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2024 Jury

Janet Kuschak
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Cellist Janet Kuschak, an accomplished orchestral and chamber musician, has been a tenured member of the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra, the National Ballet of Canada Orchestra and was a founding member of Toronto’s Esprit Orchestra. She has performed in the cello sections of some of Canada’s most distinguished orchestras, including the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Nova Scotia, Hamilton Philharmonic, Te Deum in Hamilton, Kensington Sinfonia, and was invited as guest principal with the Saskatoon Symphony. Ms. Kuschak also frequently performs on baroque cello, an added skill that has led her to collaborate with various early music groups such as Spiritus Chamber Choir, Early Music Voices, Rosa Barocca and Early Music Alberta. She currently holds the position of principal cellist of the Red Deer Symphony Orchestra.

Ms. Kuschak has in the past taught at the Toronto Waldorf School and, with Suzuki certification, the Calgary Talent Education Society. Ms. Kuschak has her own teaching studio in Red Deer. Her students enjoy performing solo recitals and cello ensembles. She is a sought-after adjudicator and clinician, having been invited to adjudicate at the Hong Kong Schools Music Festival on three occasions and nationally with her last posts in Ottawa and Calgary.

Jamie Syer
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Jamie Syer received first prize in the CBC Talent Competition in 1977 and completed his Doctoral degree from the Yale School of Music in 1986. His first academic position was at Mt. Allison University. He was subsequently on faculty at Mount Royal Conservatory, the University of Calgary, and the University of Regina.

Church music was always an important part of his activities, and Jamie served as organist and choirmaster at a number of Calgary congregations.

From 2004-2012 Dr. Syer was based in Victoria, British Columbia, where he held several positions at the Victoria Conservatory of Music, including as its first Dean from 2010-2012. During those years, he benefitted from the experience, advice and friendship of many colleagues at the Conservatory, especially Winifred Scott Wood.

Jamie founded and directed the Victoria Conservatory’s Young Artists Collegium Program, which continues to provide enriched instruction and mentoring for talented young classical musicians. He was a sessional instructor at the School of Music, University of Victoria, where he also lectured for the Department of Continuing Education and led two travel study tours to France.

Dr. Syer has performed at a wide variety of venues in England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Denmark, Hungary and the US. Together, he and Laurie were featured performers at the Cambridge History Festival, and at the central-European interdisciplinary conference Canada in the European Mind.

Jamie continues to enjoy teaching and performing. He was recently a guest artist with the Sidney Classical Orchestra, and plays chamber music with the Springbank Trio and other ensembles.  He is a busy adjudicator of music festivals, glad to see festivals less competitive than when he was a festival performer himself.

Rolf Bertsch
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Hailed for his passion and natural musicianship, Rolf Bertsch has quickly become one of Canada’s leading conductors. Appointed Assistant Conductor of the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal by Charles Dutoit in January 2000 and named Conductor in Residence for the 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 seasons. He has built an impressive reputation as a conductor, pianist, communicator, teacher and adjudicator. His career spans a broad spectrum of musical experience and styles. Accordingly, it has taken him to Europe, Asia, and throughout North and South America.  Mr. Bertsch began his musical studies on the violin and went on to study piano, cello, composition, jazz, and conducting. He also holds diplomas from many prestigious institutions including McGill University, the Mozarteum (Salzburg), the Conservatoire de musique du Québec (Montréal), the Folkwang Hochschule (Essen, Germany), and Phillips Academy (Andover, Massachusetts).

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