Heather Fraser maintains an active career as a choral conductor, music educator and collaborative pianist in Nova Scotia. She is currently the Artistic Director of both the Annapolis Valley Honour Choir and The Aeolian Singers, and a music specialist in the Halifax Regional Arts Program—a department of the Halifax Regional Centre for Education—and is also an active clinician, presenter and adjudicator.
Passionate about the power of choral music to build community and understanding, Heather was the Program Director for the Nova Scotia Choral Federation for seven years and is now serving Choral Canada as the VP of Advocacy. This role has kept her busy during the pandemic, finding ways to support the community’s needs through webinars, online discussions and workshops, and keeping singers connected from coast to coast to coast. There has also been an increased need to advocate for equitable treatment of singing communities across the country. Heather initiated the Covid 19 Singing in Canadian Schools Impact Survey (2021), partnering with other national music organizations to measure the severe impact singing restrictions have had on students, educators and music programs across Canada.
Heather is grateful to have had the opportunity to study conducting and pedagogy with many mentors across Canada, USA and the UK. She was honoured to be the first conductor in Pro Coro Canada’s emerging artist program with Michael Zaugg (2016), a Conducting Fellow with the Canadian Chamber Choir with Julia Davids (2015) and was Apprentice Conductor of the National Youth Choir of Canada under the guidance of Dr. Victoria Meredith (2010).
Heather holds degrees from Acadia University (B.Mus, Piano Performance), and McGill University (B. Music Education).
Joanne Slack has been making music with piano, organ and voice from the age of six. She completed her Royal Conservatory Grade 10 in Piano while away in Ottawa, and continued singing, directing and playing the organ for churches in her neighbourhood after moving to her neighbourhood of Minto, New Brunswick.
A member of the Aeolians since 1989, her fellow choristers were instrumental in her decision to study piano and voice at Dalhousie University where she received her Bachelor of Music degree in 1997. There she studied choral conducting and sang with the Dalhousie Chamber Choir under the tutelage of Dr. Walter Kemp and enjoyed performing and singing in the Opera Group with Professor Gregory Servant. She also studied composition with composer Professor Laura Hoffman.
Joanne taught voice and piano privately from 1998 through 2004 in the Halifax area, and in 2005 was appointed the Assistant Conductor of the Aeolian Singers under previous director Jackie Chambers. She has enjoyed being a part of the artistic team playing such a supportive role for various conductors as well as opportunities to arrange music for the choir.
Now blissfully retired, Joanne wishes to continue supporting the Aeolians in any way she can and also spend lots of quality time with her partner Denise and their little 12-year-old Frenchy.
Mary Castello has established herself as a sought-after freelance collaborative pianist, recital partner, and piano teacher in the Wolfville, Nova Scotia area and beyond. She has held the position of Staff Accompanist at Acadia University’s School of Music since September, 2017 and she has been the accompanist for the Aeolian Singers in Halifax since September, 2019. Mary is also an active member of the Nova Scotia Registered Music Teachers’ Association (NSRMTA).
Mary has been engaged in recent seasons by InnerSpace Concerts, The Music Room Chamber Players Series, Nova Scotia Choral Federation, Halifax Summer Opera Festival, Acadia Summer Band Camp, and Saratoga Sings for Seniors (Opera Saratoga). Her recital partners have included mezzo-soprano Christianne Rushton, cellist Rachel Desoer, saxophonist Tristan De Borba, mezzo-soprano Paula Rockwell, flautist Jack Chen, mezzo-soprano Marie Engle, soprano Bethany Hörst, and flautist Melissa Mashner. She is an alumna of several collaborative pianist training programs for Art Song and Opera internationally including Franz-Schubert-Institut (Baden Bei Wein, Austria), Vancouver Opera’s Yulanda M. Faris Young Artists Program, Opera Saratoga, Centre for Opera Studies in Italy (COSI), Sulmona, Italy, Opera McGill, and Opera on the Avalon.
Originally from Kitchener, Ontario, Mary holds performance degrees from Wilfrid Laurier University and McGill University.
Business & Communications Manager
Jenny is so proud to be a part of the Aeolian Singers team. First and foremost, she is a fan of the choir and is very excited to be representing such an incredible group of singers.
Before marriage and two kids, Jenny was a professional theatre stage manager for 10 years, working across the country for theatres such as The Stratford Festival, The Shaw Festival, Neptune Theatre, The Atlantic Theatre Festival, The Banff Centre and many more. After that whirlwind career, she transitioned into a career of event management, which she is still involved in today. In 2010, she took a break from professional work to be home with their little kids. Her family spent the next eight years in the USA living in Seattle, Washington, Santa Cruz, California and Twin Falls, Idaho as her husband Dan built his career in science. Luckily in 2018, they had an opportunity to move home to Halifax and be closer to family and friends again. After all that traveling, it’s clear that there is no better place to live than Nova Scotia!
Jenny will be reaching out regularly to update audiences on the exciting news of the choir, opportunities to get involved with the choir, and where to find out more about concerts and upcoming events. Jenny strongly believes this is a choir like no other and is in the process of evolving and setting a new bar for excellence in choral music for Nova Scotia. Under the incredible creative direction of Heather Fraser, the Aeolian Singers are on their way to redefining what choral singing can be, for audiences old and new.
Anne Marie Coolen