RBC Future Launch Artist Mentors: 2020-2021 Cohort

We are excited to welcome sixteen exceptional portfolio artists from across Canada from all facets of opera. This diverse group will support the Emerging Artist Fellows through one-on-one mentorship focusing on professional skills development, personal growth, and through fostering community and sharing ideas.


Born in amiskwaciwâskahikan (Edmonton Canada), Jonathon Adams is a Two-Spirit, nêhiyaw michif (Cree-Métis) baritone. In concert, they have appeared as a soloist with Philippe Herreweghe, Sigiswald Kuijken, Hans Christoph Rademann, Helmut Rilling, Václav Luks, Ensemble BachPlus, Vox Luminis, il Gardellino, and B’Rock Orchestra at Opera-Ballet Flanders.

Future solo engagements include a recording with il Gardellino, concerts with Les Voix Humaines, Pro coro Canada, Studio de Musique Ancient de Montréal, L’Harmonie des Saisons, and a world premiere of Adams’ performance piece nipahimiw / the plaint with Susie Napper and Catalina Vicens at the Art Gallery of Ontario (June 2021). Jonathon is a featured soloist in the film “MESSIAH / COMPLEX” produced by Against the Grain Theatre and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.


Rich Coburn – I have had a varied career as a pianist, organist, vocal coach, repetiteur, composer, arranger, and instructor at McGill University. I have performed across North America and China. I have had the wonderful opportunity to perform music for two pianos with my twin brother. But a decade into my career as a musician, I realized that though this is who I am, it is not all of who I am. I began asking myself how I could do the most good in the world.

It seemed to me that our biggest challenges weren’t climate change or the eventual surpassing of human capability by Artificial Intelligence. It was the difficulty we have working together. So I trained as a mediator to learn about conflict resolution. I began volunteering at a suicide prevention hotline to learn about changing people’s opinions. I began leading workshops on negotiation, and the communication skills good negotiation is built on.

Today I split my time between music and helping people across Canada to disagree better.


Jessica Derventzis is a Toronto-based director, artistic director (Opera 5), coach, and most recently, volunteer driver for Toronto Cat Rescue. Some favourite directing highlights include: Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Opera 5, Dora Award nomination for Outstanding Opera Direction), Book of Faces and The Chair (Highlands Opera Studio), Die Zauberflöte, La Bohème (Opera Kelowna), La Bohème, The Merry Widow (Brott Opera), a selection from Tapestry Briefs Tasting Shorts (Tapestry Opera), Dido and Aeneas, La liberazione di Ruggiero (Opera McGill), The Medium, L’Heure Espagnole (Stu&Jess Productions), Our Town (Opera Nuova, Canadian premiere), and Cinderella, The Bremen Town Musicians (Calgary Opera). In 2018, she was awarded the Metcalf Foundation Performing Arts Internship grant to work with Tapestry Opera on directing, dramaturgy, and artistic direction.  Coming up, Jessica will be directing The Turn of the Screw with Opera 5 and workshopping three new operas with Opera McGill and Musique 3 Femmes.


Canadian soprano and teaching artist Gwenna Fairchild-Taylor holds an M.Mus in Opera (University of Toronto) and a B.Mus in Voice Performance (Western University) and is a second year Holland Community Opera Fellow at Opera Omaha. This past season, Gwenna was a recipient of an Encouragement Award at the Nebraska District Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Recent performance highlights include Opera Outdoors and Opera to Go (Opera Omaha).

Gwenna believes in the power of the arts as a catalyst for community building and social change and strives to make sure everyone has access to creative experiences, regardless of location or circumstance. She wrote the curriculum and continues to consult for “Learn English Through Song,” a program run by The Corporation of Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall that facilitates language learning and community building for newcomer women through singing. She is a four-time recipient of Government of Nunavut Culture & Heritage Grants in support of music and drama programming for kids in four communities in Nunavut. She has also worked as a teaching artist and consulted on curriculum development for education programming at the Canadian Opera Company.


First-generation Nikkei-Canadian settler Teiya Kasahara 笠原貞野 (they/them) is a queer, gender non-binary, interdisciplinary creator-performer. Heralded as “a force of nature” (Toronto Star) and “an artist with extraordinary things to say” (The Globe and Mail) Teiya comes from a background of over a decade of singing both traditional and contemporary operatic roles in North America and Europe. Teiya is a co-founder of Amplified Opera, a new company which is bringing Canada an “injection of […] creativity & politics of inclusivity” (barczablog) to the opera sector. Within their creation practice they explore the intersections of identity through opera, theatre, electronics, and taiko disrupting and reimagining the operatic canon through their ongoing works THE BUTTERFLY PROJECT, 夜 YORU, and THE QUEEN IN ME to premiere next season. Teiya is the founder/head coach of the Vocal Dōjō, and makes their home in Tkarón:to.


A multi-faceted artist Rachel Krehm is an operatic soprano, producer, writer, and comedian. She is the co-founder and General Director of Opera 5 – an independent opera company in Toronto which produces standard and new operatic works. In April 2020, Rachel was announced as the newest member of Musique 3 Femmes.

An avid performer, Rachel has performed across Canada and the US. She is a founding member of Canada’s only opera improv team Whose Opera is it Anyway? She has written educational kids shows that have been performed with The Kingston Symphony and the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony.

Rachel is passionate about new Canadian compositions. Rachel has produced the world premieres of two Canadian operas with Opera 5. She also commissioned and premiered Ryan Trew’s song cycle Come Closer with Canzona Chamber Players orchestra in 2018. These songs are set to poetry by her late sister Elizabeth Krehm. She will be performing this cycle in May 2021 with the Kingston Symphony.


Arts development and strategy specialist Joel Klein has worked extensively in opera, queer theatre, and dance administration. Current Directeur géneral of Montréal’s Art Circulation and past Executive Director of Made in BC – Dance on Tour, Joel has also been an independent consultant since 2017. Current clients include: 5X Festival – Canada’s largest South Asian Youth Event – fund development; Coastal First Nations Dance Festival – international arts market development; Toronto-based trans theatre artist Sunny Drake – grant writing and market strategy; and Re:Naissance Opera – market development for Orpheus VR. He retains a performance practice in solo and concert work, and as the drag chanteuse Maria Toilette.


Meghan Lindsay is an opera singer, creator, and researcher. An avid performer of Baroque and Classical repertoire, her interpretations of Donna Anna (Don Giovanni), Paride (Paride ed Elena), Alcina (Alcina), Ilia (Idomeneo), and Giunia (Lucio Silla) have garnered great acclaim. Meghan is a frequent artist with Opera Atelier, and has performed with Odyssey Opera, The Royal Opera Versailles, The Harris Theatre, Ottawa Chamberfest, Ars Lyrica Houston, Music and Beyond, Het Concertgebouw, Opera Columbus, Houston Early Music, Northern Lights Festival, and Toronto Operetta Theatre. Meghan is a PhD Candidate in Cultural Studies at Queen’s University, holds a Masters in Nonprofit Leadership, is a MITACS research fellow with the North American Cultural Diplomacy Initiative, and is the co-founder of the interdisciplinary collective New Art/New Media. She is an alumnus of the Glimmerglass Festival; TSMF; Opera Studio Nederland; and of The Glenn Gould School.


Jonathan MacArthur (he/him) is a performer, culture worker, and digital marketer based in Toronto, Ontario. His performance practice stems from opera, and now involves pop and entertainment, improvisation, and exploratory performances: namely through his residency at FAWN Chamber Creative, or with his band DONNA. He was General Manager at Against the Grain, participated in a three-year mentorship as company-in-residence with the Canadian Opera Company, and is a Banff Centre Cultural Leadership alumnus. He was recently featured in Electric Messiah (“a love letter to Toronto”) with Soundstreams. Jonathan has two Dora Awards for outstanding performance of an ensemble (AtG’s Messiah, and Soundstreams’ Two Odysseys). Yes teamwork! He is recognized for his roles as Ernesto in Don Pasquale, and Lindoro in L’Italiana in Algeri. His memorable moments in performance include R. Murray Schafer’s epic Apocalypses, singing and celebrating with uber talented Jeremy Dutcher at the Juno’s and Polaris Prize, and a memorial concert of Mozart’s Requiem in the heat of summer, at Toronto Island’s special and sacred, St-Andrew-by-the-Lake.


Evan Mitchell is one of Canada’s most innovative and imaginative conductors, an artist equally at home conducting symphonic masterworks, opera, contemporary music, and films live in concert. He has been consistently acclaimed for curating thoughtful, incisive, and affecting musical performances.

Evan’s style of leadership is based on a combination of personal sincerity and the dogged pursuit of collegial music-making. In performance, Evan prizes commitment, risk-taking, drive, and an unwavering effort to produce the widest possible spectrum of sound colours. His over-arching goal is to provoke a sustained emotional response in listeners.

He has also brought the magic of orchestral music to over 500,000 students and children, many of whom had never experienced a live performance firsthand. His programs for young people have been recognized for their appeal and educational mandate. Evan has premiered over 30 new Canadian works during his career and firmly believes in the importance of supporting Canadian composers to write significant, substantial works.


Clio Montrey is a composer, mezzo-soprano, sci-fi writer and multi-instrumentalist whose creative streams converge on opera.

Clio sings at Theater an der Wien in Vienna, Austria with the award-winning Arnold Schoenberg Chor in addition to her work as a contemporary soloist. She has received five competitive composition grants from the Austrian Ministry of Arts and Culture, as well as the Alice and Betty Schultz Scholarship for her AIRSHIPS project from The Banff Centre.

Clio is an alumna of McGill University, MUK (Vienna Conservatory), and MDW (the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna. She was the platform manager for the launch phase of operavision.eu, a Creative Europe project, as well as the social media strategist/junior researcher on Dr.  Barbara Lüneburg’s project TransCoding/What if?, based at the Kunstuni Graz.


Monica Pearce is an arts administrator, concert presenter, and composer specializing in opera, chamber music and everything toy-piano-related. Pearce’s work has been performed by numerous orchestras and ensembles across North America, including the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, International Contemporary Ensemble, Array Ensemble, and Bicycle Opera Project. She was born in Prince Edward Island, began her professional career in Toronto, and recently relocated to McAllen, Texas, where is working on a feature-length chamber piece entitled “Textile Fantasies”. Monica co-founded the emerging composer collective the Toy Piano Composers in 2008 with Chris Thornborrow. The Toy Piano Composers have presented over 120 new works and released their debut album Toy Piano Composers in 2017. Her operas have been performed across Canada and the United States. She is also active as a librettist and has worked with composer Cecilia Livingston on a Dora-nominated opera on the life of Anne Frank entitled “Singing Only Softly”.


Praised for an “immense sweetness and precision that seemed to be flawless” (L’Opéra revue québécoise), “rock-solid rhythm… a great variety of color” (Bachtrack) and “amazing versatility” (Opera Ramblings), pianist Jennifer Szeto carves out a dynamic path as a performer, coach, and administrator. A graduate of San Francisco Opera’s Adler Fellowship, Merola Opera Program, Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio, Opéra de Montréal’s Atelier Lyrique, recent roles include music directing the world premiere of Jobidon and St-Onge’s L’hiver attend beaucoup de moi (Opéra de Montréal) and head coach for Written on Skin (Opéra de Montréal). Elsewhere, she is a staff coach at University of Ottawa and Opera McGill, where in 2021, she helps to lead workshops of new operas by Luna Pearl Woolf, Anna Pidgorna, Parisa Sabet, and Sonia Paço-Rocchia. As a co-founder and member of Musique 3 Femmes, she facilitates the Mécénat Musica Prix 3 Femmes – a $50,000 biennial prize supporting new works by emerging Canadian female composers and librettists. This award seeks to foster the next generation of Canadian female opera creators.


Aria Umezawa is a portfolio artist who is changing the culture of opera creation. As a speaker and advocate, she has led anti-harassment workshops at opera organizations across North America, facilitated panels on gender in opera, and spoken on topics such as managing the challenges of the inherited repertoire and creating safer company cultures for artists. She was the first stage director to be awarded an Adler Fellowship with San Francisco Opera in fifteen years, and the first Canadian stage director to participate in the Merola Opera Program in 2016, where she directed the Grand Finale to critical acclaim. She is the Co-Founder of Amplified Opera, an independent opera company that places artists at the centre of public discourse. Selected directing credits include: (La) voix humaine (Against the Grain Theatre), Christmas With SOL3 MIO (San Francisco Opera); Hamlet (West Edge Opera); and an immersive interpretation of Die Fledermaus (Opera 5).


Debi Wong is an interdisciplinary performance artist that loves to weave together sound, text, movement and technology to create contemporary stories. Her performances have been recognized as “unique and magical” (Rondo Classic, Finland) and “electric & poignant” (Schmopera). Debi is the founding artistic director of re:Naissance Opera in Vancouver, BC. With re:Naissance she has created #DidoAndAeneas (2014), an interactive, social-media opera; Acis & Galatea which was recognized by Vancouver Classical Music as one of the city’s best operas in 2017; and in 2019, Debi spearheaded OrpheusVR, an interactive Virtual Reality opera that was showcased at the 2020 Vancouver International Film Festival.


Boran Zaza holds multiple degrees in music education, musicology and piano from top institutions in Iraq, Lebanon and Canada. She studied Piano and Choral Conducting at McGill University. Before transitioning to Arts Administration, Boran’s professional musical engagements had led her to perform in prestigious venues in Canada, Iraq, Lebanon, Oman, Dubai, Italy and the USA.

Growing up in Iraq, Boran was pianist and percussionist of the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq; and hosted her own classical music radio program called “Behind the Music”, which was the first radio program dedicated to classical music in the country.
From 2018 to 2020, Boran was the Executive and Artistic Director of the Oasis Musicale Concert Series and the Marketing Manager of the Orchestre classique de Montréal. She is currently Communications Director at Orchestras Canada and the Canadian Association for the Performing Arts. In her free time, Boran enjoys videography, coding, recording voice overs and tuning pianos.