PERFORMERS

ALEX SAMARAS

Alex Samaras is a singing artist. His output as a performer and recording artist span every genre and style. Alex leads his own band, Tryal, and has released two records since 2017. Alex sings with the Queer Songbook Orchestra and has toured the EU/UK with Beverley Glenn Copeland.

Alex is an active member in the Toronto theatre and dance community. He has premiered new operas and created roles in new musicals. In summer 2022 he will be performing Claude Vivier’s Musik für das Ende and Love Songs in Berlin and London. He has worked as a composer and vocal collaborator with choreographers including Susie Burpee, Meredith Thompson and with Ame Henderson and Christopher House at the Toronto Dance Theatre.

Alex has taught at the University of Toronto Jazz Department, Humber College, Jazz Works Music Camp and National Music Camp, where he directs a chorus of 250 hundred high school students. He is also the founder of the PAL Chorale, a community choir for seniors at the Performing Artists Lodge in Toronto.

NEEMA BICKERSTETH

Neema Bickersteth specializes in contemporary projects in opera, music theatre and theatre. Included tours in the USA and Europe with globally-acclaimed Spanish conductor Jordi Savall; and Century Song for Volcano Theatre and her own collective, Moveable Beast. Century Song has had multiple tours in Canada, Europe and East Africa to critical acclaim. In addition, Neema has been honoured to perform for the XIVth Dalai Lama and the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

DEREK KWAN

Derek Kwan is a theatre performer/creator working at the intersection of various forms including opera, clown, and puppetry. His performing career has taken him across Canada and around the globe. Recently, he digitally hosted the WeeFestival; as a Therapeutic Clown, he participates in MABELLEarts’ food security program, MABELLEpantry; and performed in Factory Theatre’s audio drama series, You Can’t Get There From Here, Vol 1 & 2. Performance highlights include: The Tempest (Citadel Theatre); The Cave (LUMINATO 2019); Blood Weddings (Modern Times/Aluna); Mr. Shi and His Lover I (Tarragon/NAC), Claudia (Theatre Ignite, Taipei); The Curious Voyage (Talk is Free Theatre/London, England). He is the Artistic Director of Common Boots Theatre, and the Interim Co-Executive Director for Red Nose Remedy.

ANDREA KOZIOL

Andrea Koziol is a performing songwriter, improvisor and actor based in Toronto Canada who has created six albums of original music and toured extensively across North America. Her most recent recording “I’ll Be Seeing You” with Newfoundland jazz pianist Bill Brennan was released in 2019. Her upcoming sweetfunktronica project The Bartholomaus Collective with bassist Ian de Souza launches autumn 2022. Andrea is also frequently on the road performing pops repertoire with Jeans ’n Classics and symphony orchestras across the continent.

Recent theatre credits include: The Cave (Soulpepper/Luminato, 2019). Previous theatre credits include: The Ballad of Tam Lin (Puppetmongers Powell) and The Fantasticks (Victoria Playhouse Petrolia).

Awards include: the KM Hunter Award for Music, music residences at Canada’s Banff Centre for the Arts and Memorial University, and grants from Canadian arts councils at every level.

MUSICIANS

ROB CLUTTON

BASS

Rob Clutton is a bass player who works in the spaces between composition and improvisation, in collaboration with musicians, dancers, theatre and performance artists. Rob composes for and performs with small groups including the Cluttertones, The Rob Clutton Trio, duo with Tony Malaby, solo bass, and Sweet Session. Other projects for 2022 include album releases for Beth Anne Cole’s Perhaps The Gods of Love, and the Tania Gill Quartet’s Disappearing Curiosities; performances of Nicole Lizee‘s A Torrent of Light; recording and touring with Pete Johnston’s Stranger Still; local performances with the Ryan Driver Sextet and Lina Allemano’s Titanium Riot; and the ongoing performance/recording project Trouble Maker, in which Clutton plays solo bass versions of music composed by Nick Fraser. Rob is delighted to be playing John Millard’s maverick music in The Cave again.
www.robclutton.com

CHRISTA MERCEY

PERCUSSION

Christa grew up in a musical family in Elmira, Ontario. She is a multi-instrumentalist with a bachelor degree in percussion from the University of Toronto. Christa was a founding member of Toronto’s TorQ Percussion Quartet (2003-2007). She toured the world with Vancouver’s Scrap Arts Music (2005-2013), and worked as a freelance musician with various songwriters and bands. In 2013, Christa joined Cirque Du Soleil as an original cast member in KURIOS- Cabinet of Curiosities (2013-2017). In 2018, Christa moved home to Ontario where she teaches, plays drums/percussion at the Drayton Festival, and is set to complete a masters of music therapy degree from Wilfrid Laurier University next month. In her free time, she can be found digging in the dirt in her veggie garden at home. Christa is thrilled to be joining the Cave at Luminato Festival this summer!

PETER LUTEK

REEDS

Peter is a gentle human, living with his wife on a small, garden-filled plot of land amidst the bustle of urban life in Toronto, Canada. He makes sound with reed instruments, electronics, and the occasional power tool; his sourdough is relatively quiet. Peter has been active in a wide range of musical performing for nearly half a century; in the end, he is most at home in improvised contexts.

MATTI PULKKI

ACCORDION

Matti Pulkki is a Toronto-based Finnish accordionist. He performs around the world with numerous ensembles and as a soloist, and has been involved with various theater and opera productions both in Finland and Canada. He thoroughly enjoys collaborating with other artists on interdisciplinary and experimental productions. Although often concentrating on classical-contemporary repertoire, Matti also performs music from tangos and klezmer to folk music and jazz, and everything in between. Matti is the accordionist for the internationally renowned and critically acclaimed ensemble Quartetto Gelato. He is also doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto researching collaborative processes between composers and performers.

GREGORY OH

KEYBOARDS / CONDUCTOR

Gregory Oh gained his notoriety as a “new music revolutionary” but he has wandered the genres in places from the legendary techno club Berghain to the Beijing Modern Music Festival, and the Classical:NEXT opening night gala in Rotterdam to the Lincoln Centre in New York City. He holds graduate degrees from the University of Toronto, where he studied with Marietta Orlov, and the University of Michigan, where he worked with Martin Katz.

As a music director, his credits include Bearing with director Michael Greyeyes, Ride the Wind with Roscoe Mitchell and A Torrent of Light (Nicole Lizée/Nic Billon) . He was music director of the San Diego Opera Ensemble, and has also worked at the Canadian Opera Company, Soulpepper, the Banff Centre, Canadian Stage, Volcano Theatre, Florida State Opera and Tapestry New Opera. Currently he programs at Harbourfront, and teaches at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the National Youth Orchestra of Canada.

JOHN MILLARD

BANJO

John Millard has composed and music directed for Theatre Columbus, National Film Board, Soulpepper Theatre, Volcano Theatre, National Arts Centre, Alberta Theatre Productions, Shaw Festival and many other Canadian cultural organizations. He has recorded six albums and toured Canada and Europe with his bands The Polka Dogs and John Millard & Happy Day. John was a resident artist at Soulpepper for six years. He teaches at Humber College and has been a resident artist at Banff Centre for the Arts. Current productions include a remount of John and Waleed at Theatre Passe Muraille, “I Am Puff”, an animated series with IS1 Theatre, The Cave with Tomson Highway and Martha Ross and an animated version of The Cave for the CBC with Vancouver animator Bruce Alcock.

CHRIS PRUDEN

KEYBOARDS

Chris Pruden is a pianist/keyboardist based in Toronto, ON. Heavily influenced by jazz, contemporary classical, folk, rock and electronic music, Chris has performed across North America, China, and Europe. He is a frequent sideman and collaborator with Tara Kannangara, Sammy Jackson, Zinnia, Language Arts, Future Machines, and Ronley Teper’s Lipliners.