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2017 Student Recognition Awards Judges

Jamie Syer

Jamie Syer, Piano

Now living in Alberta, Dr. Jamie Syer was Dean of the Victoria Conservatory of Music 2010-12, and formerly head of the Keyboard department there. While in Victoria, he was also on faculty at the School of Music, University of Victoria. Dr. Syer completed his graduate degrees at the Yale University School of Music with Claude Frank and Ward Davenny. He has taught at Universities and Colleges in Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and New Brunswick.

Jamie Syer is the founder of the Victoria Conservatory’s Collegium Program for Young Musicians, which offers an enriched curriculum for talented young singers, pianists and instrumentalists. He has completed several concert tours in Europe, performing in Scotland, Ireland, Hungary, France, and England, and has performed closer to home in many recital venues across Canada. 

Dr. Syer is known for his imaginative recital programming, and his artistic, energetic playing. He is a popular adjudicator and workshop clinician who enjoys working with teachers’ groups and with students of all ages. In addition to his musical activities, Jamie is Manager of the Public Library in Sundre, Alberta.

Brenda Philp

Brenda Philp, Community Service

Brenda Philp has been active in the Edmonton music community for many years. She graduated from the Music Diploma Program at MacEwan University in 1984 and was the Manager of the Alberta College Conservatory of Music from 2005 - 2015. Brenda volunteers for Contemporary Showcase Edmonton and attends many concerts and events to support live music. She also has a keen interest in fibre art and creates wearable pieces featured in exhibitions at the Alberta Craft Council, Paint Spot Gallery, and Stanley Milner Library. Brenda maintains her involvement in music by volunteering, attending performances, and serving as a positive advocate for the arts.

Yue Deng

Yue Deng, Strings

Hailed by Los Angeles Times “ Superb young violinist Yue Deng … ”, Yue has been featured as the cover story in the Ventana Magazine, Ventura County Stars, Ojai Valley News. CCTV – China Central Television made a documentary about her, and she was selected as one of China's most outstanding young artists of the year. Gene Lees wrote an essay about her in his book “Friends Along the Way”, which was published by Yale University Press. 

Yue Deng was born in Hebei, China. At the age of 8, she won First Prize in the National Violin Competition in China, and her solo debut with orchestra at age 13. She won the special Judge's Prize at the First Triennial Johansen International Competiton, with a laureate at the Yehudi Menuhin International Competition. 

As a recording artist, Yue has recorded with Barbra Streisand, Barry Manilow, Diana Krall, Josh Groban, Johnny Mandel, Willy Nelson and Dionne Warwick, and on movie scores such as No God No Master (featured soloist), Invictus and In Her Sleep. Yue has performed with Michael Buble, Bill Charlap, Dave Grusin, and Randy Newman. Her album with renowned French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet titled “Ogermann: Violin and Piano works” was released on Decca in 2007. Grammy Award winner Roger Kellaway arranged and wrote an album for her “Both Sides Now”. As the principle Concertmaster, Yue led the Pacific Shore Philharmonic in the inaugural season at the Libby Bowl in the summer of 2012. Yue performed with the West Coast Premier of Composer Miguel del Aguila's composition "Silence" in 2013. Yue has performed in Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Merkin Hall, Birdland, and Disney Concert Hall. 

Yue has taught at Juilliard Pre-College, Westmont College, and Music Academy of the West (Merit Program). Yue is devoted to helping young musicians develop a passion for music. She has mentored individual students, coached underprivileged young violinists in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Yue is an active member of American Federation of Musicians, American String Teacher’s Association and Music Teacher’s Association of California.

Yue was accepted as a full scholarship student to attend the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing when she was 9. She obtained her B.M. from the Oberlin Conservatory under Taras Gabora, and her M.M. from the Juilliard School under Dorothy Delay and Hyo Kang. Yue currently holds the position of Artist-in-Residence at the University of Alberta.

Michelle Minke

Michelle Minke, Voice

Michelle Minke is a true renaissance woman. Breathing new energy into opera and constantly pushing the limits—Michelle brings years of top training and international experience to the stage with her boundless vitality and powerful voice. Lighting up any room, Michelle inspires audiences with performances, presentations, coaching workshops and as a voice teacher at the Mount Royal Conservatory.

Trained at the Royal Academy of Music in London, England, Michelle performed across Europe, Canada and America before returning to her hometown of Calgary to be an Emerging Artist with Calgary Opera. As Founder and Artistic Director of Calgary’s Cowtown Opera, Michelle’s heartfelt excitement for contributing to the cultural identity of her city has earned her a place amongst arts champions.

Michelle has been named as one of Calgary’s Top 40-Under-40 by Avenue Magazine, was a recipient of the Mayor's Enbridge Emerging Artist Award and was recently named one of Albertas 25 Inspiring Artists by Alberta Foundation for the Arts for her commitment to the arts community of Calgary.

Brian Thurgood

Brian Thurgood, Winds and Percussion

Brian Thurgood obtained a Masters of Music Education in Jazz Studies from the University of Victoria and a Bachelor of Music in Percussion Performance from the University of Alberta. He has developed both a successful teaching and a varied performance career.

He has been the Percussion/Drumset department head at MacEwan University since 1980 where he designed, developed and implemented a successful program curriculum. Many of his students have continued to have careers in music either as educators or performers including drummers for such acts as Social Code, Nickleback, Jann Arden, Kathleen Edwards and K-OS.

He has also taught at SummerJazz and MusicAlberta summer camps and has presented numerous clinics for Cantando, UniFest and Musicfest Canada.

Brian’s has performed as both a classical/pop percussionist and as a drum set artist. He has performed with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, Edmonton Opera, Alberta and Winnipeg Ballet Companies, Tommy Banks, Frank Sinatra Jr., Ian Tyson, Ashley MacIssac and Bela Fleck. He has performed over 60 musicals including those at the Citadel Theatre as well as traveling musicals including Mary Poppins, Phantom of the Opera, Evita and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat with Donny Osmond. 

Brian has also had several articles published in Downbeat and MusicCom magazines. He is also co-writer of “Percussion Clinic” published by First Stroke Publishing.