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2017 Festival Adjudicators


Classic Voice & Choral 
Kim Denis


 Kimberley Denis is known for her energy and enthusiasm both on stage and off, and is sought after as a soloist, choral clinician, and adjudicator for voice and choir.  Upon completion of both a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Music degree at Mount Allison University, she returned to Alberta to complete Masters degrees in both choral conducting and vocal performance.  Vocal credits include starring in a year-long tour with Up With People, as well as productions of Jason Robert Brown's song cycle Songs for a New World, as Cathy in The Last Five Years, and  as Kate in Kiss Me, Kate!   She is also a singer with Pro Coro Canada and has toured extensively as a singer with the world percussion duo, Jamanai.  In addition to her stage work, she has a flourishing voice studio at MacEwan University Conservatory of Music.  She has conducted a wide variety of ensembles across the country and presently directs Shumayela with the Kokopelli Choir Association and is the music director at Holy Spirit Lutheran Church. In addition to her work as a singer and conductor, she arranges pieces for choirs and is published by Cypress Music and Augsburg Fortress. 



Junior and Senior Piano
Jacques Despres


Pianist Jacques C. Després has dazzled audiences for nearly four decades on four continents through his recordings, performances as soloist with orchestras, solo recitals and collaborative work. An intelligent, refined, highly sensitive and disciplined artist, Després’ performances and recordings are praised by critics who cite his “crystal-clear pianism,” and his abilities “to bring humanity, integrity and an enormous expressive range to the pieces.” His “pianistic control is flawless, the sonority magnificent, and the playing is utterly and consistently clear.” Since his 1978 debut with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Després appeared as soloist with many orchestras under the baton of conductors including Otto-Werner Muller, Franz-Paul Decker, Jens Nygaard and Simon Streatfield. Després’ tours have included performances aired on CBC radio and at summer festivals in North American and Asia. Notable recordings include world premiere of the complete piano works of Joseph Martin Kraus and the Kraus’ complete chamber music works on the Naxos label, which received worldwide critical acclaim and exposure. A leading lecture-performance artist on both period and modern instruments, Després has been invited to numerous schools in North America and Asia, including the Juilliard School, Northwestern University, Vanderbilt University and the Central Conservatory of China (Beijing). Després completed his doctorate in performance at Stony Brook University as a student of Gilbert Kalish.]. He holds a Masters degree from the Juilliard School of Music, a Unanimous First Prize from the Quebec Conservatory, and the Artist Diploma with High Distinction from Indiana University as a student of György Sebök. Other teachers include Adele Marcus, William Masselos and Christiane Sénart.



Strings/Instrumental/Classical Guitar
Jeff Plotnick

      A native of Dayton, Ohio, Mr. Plotnick recently retired after completing his thirtieth season as Principal Second Violin with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.  After graduating from the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, Mr. Plotnick performed with orchestras in Cincinnati, Ohio; Louisville, Kentucky; and Caracas, Venezuela before assuming his position in Calgary.

            In addition to performing in the Calgary Philharmonic, Mr. Plotnick also served as concertmaster of the Calgary Bach Society and the Calgary Festival Chorus Orchestras.  Mr. Plotnick often appeared as violin soloist with the Calgary Philharmonic as well as the Calgary Bach Society, and has been heard in frequent performances as a solo and chamber recitalist. In October of 1998, Mr. Plotnick participated in a cultural mission to Kazakhstan, which included solo performances for its President.

            Mr. Plotnick has been a member of the faculties of the University of Calgary, Mt. Royal College and the Amici String program in Calgary, and was the founding director and conductor of Mt. Royal’s Intermediate String Orchestra. In addition, Mr. Plotnick has been a faculty member of the Banff International Youth Orchestra Festival, the Valhalla, Nelson and Strings and Keys summer music institutes, and has appeared as guest artist and clinician at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  He is currently in demand as an engaging and enthusiastic string adjudicator at numerous music festivals as well.                                                  


Musical Theatre 

Kevin Zakresky


Kevin Zakresky is an experienced singer and conductor of Musical Theatre, having worked as a pianist/coach/conductor for many of the great shows. He has adjudicated vocal classes throughout British Columbia and Alberta (30+ festivals in recent years) and has been on faculty at the Vancouver International Song Institute. He has also directed choirs at Douglas College and taught conducting at the School for Contemporary Arts, Simon Fraser University. He currently teaches voice at the Vancouver Symphony School of Music.

Kevin is founder-director of the Sea to Sky Symphony and the conductor of the Pacifica Singers in Vancouver. He is Associate Conductor of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses, a production that has seen him directing orchestras in Montreal, Charlottesville, Columbus, Miami and London (with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra in Wembley Arena). Future dates of Zelda include Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.

Kevin is the past Music Director of the Prince George Symphony Orchestra and has recently conducted the St Louis Symphony, Sudbury Symphony, West Coast Symphony, Vancouver Chamber Choir and two concerts with Sea to Sky. He completed his Doctorate in Choral Conducting at Yale University in 2012. 

Speech & Dramatic Arts 
Ruth Daniell


Ruth Daniell is an award-winning writer, book editor, performer, and speech arts teacher.  For many years she taught in Vancouver at the Bolton Academy of Spoken Arts, the largest speech arts school in western Canada. In addition to teaching practical and theory classes to students in grades K-12, Ms. Daniell also worked as the curriculum designer for the school, a role she now continues from her new home in Kelowna.  Passionate about literature, performance, and creativity, Ms. Daniell has performed speech arts from the age of seven and holds two diplomas in speech arts performance, an ATCL from Trinity College London and an ARCT from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. She also holds a BA (Honours) in English literature and writing from the University of Victoria and an MFA in creative writing from the University of British Columbia.  Her writing has been published in numerous journals across North America and elsewhere, including Arc Poetry Magazine, Grain, Room Magazine, Contemporary Verse 2, and online at CBC as the winner of their 2014 “Shakespeare Selfie” competition. More recently, she was awarded first prize in the 2016 Nick Blatchford Occasional Verse Contest with The New Quarterly. In addition to teaching her own students to write and perform with confidence, Ms. Daniell maintains a regular creative practice and is currently at work on a new collection of poems.   

Stage Dance

Kristen Helfrich


Kristen is an accomplished performer, teacher and choreographer. Her love of dance began at the young age
of 5 at Sonia Fabian Dance Studio and she continued her dance education at Judy Russell’s Enchainement
Dance Centre in Prince George, B.C.. Kristen’s training has led her to Vancouver, Broadway Dance Centre
and Alvin Ailey in New York, and Tremaine Dance Centre Professional Program in Los Angles. She has been
a guest teacher and choreographer for various studios in B.C. and has had the opportunity to adjudicate in
B.C. and Alberta.
Kristen has performed and choreographed numerous Judy Russell Productions (Nunsense, Producers,
Spamalot), is well known for her role as the original “Flying Russian” in the Nutcracker, and has performed in
commercials, Movie Magic, B.C. Summer Games, and the PNE. In the 2015 Canada Winter Games, Kristen
was First Dance Captain and worked with choreographer Jocelyn Peden for the Opening Ceremonies. She
was also part of creating Canada wide curriculum for the Winter Games called “Catch the Spirit”. Kristen has
worked with other educators to assist in creating a Performing Arts Program at a high school level for those
students who dedicate their time to work on the Performing Arts.
A dance educator for over 25 years, Kristen teaches various genres of dance to all ages. She has trained in
RAD, performed her Solo Seal, and has acquired her RAD Teaching certificate. Kristen has received her
teaching accreditation from the CDTA and continues to encourage her students to participate in CDTA
examinations. Teaching is a passion for Kristen as she has obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Geography, a
Bachelors of Education, and is waiting to begin her Masters in Special Education in September 2017.
Currently, Kristen has focused her energies on sharing her love of dance with children of all ages in a dance
studio and in the educational school system. She establishes positive relationships with her students,
motivating them to reach their full potential and to develop their passions.


Classical Dance

Heather Myers is a Vancouver based dance artist who has worked internationally as a performer, teacher and choreographer.
During her years as a dancer with Alberta Ballet, Boston Ballet, Netherlands Dance Theatre, and as a freelance artist Heather performed works by Petipa, Balanchine, Kylian, Forsythe, Ohad Naharin, Lightfoot/Leon and others, and danced in the creations of artists such as Crystal Pite, Jorma Elo, Ivan Perez, Amanda Miller, and Mark Morris.

Heather's teaching has included classical, contemporary and improvisation classes for Ballet BC, Netherlands Dance Theatre’s Education Department, Amsterdam Theaterschool, Dance Forum Taipei, Singapore School of the Arts, Boston Ballet School, and The Royal Winnipeg Ballet School. Her choreography has been commissioned by companies such as Boston Ballet, Korzo Theater in Holland, Atlanta Ballet, the RWB's Q Dance, Ballet Kelowna and Arts Umbrella Dance Company among others.
Heather won the Banff Centre's Clifford E. Lee Award for choreography in 2009, was guest faculty at Taipei National University of the Arts throughout the spring semester of 2014 and was Artist in Residence with HCMA Architecture and Design in 2015/'16.





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