Saskatchewan Choral Federation


2015 ChorFest Pod (Choir) Clinicians:



Patricia Abbott

Patricia Abbott has been active as a conductor, singer, teacher and arts administrator for more than 30 years. Pat conducts the Chorale du Gesù women’s choir, the English Montreal School Board Chorale, the Ensemble vocal Cantivo and Les Voix du Carrefour and is an instructor in choral conducting at the Schulich School of Music, McGill University.

She has taught diction classes at the Atelier Lyrique de L’Opéra de Montréal, music history and musicianship at the Université de Sherbrooke, choral music at FACE (Fine Arts Core Education) School and numerous vocal technique workshops for the Alliance des chorales du Québec and the CAMMAC Music Centre. She has shared her passion and knowledge of Canadian choral music in workshops, conferences and festivals across Canada, in the United States, in Europe and in Argentina.

A judge for the Juno Awards numerous times, she has also been on juries for the CBC Competition for Amateur Choirs and the National Music Festival. Ms. Abbott is a member of the artistic committee for the Polyfollia International Festival in France.  She is the recipient of the National Choral Award for Distinguished Service from ACCC, the Ordre du mérite choral from the Alliance des chorales du Québec, and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.  

Ms. Abbott is currently the Artistic Director of the CAMMAC (Canadian Amateur Musicians/Musiciens amateurs du Canada) Music Centre in the Quebec Laurentians and previously served as the Executive Director of the Association of Canadian Choral Communities for 16 years. She was a member of the editorial board for the prestigious Choral Journal published by the American Choral Directors Association from 2004 to 2010. With Dr. Victoria Meredith, she co-authored the chapter on Canadian choral music in the Cambridge Companion to Choral Music (Cambridge University Press).

Pat obtained a Master’s degree in voice performance and vocal pedagogy from McGill University under the direction of Winston Purdy and studied for many years with soprano Gail Desmarais. She also holds undergraduate degrees in history from Carleton University (Ottawa) and in journalism from Concordia University (Montreal). Her choral conducting teachers and coaches have included Louis Lavigueur, Wayne Riddell, Patrick Wedd, Nicole Paiement, Jean Ashworth Bartle, Sir David Willcocks and Ann Howard Jones.



Brian Tate 

An award-winning composer, as well as an accomplished and versatile musician, choir director, and educator, Brian attributes the success of his multifaceted career to a love of working with people and a passion for the arts.

For eight seasons, Brian directed Vancouver's popular multi-faith Universal Gospel Choir. Currently, he directs the 100-voice City Soul Choir in Vancouver, and the 100-voice Island Soul Choir in Parksville, BC. He is well known for his lively choir workshops, excellent conducting skills and gift for bringing out the best in choirs, and for his exhilarating and inspiring choral compositions.

Brian is on the faculty of Studio 58, Langara College's professional theatre school. He is also a learning leader with the Next Institute, using music, theatre, and drawing as tools for organizational training.

As a speaker, educator, and facilitator, Brian takes the elements of creativity, intuition, and improvisation from the performing arts and transforms these elements into powerful, interactive group experiences that develop leadership, innovation, and teambuilding. His programs include groundbreaking work, such as using musical improvisation to enhance leadership and teams, and using the voice as a tool for personal development. Brian brings spontaneity, humour, and originality into all of his presentations. Participants experience growth not only in their work, but in all areas of their lives.

Brian received his Bachelor of Music degree from the University of British Columbia, and went on to further music studies in London, England, and Toronto. His love for music of many kinds has led to a diverse career that includes orchestral and choral conducting and performing, musical theatre, and composing music for film, television, stage, and the concert hall. Brian has twice received Vancouver's Jessie Richardson Award for original theatre music, and his choral music is performed worldwide.

As a vocalist, Brian performs with his jazz quartet at festivals, clubs, and in concert. He also performs with Dawn Pemberton and Karla Mundy in the vocal a cappella trio, TriVo.

Brian lives in historic Strathcona, Vancouver's oldest neighbourhood, with his wife, Patricia, their dog, Daisy, and cat, Abbey.


Willi Zwozdesky 

Now starting 34th season as conductor of the Vancouver Men’s Chorus, Willi Zwozdesky is widely-known as a choral conductor and for his work as an arranger, which join together to form a large part of an active musical career that also includes music publishing, arts management, and the promotion of choral music through the global print music industry.

A native of north-central Alberta, Zwozdesky moved to Seattle, where he completed a Master of Music in choral conducting and a Master of Arts in music theory at the University of Washington in 1981. Following his move to Vancouver in that year, he established himself as a leader in the city’s cultural community, working in choral music, music education, and music publishing. In addition to his freelance work, he serves as the Executive Director of the British Columbia Choral Federation and on the national board of Choral Canada.

At the core of Zwozdesky’s career are his arrangements, many of which regularly appear in concert programs and recordings across Canada and abroad. His choral music has been performed by leading choirs, including the Vancouver Chamber Choir, Pro Coro Canada, Elektra Women’s Choir, the Saskatoon Chamber Singers, Cantilon Choirs, Seattle Men’s Chorus, Turtle Creek Chorale, MUSE - Cincinnati Women’s Choir, Pandora’s Vox, and Chor Leoni Men’s Choir. His most recent commissions include a suite of five carols for children’s choir and orchestra to be premiered in Ottawa this year by the Ottawa Children’s Choir and the Ottawa Junior Youth Orchestra.

?In 1990 he established Rhythmic Trident Music Publishing, which focuses on his own and other Canadian writers’ work. An active choral clinician and adjudicator, Willi has also volunteered on a number of national and regional organizations, including the Canadian Music Centre, GALA Choruses, Inc., and the World of Children’s Choirs. His dedication to choral music has been recognized with both a Legacy Award from GALA Choruses and a Willan Choir Award from the British Columbia Choral Federation.

2015 Workshop Weekend Clinicians


Dinah Helgeson

Dinah Lindberg Helgeson recently retired from International School Bangkok after nine years as Head of Fine Arts and the High school Choir director. Prior to living in Bangkok, Thailand, Dinah was in demand as a guest conductor and choral clinician in the U.S.A., Canada, and SE Asia. She conducted several All-State Choir and Provincial festivals throughout the U.S.A. and Canada. Since her retirement, she has returned to guest conducting, facilitating vocal/choir retreats and adjudicating.

Dinah taught vocal music in the state of Washington and Montana. She was fortunate that she taught private voice lessons during her daughter Heidi’s young years. During this time, Dinah was a familiar vocal/choral clinician and guest conductor. While conducting in Bangkok, Thailand for the third time, the connections were cemented and Dinah was offered a contract to teach at ISB in 2001. 

Dinah was born and raised in the lovely state of Montana. She attended college at Pacific Lutheran University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education. While at PLU, Dinah was member and soprano soloist with “The Choir of the West” under the direction of Dr. Maurice Skones. She studied with Barbara Poulshock and was named the “Cecelia Shultz Soloist” winner in 1976. Dinah pursued graduate studies at University of Southern California where she studied with Dr. Rod Eichenberger. She considers Richard Nace, Geoffrey Boers, and the late John Trepp three of her dearest mentors.

Dinah is the mother to Heidi Helgeson Dowling, mother-in-law to David Dowling, and grandmother to Riley, Trey, Avery and Bella. She loves living on Vashon Island, Washington, watching Puget Sound and the view of Mt. Rainier from her deck!

Scott Leithead

Scott Leithead is the Artistic Director of Edmonton's Kokopelli Choir Association and TIME Association. He has conducted provincial and state honour choirs on seventeen occasions and has presented workshops across North America and beyond. Notable appearances include: conducting the Alberta Youth Choir for the Alberta Choral Federation’s 40th Anniversary; adjudicating both the ACCC National Competition for Amateur Canadian Choirs and the International Kathaumixw Festival.

In 2008, Scott was on sabbatical in Namibia where he worked with the Mascato Youth Choir and numerous other choirs from southern Africa. Scott is a longtime member of the advisory committee for the Canadian Rocky Mountain Festival. He is the president of the Brailletone Music Society for persons with disabilities and a member of three additional national boards as well as the National Youth Music Development Foundation of South Africa. In 2014/15 he will present workshops across Canada and return to conduct numerous honour choirs including: The New Brunswick Youth Choir, The Ellison Canadian Honour Choir and The Oklahoma All-State Choir.



[an-TIF-uh-nee] - a responsive, musical utterance

Antiphony is a Winnipeg-based, self-directed a cappella ensemble made up of young creative professionals with a wealth of experience singing and conducting in some of Manitoba's finest choral ensembles. Motivated by their shared passion for singing a variety of musical styles and genres and their desire to communicate that enthusiasm with their audiences, Antiphony's mandate is to perform challenging, aesthetically appealing, and entertaining music of the highest artistic calibre. Antiphony released their first full length album, Convergence, in the spring of 2013, following their premiere EP from 2010, Point In Space, which was nominated for two Contemporary A Cappella Recordings Awards.

Hear Antiphony perform one of their latest recordings, Solstice Carol


Stewart Wilkinson

Stewart Wilkinson recently retired from Luther College High School in Regina, Saskatchewan, where he was covering a two-year educational leave. Born and educated in Canada, Mr. Wilkinson received his BA and BEd (music majors) from the University of Saskatchewan, and his MMus (choral conducting) from the University of Regina.

For many years Mr. Wilkinson was chair of the Fine Arts Departments at Campbell Collegiate, Regina, Saskatchewan, where his choirs enjoyed international acclaim. With his top vocal jazz ensemble, The Classics, Mr. Wilkinson presented workshops and performances at the International Society for Music Education conference in Seoul, South Korea, several cultural exchange concerts in the People’s Republic of China, a showcase concert at the International Jazz Educators Association conference in San Antonio, Texas, and two performances at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. In 1999 Mr. Wilkinson was selected to direct the first-ever Saskatchewan All-Star Vocal Jazz Ensemble as part of the educational component of the Saskatchewan Jazz Festival.

In the fall of 1999 Mr. Wilkinson moved to Austin, Texas, where he served for twelve years a choral director at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School. While there, Mr. Wilkinson organized several performance tours for his select ensemble, The St. Stephen’s Madrigal Singers, including New York City, San Francisco, Banff, Taiwan, Germany, the Netherlands, Hungary, Austria, the Czech Republic, Washington, D.C., and the People’s Republic of China. In January 2007 Madrigals were one of only two high school choirs from the state of Texas to be selected to participate in the National Endowment of the Arts’ American Masterpieces Festival: Crossing the Divide, where they presented a showcase concert and participated in a massed choir of some 600 voices.

Personal honors include having shared the first-ever Downbeat Magazine Award for excellence in music education in 1990, and having received both the Saskatchewan Choral Federation’s 1992 Pro Musica Award and the Saskatchewan Music Educators Association’s 1993 Outstanding Achievement Award. Mr. Wilkinson has frequently served as a choral and vocal jazz adjudicator and clinician throughout his career. In 2004, despite having been out of the country for some six years, Mr. Wilkinson received an award of merit from the Association of Canadian Choral Conductors in recognition of his 25 years of service to choral music in Canada.