Jazz faculty adding swing to Christmas in Song

Jazz faculty from Mount Royal University Conservatory are taking to the stage for Christmas in Song Nov. 29. From left: Derek Stoll, Tyler Hornby, Rubim de Toledo, Ralf Buschmeyer, Corinne Plomish Buschmeyer. Call 403-440-7770 for tickets.

We’re jazzing things up for Christmas in Song with some of Calgary’s best jazz performers.

Taking to the stage Nov. 29 are Conservatory jazz faculty vocalist Corinne Plomish Buschmeyer, guitarist Ralf Buschmeyer, bassist Rubim De Toledo, drummer Tyler Hornby and pianist Derek Stoll.

While these performers are regularly seen and heard playing in city clubs and lounges, many fans don’t realize the talented musicians are also teaching the next generation through the Conservatory’s jazz programs.

Christmas tunes and jazz are a seasonal favourite, says Plomish Buschmeyer.

“I’ve been singing these tunes for many years now and really enjoy the vibe,” she said. “I love Christmas and am always happy to share the joy through song.”

Plomish Buschmeyer has had a long career performing and touring with Dan Hill, Dwight Yoakam, Arsenio Hall, Martin Short, Tommy Banks, Air Supply and Daniel Lanois.

Guitarist Buschmeyer teaches Monday Night Jazz Guitar and is coordinator for the summer Blues & Jazz Guitar Workshop at Mount Royal Conservatory. He has seven CDs to his credit.

De Toledo is a bass instructor at the Mount Royal Conservatory’s Academy for Gifted Youth, and director of the Conservatory’s annual Summer Jazz Workshop.

Hornby coordinates the Conservatory’s Drumset Educational Camp each summer.

Stoll has performed extensively as a jazz pianist and bassist with both local and international musicians. He has taught music for almost three decades, and has been an instructor with Mount Royal Conservatory since 2001.

Joining our jazz faculty on stage is vocal soloist Chenelle Roberts, who is a prolific performer, having been part of several choral ensembles over the years and now an actively sought-after as a soloist.

Christmas in Song is Nov. 29, 2014 at Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium.

Call 403-440-7770 for tickets today.

Conservatory singers jazzing up Christmas in Song


mount royal university conservatory, christmas in song, calgary christmas concerts
Christmas In Song is Mount Royal University Conservatory’s annual holiday concert Nov. 29. Tickets available by calling 403-440-7770.

Mount Royal University Conservatory is getting a head start on the festive yuletide season with its Christmas in Song concert Nov. 29, 2014.

What goes into building 26 years of tradition?

Mount Royal University Conservatory choral director Jean-Louis Bleau, christmas in song
Mount Royal University Conservatory choral director Jean-Louis Bleau

We asked Mount Royal University Conservatory choral director Jean-Louis Bleau (yes, that Jean-Louis Bleau, one of Avenue magazine’s Top 40 Under 40). Bleau is known for asking his choirs to engage difficult music, always seeking to push members past their perceived limitations in order to produce music which — while challenging — is ultimately very rewarding.

This year’s Christmas in Song is no different.

Bleau oversees Mount Royal’s family of choirs, which this year totals around 130 singers between ages five to seniors.

“Having this year’s CIS so early has indeed made it much more challenging,” said Bleau.

“Kantorei, for example, will perform the Cadman Requiem on Nov. 22 and only seven days later be singing Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. It is a very quick turn around, however, with the music being so different it keeps us engaged moving from one style to the next. That makes it interesting and keeps us on our toes and pressing forward.”

This year adding the Jazz component opened the door to some new possibilities, he says.

“Each year we have worked to incorporate and highlight different programs on offer at Mount Royal University Conservatory. This year we thought we would draw attention to the Conservatory’s Jazz program and the wonderful faculty who teach our Jazz programs. This also gives our orchestra and choirs an opportunity to work in a different genre and collaborate with different artists.”

Christmas in Song has delighted family audiences with a mixture of holiday favourites, classical masterpieces and traditional carols. It’s become a treasured part of the city’s holiday festivities.

Christmas in Song is an excellent showcase featuring the talents of the Calgary Youth Orchestra, and Mount Royal’s family of choirs: Arietta, Arioso, Artio and Kantorei. This year, the Conservatory’s Jazz faculty and students will be adding some seasonal swing.

Tickets available at or by calling 403-440-7770. Group and family discounts available.

Sherri Zickefoose, Nov. 14, 2014



Christmas in Song with the Heebee-jeebees

Christmas in Song is coming up fast on Saturday, Nov. 29.

Christmas in Song with emcees the Heebee-jeebees: Cedric Blary, Chris Herard, Ken Lima-Coelho and Jonathan Love., calgary christmas concerts, mount royal Conservatory
Nov. 29th is Christmas in Song with emcees the Heebee-jeebees: Cedric Blary, Chris Herard, Ken Lima-Coelho and Jonathan Love. Call 403-440-7770 for tickets.

Christmas in Song is coming up fast on Saturday, Nov. 29.

The festive musical tradition showcases classical masterpieces and traditional favourites from our family of choirs and the Calgary Youth Orchestra, along with some seasonal swing, courtesy of our jazz faculty.

But it wouldn’t be the holidays without guest emcees the Heebee-jeebees.

The award-winning, comic a cappella group – Mount Royal alumni who were born and raised in Calgary – have been together for more than 20 years.

The hilarious, entertaining and extremely talented quartet have been a part of Christmas in Song for years.

We asked the group to share their favourite Christmas in Song moments through the years.

Cedric Blary
“In my four years playing clarinet in the Academy and diploma programs at the Conservatory, I feel like I learned so much about classical music in its many forms.  From seeing the prodigious talent of 13-year-olds playing Paganini to performing in masterclasses for some of my musical heroes, not to mention the chance to play in the CYO, the opportunities then and now are outstanding for any young musician and I am delighted to, once again, be a part of this festive showcase.

“As a Heebee-jeebee, one of my favourite memories of Christmas in Song is that of our first appearance, waiting backstage wearing one of our ‘less-than-traditional’ costumes and seeing the incredulous looks of amusement and bewilderment on the faces of the musical directors who had likely just finished a thoughtful and inspiring talk to their choristers about focus, listening and connecting with the lyrics.”

Chris Herard
“As emcees, the Heebee-jeebees get a lot of opportunities to interact with the performers.  I am constantly blown away by the talent, focus and high quality performances of the youth involved, and their incredible directors. My favourite memories are always the ones where we have performed alongside these talented musicians. A specific memory which stands out was our collaboration with the CYO to present PDQ Bach’s Beethoven’s Fifth baseball parody two years ago.  It was one of those brilliant and entertaining moments which for me defines what each Christmas in Song is.

“As a local music educator, I also revel in the pride of knowing many of the students involved every year, having either taught them in the distant or near past, or currently teaching them today.  It’s a proud moment for a teacher when we see students so engaged and having the time of their lives performing on the big stage.”

Ken Lima-Coelho
“My favourite part of Christmas in Song is the diversity of ages in the talent represented onstage. From the young, fresh faced children’s groups singing their hearts out, to the focused and “wise beyond their years” Youth Orchestra virtuosos  to the, um, long-experienced but equally eager Kantorei singers (of which I was one,) everyone is there to make magical, beautiful and moving music. And there is also the Heebee-jeebees.”

Jonathan Love
“Christmas in Song is a magical holiday tradition where every year, we get upstaged by MRU’s gifted performers.  It always makes me wish I had practiced more.”

Call 403-440-7770 to order Christmas in Song tickets today.

Conservatory construction nearing completion, community open house Jan. 24, 2015


Mount Royal University Conservatory, Bella Concert Hall, Mount Royal Conservatory construction
Construction on Mount Royal’s new Conservatory and Bella Concert Hall is nearing completion. Our Community Open House is Jan. 24, 2015 from 1-4 p.m. Bring the family for a tour of the beautiful new music school and concert hall.

It’s been going up before our eyes for the past three years, and now we’re in the home stretch.

Mount Royal’s new Conservatory and Bella Concert Hall are nearing completion as Calgary’s newest performing arts centre.

On Jan. 24, 2015, everyone is invited to sneak a peek inside the state-of-the-art $90 million construction project. Our Community Open House will give the public, our faculty, and students a first look inside our new home.

Inside, you’ll find a glamorous two-storey lobby, six ensemble rehearsal halls, 43 private teaching studios, masterclass rooms, an early childhood education suite with parents’ lounge and stroller parking, and practice rooms.

“Architectually, it’s a stunning space. It’s a signature piece. When people walk in, their jaws will drop,” says Conservatory Director Paul Dornian.

In September 2015, our grand opening festival will be launching the new Conservatory and Bella with a star-studded array of local and internationally-renowned musicians for a spectacular performing arts celebration.

Until then, consider joining the Conservatory by claiming your seat in history: only 500 seats in the Bella Concert Hall are available for naming by donation. It’s a wonderful way to create a family legacy.

Stay tuned for more details about Community Open House and our September Opening Festival.

We’ve gone from this:

bella concert hall, mount royal university conservatory, mount royal conservatory

To this:


See more photos on our webpage.

Sherri Zickefoose, Nov. 7, 2014

Mount Royal Conservatory speech arts hits golden jackpot

calgary speech arts, mount royal university conservatory, mount royal conservatory, jennifer orr
Mount Royal University Conservatory Speech Arts and Drama coordinator Jennifer Orr with six of her seven students who won gold medals for top marks through the Royal Conservatory of Music convocation last week.

Sunday was a golden day for Mount Royal University Conservatory’s Speech Arts students.

Seven young students earned medals from the Royal Conservatory of Music for receiving the highest mark in their grade in the province.

The awards were presented Sunday at the RCM convocation in Calgary.cons_img_fac_orr

Of the 16 provincial speech medals awarded in Alberta, 10 were students from Mount Royal Conservatory.

Mount Royal University Conservatory Speech Arts and Drama coordinator Jennifer Orr, who was a member of the team that produced the 2000 edition of RCM Examinations Speech and Drama syllabus and works as an adjudicator and specialist consultant, said she is proud of her students.

“Only piano had more medalists in Alberta than speech, which speaks to the size of the program here and to our support and leadership. Of the 16 provincial speech medals in Alberta, 10 were taught at MRU.  I’ve had lots of medalists over the years, but seven is quite the jackpot,” said Orr.

Mount Royal instructor Jilliane Yawney had two speech medalists (preparatory and Grade 3), Jim Dobbin taught the Grade 10 medalist, and Susan Duska taught student Heather Macnab, the national gold medalist for ARCT Speech and Drama Performance.

A partnership between RCM Examinations and Mount Royal Conservatory’s speech program has yielded the RCM Examinations’Speech Arts and Drama Syllabus, 2011 edition. The Conservatory speech program and faculty continue to provide leadership in curriculum and teaching as speech teachers throughout Canada meet the challenge of this new syllabus.

Speech arts and drama training truly exemplifies the benefits of arts education. It is both a remarkable artistic endeavor and a fundamental, empowering life skill. It is founded on two main areas of study: training the speaking voice, and performance and presentation in such forms as verse-speaking, acting, storytelling and public speaking. Students gain a deep appreciation of literature and the power of language, and develop clear thinking and speaking abilities that they will carry into every aspect of their lives.

Speech arts and drama is for everyone; it is a boost for shy children, a haven for children that love literature, and a magical outlet for children that are driven to perform. it gives students the confidence to speak, to communicate, and to be heard. The confidence and ability it offers its learners is a gift they will benefit from for the rest of their lives.

The Speech Arts & Drama program at Mount Royal Conservatory is the largest in Canada, with faculty and programs recognized as the finest in the nation. Our teachers are professional speech instructors with backgrounds in speech, voice, literature and drama.

Sherri Zickefoose, Nov. 4, 2014

Conservatory director, students earn awards


Mount Royal Conservatory Director Paul Dornian (right) and award-winning cellist Mari Coetzee earned top prizes from the Royal Conservatory of Music Nov. 2.
Mount Royal Conservatory Director Paul Dornian (right) and award-winning cellist Mari Coetzee earned top prizes from the Royal Conservatory of Music Nov. 2.

Mount Royal Conservatory Director Paul Dornian is now a Fellow of The Royal Conservatory of Music in recognition of his extraordinary contribution to the arts and achievements in the field of music education.

And teenage cello sensation Mari Coetzee has won the RCM’s national gold medal for cello performance, thanks to earning the highest exam marks in Canada.

The awards were presented in Calgary Sunday, Nov. 2 during the Royal Conservatory of Music’s Convocation ceremony at Calgary’s Telus Convention Centre.

Dornian, who has served as Conservatory director for 22 years, is a well-respected arts leader and has served on the boards of many local institutions, including the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and Calgary Arts Development Authority and within Mount Royal University.

He is responsible for implementing many pioneering programs that have elevated the Conservatory to international status. Projects include the expansion of the Academy for Gifted Youth, Feast of Sound & Song, Morningside Music Bridge international summer training school and festival, and, of course, the Bella Concert Hall and new Conservatory building opening next fall.

“In Canada, we’ve all grown up with musical roots in the RCM examination system,” said Dornian. “When I was a child the exam system remained but the performance training aspect of the RCM had lost some of its luster. Over the past 30 years it has been exciting to watch the RCM, under the visionary direction of their President, Peter Simon, recover their status as a great music performance school. I am touched and honored to be receiving an award from this important cultural organization that is such a part of our cultural identity.”

In his speech to Calgary and southern Alberta music students gathered Sunday, Dornian said studying music demands great commitment, but returns much more.

“Music makes you a better person and makes the world a better place,” he said.

Past recipients of this award include Oscar Peterson, Robertson Davies, Adrienne Clarkson, Teresa Stratas, Michael and Sonja Koerner, and Leon Fleisher.

After completing two degrees in Clarinet Performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music, Dornian began teaching clarinet at Mount Royal Conservatory and eventually became manager of general programs and finally director.

After several successful years at the helm of Western Canada’s largest performing arts education institution, Dornian returned to university to complete his Master of Business Administration degree. His skills and results in fundraising have come to the fore, affording the Conservatory continued financial stability at a time when many arts organizations have struggled.

Award-winning Mount Royal Conservatory student Mari Coetzee, 16, is the recipient of the RCM 2014 National Gold Medal for Violoncello Performance. She recently completed an Associate of the Royal Conservatory of Toronto (ARCT) Diploma with first-class honours with distinction. She earned the gold medal for the highest national mark for all cello ARCT exams across Canada.

“I am thrilled to receive this award. I have been doing Royal Conservatory of Music cello, piano, theory, harmony, and music history exams since I was eight years old,” said Coetzee, who has been playing cello since age five.

“For me, this is a great way to graduate from the RCM. I’ve learned so much about music through the preparation and completion of these exams. This year I am in Mount Royal’s Advanced Performance Program and finishing grade 12. I am looking forward to studying for my music degree at the university level next year.”

Coetzee has been studying with Mount Royal Conservatory’s renowned cello instructor John Kadz.

“In all my many years of teaching I have seldom had a student like Mari whom I have now taught for seven years,” said Kadz. “Her determination, dedication, intelligence, discipline and pure hard work stand out and are the reasons she is the fine young cellist she has become.”

Sherri Zickefoose, Nov. 3, 2014