. Between her time at Grant Park and subsequently at Daniel McIntyre Collegiate Institute, she has successfully guided several ensembles in different performance settings. These have included Senior Choir, Chamber Choir, Ladies’ Octet, Men’s Quintet, Vocal Jazz, and Musical Theatre. She has also taught K-5 music between Cecil Rhodes School and Pacific Junction School, leading the choirs there and coordinating Winter and Spring concerts. She is currently teaching K-8 Music at Earl Grey School, where she teaches music classes, directs the Grade 1-3 and 4-6 Choirs and teaches middle school guitar. She believes in creating a nurturing environment where students can feel safe to take risks and grow as artists.
Prior to beginning her teaching career, Ms. Fredette was involved in three full productions with the Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Winnipeg, was a participant in Opera NUOVA, and was a finalist in the Verna Mae Janzen Music Competition twice. She also sang lead roles in opera workshop scenes (notably Adele in Die Fledermaus and Lakmé in Lakmé) and performed two solo recitals at CMU, studying under Henriette Schellenberg and Monica Huisman.
When she’s not teaching, Ms. Fredette performs in various venues around the city as a singer/songwriter and jazz singer. She has performed in Northern Touch Music Festival, the Winnipeg Fringe Festival (wrote and starred in an original musical, “Resilient”, featuring 10 original songs), and has performed gigs at Transcanada Brewing Co., Le Garage Café, Joe Black’s, Sam’s Place, Happy Days on Henderson, Niakwa Country Club, and more. She released her debut all-original album in 2018, “Heart on my Sleeve,” a labour of creativity and love, which can be found on any online music service. A highlight was being played on CBC Radio. While singing and creating new music are her biggest passions, she also takes tap classes throughout the year and loves to dance.
Ms. Fredette very much looks forward to working with her new “troupe”, the Marquee Players, and can’t wait to see what adventures unfold, as they inevitably do with musical theatre lovers!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Malcolm has a passion for music and learning, and finds joy in teaching students of all ages, abilities, and interests.
Malcolm Somers is a Winnipeg guitarist, jazz musician, and music educator. Malcolm studied at the University of Manitoba, graduating with a Bachelor Degree of Jazz Studies, and is currently in his second year at the U of M’s Faculty of Education where his goal is to teach music and French.
As a performer, Malcolm has performed in small ensembles for private functions around Winnipeg and as a performer with Jazz on Wheels. In addition, Malcolm has been a part of the Artists in Healthcare program, bringing music to healthcare facilities.
As an educator, Malcolm has taught private guitar lessons, and volunteered as a music instructor with CanU, a program giving inner city youth an opportunity to learn an instrument and perform in a group
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.