Mel Kirby, Artistic Director & Conductor

Mel Kirby brings to The Festival Chorus over 30 years of professional experience as a performer, teacher, conductor and highly respected member of the Calgary music community. He has served as Artistic Director of The Festival Chorus since 1991, conducting performances of major works with orchestra by J.S. Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, and Brahms. Under his leadership the Chorus, now in its 53rd season, has assumed a role as a major choral force in the city and displayed what the Calgary Herald described as “a new professionalism in programming”. His experience also includes five seasons as Conductor of the Calgary Bach Festival Society and two seasons at the helm of the Civic Symphony. He has been on the staffs of the University of Calgary Music Department, the Banff Centre’s Music Theatre Program, and Mount Royal University.
At the present time, he is Coordinator of Calgary Opera’s Emerging Artist Development Program, overseeing the post-graduate training and transition to a professional working career of young Canadian singers. Mel Kirby is a Bachelor’s graduate of the University of Calgary and a Master’s graduate of the University of Illinois. Described by the Calgary Herald as the “always excellent” recital accompanist, he has performed with vocal and instrumental soloists in Western Canada, the United States, and Germany, and recorded for the C.B.C.

Colleen Athparia, Chorus Accompanist & Assistant Conductor

Colleen Athparia, an internationally recognized pianist, has made a career as both a solo and chamber musician, a reputable teacher and as a recording artist. She has toured from Mexico to Taiwan, Russia, and the Far East. Her background includes a Master of Music degree with distinction from Indiana University, as well as receiving the gold medal and placing first in the Canadian Music Competition. An experienced teacher, she is a Senior Examiner for the Royal Conservatory of Music. Often a guest on CBC radio, she has released her 6th CD recording “Danse Sauvage” featuring Canadian works written especially for her. An experienced choir director for over 20 years, this is her 6th year with The Festival Chorus.
A few years ago she was heralded by the National Post as one of the top four Canadian pianists of contemporary music today. Colleen has recently been chosen to be one of 50 Ambassadors to be honored in Ottawa as one of the top Canadian performers and conductors who have played exceptional roles in shaping the Canadian music scene and raising the profile of Canadian music.



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