Yehonatan Berick, violin

Prizewinner at the 1993 Naumburg competition and a recipient of the 1996-97 Prix Opus, Yehonatan Berick is in high demand internationally as soloist, recitalist, chamber musician, and pedagogue. Performances as soloist include Quebec, Winnipeg, Windsor, Ann Arbor, Jerusalem and Haifa Symphonies, and the Israeli, Cincinnati, Montreal and Manitoba Chamber Orchestras, Thirteen Strings and Ensemble Appassionata. Recital offering include the complete Paganini Caprices, and the complete Solo Sonatas and Partitas by Bach. He has collaborated with many world renowned artists. Festival and chamber series include Marlboro, Ravinia, Seattle, Ottawa, Great Lakes, and Music@Menlo. He tours extensively worldwide, and is featured in the world's
most important venues, including Carnegie Hall and Wigmore Hall. On CD, Berick has recorded for the Acoma, Albany, Centaur, Equilibrium, XXI-21, Gasparo, Summit, and Helicon labels. On video, he can be seen on a BluRay dvd Paganini: 24 Caprices. His recordings have won rave reviews in the press. Equally sought after as violin teacher and chamber music mentor, Berick serves as Professor of Violin at the University of Ottawa. He has been invited as teacher and artist-in-residence at many festivals, and is featured in masterclasses worldwide. His students hold leading positions in major orchestras, ensembles, and music schools worldwide. Yehonatan Berick is currently plays a 1761 violin by Carlo Ferdinando Landolfi, generously on loan from the University of Ottawa, as well as violin by Honoré Derazey Père from 1852, and a viola by Stanley Kiernoziak from 2003.

Jean Desmarais, piano

Gifted with extraordinary versatility, Jean Desmarais studied with Monique Collet-Samyn (Hull), Anisia Campos, Rafi Armenian (Montreal), Monique Deschaussées (Paris), Johanna Stieler (Berlin) and Dalton Baldwin (United States ).

Desmarais is the new Music Director and Principal Conductor of Strings of St.John's in Ottawa. Won several international Awards and premiered over 200 new creations, many from Canadian composers. Active on stages all over the world have been invited to play in France, Italy, Germany, Poland, Romania, Russia, Mexico, USA and Canada. He was soloist with the Philharmonic Orchestras of Brasov (Romania), Szczecin (Poland), Chihuahua (Mexico), New World (Quebec), Orchestra National Arts Centre, I Musici de Montreal, Les Violons du Roy (Quebec ), the Francophonie Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of Hull and Ottawa and most recently the Ensemble Thirteen Strings.

He played in recital at the Banff Centre with the legendary Pinchas Zukerman, Ben Heppner, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Amanda Forsyth, Joel Quarrington, Maestros Yannick Nezet-Seguin, Marco Parisotto, Johannes Debus, Jean-Philippe Tremblay, Carlos Garcia-Ruiz and many others. He was invited as a coach at the Canadian Opera Company for several opera productions. One of the most respected teachers in Canada, students have remarked by winning national awards and studying in major music schools as the Sorbonne (Paris), the Cleveland Music Institute, the Manhattan School of Music, the Hochschule Stuttgart and many others. In 2007, he was the only Canadian pianist invited to play in recital at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the famous recital of pianist Glenn Gould.

Mr. Desmarais was awarded the Commemorative Medal for the 125th anniversary of Canadian Confederation for his outstanding contribution to the arts in Canada and abroad.

Lev Nesterov, violin

 Born into a family of musicians, Russian-Canadian violinist Lev Nesterov is in his final year of his Master of Music degree in performance at the University of Ottawa, studying with Yehonatan Berick, Yosuke Kawasaki, Michael van der Sloot and Jean-Hee Lee. He is an alumnus of the Academy of Music for the Gifted Youth at the Mount Royal Conservatory. Lev is also a graduate of the University of Calgary, where he completed his Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance under Joan Barrett and Edmond Agopian. There from the 2013 to 2015 seasons, he also performed alongside music faculty in the UCalgary String Quartet,  the university's Ensemble-in-Residence. 

Over the years, Lev has performed and has taken part in masterclasses at music festivals at the Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity, Young Artists Program in Ottawa, Morningside Music Bridge in Shanghai, China and Scotia Festival of Music in Halifax. Lev has also been a two-time member of the National Academy Orchestra of Canada, the orchestra-in-residence for the Brott Music Festival - Canada’s largest orchestral music festival. In a concertmaster role, he has led the Calgary Youth, University of Calgary, and University of Ottawa orchestras. As a violin soloist, Lev has performed with the Edmonton Symphony and the University of Calgary Orchestras, and most recently with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra as the winner of the 2013 RBC Concerto Competition. Chamber music festival appearances in Western Canada include the Contrasts and Mountain View Connection summer festivals, as well as performances in various Alberta ensembles including the Timepoint Ensemble, Rocky Mountain Chamber Ensemble, plus a variety of shows for Theatre Calgary, the National Music Centre, Calgary Opera Emerging Artists, Mercury Opera, and Alberta Ballet. In the spring of 2019, Lev also made his solo and chamber recital debuts at the National Art Centre’s Fourth Stage.

As a passionate chamber musician, Lev was the founder and first violinist of the Volante String Quartet, where since 2009 he has performed a multitude of concerts in towns and cities all across Alberta and British Columbia, as well as at various local community outreach programs. Professional orchestra appearances include the Calgary Philharmonic and the Ottawa, Edmonton, Red Deer and Drummondville Symphony Orchestras.

Lev plays on a 2013 violin by American maker Ryan L. Soltis. 

Eric Gauthier, clarinet

Eric Gauthier is from Ottawa. A student of Kimball Sykes, he is currently enrolled in his fourth year at the University of Ottawa where he is completing a Bachelor of Music in clarinet performance as well as a Bachelor of Science in biology. Eric is a member of the University of Ottawa Wind Ensemble as well as the University of Ottawa Orchestra. In 2018, Eric enrolled in the Canadian Army Reserve Forces where he became a member of the Band of the Ceremonial Guard. He has performed at many locations including Parliament Hill, and Rideau Hall where he played for the Governor General. Eric is a current member of the Band of the Governor General Footguards.

Blythe Allers, violin

Blythe Allers, originally from Western Canada, is currently studying with Yehonatan Berick at the University of Ottawa. While in British Columbia, Blythe studied for several years under Michael van der Sloot at the Victoria Conservatory of Music, playing in multiple groups and ensembles, including the Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra. In 2013, Blythe represented strings for BC at the Nationals in Waterloo and placed first with his BC quartet as National Chamber Music winner that same year. In 2016, Blythe attended the National Arts Center Young Artists Program where he was fortunate to work with Arnold Steinhardt of the Guarneri String Quartet and Lawrence Dutton of the Emerson String Quartet. During the summer of 2017, he played with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, both as an Award of Excellence winner and as concertmaster on the NYO’s 150th cross-country celebration tour. At camps, festivals and masterclasses, Blythe played for and worked with Christian Tetzlaff, Cho-Liang Lin, James Ehnes, Gary Karr, Patinka Kopec, Ian Svenson, and William van der Sloot, as well as others. Currently Blythe is a member of the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra and multiple school orchestras and ensembles. Blythe’s interests go beyond music, into rock climbing, playing squash, hiking, and reading. In everything he does, in music or otherwise, Blythe strives to communicate his passion for life and looks forward to the opportunities ahead.

Susanna Heystek, viola

Susanna Heystek began playing violin at age 5 in her hometown of Rocky Mountain House, Alberta. She began taking lessons with Louise Stuppard in Red Deer at the age of 13. That same year she joined the Red Deer Youth and Community Orchestra, of which she was principal second violinist for two years and concertmaster for three years. She has won numerous awards at the Kiwanis Festival in Red Deer, including the Red Deer Symphony award, which gave her the opportunity to feature as a soloist with the symphony in 2016. She also placed 2nd at the Louis Sherman Concerto Competition in 2017. In 2016 she began studying with Michael van der Sloot at the Victoria Conservatory of Music, and began playing viola in that year. She fell in love with the rich sound of the viola and decided to make the switch in the summer of 2017. Susanna has performed internationally at the Casalmaggiore International Music Festival in Italy, as well as at the Bowdoin International Music Festival in Maine. Currently she is continuing her studies in viola performance with Michael van der Sloot at the University of Ottawa.

Anthony De Clara, cello

Anthony De Clara began his cello studies in the fall of 2007 with Rebecca Morton (Kitchener Waterloo Symphony). In 2015, he began studying with Paul Widner (Associate Principal Cello Canadian Opera Company). From 2010-2015, he participated in the Oakville Performing Arts Camp, which included several chamber music opportunities coached by Terry Durbin (University of Louisville). For the 2011-12 season, he was a member of the award-winning Hamilton Children’s Choir, which included workshops with choral composers and several solo cello opportunities. He was a member of the Hamilton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra for three years and the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra for two years. While with the TSYO, he participated in a side-by-side tour with the Toronto Symphony to Ottawa and Montreal in January 2017 for the Canadian Sesquicentennial. He was also the recipient of the Marvin Gelber Foundation Award at the end of his time in the TSYO. In the summer of 2016, he participated in the Young Artists Precollege Program at the National Arts Centre, which included lessons with Carole Sirois, chamber masterclasses and a complete performance of Beethoven’s String Quartet Op. 18 #4. During that same summer, he also participated in the String Workshop Session at Le Domaine Forget. He has played in masterclasses for Hans Jensen, Emmanuelle Bertrand, Johannes Moser, Philippe Muller, Colin Carr and Joel Stobbe. He is currently in his second year in the cello performance program at the University of Ottawa, where he is studying with Paul Marleyn. 

Patrick Bigelow, bass

Montreal born Patrick Bigelow currently studies the double bass at the University of Ottawa under bass virtuoso Joel Quarrington. Patrick began his life in music on the violin at age four, and eventually found his love for the double bass at the age of seventeen. He has been falling more in love with the instrument ever since, and has developed an eclectic range of skills in music. He studied jazz bass at Vanier College in Montreal in the studio of Dave Watts, and played as a member of both the the Orchestre symphonique des jeunes de Montréal and the West Island Youth Symphony Orchestra studying classical bass under Orchestre Métropolitain bassist Marc Denis. He frequently plays in numerous jazz, folk, and bluegrass groups throughout the city, notably with the Canadiana Folk band Jessica Pearson and the East Wind. He has also taken Masterclasses with renowned bass soloist Rick Stotijn. 

Patrick aspires to further his education in music performance at the graduate level, and to eventually establish a career in the world of double bass. Patrick and his wife Megan live happily together in the Byward Market area of Ottawa.