Our string instructors
Clare began playing violin at the age of 5, and teaching at the age of 17, at which point she also earned her Grade 10 Violin from the Royal Conservatory of Music. She studied violin and composition at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in Singapore and at Colgate University in upstate New York, and is completing a Masters in composition and violin performance at York University, where she is concertmaster of the York University Symphony. Her principal teachers have been Adele Armin and Laura Klugherz, and she is currently studying with Mayumi Seiler. She is an experienced chamber musician, and is the assistant director of the Thornhill Chamber Music Institute, a summer camp for young musicians. (She also holds a Masters degree in Political Studies from the University of Saskatchewan, and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Toronto.)
Clare follows in her mothers footsteps teaching beginners according to the Suzuki violin method, which emphasizes the Student-Parent-Teacher triangle, as well as learning by ear and memorization. The focus is on listening, intonation, and wholesome posture. Gradually, students begin reading music, and intermediate players are introduced to RCM technique and repertoire, as well as to sight-reading material. Advanced students can begin to tackle serious technical work, studies and caprices, solo Bach, concerti, and showpieces. All the steps of learning to play the violin are at once arduous and rewarding, and Clare seeks to draw out the unique qualities of each violinist while offering her/him new challenges at every turn.
Clare believes that everything is vibration, and that the profound things expressed in music can enlighten and heal us. We can feel music in our bones, and performing music means bringing order and beauty into the universe. While the outward goals of exams, recitals, and competitions are vital, Clare keeps an eye on the long-term goal of developing the inner confidence and true expressiveness of each student, realizing that becoming a better musician should also mean becoming a better human being.
Yegee Lee had her solo debut at the age of 13. She won the Calgary Concerto Competition and she performed with the Calgary Civic Symphony at the Jack Singer Concert Hall. A year later, she won the Canadian Music Competition and she performed with the Toronto Orchestra at the Gala concert. She has been a soloist with the Calgary Philharmonic Baroque Orchestra, the Tudor Orchestra in London, England and with the Daegu Provincial Orchestra at the Daegu Opera House in South Korea. As an avid chamber musician, she performed the Rebecca Clarke Trio at the Hadstock Music Festival in Cambridge, UK. She was chosen to represent the Guildhall School of Music & Drama at the Central Conservatory of Music and the National Centre of Performing Arts in Beijing where she lead the Clara Schumann Trio and the Robert Schumann Piano Quintet. During her years studying in London, England, she has performed in major venues such as the Barbican Hall, Royal Albert Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Cadogan Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall. She has received many masterclasses from renowned musicians such as Sherban Lupu, Belcea Quartet, and Pekka Kuusisto. She received lessons from Sergiu Schwartz at the Bowdin International Music Festival, from Andras Keller at the International Musicians Seminar in Prussia Cove, from Mayumi Seiler at the Mozarteum International Summer Academy in Salzburg, and from Levon Chilingirian at the Lake District Summer Music International Summer Music Academy where she was chosen to perform at the LDSM Academy Artists’ concert. Currently, she regularly performs with orchestras around the GTA including Toronto Concert Orchestra, Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, Niagara Symphony Orchestra, Ontario Philharmonic, Pax Chorale, Korean Canadian Chamber Concerts and she is a teacher at Sistema Toronto and Bravo Academy. She has obtained her Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London, England under the tutelage of David Takeno and Levon Chilingirian.
Cellist Jonathan Tortolano is widely known as a soloist, chamber musician and teacher. Starting cello studies with Jeanne Bateman at the age of eight, he was accepted as a student by Elsa Hilger a few years later. Mme. Hilger taught Jonathan for four years, sending him to Tanglewood, and he entered the New England Conservatory of Music as a student of Robert Ripley. At NEC, he studied with the composer Joseph Gabriel Maneri, and coached string quartets with Eugene Lehner and Eric Rosenblith. He holds a Bachelor of Music Degree from Oberlin College and a Master of Music from The Cleveland Institute of Music, studying privately with Richard Kapuscinski, Andor Toth and Stephen Geber. During summers at Centre d’Arts Orford, Jonathan studied with Janos Starker, Aldo Parisot, Martin Ostertag, Eleanore Schoenfeld and William Pleeth. Tortolano was also a scholarship recipient to study at Yellow Barn with David Wells and Eric Rosenblith, and The Scotia Festival in Halifax. During his university years Jonathan played in the summers for the Festival dei Due Mondi in both Charleston, South Carolina and Spoleto Italy, often as principal cello, and he toured the USA, Canada, Japan and Korea as part of the Mantovani Orchestra. Following a decade in Europe as an orchestral musician, where he was a member of Orquesta Sinfonica de Castilla y Leon, The Gulbenkian Orchestra, Orquestra Metropolitana de Lisboa, and the Orchestra of the Algarve, he won positions in the National Ballet of Canada, Orchestra London, Orchestre Symphonique de Quebec, was Assistant Principal Cello of the Windsor Symphony, and Principal Cello of the Puerto Rico Symphony. He has taught at the Levine School in Washington D.C., Mercyhurst College in Pennsylvania (where he was Artist in Residence with the d’Angelo Trio), The National Superior Academy of Orchestral Studies in Lisbon, Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, and at Appleby College in Oakville. He has performed as a member of Quartet Metropolis in Portugal, and Quatour Prima Vista, based in the Auvergne region of France, and was a guest of Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra in Norway as part of their search for a new principal cello. Jonathan has been on the faculty of the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto for over 10 years, is Associate Principal Cello of the Pittsburgh Opera, and is Principal Cello of the Erie Philharmonic, the Washington Concert Opera, and the Green Mountain Opera Festival. A native of Vermont, he is a frequent guest at chamber music festivals throughout Europe and the Americas, including Sunflower Festival in Kansas, the International Winter Festival of Campos de Jordao in Brazil, Chateau d’Ainay-le-Veille in France, Vermont Mozart Festival, and Music Niagara in Canada. Jonathan is married to Polish violinist Janetta Wilczewska. They reside in Toronto with their daughter Fabia.
Nevalea holds a Bachelors Degree in Voice Performance from the University of Toronto Faculty of Music (2016). She is currently working on completing an ARCT Diploma in Voice Performance from the Royal Conservatory of Music. In addition to her vocal training, Nevalea holds the highest levels of history and harmony, as well as grade 8 violin and grade 8 piano from the RCM.
She continues to pursue her musical education by attending summer programs and entering in festivals. This fall (2017) she attended the Early Italian Opera workshop at the Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance, instructed by Susie Leblanc and Gianni Fabrinni. Nevalea was a chorus member with Opera in Concert during the 2016-17 season. During her undergraduate studies she was part of UofT Schola Cantorum and the Oratorio ensemble, singing in masterclasses for Daniel Taylor, Nancy Argenta, and Vicki St.Pierre. She was also on UofT's Varsity Pom Team, dancing competitively, cheering for the football and basketball teams, and performing the national anthem at games. In February 2017, Nevalea won the Sir Henry Pellatt Award from the Kiwanis Festival, in the National Provincial Qualifying Class.
Nevalea believes that music is vital to a child's development and creativity. She has many years experience teaching violin and likes to make learning a fun and educational experience. Nevalea believes that passing on her knowledge and love for music towards all ages is very rewarding and enjoys seeing her students progress musically.