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Faculty

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Simon MacDonald

Violin

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.

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Roxi Dykstra

Violin/Viola

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.

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Yu Yu Liu

Cello

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.

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Dennis Collpits

Cello

Dennis Colpitts, a graduate from the Department of Music (UBC, 1976), has taught music in the Lower Mainland and Okanagan at all levels of the school system. His blended major of trumpet, voice and conducting have enabled him to participate in a wide variety of musical opportunities including the Vancouver Cantata Singers, Phoenix, a Chamber Choir, the Okanagan Festival Singers, the Kamloops Symphony Orchestra and the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra. He conducted the Kelowna City Concert Band from 1992 to 2000 and 2011 to 2020, and co-conducted the Okanagan Symphony Youth Orchestra with Rosemary Thomson from 2010 to 2022.

 

Mr. Colpitts has been second chair in the horn section of the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra since 2000 and plays trumpet in the OSO Brass Quintet (aka Fish On Five). In 2011 Mr. Colpitts retired from 34 years of teaching and began a busy life as a Teacher On call and a volunteer working with brass students in the schools. He also conducts the OSO Wind Ensemble for the UBC Okanagan's convocation ceremonies each year. 

Mr. Colpitts has played the Last Post since 1994 for Kelowna's Remembrance Day Ceremony and since 2001 has played on an authentic World War I bugle.

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