Violinist Simon MacDonald began his musical studies in Victoria in 1980, left for music school in 1992 (New England Conservatory BMus ’96, McGill MMus ’98), and returned home to Victoria in 2017, after numerous musical adventures in Boston, Montreal, New Orleans, Miami, various points in Europe, and anywhere he was invited to play. He is currently in his fourth year as the Head of Strings at the Victoria Conservatory of Music, and the Artistic Director of the Young Artists Collegium (also at the VCM). Before returning permanently to BC, Simon’s home base was the Canadian Prairies, where he was active with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (first violin), the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra (principal 2nd violin), and the Regina Symphony Orchestra (concertmaster). Simon loves playing anything put in front of him; he has premiered numerous new works after 17 years at the Winnipeg New Music Festival, initiated the first ever Beethoven Quartet Cycle in the city of Regina with the Regina Symphony Chamber Players, and has enjoyed playing in everything from Baroque orchestras to touring Broadway Productions.
Simon is very grateful to work with the amazing community of musicians, both professional and students, who live here in BC. Over the last year, as pandemic travel restrictions eased, Simon was lucky to reconnect with the Northern BC Musical Community, working as a guest Concert Master with the Prince George Symphony, and working with the newly launched Prince George Symphony Youth Orchestra in June of 2022.
Roxi Dykstra (Masters, Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et Dance Lyon, France, M.Mus. Univ. de Montréal, ARCT Piano) has been working as a professional musician since 2004. She held the principal viola position of the Prince George Symphony for three years, an assistant principal viola position in the Orquestra do Norte in Portugal, and a permanent full-time position at the National Portuguese Orchestra (with the national opera at the historic Teatro Sao Carlo). She performs chamber, orchestral, and solo work across Europe and Canada, including with the Vancouver, Toronto and Okanagan symphonies and with chamber ensembles in the area, and most recently, has been filling in for concertmaster for the Prince George Symphony.
An enthusiastic northerner, Roxi works hard to promote musical opportunities and musical excellence in the north. She is the founder and co-director of the Orchestra North Summer Program, and director of its Academy program, which is committed to developing professional development opportunities for northern professionals and emerging artists from across BC.
Roxi has extensive experience as a teacher, director and workshop host- she has been a Royal Conservatory of Music instructor for over 15 years, adjudicates with the British Columbia Performing Arts Festival Association, as well as on many occasions directed bands, choirs and orchestras, including most recently in 2021, a production of Peter and the Wolf with the Prince George Symphony Orchestra. She is artistic director of the Spirit of the North Classical Music Festival which typically brings dozens of classical concerts annually in August to Smithers and area. Roxi is a current doctoral candidate at the Kunstuniversitat Graz, Austria.
Yu Yu Liu
Taiwanese cellist Yu Yu Liu is a dedicated musician who recently moved from New York City to the Vancouver area. Ms. Liu is the newest appointed principal cellist at the Prince George Symphony Orchestra and will be working closely with the Prince George Youth Orchestra. When she isn’t performing on stage, she devotes her time and energy to teaching young cellists at the Shuang Music School. She also coaches chamber music at the Surrey Youth Orchestra. Ms. Liu has made appearances at Vancouver Island Symphony Orchestra, Kamloops Symphony Orchestra, and Symphony 21.
Ms. Liu holds both a master's degree and a bachelor’s degree from The Juilliard School under the guidance of Astrid Schween and Fred Sherry. She also received a master’s degree in Orchestral Performance from Manhattan School of Music under the guidance of Qiang Tu. During her studies, she worked under the batons of Leonard Slatkin, Semyon Bychkov, Marin Alsop and Alan Gilbert in venues such as Carnegie Hall, David Geffen Hall, and Alice Tully Hall. To name a few notable events, Ms. Liu gave the NY premiere of Yoshirō Irino’s Three Pieces for Cello Solo (1969), recorded for Fala Chen’s award-winning director-debut short film called the “Passenger”, gave the world premiere of Saad Haddad’s “Thulathi”, and many other remarkable projects.
As an orchestral player, Ms. Liu worked tirelessly with several orchestras in the tri-state. She held the principal position at Ensemble 212 from 2016 to 2022. She made regular appearances at Bare Opera, Riverside Choral Society, New York Concerti Sinfonietta, Opera Italiana Orchestra, to list a few. She has been invited to several summer programs such as Composers Conference: Contemporary Performance Institute, Interlochen Arts Camp, Music@Menlo, and the Pacific Music Festival in Japan.
Outside of the practice room, Yu Yu enjoys going to the movies and hiking with her family and her two cats, Bilbo and Frodo.
Hannah Yin has been playing the violin since the age of 4. She started in Vancouver studying the violin with Alla Shmaenok, then moved to Prince George in 2014 at the age of 7 and started studying with José Delgado-Guevara, who is still her teacher today. Hannah has been an active participant in the annual Prince George and District Music festival and was a delegate to the provincial festival in 2022. She has been a side by side player in the Prince George Symphony Orchestra since 2019, and has been a member of the Prince George Youth Symphony Orchestra since its beginning in 2022. Hannah has most recently completed her RCM 9 exam in both violin and piano. Aside from playing music, Hannah enjoys reading, judo, and good food.
Originally from Calgary, Ken spent over twenty years in Toronto as a musician and arts administrator, having originally moved there to complete his Masters in flute performance. He moved to BC in 2021 to become the Executive Director of the Prince George Symphony Orchestra.
With eclectic musical tastes, Ken enjoys playing music from Medieval to modern, and has performed on many different instruments, including medieval gemshorn, tin whistle, and fife, in addition to the modern flute and piccolo. A passionate believer in the storytelling power of music, he especially enjoys working with artists in other disciplines to create immersive experiences and to bring new relevance to older pieces.
Ken is thrilled to have this opportunity to meet and collaborate with musicians in his adopted home of Northern BC.
Violin & Piano (Academy)
Tadd Mao is an award-winning violinist and pianist, born July 4th, 2005. He has been playing the piano since 2010 and has been playing the violin since 2016. Tadd completed his Performers Diploma from the Royal Conservatory of Music in 2021. Tadd has won numerous scholarships and awards in the Prince George Music Festival, has been awarded numerous performances in Showcase and Gala Concerts, and has won awards at the Performing Arts BC Festival in 2018, 2019, and 2021. In addition, he will be working with and performing with PGSO again in May 2024. For relaxing, he likes to play video games, make movies, and play badminton.
Tadd graduated high school from Duchess Park this year and is going to the University of Toronto to study mathematics while continuing his musical journey.