Orchestra North Artists
Violin | Viola | Cello | Soundscaping Stories
Artists Subject to Change
Originally from Gatineau, Quebec, violist Maxime Despax studied at the Conservatoire de musique de Gatineau and the Conservatoire de music de Montréal, where he studied with Emmanuel Beaudet and Jocelyne Bastien. He completed his Master’s Degree in Viola Performance at the University of Toronto on full scholarship studying with Teng Li, with whom he is now pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts.
Currently, his career is focused on orchestral and chamber music. He has performed with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and is a member of the Orchestre Symphonique de Gatineau. He also often collaborates with current Canadian composers and has performed the Canadian premiere of Salvatore Sciarrino’s opera “Luci Mie Traditrici.” He is also part of a family string quartet, the Quatuor Despax, who has performed extensively throughout Canada, France, and Italy.
Maxime has attended the Orford Quartet Program, the Domaine Forget, the St. Lawrence String Quartet Seminar at Stanford University and the Banff Centre.
Viola & Musicology
Chantal Lemire is a PhD candidate at Western University. She received a Master of Music in viola performance from McGill University, and a Master of Arts in Music Theory from the University of British Columbia. Her research focuses on intersections of speech and music, exploring how elements of speech can be used as compositional material in both popular- and art-musics. Chantal has presented papers at the Canadian Music Centre, The Peabody Institute of Music, the Vancouver International Song Institute, as well as at several graduate student conferences across Canada. In 2013, she was awarded a Canada Graduate Scholarship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) for her doctoral project on text/music interactions in singer-songwriter Tom Waits’s spoken-word songs.
As a violist, Chantal has performed in chamber ensembles across North America and Europe and with orchestras such as the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, the Prince George Symphony Orchestra, and the Winnipeg Symphony. She is currently a faculty member for the Orchestra North Summer Program in Owen Sound, Ontario, where she teaches violin, viola, and music theory.
Chantal sits on numerous university councils and committees at Western, most notably serving as chair of the Society of Graduate Students in Music for the 2014/2015 academic year, and as Accessibility Commissioner for the Society of Graduate Students in 2016. Outside the university community, Chantal is a member of the London chapter of Citizen’s Climate Lobby, a non-profit, non-partisan, grassroots advocacy organization with a twin focus: to create the political will for a livable planet and to empower people to claim their political and personal power.
Orchestra North is thrilled to have Chantal return to play, teach, and talk about all things music this summer.
Raised in Owen Sound, Ontario, cellist Sebastian Ostertag combines rich musical traditions, and with a strong commitment to community service and involvement. He received his Bachelor of Music from Western University, an Artist Diploma from the Glenn Gould School at the Royal Conservatory of Music, and a Master of Music at the University of Toronto, studying with acclaimed cellists Shauna Rolston and Joseph Johnson.
From 2010-2013, Sebastian was principal cellist of the Prince George Symphony Orchestra, and he has performed in concerts directed by such esteemed conductors as Mario Bernardi, Johannes Debus, Leon Fleisher and Peter Oundjian. As a soloist Sebastian has performed with the Georgian Bay and Prince George Symphony Orchestras, Northern Orchestra British Columbia, the Kincardine Summer Music Festival Orchestra, and on CBC Radio and Classical 96.3 FM. Chamber music performances have included the Banff Centre Chamber Music Residency, Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute, and the Sweetwater Music Festival.
Although classically trained, Sebastian has also performed with many of Canada’s leading popular musicians. He recorded on Basia Bulat’s Polaris Prize nominated records Oh My Darling, and Heart of My Own, and performed at the Ottawa Blues Festival, the Osheaga Festival Musique et Arts, and throughout Europe. Sebastian can also be heard on ShadK’s multiple Polaris Prize nominated albums, including the JUNO award winning record TSOL, and as a founding member of the Toronto based Interro Quartet.
A strong advocate of arts accessibility and education, Sebastian is a co-founder of Orchestra North Smithers, one of British Columbia’s foremost summer programs for classical music training and mentorship, and is also Artistic Director of Orchestra North Owen Sound, and the former Director of the Prince George Youth Orchestra, organizing concert tours throughout Northern British Columbia. He has coached regularly at the Kincardine Summer Music Festival, Kingsway Conservatory, the University of Toronto Chamber Orchestra, and the Durham Youth Orchestra, and is a cello faculty member at El Sistema Toronto.
When not performing and teaching, Sebastian enjoys skiing and camping, as well as co-coordinating the annual Noon Hour Concert Series with his father, Joachim.
A native of Strathmore, Alberta, cellist Sarah Steeves has performed around the world in countries such as Brazil, China, New Zealand, Spain, and the United Kingdom. She currently resides in Toronto where she is a member of Sinfonia Toronto and a doctoral student at the University of Toronto. Recent highlights include performances in Carnegie Hall with the Youth Orchestra of the Americas and the World Orchestra’s tour of China.
Sarah holds a Bachelor of Music with Honours in Performance from the University of Toronto and a Master of Music in Performance from McGill University and has earned Royal Conservatory of Music Diplomas in Cello and Piano Performance respectively.
As a certified Suzuki teacher, Sarah has taught at the Classical Music Conservatory since 2009. She recently spent six weeks coaching cello students in Neojibá, a project located in Salvador, Brazil which provides musical education to underprivileged young adults.
She has given master classes at both the University of Toronto and Wilfrid Laurier University. and is a founding member or the Ton Beau String quartet. When she isn’t playing the cello, Sarah enjoys cooking and dancing in the kitchen (often simultaneously), reading novels, watching figure skating, and camping & kayaking in the Slocan Valley.
Sonya Nanos charms audiences nationwide with her beautifully elegant cello playing. She has been featured in the Walleye and Chronicle Journal and broadcast nationally on CBC Radio. She has recorded Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique and the complete symphonies of Brahms for Analekta and StudiOF. An upcoming album of Canadian works with the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra is in production.
As an active chamber musician and recitalist, Sonya has performed with artists including Quartetto Gelato, John Hess, and Peter Shackleton. She has been featured on the Lumina series at Lakehead University, Consortium Aurora Borealis, and as a guest on Western University’s faculty chamber series. Also, as a member of the Magellan Trio, she won the grand prize in the Glenn Gould School’s chamber music competition which included a performance in Koerner Hall.
Since 2014, Sonya has been section cellist with the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra and on faculty at Lakehead University. She has also appeared with Orchestra London, Orchestre de la Francophonie, and the National Academy Orchestra. She has performed under conductors including Peter Oundjian, Zubin Mehta, and Leon Fleisher.
Sonya holds an Artist Diploma from the Glenn Gould School and a Bachelor of Music from McGill University. She has attended festivals including Meadowmount and Domaine Forget, and she has completed two Banff creative artist residencies. Her teachers include Thomas Wiebe, John Kadz, David Hetherington, and Matt Haimovitz.
Arts and Crafts
Sharon Isaac is a storyteller, educator, filmmaker, beader, and regalia designer from Saugeen First Nation. Through various mediums, Isaac works toward restoring and re-interpreting lost cultural knowledge while actively engaging with contemporary cultural practice. She has directed acclaimed
films including “Thunder Rolling Home” and the award winning “Dancing with Naango,” films that explore Ojibwa traditions and history in the face of colonisation. A popular prolific storyteller, Sharon enjoys sharing Nanabush stories, and is the author of the book "The Story of the Jingle Dress"