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The Parkdale Orchestra has worked with many outstanding conductors in addition to our outgoing Musical Director, Angus Armstrong. In recent years, our conductors have included:
Photo of Alan Thomas

Claudine Gamache (Guest Conductor)


Claudine is a graduate of the Université de Montréal, and the University of Georgia, where she gained her doctoral degree in conducting.


As a conductor, she has had the opportunity to work with numerous orchestras at home (including Windsor, Thunder Bay, Laval, and Montreal), and abroad (including Spain, Lithuania, Czechia, Romania, and the USA).


As an educator, she has occupied many positions. She has been teaching trombone for several years and is currently a guest conductor at Collège Esther-Blondin. In the past, she has taught music at Collège de Montréal, and conducted at the Orchestre du Conservatoire de la Montérégie and the Georgia Youth Symphony Orchestra Philharmonia. In 2015 she visited Zimbabwe and South Africa as one of seven Music Inspire Africa artists.


In addition, Claudine has worked as Music Director, and Film Director for streaming and recording productions involving - among others - the ProdCan production company, and the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal.


John Kraus (Guest Conductor)

Originally from northern Ontario, John Kraus is an alumnus of Western University, London, where he studied Music Education. He studied clarinet with Jerome Summers, Robert Riesling and Robert Sheffield and conducting with Jerome Summers and William Gordon.


As the founding music director of the Durham Chamber Orchestra (1996-2007), the Lakeridge Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (1998-1999), and the Music Director of the Clarington Concert Band (2011-2013) and the current music director of the Northumberland Orchestra & Choir (2013 to present), John has worked in many different genres and with many local and international talents.

Serena Reuten (Guest Conductor)

Serena is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Flute Performance with Camille Churchfield at the University of Ottawa. Her flute studies began at age 14 with Lauren Eselson at the Mount Royal Conservatory of Music in Calgary. Since then, she has worked with internationally recognized players and teachers such as Louise Pellerin, Jim Walker, Alexa Still, and Denis Bluteau. She also has a great interest in conducting and has worked with Dale Lonis, Kevin Willms, and David Currie in different aspects of conducting and pedagogy. She plans on pursuing a Masters in Orchestral Conducting.

Alan Thomas

Alan was born in Wales, and is a graduate of the Universities of Manchester and Reading. His career has included teaching posts as Director of Music in high schools in England and Canada, most recently at Ashbury College, Ottawa. He has been involved in television programmes in both countries, including work with the National Youth Orchestra of Wales, Granada Television in England, and Community Television in Ottawa, producing programmes highlighting the musical talent of young people. He has been Organist and Choir Director of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Ottawa since 1977.

János Csaba

János started studying violin at the age of 10 at the local conservatory in Miskolc, Hungary, before switching to viola in his late teens. Leaving Hungary for Canada in 1957, he soon continued at the University of Texas, in Austin, where he obtained his B.Mus. and met his wife Jerry. The Csabas moved to Montréal in 1962, and to Ottawa some years later. János continued his studies in Rochester, N.Y. (where he obtained a Master of Music in Performance and Literature from the Eastman School of Music) and, with the assistance of the Canada Council, in Sienna, Italy. He and his wife were founding members of the National Arts Centre Orchestra. János has contributed to the musical life of the National Capital area as a teacher (Canterbury High School and the Conservatoire de Hull), as a conductor of the Intermediate Orchestra of the National Capital String Academy, and as a soloist and chamber music player. A member of the NACO and Thirteen Strings, he served as Principal Violist of l'Orchestre de chambre de Hull (for six years), and the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra (for five years).

Peter Willsher

On November 19, 2002, we said goodbye to Peter Willsher, who directed the orchestra from 1995 to November 2002. Orchestra players enjoyed his informal laid-back style, and his affable personality. While at Parkdale he wrote his first symphony, The Helen Keller Symphony, performed by the orchestra in 1998. In 2000 the orchestra commissioned his Americas Suite as a millennium project.

Norman E. Brown (Assistant Conductor)

Norman E. Brown was Assistant Conductor from April 2006 to June 2007. He played in the Violin II section of the orchestra, and is also a viola and piano player. He is a professional singer; he has degrees in music, mathematics and arts administration. Norman's previous conducting experience is mainly choral, having led the Atlantic voices, Ottawa Folk Community choir and the Gloucester Bell Choir.

Melanie Culina (Apprentice Conductor)

Melanie Culina, selected in January 2005 as the orchestra's first volunteer Apprentice Conductor, is an accomplished flute player with an ARCT in flute performance and a McMaster University Bachelor of Music. She has taught music and conducted ensembles in shools, and taught special needs children. Melanie plays flute or trombone, depending on the need in the orchestra. Under the guidance of our Music Director, Melanie assists at sectional rehearsals and conducts the orchestra or small ensembles for occasional church services. Melanie served as Vice-President of the orchestra in 2005-2006.

Krista Brown Ward (Assistant Conductor)

Krista, a proud native of Newfoundland, holds degrees in music and music education from Memorial University of Newfoundland. She has taught privately for many years, and was an instrumental and classroom music teacher with the Ottawa Carleton District School Board. An avid flutist, Krista has performed as a member of the National Capital Concert Band, and occasionally substituted in the Parkdale Orchestra. She moved back to her beloved Newfoundland in the fall of 2005.

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