Markus Howard, Artistic Director
As a conductor, director and choreographer, Markus Howard has worked extensively in the arts throughout Canada and abroad. He has appeared in 27 countries, working with musicians of varying ages, cultures and experiences. An educator, adjudicator and private teacher, Markus works in many musical genres including opera, musical theatre, pop and jazz voice. His students have included members of the Stratford and Shaw Festivals, Toronto’s Lion King, Mamma Mia, Billy Elliott, The Producers, and Jersey Boys, and a number of Broadway and National Touring companies. His talents have been recognized by Yamaha Music Canada, The Swedish Ministry of Culture, the Ontario Arts Council and the International Association of Jazz Educators. Markus Howard was a candidate finalist for the 2008/2009 Leslie Bell Prize for Choral Conducting.
Mr. Howard was on the faculty of the Royal Conservatory of Music, Glenn Gould School for 7 years where he taught Choral Studies, Advanced Sight Singing, and Stage Craft for the Opera Division. For the Young Artist Performance Academy, he was the founding conductor of the Academy Choir. In the College Program at the Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts, Markus lectured theory and history courses, directed shows, founded the choral division, and was a studio teacher in both the music and dance faculties. Markus served as Lead Teacher in the Children’s Program for 7 years. At the University of Toronto, he directed the award winning Hart House Jazz Choir, Onoscatopoeia for 5 seasons, producing the group’s second album, and leading them to the semi-finals of the International Competition for Collegiate A cappella. He currently leads choirs at Massey College. Markus was a popular teacher for Hart House Athletics, teaching dance for 13 semesters.
Mr. Howard has appeared as a chorister with the Stuttgart Kammerchor (Germany), the European Octet (Sweden), the World Chamber Choir (Belgium), and numerous Canadian professional choirs. He is the founding conductor of the professional chamber choir, La Movida, his proudest accomplishment to date. Markus represented UNESCO as an ambassador of Arts and Goodwill from 1996-1999, and continues to share his skills with aspiring artists at home and abroad.
Debbie Fingas, Assistant Artistic Director / Accompanist
Debbie is the Minister of Music for Trinity United Church, Cobourg where she accompanies weekly services and conducts two children’s choirs, the Chancel Choir and the Jubilate Handbell Choir. In addition to her church work, Debbie enjoys her involvement with local community music groups.
An experienced organist, pianist, choral director, singer and flautist, Debbie has performed in numerous concerts and recitals throughout southern Ontario. This past summer, she toured the Maritimes as Conductor for the North Lakeshore Massed Chorus as they presented their tour “‘Till the Boys Come Home” in commemoration of the beginning of WWI. Debbie is has been the Musical Director for local productions with VOS Theatre, including Christmas Carol, Nunsense and Camelot. She conducts workshops in handbell ringing and will be presenting at the Ontario Guild of English Handbell Ringers’ conference in the spring of 2015. In addition, she is a Past President of the Northumberland Centre of the Royal Canadian College of Organists and organizes the popular “Phantom of the Organ” concert every Hallowe’en.
Debbie graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education has received her Associate diploma from the Royal Canadian College of Organists. She also holds a Master of Arts in Church Music from Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio. Currently, Debbie is continuing her education by pursuing a Doctor of Ministry degree from Emmanuel College at the University of Toronto.