Convocation 2020

Letter from the Dean of Music

To the students at Convocation at the Maritime Conservatory for Performing Arts

We are gathering here in this space to recognize the achievements of our students in the academic year 2019/2020. It is easy to let the challenges and upheaval of the past three months colour our thoughts of the whole year, and certainly life during a pandemic has changed the way we do everything, including how we make music.

However, our students have been working hard since September, and in most cases for years before that. Many were involved in recitals at the MCPA and in the community. All have collaborated and made music with others, in orchestras, choirs, ensembles or in duets with teachers. Since March, I have been amazed by the creativity, flexibility and adaptability our teachers have shown to find ways to teach and support their students online. And the students have responded in equal measure. But this should not be a surprise. These qualities are the hallmarks of excellent musicians, after all.

The pandemic has not changed the fact that your music is a gift to be shared – with family, friends, and your community. In public, in your home, on your street. And in these times, in online recitals, through social media, in video calls and from your front porch or through an open window. We know, and have been reminded, that we rely on music for creative expression, for our mental health, for a life in balance. It inspires productivity, boosts morale, and guides us through the rituals of the most important times of our lives.

To those of you who are graduating from high school, we wish you only the best as you transition to the next phase of your life and education. The skills you have acquired through your study of music – perseverance, commitment, the pursuit of something greater than yourself, an appreciation for beauty – will stand you in the best stead for the challenges ahead. I hope that music will be a source of joy, comfort and inspiration. It will always be a part of your life.

With heartfelt congratulations,

Susannë Brown
Acting Dean of Music


Alys Howe, Harp
Andre Pretzel, Suzuki Violin
Anna Wedlock, Violin
Carlos Mora Baez, Flute, saxophone, clarinet
Celeste Jankowski, Violin
Cheryl McCarthy, Piano, Voice
Chubba Kanyasi, Percussion
Debbie Miles, Violin
Frances Royle, Piano, Theory
Geordie Haley, Guitar, Jazz Guitar
Gillian Smith, Violin

Hilary Brown, Cello
Ilana Domb, 
Jacob Caines,
Jon-Paul Decosse, Voice
Jeremy VanSlyke, Piano
Jeri Brown,
Karlene Francis,
Music Therapy
Lana Schabloski,
Megan Thibeault, Piano
Neven Prostran,

Patricia Shaw, Clarinet
Patrick Maubert,
Rachael Delano,
Rachel O’Brien, Musical Theatre
Ria Kim, Piano
Rosemary Kristof,Piano
Shauna DeGruchy,
Sibylle Marquardt, Flute
Zoe Leger, Voice
Susannë Brown, Kindermusik, Violin, Viola

Dance Faculty

Andrew Miller, Accompanist/Percussion
Alexia Beltrami, Ballet
Alexa Cherrett, Ballet
Amanda LaRusic, Modern
Brenda Joyce, Accompanist
Diana Rutherford, Ballet
Elena Labartkava, Character
Hayley Bone, Ballet

Husam Kawar, Accompanist
Jana MacGregor,
Jane Wooding, Ballet
Janet Bradbury, Ballet
Jillian McKenzie, Early Childhood Movement
Julie Robert, Ballet
Kathleen Doherty, Jazz
Kate Mitchell, Character

Laura Van Herk, Ballet
Michele Slattery, Tap & Acrobatics
Mabel MacNeil, Ballet/Conditioning
Nick Nguyen, Break dance
Sheilagh Hunt, Adult Modern/Ballet
Tirene Padget, Adult Ballet
Yasmin Kawar, Accompanist

Letter from the Dean of Dance

Dear Dance Families,

As we draw to a close for 2019/20 we reflect on a year that has been both challenging and innovative. This year marks the first in the Conservatory’s 130+ history that we haven’t concluded with formal celebrations in both dance and music.

As I reflect, it is resiliency and community that are cause for celebration. The Conservatory community continuously showed their ability to support and adapt for the good of our community. In the last few months of the year, things have been different. Our faculty, students and families have changed their living rooms around, learned how to operate zoom, and reshaped and guided our ideals and approaches to dance. This, we also celebrate and say thank you.

Our accomplishments as a community don’t just surround Covid-19. We celebrate all the new dancers to our community from our 3 year olds through to the adult students, our library performance, Souvenir Dance Ensembles touring winter performances, completion of Cecchetti Canada ballet exams, “Taking Steps to Fly” competition for student choreography and composition, auditions, workshops, Cinderella production of 2020 and finally the graduation of four amazing women from our dance department. All of these moments couldn’t and wouldn’t happen without our strong community.

To our graduates, Ayanna Turner-Bru, Chloe Dockendorff, Hayley Bone and Nora Dunn, this was not the predicted finale. Nor was this the way we wanted to celebrate all you have meant to the Conservatory. Please know however, there isn’t a cancelation in the world that can take away all you have accomplished within our walls. You are four strong individual women who have challenged and shaped your own futures and the future of the Conservatory Faculty of Dance. The dance community is extremely proud to be a part of your journey and will continue to support and encourage your future.

While the halls of the Conservatory are aching for its community to return physically, we know that in spirit the community has never left. We are stretching and expanding our traditions in new directions. As difficult as this may be at times, it is going to make us stronger and more resilient for the future.

Please stay safe and healthy, wishing you all a wonderful summer,

All the best,

Diana Rutherford 
Dean of Dance

On behalf of the Board of Governors of the Conservatory,

I wish to congratulate the students of 2019/2020 on their achievement. As a parent of two former MCPA students, I’m well aware of the long hours of practice and study that lie behind this day. I remember the sounds of violin and piano in my own house, the nervous excitement of recitals and competitions, and the camaraderie of ensembles and choirs.

Whatever the future brings for you, it will have been enriched by your experience at the Conservatory.

I only wish I could be there to shake your hand in person!

Best wishes,

D. Mark Laing
MCPA Interim Chair

Scholarship & Award Recipients

School of Music 2020 Graduates

Ivan Andreou
Nico Wilson Henkelmann
Sophia Wedderburn
Amelie Parent

School of Dance 2020 Graduates

Ayanna Turner-Bru, General Program
Chloe Dockendorff, Full-time Professional Ballet Program
Hayley Bone, Teacher Training Diploma Program
Nora Dunn, Senior Certificate Program

Cecchetti Canada Examination Graduates

Ava Murphy, Grade 4 Presentation
Bryn McCharles, Grade 4 Presentation
Ellington Hughes, Grade 4 Presentation
Jadyn Norwood, Grade 4 Presentation
Kate James, Grade 4 Presentation
Natalia Comeau, Grade 4 Presentation
Nora Dunn, Grade 4 Presentation
Sophie Kazakoff, Grade 4 Presentation

Niamh Draper, Grade 5 Presentation
Allison Foran, Grade 5 Presentation
Brooklyn Law, Grade 5 Presentation
Helen Bullock, Grade 5 Presentation

Stan Tonin, Intermediate
Margaret Miller, Intermediate
Mairi Parent, Intermediate
Leya de Bruyn, Intermediate
Minuet Charron, Intermediate
Aimee Hastings-James, Intermediate
Miranda Garvey, Intermediate
Maggie Oates-Johnson, Intermediate
Hayley Bone, Advance 1
Chloe Dockendorff, Advance 2
Hayley Bone, Cecchetti Associate –
(entry level teaching qualifications)

Scholarship & Award History

Auditioned Music Awards & Scholarships

Anonymous Wind and Brass Scholarship.

Ifan Williams, FRAM “Lighthouse Award”
A graduate and later Fellow of London’s Royal Academy of Music, Welsh-born Ifan Williams Sr. (1889-1957) was invited to Halifax to head the violin, chamber music, and orchestral Departments of the Halifax Conservatory of Music. A gifted teacher and administrator, he was Director of the Conservatory from 1934 until his untimely death. During the Second World War, Ifan Williams also served as Professor of Music at Acadia University.

Isabel McAlpine Wickwire Music Foundation Scholarship
Isabel McAlpine Wickwire will always be remembered as a beautiful, giving, and accomplished young woman and mother.

String Music Atlantic Scholarship
String Music Atlantic promotes string playing through its support of professional musicians, string music education, and string music students.

Music Awards and Prizes, General

Anne and Will Webster Chamber Orchestra Scholarship
Dr. Will Webster and Anne Goddard-Webster both held positions in the Faculty of Health Professions at Dalhousie for more than a decade. Dr. Webster was Dean of the Faculty and Anne Goddard-Webster was the Interprofessional Experience Coordinator. In 2016 Anne received a national award acknowledging her exemplary work in encouraging and developing mentorship of students in the health professions. Dr. Webster was also the Chair of the Conservatory’s Board of Governors for a number of years.

MCPA Association Mary Parker Freeman Cello Prize
The Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts Association makes this prize available each year for a student of the cello in memory of former member Mary Parker Freeman.

MCPA Association Hazel Paul Piano Prize
Hazel Victoria Paul (1910-2005), a native Haligonian, graduated from the Maritime Business Academy and was Director of Private Admitting at the Victorian General Hospital for 38 years. She was a life member of the Conservatory Association.

Antonio Morrone Prize
Antonio Morrone’s family emigrated from Italy to Canada when he was 12. Soon after his arrival in Halifax, Antonio became a student at the Conservatory, taking lessons throughout the 1930’s from voice teacher Frances W. Morrision, ARCM. Mr. Morrone became a well know vocalist, for many years performing regularly in Halifax and beyond. He was equally well known in the city as the owner and operator of a popular convenience store. Antonio Morrone and his wife Nora Jean Morrone, shared a deep love of music, and it was she who established the Antonio Morrone Prize in her husband’s memory.

Eveline Volger Piano Scholarship
Eveline Vogler was a music teacher and a founding member of the Nova Scotia Educators’ Association, an organization of professional music education specialists who believe that music is an integral part of the core curriculum and who promote the concept that music is one of the most basic elements in educating the whole person.

Hester Jackson Piano Scholarship
An early interest in keyboard music led Hester (Beach) Jackson (1921-2007) to the Conservatory and then to Dalhousie from which she graduated with a Licentiate in Music. On her graduation she was hired by the Halifax School Board, becoming one of its first music teachers. Throughout her life she remained a strong supporter of the MCPA Association.

Josephine B. Amyoony Marshall Memorial Scholarship
Josephine (Josie) was born and raised in Halifax. She followed her love of music by attending McGill University in Montreal, where she received her Bachelor of Music, as well as a Bachelor of Education. She taught with the Dartmouth School Board, followed by a career teaching with DND. Josie completed her education with a Bachelor of Arts from Dalhousie University, followed by a Masters of Arts. She passed away in 2019 at the age of 84.

Lillian Marcella MacKay Piano Scholarship
Haligonian Lillian Marcella MacKay (1929-2007) graduated from the Conservatory and taught piano for many years in Halifax and Pictou. She was also a church organist. A generous bequest to the Conservatory supports the MCPA student awards programme and assisted in refurbishing the building.

Lillian Randall Violin Scholarship
Lillian (Crompton) Randall lived a life of music. Born in Dartmouth, she began her studies at the Maritime Conservatory of Music with Ifan Williams, subsequently earning her music degree at McGill. While a graduate student at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, she worked with renowned musicians Murray Adaskin and Boris Berlin. Lillian also studied the Bornoff method of teaching strings at the New England Conservatory. Becoming a teacher herself, she instructed in violin, the history of music, harmony, and theory. In Halifax, Lillian was offered a position with the CBC radio programme “From a Rose Garden” recorded atop the Nova Scotia Hotel. She was also a member of a popular trio that performed in the lobby of the Lord Nelson Hotel, playing salon music at lunch time each Sunday.

A founding member of the Halifax Symphonette under Alfred Strombergs, she remained with the orchestra as its name changed over the years to the Halifax and later the Atlantic Symphony. She was also a member, in the early years, of the original pit orchestra for the Charlottetown Festival. In later years, Lillian formed a quartet that performed extensively throughout the community for weddings and church services. The Lillian Randall Violin Scholarship was established in her memory following her death in 2019.

Rita Morton Piano Prize
Rita L. Morton (1905-1986) graduated in piano and theory from the Conservatory before continuing her studies at Dalhousie. For many years she was Head of the Conservatory’s Theory Department and a teacher of piano. She is remembered with appreciation for her many hours of dedication to students of theory, one of whom was Carol von Syberg.

Hua Xu Piano Award
Hua Xu is the mother of a long-time Conservatory piano student Ethan Xu, who studied with Betty Ro. This scholarship has been created by Hua Xu in recognition of her firm belief in the value of early exposure to, and training in, music.

Contance Hubley Piano Prize
Constance Hubley taught piano both at the Conservatory and the School for the Blind. Described as a “highly respected, top teacher”, a number of her students have gone on to highly successful careers in music. She died in her native city in 1992.

Music Awards and Prizes, Continued

Margaret Kinsman McCurdy Piano Prize
Piano Prize Margaret Elizabeth (Kinsman) McCurdy, after musical studies at Dalhousie and the Royal College of Music in London, went on to a distinguished career as a soloist, accompanist, church organist, and teacher. She was a charter member of the Nova Scotia Registered Music Teachers’ Association and taught piano at the Conservatory until she was 85.

MCPA Association Elizabeth (Bee) Huxtable Music Scholarship
This scholarship, for an advanced music student continuing her or his studies, was created to recognize the contributions over more than sixty years to the city’s cultural life of a truly remarkable woman, Elizabeth—but known to all as Bee—Huxtable (1925-2016). Born in England where she served in the WRNS during WWII, Bee emigrated to Halifax in 1955 with her husband, an officer in the Royal Canadian Navy.

Bee loved music, was the organist of her church, and was a member of a wide range of cultural organizations. But Bee Huxtable was most widely known as a philanthropist who generously supported the city and province’s cultural organizations, among them Symphony Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra, the Kiwanis Music Festival, and Scotia Festival of Music.

MCPA Association Laing Porter Founders Scholarship
With this scholarship MCPA Association honours two of the Conservatory’s founders, the Rev. Robert Laing, MA (1841-1919) and Charles Henry Porter (1856-1929). Born in Scotland, Robert Laing was educated both there and in Quebec. He completed his theological studies at the University of Edinburgh. From 1878 to 1891 he served as minister of St. Matthew’s Church in Halifax, then the largest Presbyterian congregation in the Maritimes. He was associated with the Halifax Conservatory and Ladies’ College from the very beginning, serving as Secretary and driving force of the founding committee.

In 1887, Laing became the Principal of the two organizations, filling the position with great success until his death twenty-two years later. Charles Henry Porter, an American, followed his musician brother to Halifax in the 1870’s, where Charles became organist at St. Matthew’s. He subsequently studied for several years at the Royal Conservatory in Leipzing. Returning to Halifax, Porter resumed his position as organist and choir master at St. Matthew’s (a position he held until 1906), where he worked closely with the Minister, the Rev. Laing.

Their working relationship continued at the Halifax Conservatory; when Robert Laing became Principal, Charles Porter accepted the position as Director of the Conservatory. It was under Porter’s leadership the Conservatory expanded rapidly and entered into a formal affiliation with Dalhousie, whereby the university would award a Bachelor of Music degree to students who had completed a prescribed course of study at the Conservatory. In 1900, Charles Porter left the Conservatory to become an insurance executive, first in Halifax and subsequently in the United States, where he died in 1929.

Dr. Ernest & Dorothy Heighton Music Scholarship
Dr. Ernest and Dorothy Heighton Scholarship for Music Dr. Ernest H. Heighton, a Professor of Mathematics at Dalhousie University, and his wife Dorothy (Auld), a teacher in the Halifax school system, were life-long supporters of the performing arts. Their generous bequests to MCPA and the Dalhousie Music Department continue to support scholarships and bursaries in both dance and music.

Jean Frederick Violin Scholarship
A 1926 graduate (and later teacher) of the Conservatory, Jean Fraser (1908-2007) continued her studies in Berlin and at Juilliard. A student of Ifan Williams Sr., she was one of the most accomplished violinists ever to have played and taught in Nova Scotia. At the time of her death at 99, it was said that, “she helped shape talented violinists and formed enduring bonds with many of her students”. Throughout her life she was described as “absolutely brimming with enthusiasm, curiosity, zest, good cheer, and good will.”

MCPA Association Joan Bissett Cunningham Voice Scholarship
Joan Cunningham has studied voice with a number of teachers, the first of whom was Latvian opera singer, Mariss Vetra who joined the staff of the Conservatory when he immigrated to Canada. Among her other early vocal coaches were Leonard Mayoh and Charles Underwood. Joan’s career was that of teacher in the Halifax School System.

Stanhope Simpson Insurance Music Theatre Scholarship
Stanhope Simpson Insurance Ltd is an independent and privately owned Atlantic Canadian family business, with roots in the area going back more than 60 years.

Dr. Ernest & Dorothy Heighton Music Scholarship
Dr. Ernest and Dorothy Heighton Scholarship for Music Dr. Ernest H. Heighton, a Professor of Mathematics at Dalhousie University, and his wife Dorothy (Auld), a teacher in the Halifax school system, were life-long supporters of the performing arts. Their generous bequests to MCPA and the Dalhousie Music Department continue to support scholarships and bursaries in both dance and music.

Conservatory Funds Music Scholarship

MCPA Association Mrs. A.E. Aines Violin Prize
Ella Aines (1914-2003) was both a student and for some years a teacher of piano at the Conservatory. Babs—as she was known—was a lifelong supporter of MCPA.

Dr. Gaetan Lang String Scholarship
Dr. Lang, the proprietor of Lang Optometry and Eyewear, is a generous supporter of the Halifax arts community. An enthusiastic violinist, Gaétan has played in the PEI Symphony and the Chebucto Symphony Orchestra and is currently a member of Nova Sinfonia. For a number of years, Dr. Lang was an active member of the Conservatory Board of Governors.

Delta Master Chapter, Beta Sigma Phi, Nora Fordham Piano Scholarship
An organist and pianist, Nora Fordham often performed for charity events. She was active in the Delta Master Chapter and popular with the young women who found her very helpful in her role as social and educational advisor. Mrs. Fordham was both the wife and mother of long-time Chairs of the Board of Governors, Mr. A. W Fordham and Mr. A. G. Fordham respectively.

MCPA Association Audrey Weir Music Scholarship
Audrey Weir was a student at the Conservatory of Latvian opera singer Mariss Vetra who had joined the vocal department after WWII; she also studied piano and theory. She obtained her Licentiate in Music from Dalhousie where she often sang in opera productions. Audrey taught voice at the Conservatory and has been an active member of the Association for many years.

MCPA Association Adult Progress Prize
The MCPA Association is a group of committed supporters of the Conservatory, in particular of its student award programme.

Non-Auditioned Dance Awards

MCPA Association Gunter Buchta Dance Scholarship
Gunter Buchta immigrated to Canada from Germany in 1950 and that same year was invited to organize the ballroom dance department at the Conservatory; he remained Head of the department for 30 years. Mr. Buchta was also the choreographer of the Don Messer’s Jubilee television show where the Buchta Dancers performed.

MCPA Association Bernadette T. Jamieson Scholarship
Bernadette Jamieson (1922-1996) studied piano and organ with Harry Dean, subsequently joining the piano and theory departments at the Conservatory.
She was a mezzo-soprano in the Armdale Glee Club and a long-time member of the Conservatory Association.

Delta Master Chapter Beta Sigma Phi Joan Belliveau Scholarship
An international, non-academic sorority, Delta Master Chapter has established this award in memory of Joan Belliveau who was a member of the organization.

Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts Association Junior and Senior Dance Prizes
The Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts Association is a group of volunteers who support the activities of the Conservatory and who promote
its interests. Founded in 1921 as the Alumni Association of the Halifax Conservatory of Music, the organization was initially composed of teachers
and graduates of the Conservatory, both past and present. Our membership has now expanded to include all of those who are interested in supporting
the work of the Conservatory, and our current name – MCPA Association – reflects this broadened base. New members who share our goals are very
welcome. Over the decades this dedicated group has provided many forms of assistance to the Conservatory; currently, a major focus is on providing
financial support to MCPA’s students through prizes, scholarship, and bursaries. Each year the MCPA Association engages in many activities,
including the very popular Spring and Autumn dinners.

Dr. Ernest and Dorothy Heighton Scholarship for Dance
Dr. Ernest H. Heighton, a Professor of Mathematics at Dalhousie University, and his wife Dorothy (Auld), a teacher in the Halifax school system, were life-long supporters of the performing arts. Their generous bequests to MCPA and the Dalhousie Music Department support various scholarships and bursaries in both dance and music.

MCPA Association Audrey Weir Dance Scholarship
Audrey Weir was a student at the Conservatory of Latvian opera singer Marris Vetra who had joined the vocal department after WWII; she also studied piano and theory. She obtained her Licentiate in Music from Dalhousie where she often sang in opera productions. Audrey taught voice at the Conservatory and has been an active member of the Association for many years.

Barbara Dearborn & Dance Dept. Scholarship

Auditioned Dance Awards

Judith Grant Auditioned Dance Scholarship
Judith Grant is the daughter of Major and Mrs. Austen Cunningham of Bedford. As a girl, she studied cello with Ifan Williams Sr., Director of what was then called the Halifax Conservatory of Music. Throughout her life she has been a generous supporter of the Conservatory and of other cultural organizations such as the Scotia Festival of Music and Symphony Nova Scotia. In 2014, Judith Grant was honoured by the MCPA Association for her many years of dedicated support.

Janice Merritt Flemming Auditioned Ballet Scholarship
Janice Merritt Flemming is the daughter of Dr. John and Louise Merritt who worked tirelessly in 1947 to establish a dance programme in Halifax. When Irene and Jury Gotshalks arrived from Latvia, Janice and her sister Marilla were among their first students at the Conservatory and both girls became accomplished dancers. When the Gotshalks joined the fledging National Ballet of Canada, Janice continued to dance with David Latoft. Eventually she was to lead the Conservatory’s dance programme herself. More recently the Royal Winnipeg Ballet has benefited from Janice Flemming’s involvement as a Board Member and she served for 23 years on the Board of the Nova Scotia Talent Trust. This award was established to honour Dr. John Merritt and his wife Louise Merritt. Dr. Merritt was for a time Chair of the Conservatory’s Board of Governors and was one of those responsible for the amalgamation of the Academy of Music and Conservatory of Music in 1954.

A. Mary Holmes Scholarship
Mary Holmes (1923-2013) was a woman of strength and insight. She had a passion for music and believed strongly in encouraging and supporting the education of those blessed with the gift of music and dance. On her passing, the A. Mary Holmes Trust was established. The Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts is one of the beneficiaries. The Trust is pleased to provide financial support by providing this scholarship.

Non-Auditioned Trophies

Jan Wicha Cup – Music or Dance
This cup has been donated to the Conservatory in memory of Jan Charles Wicha (1931-2008). Born in what is now the Czech Republic, Jan began the study of violin at an early age. Immigrating to Canada, he became First Violinist with the Atlantic Symphony before becoming a highly successful teacher with the Dartmouth Schools’ Music Programme.

Benedict Wong Cup – Music or Dance
This Cup was presented to the Conservatory by Dr. and Mrs. Benjamin Yuen in memory of Mrs. Yuen’s father, Benedict Wong. Mr. Wong’s granddaughters studied piano at the Conservatory.

Gunter Buchta Cup for Dance
Buchta immigrated to Canada from Germany circa 1949 and that same year was invited by Ifan Williams to organize the ballroom dance department at the Conservatory; he remained Head of the department for 30 years. Mr. Buchta was also the choreographer of the Don Messer’s Jubilee television show where the Buchta Dancers performed.