Our 2020 Adjudicators

Isabelle Brassard-Porter

Isabelle Brassard-Porter has had a long musical career as a performer, conductor and educator. As a professional flutist and piccoloist, she had the chance to perform orchestral masterworks from the post romantic era for thirty-two seasons with the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Brassard-Porter was the head of the instrumental music program at the Béatrice-Desloges High School Specialized Arts Program where she conducted numerous ensembles including the Béatrice-Desloges Senior Wind Orchestra which has won the highest honors at numerous festivals in Canada, the United States and Europe. In 2012, MusicFest Canada recognized Ms. Brassard-Porter with the Keith Mann Outstanding Director Award of Excellence. Over the course of her career, Isabelle has inspired countless young people to discover the joy and benefits of making music and is happy to continue this mission at MusicFest Canada .


Interprète, chef d'orchestre et éducatrice sont quelques-uns des rôles assumés par Isabelle Brassard-Porter au cours d'une longue carrière musicale. Flûtiste et piccoliste professionnelle, elle a eu la chance de jouer de grandes oeuvres post-romantiques avec l’Orchestre symphonique d’Ottawa pendant trente-deux saisons. Comme enseignante, Madame Brassard-Porter a été à la tête du programme de musique instrumentale au sein du Programme Spécialisé en Arts de l’École secondaire Béatrice-Desloges. À titre de chef d’orchestre, Isabelle a dirigé de nombreux ensembles dont l’Orchestre à vent senior Béatrice-Desloges qui a remporté les plus hauts honneurs à de nombreux festivals au Canada, aux États-Unis et en Europe. En 2012, MusicFest Canada a reconnu madame Brassard-Porter en lui décernant le prix d’excellence Keith Mann Outstanding Director Award. Au cours de sa carrière, Isabelle a inspiré d’innombrables jeunes à découvrir la joie et les bienfaits de faire de la musique et est heureuse de continuer cette mission à MusicFest Canada.

Petr Cancura

Petr Cancura is a saxophonist, mandolinist, composer, and producer. Born in the Czech Republic, Petr attended the New England Conservatory in Boston, which led to a 10-year residency in Brooklyn, New York. Now based in Ottawa, Petr was the 2015-16 Artist-In-Residence of Carleton University, and is the current Program Director of the Ottawa Jazz Festival and the Musical Director of the National Arts Center’s Crossroads Series, reimagining the songs of current Canadian Songwriters for an all-star jazz cast.

Petr’s Down Home was nominated for the 2015 Best Instrumental Album JUNO, and awarded the Independent Music Award for Best Instrumental Album of the Year. He is set to release a new solo record this coming fall.

Petr has performed and recorded with Danilo Perez, Julian Lage, Bob Moses, Joe Morris, Richie Barshay, The Ghost Train Orchestra, Kathleen Edwards, The Mighty Popo, Matt Wilson, Tony Scherr, Kenny Wollesen.

Fran Chilton-Mackay

Lieutenant-Colonel Fran Chilton-Mackay has recently retired from the Canadian Armed Forces, having served as the Senior Staff Officer Army Bands responsible to the Commander of the Army and as the Director of Music of the Governor General’s Foot Guards Band from 2005 - 2016. Prior to this she taught instrumental music for over twenty years in London, Brampton and Ottawa, Ontario. She was the 1999 recipient of the City of Nepean Distinguished Service Award for Arts & Culture, the City of Nepean 2000 Medal, and the 2000 Ottawa-Carleton District School Board’s Director’s Citation. Her concurrent military career began in 1976 as a Reserve musician with the 7th Toronto Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery Band in Toronto. Upon moving to Ottawa in 1986, and subsequent commissioning as an officer in 1987, she held various positions with the Canadian Forces at National Defence Headquarters. For her lifetime commitment to music and the advancement of musical pursuits within the Canadian Forces, she was invested as an Officer in the Order of Military Merit in May 2007, and was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal in May 2010; both honours bestowed by the Governor General. Fran is a clarinettist and is currently the Director of the Centralaires Concert Band in Ottawa.

Jonathan Dagenais

Jonathan Dagenais holds a Master’s degree in Conducting from McGill Universityand a Bachelor’s degree in Composition from the Universite de Montreal.

In addition to teaching at CEGEP and university, (music theory, composition, ear training, musicianship and conducting), Mr. Dagenais enjoys an active career as a composer and arranger for wind orchestra. His works have been performed repeatedly by numerous Canadian university and high school ensembles. They also appear on several professional recordings. His compositions are found in many North American concert band music festival syllabus and are currently published worldwide.

Jonathan Dagenais is also a sought after conductor. He is the conductor and artistic director of the Orchestre a Vents Non Identifie (OVNI), a Montreal wind orchestra he co-founded in 2005. OVNI is an ensemble dedicated to collaborative and active listening, tone quality, refined interpretation as well as humour. In 2010 and 2017, he was appointed conductor of the McGill McGill WQInd Orchestra. In 2012 he was a guest conductor for the Montreal Pop Symphony Orchestra (OSPM). Jonathan Dagenais is also the conductor of the Cercle Philharmonique de Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, a position he has held since September 2012. In September 2015, he was named conductor of the Orchestre de jeux video - OJV (montreal Video Game Orchestra), an ensemble dedicated to video game soundtracks. A longtime fan of video games and their music, this was a natural marriage of two of his passions. Most recently in 2019, he was appointed principal conductor of the Ottawa Pops Orchestra.

Mr. Dagenais has been invited to adjudicate and/or give clinics at more than 25 North American music competitions and festivals. In 2017, he became the artistic director of Musicfest Quebec. Jonathan Dagenais is regularly engaged by Canadian summer music camps to conduct orchestras, bands and chamber ensembles. He has been a guest conductor for many Canadian honour bands. In 2013, Mr. Dagenais was appointed as conductor of The National Youth Band of Canada (NTB), the most prestigious honour band in the country. Jonathan Dagenais is a conductor / clinician / educator for the Twigg Musique Company in Quebec and a Yamaha Canada Master Educational Artist.

Mr. Dagenais is currently a guest lecturer at McGill University.

Daniel Gress

A graduate of the University of Evansville, Daniel Gress was Principal Horn of the National Arts Centre Orchestra (NACO) for 25 years and made several tours with the NACO throughout North America, Europe and the Far East. He was a soloist with the NACO on several occasions and was a frequent participant in its Music for a Sunday Afternoon Series performing with some of the world’s best known chamber music specialists. Prior to coming to Ottawa, Mr. Gress was a student of Philip Farkas at Indiana University was Principal Horn with the NORAD Band in Colorado Springs, Colorado prior to that. Most recently he was Director of Performance Studies, Conductor of the Wind Ensemble and Conductor of the Brass Choir for the University of Ottawa School of Music, an association that began in 1977. He is often called upon as a clinician and as an adjudicator, having appeared in Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Colorado, Ontario and Quebec. His former students have held positions in Canada’s finest musical organizations including the NACO, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Calgary Philharmonic and the Canadian Brass.

Mark Ferguson

Mark Ferguson is a pianist, trombonist, composer, arranger, producer, and music educator.

He has performed with many of the world’s great artists including Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Gil Evans, Nelson Riddle, Dionne Warwick, Natalie Cole, Tom Jones, Rosemary Clooney, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Gino Vanelli, Rob McConnell & the Boss Brass, Holly Cole, Manteca, The Funk Brothers and the National Arts Centre Orchestra.

Mark is a Faculty Lecturer (jazz, trombone) at McGill University, a Performance Instructor (Jazz Piano/Trombone)/ Sessional Lecturer at Carleton University and is active as a jazz clinician at high schools and universities across Canada.

Kevin Hamlin

Recently retired as head of music at Collingwood Collegiate, Kevin Hamlin has been appointed to be Yamaha Music Canada's first Educator-in-Residence, providing workshops and clinics for high school music programs and bands throughout North America. Kevin was awarded the Keith Mann Outstanding Band Director in 2015, awarded to one teacher each year from across the country, chosen by MusicFest Canada. Kevin also presents regularly at numerous music conferences throughout Canada, provides workshops for school boards and universities, and adjudicates at Regional Festivals from Coast to Coast, as well as the MusicFest Canada National Festival. Kevin was also awarded the Collingwood Arts Award in 2015 as well as the Order of Collingwood in 2016.

Christine Hansen

Christine Hansen retired after 33 years as an Intermediate and High School music teacher. As Head of Department at Canterbury High School in Ottawa, Christine helped initiate and administer the specialty music portion of the successful Eastern Ontario Programme of the Arts at Canterbury. After her retirement from secondary school teaching, Christine taught Intermediate and Senior Music courses in the University of Ottawa Education Faculty. She continues to guest lecture at the University, adjudicate at Music Festivals and conduct workshops and clinics with Concert Bands.

Christine, an Ottawa native, obtained Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Education degrees at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and her Master of Music Education at State University, Potsdam, New York. She is an affiliate member of C.M.E.A., O.M.E.A., C.B.D.A., O.B.A. and Phi Beta Mu.

Currently, Christine performs on French Horn with the National Capital Concert Band and the Manotick Brass Ensemble in Ottawa.

Dave Neill

Born and raised in Ottawa, saxophonist Dave Neill moved to Toronto in 1995 to pursue a jazz performance degree from the University of Toronto, where he studied with Alex Dean and Mike Murley.

Working as a performer, adjudicator and clinician, Dave is active on the freelance scene, including jobs with Johnny Mathis, Wayne Newton, Frankie Valli, Regis Philbin, Nikki Yanofsky, Kirk MacDonald Jazz Orchestra and he appears on the recently released Alex Dean Big Band recording.

Now a full-time professor at Humber College, Dave is the Academic Advisor and teaches a variety of courses, including Music Business. Furthermore, Dave plays a role mentoring the next generation of performers at the Youth Jazz Canada Summer Jazz Workshop. Previously, he taught at the University of Toronto from 2004-2016, the Humber College Community Music School from 2000-2015 and the IMC Jazz Camp (2000-2018).

Dave completed his Master’s in Jazz Performance at the University of Toronto, and has released two CDs as a leader. His debut quartet CD All In featured his original compositions, while his follow-up CD Daylight was named as one of the top Canadian Jazz CDs of 2014 by Peter Hum of the Ottawa Citizen.

Mike Tremblay

Canadian saxophonist Mike Tremblay has more than 30 years in the music industry as a woodwind specialist, and educator.

He is an associate performance faculty member at Carleton University where he teaches saxophone, ensembles, jazz improvising, and is the co-founder and director of the annual Carleton University Jazz Camp.

Mike frequently performs with he National Arts Centre Orchestra, the Ottawa Jazz Orchestra, the Cosmos Saxophone Quartet,and many other groups around the National Capital region. Some of his performance credits include: Natalie Cole, Alanis Morrissette, Lou Rawls, Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, Mark Ferguson, John Geggie, Dave Young and Terry Clarke.

Neil Yorke-Slader

Neil Yorke-Slader taught music at the elementary and secondary levels for 17 years. He has been the director of the nationally-acclaimed Nepean All-City Jazz Band for 32 years, and is active as a jazz adjudicator and clinician throughout North America. Over 50 of his compositions for jazz ensemble are published through University of Northern Colorado Jazz Press and Burnihla Music Publishing; several are preserved by the National Library of Canada (Archives). He has written several commissions, and was one of the eight contributing composers to the inaugural Canadian “New Sounds of Learning Project”. Neil is a member of the International Association of Jazz Composers and Arrangers. In 2017, through a grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage's "Canada 150" fund, he was commissioned to write an arrangement of "O Canada" for jazz ensemble. He was selected as the inaugural winner of the Tommy Banks Most Outstanding Jazz Director Award in 2018, and was a contributor to “Jazz Pedagogy, A Canadian Perspective”.