Artist Bios

Gabriella Jonas

Gabriella Jonas - Piano

Gabriella Jonas graduated in piano performance from the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest where she studied with Mihály Bacher and György Kurtág. She was the Grand Prize winner at the Liszt Academy Piano Competition.

During her studies, Ms. Jonas gave public recitals as a soloist throughout Hungary. She was a piano and chamber music instructor at the Bartok Conservatory of Music in Budapest and at the Teacher Training Branch of the Liszt Academy of Music.

Ms. Jonas has performed as a soloist and chamber player in Hungary, Austria, Greece, the United States and Canada.

She recorded her first CD in 1994 in Hungary. In addition to the recordings made with the Hungarian State Radio, Ms. Jonas was the music consultant to the Hungarian Recording Company, HUNGAROTON.

Since coming to Calgary in 1987, she has performed extensively as a soloist and chamber musician in Calgary and has been recorded by the CBC.

From 1996 to 2000, Ms Jonas was the president of the Hungarian Arts & Heritage Foundation of Alberta and was honoured to receive a special award from the Hungarian Culture Minister for her efforts in promoting Hungarian music and culture in Canada.

Since 1988, she has been a branch teacher at the Mount Royal University Conservatory.


Julia Haager

Julia Haager - Piano

Born in Calgary in 1982, German-Canadian pianist Julia Haager began playing the piano at the age of four. She later studied with Janice Waite for two years and participated in the Mount Royal Conservatory’s Academy Program. In 1998, she moved to Europe where she studied with Avi Schönfeld at the Conservatorium Maastricht (Netherlands), and then went on to study at the Cleveland Institute of Music (USA) with Antonio Pompa-Baldi and Sergei Babayan. In 2006, Ms. Haager returned to Canada to participate in the 2006/2007 Fall and Winter Long-Term Career Development Residency Programs at The Banff Centre, where she continues to regularly take part in the piano and chamber music programs. An avid chamber musician, Ms. Haager is a member of the Calgary-based Duo Polaris, a professional cello/piano duo with her husband Kirill Kalmykov. Together they have performed throughout Western Canada and particularly strive to bring classical music to diverse audiences, especially in rural communities. Ms. Haager has also collaborated in performances with Israeli clarinetist Chen Halevi, Dutch violist Henk Guittart of the highly acclaimed Schoenberg String Quartet, and has worked with Anton Kuerti, David Moroz, Marc Durand, Lee Kum-Sing, Pietro de Maria, Dan Zhaoyi, Jozef Stompel, Angela Cheng, Dominique Merlet, Jean-Marie Cottet, Donald Weilerstein (Cleveland String Quartet), Geoff Nutall and Barry Shiffman (St.Lawrence String Quartet), as well as members of the Cleveland Orchestra.

Ms. Haager is a two-time recipient of the CBC Rising Stars Galaxy Award, has received Louise McKinney and RBC Youth Excellence scholarships, was named the masterclass winner of the 2006 Esther Honens Competition, and has also been awarded numerous scholarships to attend both The Banff Centre and the Orford Arts Centre. Currently living in Calgary, Ms. Haager is a successful free-lance pianist recently having played for the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and the Kensington Sinfonia, and is on faculty at the Mount Royal University Conservatory.

Julia Haager is grateful to the Alberta Foundation for the Arts for its generous support of her career.


Kirill Kalmykov - Cello

Born in St. Petersburg in 1974, Russian-Canadian cellist Kirill Kalmykov leads an active career as a soloist, chamber musician, orchestra player and teacher. Praised for his expressive style, thoughtful interpretations and beautiful tone, Mr. Kalmykov studied in Canada with Amanda Forsyth (National Arts Centre Orchestra), in the United States with Jolyon Pegis (Dallas Symphony) and Professor Cecylia Barczyk (Towson State University), and in Russia under the tutelage of Professor A. Nikitine (St. Petersburg Philharmonic). Having performed since 1987, he has appeared throughout the former USSR, Europe, Latin America, Canada and the United States.

As a soloist, Mr. Kalmykov has played with the St. Petersburg Conservatory Orchestra (Russia), Minsk Chamber Orchestra (Belarus), D’Angelo Symphony (USA), as well as the Red Deer Symphony, Symphonie of the Kootenays and the Calgary Bach Society Orchestra (Canada) performing works by Haydn, Boccherini, Tchaikovsky and Saint-Saens. Over the years, Kirill Kalmykov has been a member of the St. Petersburg Conservatory Chamber Orchestra, D’Angelo Symphony and Opera, Red Deer Symphony and Symphonie of the Kootenays. In 2002, Mr. Kalmykov became a full-time cellist of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.

As a devoted chamber musician, Mr. Kalmykov has performed with diverse chamber groups and art organizations including the St. Petersburg and Towson State University Cello Ensembles, the University of Calgary String Quartet, Calgary Bach Society, Kensington Sinfonia and the Mountain View Connection. He is a member of Bell’arte Strings, a vibrant ensemble comprised of young members of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. Since 2005, Mr. Kalmykov and his wife, German-Canadian pianist Julia Haager have also performed as Duo Polaris, a professional Calgary-based cello/piano ensemble that has presented chamber music recitals in Western Canada. Kirill Kalmykov has performed at music festivals in Davos (Switzerland), Beauvais (France) and the Mountain View International Festival of Song and Chamber Music (Canada). He has been featured on CBC Radio broadcasts, and has also appeared on the St. Petersburg Cello Ensemble recording released in Japan in 1994.

Mr. Kalmykov is an avid music educator having taught cello and chamber music, and has conducted student orchestras of the Calgary Catholic School District and the Mount Royal University Conservatory.

Kirill Kalmykov is grateful to the Alberta Foundation for the Arts for its generous support of his career.



Olga Kotova - Violin

Dimitry Nesterov - Piano

Violinist, Olga Kotova and pianist, Dmitry Nesterov call themselves "Duo Solista" to reflect their dedication to being both solo artists and partners. Establishing themselves as solo concert performers they have played together since the age of seventeen, when they were classmates at Moscow Central Music School.

Before coming to Canada in 1994 they have toured with solo and joint recitals as well as with orchestras in Russia, Eastern Europe, Germany, England and the USA.

Their recent engagements include the Edmonton Chamber Music Society, Millennium Foundation concert series, Alberta in Concert CBC series, the Instrumental Society of Calgary, the Hungarian Society of Calgary performances and teaching at the Cantai Music and Dance Festival in Taipei, Taiwan.

They are frequent guests at the Banff Arts Festival Mozart Festival in Kelowna and appeared as soloists with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, the Edmonton Symphony, the Lethbridge Symphony, the Red Deer Symphony, Kamloops Symphony and Vancouver Opera Symphony. They have collaborated with the St. Lawrence String Quartet, New Works Calgary, flutist, Patrick Gallois and pianist, Jon Kimura Parker, conductors Hans Graf, Mario Bernardi, Claude Lapalme, Kirk Muspratt, Jean Larouge, Alex Pauk, Bernard Labadie, Victor Sawa, Brice Dunn, Sara Jobin and Franz Paul Dekker.

Ms. Kotova and Mr. Nesterov are both graduates of the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory. They have also earned Masters in Music Performance degrees from the University of Calgary. Now they teach at Mount Royal College in Calgary. Olga is also a member of Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1991, Ms. Kotova was a semifinalist at the International Jeunesses Musicales Violin Competition in Belgrade, Yugoslavia and the Lois Spohr International Violin Competition in Freiburg, Germany. In 1992, Mr. Nesterov became a Laureate in the first Esther Honens Calgary International Piano Competition.



Gwen Klassen - Flute/Piccolo

Described as ”technically brilliant and always musical”, Gwen Klassen is the Assistant Principal Flute/Piccolo of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra; the position he has held for 14 years. Ms. Klassen was born and raised in Winnipeg, where she studied flute from the age of nine. She continued her musical training at the University of Manitoba, graduating on the Dean’s List, with a Bachelors of Music in flute performance. Ms. Klassen went on to study at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois under renowned pedagogue Walfrid Kujala. At age 22, Ms. Klassen received her Masters of Music from Northwestern University with the prestigious award for Performance Excellence.



Jean Landa - Oboe

Jean has been Principal Oboe of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra since 1977. He has been soloist with the CPO a number of times, and has been an active chamber musician as well. Jean received his B.M. from Indiana University, and a M.M. from the Cleveland Institute of Music.



Heather Wootton - Horn

Heather has been a member of the horn section of the Calgary Philharmonic since 1993. Before coming to Calgary, she played for six years with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra, was a member of the Stratford Festival Orchestra, and maintained an active free-lance career about southern Ontario. She received a Bachelor of Musical Arts and an Artists Diploma in Performance from the University of Western Ontario, and continued her studies with the Orchestral Training Program of the Royal Conservatory and the National Youth Orchestra of Canada.



Jace Stearn - Bassoon

A native of Logan Lake, BC, Jace began playing the bassoon at the age of 12, inspired by his dad who had played bassoon in the Canadian Armed Forces. Jace played in the local high school band, and continued his musical studies at the University of Victoria, studying with Nancy van Oort and Heather Chesley. Jace is an active freelance musician, having regularly performed with orchestras in Victoria, Vancouver, Kamloops, Nanaimo, Red Deer and Calgary.



Edmond Agopian - Violin

Edmond began his violin training in Constantza, Romania where, along with classical studies at the Constantza Music Lyceum. After immigrating to Canada he continued his musical studies a the University of Toronto (BMus), the Julliard School (MMus) and the Masterplayers Music Academy, Switzerland (Honours Diploma). In 1991, Mr. Agopian relinquished his post at Acadia University to take up positions as Professor of Violin at the University of Calgary, Conductor of the U of C Orchestra and Artist-in-Residence at Mount Royal College Conservatory.



Bradley Ottesen - Viola

Bradley joined the Calgary Philharmonic as Assistant Principal Viola during the 2006/2007 season. Mr. Ottesen has appeared with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, New World Symphony, Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, New England String Ensemble, Hartford Symphony, Portland Symphony, and the Rhode Island Philharmonic. He has performed under the direction of conductors Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez, Michael Tilson-Thomas, Seiji Ozawa, and the late Mistlav Rostropovich. Mr. Ottesen holds a Master’s degree from the New England Conservatory and a Bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University.



Thomas Megee - Cello

Cellist Thomas Megee is currently a member of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Rosa Selvatica (Wild Rose) Chamber Players and Zabaglione String Quartet in addition to being a private instructor of the cello. He also retains his position with the Oregon Coast Music Festival each summer as Principal Cellist and featured chamber artist. Born in Indiana, Thomas graduated from the Interlochen Arts Academy and received a Bachelor of Music Performance degree from the University of Michigan where he studied with Oliver Edel and Samuel Mayes. His further studies included postgraduate work in Chicago and at both the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, Italy and the Hochschule Für Musik und Darst Kunst, in Vienna.


John Gray - Bassist, Composer & Arranger

John Gray is one of Canada’s most talented and original bassists. Since beginning his career in 1969; John has performed with some of the world’s greatest musicians; some of which include;

John Abercrombie, Pepper Adams, Nat Adderly, Chet Baker, Tommy Banks, Gene Bertoncini, Anthony Braxton, Lenny Breau, Ray Charles, Petula Clark, Eddy Daniels, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Jack DeJohnette, Herb Ellis, Sonny Fortune, Dexter Gordon, K.D. Lang, Frank Mantooth, Warren Marsh, The Marvelettes, Maureen McGovern, Butch Miles, Big Miller, Sam Noto, Helen O'Connell, P.J. Perry, The Platters, Chris Potter, Julian Priester, Renee Rosnes, Frank Rosolino, Neil Sedaka,Woody Shaw, George Shearing, Jack Sheldon, Bobby Shew, John Surman, Buddy Tate, Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jack Walrath.

Had a successful 22 year association with Dr. Clarence “Big” Miller as a Bassist/Arranger/Composer and in 1979 toured Japan for 6 weeks with him. John had also assisted “Big” in many Jazz and Blues workshops for various high school and college Big Band and small group situations across Canada. Performed in the 1980; 1982; 1985 and 1993 “Jazz City” International Jazz festivals in Edmonton; Alberta; and in the 1985; 1986, 1988 and 2001 - 2009 Calgary International Jazz festivals.

Have performed on several occasions in a solo capacity for the Bass including a solo Bass concert in the 1986 Calgary International Jazz festival.

Recorded with a number of artists including K.D. Lang, Catherin McLellan, Gib Monks, Johnny Summers, Celine Lacoste and Nate Strong. He led his own 16 piece Big Band with vocalist Big Miller for several years in Edmonton. He has also performed on several CBC Jazz Radio Canada shows; on television and in nightclubs leading many of his own Jazz Combos and other contemporary groups during the last 35 years.

From 1991 through 2001 played extended showband contracts for Royal Cruise Line, Crystal, Royal Viking, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn ( 5 years ) , Holland America, and Disney Cruise Lines.

In the past 3 years has been involved in several Tribute shows featuring the music of Chet Baker, Ray Charles, Duke Ellington, Bill Evans, Charles Mingus, Frank Sinatra, Nancy Wilson, Motown, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Herbie Hancock and Blossom Dearie.


Patrick Moore - Guitar

Pat Moore has been playing guitar for more than 40 years. He is essentially self-taught, but spent some time studying with the late Ted Greene. Pat has played with many rock, blues and jazz bands, including Winnipeg band leader Ron Paley. He holds a M. Ed in music, and has taught music at all levels of education. Pat is currently working on his first solo jazz guitar CD which will be launched in the summer of 2011.






Eszter Savanya - Vocalist

Eszter Savanya (Varkonyi) has been a vocalist since her early childhood. She sang solo in school choirs and also in the prestigious Hungarian Radio Children’s Choir.

Later, during her university years she became the lead singer of The Bluegrass Pilgrims Band, which had earned the reputation as one of the finest authentic bluegrass bands in Hungary in the early 80’s. She was also a key figure in running Szeged’s first bluegrass and folk club.

She has performed at the Asztalos Janos Park Country Music Festival (1981)together with internationally acclaimed performing and recording artists like Maryla Rodowicz, George Hamilton IV, Donovan and Sandifer and Carollo, just to name a few.

She was also asked to sing Gizella’s part in the prominent Hungarian rock opera Istvan a kiraly. While still in Hungary, she shared the stage with such acclaimed performers as Fonograf, Tolcsvay Bela, Bojrotjan, White River Bluegrass Band (Montreal), Hans Theessink, Molnar Dixieland Band, Grandpa Lou, just to name a few.

Since settling in Canada, Eszter has been a prominent promoter of Hungarian musical traditions in the multicultural community. She has been actively performing for close to three decades in and out of Alberta.


Steve Savanya - Guitar

Steve Savanya is an avid collector and masterful player an array of musical instruments. (guitars, kobsa, mandolin, oud, hurdy-gurdy-zither, flutes, banjo, autoharp etc...)

His musical interest embraces a vast diversity of styles from folk to jazz. In his earlier years as a musician he was dedicated to playing traditional music. Recently his poetry has earned him a reputation as a fine poet as well. As his artistry evolved, he has amalgamated all his musical experiences into his own sung poetry: “word music”. He regularly performs these songs in Alberta and abroad as well.




Sandor Falvai - Piano

After graduating from the Conservatory, Sandor Falvai studied at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest with Professor Mihály Bacher.  As a student he already had a prominent position in Hungarian and European musical life.  During this time he made several recordings and gave recitals in Hungary and abroad.  After graduating from the Liszt Academy, he had the opportunity to continue his studies at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow under the guidance of Victor Merzsanov and Margareta Fjodorova.  After returning to Hungary, his international career began.

Sandor Falvai has given recitals in most of the great concert halls of Europe (including Paris, Berlin, Moscow, Madrid, Milan, Rome, Prague, Helsinki, Thessaloniki and Munchen), in New York at Carnegie Hall, Tokyo, Morocco,      Tunisia, Canada and at other venues in the United States.  He has appeared as a soloist with orchestras under renowned conductors including Kobajashi Kenichiro, Mariss Jansons, Tamás Vásáry, Milan Horvath, Günter Herbig, Janos Ferencsik and Kazuo Yamada.  He has also played with world famous chamber musicians including  Janos Starker, the Bartók Quartet and Dénes Kovács.

From 1972 he has been a Professor of the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, and from 1997 to 2004 he was the Director of the Franz Liszt Academy of Music.  Sandor Falvai was awarded the Hungarian Liszt Prize, the title of “Honorated Artist”, the title “Doctor Honoris Causa”, and received the Order of the Rising Sun from the Japanese Emperor.  From 2000 he has been guest professor at the Nagoya University of Arts and has frequently gives recitals and master classes in several cities in Japan.

Sandor Falvai has participated as a jury member in international piano competitions and was president of the jury on three occasions for the Franz Liszt International Piano Competition in Budapest.


Gyongyi Kevehazi - Piano

Gyöngyi Keveházi was born in Budapest. She commenced piano lessons at the age of 5 with the famous pianists Renée Sándor and Ernő Barabás. At 15 she won first prize in classical music in the Hungarian Television National Competition. At the age of 18 she was admitted to the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest where she studied with professor Mihály Bacher and other professors including Ferenc Rados and György Kurtág. She received her diploma from the Liszt Academy in 1972. The following year she received a scholarship to the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow, where she studied with Margareta Fjodorova for one year. During that year she was the prize winner of the International Piano Competition in Vienna and performed as soloist with the Hungarian Philharmonic Orchestra.

Gyöngyi Keveházi has given recitals in Hungary and abroad and also appeared as soloist with orchestras and as a chamber musician. She has given concerts in Austria, Slovakia, Bohemia, Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, Bulgaria, Canada, the United States and at other venues.

Gyöngyi Keveházi has been a teacher of the Franz Liszt Academy of Music since 1973. She is a distinguished professor in the program for Exceptionally Talented Young Children, where her students have been among the winners of international piano competitions.

She has been a jury member in several piano competitions, and she frequently gives master classes in Hungary and abroad. Gyöngyi Keveházi’s discography includes the works of Chopin, Liszt and Jenő Takács, and radio recordings of compositions by Liszt, Schumann, Chopin, Haydn, Mozart, Handel, Scriabin, Stravinsky and Mussorgsky.


Bela Szerenyi - Hurdy-gurdy

Bela Szerenyi is not only Hungary’s leading hurdy-gurdy performing artist but he is also the most outstanding master builder of this instrument. Besides performing and crafting superb hurdy-gurdies, he is also a dedicated and prominent folklorist and folk music collector as well.

Bela has been performing for over two decades with his wife Judith Kota, an accomplished folk singer and recording artist. Throughout their successful career they have experimented with several different musical projects that involved family members as well.

Both of their sons, Bela Szerenyi Jr. and Domokos Szerenyi have been regular attendees and also celebrated participants of their concerts. Considering their heritage and upbringing, it is not surprising that both boys are now very talented and promising artists in their own right. Also Bela Jr. and Domokos are lead dancers in the world famous Csillagszemu folk dance ensemble.

In their first North American performance, the Szerenyis will include an array of hurdy gurdy music like Hungarian folk music, historical songs and modern compositions as well.


Magdi Szebenyi - Cellist

Magdi Szebenyi is a Hungarian – Canadian cellist born in Szabadka in the former Yugoslavia, where she started playing the cello at the age of 8 with Mirko Molnar. After her graduation in cello performance at the University of Art in Novi Sad with István Varga, Magdi taught at the same University and at the Music high school as a cello professor.

She continued teaching in Szabadka, Pecel (Hungary) and the Conservatory of Music at Mount Royal College in Calgary.

She took master courses with Mikhael Khomitzer, Daniil Shafran and Valter Despalj.

She played as a soloist with orchestras and played solo recitals in Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Russia (Moscow) and Canada.

Magdi was Principal Cellist in a number of orchestras: the University of Art’s Symphony Orchestra (ten years), the Vojvodina Symphony Orchestra (one year), the Symphonie of the Kootenays (six years) and the Calgary Civic Symphony (three years).

As a freelance musician in Canada she has performed with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, the Okanagan Symphony, the Kamloops Symphony, and the Lethbridge Symphony and many other orchestras.

Magdi has been a member of the Red Deer Symphony Orchestra since 1998, and enjoys a combination of playing and teaching.


Nandor Szederkenyi - Violinst

Nandor Szederkenyi began his artistic career in Budapest, where he received his first violin instruction from his father, who had been a student of renowned founders of the Hungarian traditions of violin playing.

During his studies at the Franz Liszt Music Academy, he won prestigious prizes including the first prize at the Szigeti International Violin Competition ʻ79. Shortly thereafter, he secured his international reputation as soloist in West Germany, Belgium, Italy and France, in addition to his duties as principal player in the Philharmonia Hungarica. As winner of the CBC National Radio Auditions, he spent a few successful years in Canada after which he was invited to lead Century Orchestra Osaka, Japan as Principal Concertmaster.

He continuously performs frequently as soloist and chamber music partner in Japan, Australia, Canada and the USA. In addition he has edited and published compositions by Eugene Ysaye with Schott Music Publishers. His recordings include many newly discovered, lesser known works various composers, among the Trio "Le Londres" by Ysaye, as a world premiere.

Currently, living now in Vienna, Austria, he is a sought-after violinist in the music world.