MEL BRAUN

Curator and Conductor

Conductor Mel Braun is a versatile performer, equally at home in oratorio, recital, and opera, always open to new collaborations. He is well-known to Canadian audiences for his many performances and broadcasts of early music with Tafelmusik and Opera Atelier, and for his frequent appearances across Canada in the Masterworks of Bach and Handel. New Music, another of Mel’s interests, has seen him premiere works with the Banff Centre, Winnipeg’s Groundswell, and Toronto’s New Music Gallery, among others. His ongoing duo partnership with pianist Laura Loewen is at the centre of many collaborations as a recitalist. When not performing as a soloist, he sings with the Emerado Trio, and with Il Primo, an all-baritone trio.

As a teacher, Mel heads up the Vocal Program at the Marcel A. Desautels Faculty of Music. Among Mel’s many initiatives at the Faculty are the Annual Opera Theatre School Tour, the Contemporary Opera Lab, the Professor Bach Project, and Tuesdays in Winnipeg, a venture that brings together high school age boys who love to sing. He has been awarded Merit and Outreach Awards for his efforts.

As a music director, Mel looks after the operatic ensembles at the U of M, as well as working with Camerata Nova, a choir devoted to exploring new approaches to choral music making. He is much in demand as an adjudicator and choral clinician, and also enjoys teaching many of the young rock singers that make up Winnipeg’s burgeoning Indie Music scene. You’ll find him wherever young singers need mentoring.

VICTOR PANKRATZ

Guest conductor

Victor Pankratz is a one of Camerata Nova’s guest conductors for the 2016-2017 season. He is in charge of the choral program at Westgate Mennonite Collegiate, directing six ensembles. He received his formal training at Canadian Mennonite Bible College, graduating with a Bachelor of Church Music, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Winnipeg, and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Manitoba.

Vic is well known in Manitoba for his singing and conducting. He sang for six seasons on CBC television’s Hymn Sing, and with the Winnipeg Singers for many years. As a tenor soloist Victor has performed with groups and conductors such as Robert Shaw, the Manitoba Opera Association, Pro Coro of Edmonton, and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. He has conducted the Westman, Eastman and the Central Manitoba Youth Choirs, the Provincial Senior Honour Choir and the Louis Riel Senior Divisional Choir. He was artistic co-director of the Winnipeg Singers for four seasons, and was artistic director of Prairie Voices for the past five seasons. Vic enjoys riding his bike year round, and loves that he is a grandfather.

JOHN WIENS

Conductor

Morden-born, Montreal-based Artistic Director John Wiens is a dynamic and versatile conductor with a wide-ranging repertoire. He is equally at home in chamber or orchestral settings. Mr. Wiens is widely recognized for his energetic, compelling interpretations and persuasive musicality.

Born into a musical family in small – town Manitoba, John aspired to be a musician from an early age. He studied violin and piano, and sang in the All Saints Men and Boys choir in Winnipeg. It was in Winnipeg that he began learning the art of conducting from mentors Rudy Schellenberg, Victor Pankratz, and Mel Braun.

John began conducting while in Belgium where he directed the Students University Chorus for L’Université Catholique de Louvain and in Brussels. Following his return to Canada in 2005 he became Director of Music at St. Matthias Anglican Church in Westmount where their semi-professional adult choir focuses on repertoire for eight or more voices and major works from before Bach to current composers.

John holds degrees in conducting, voice and violin, and has studied privately with Christopher Jackson and Andrew Megill. Recently, John was selected to participate in the Conductors Symposium with Noel Edison and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir.