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. A conductor, educator and private voice 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, Billy Elliott, The Producers, and Jersey Boys, and a number of Broadway and National Touring companies, and has worked as lead voice coach for Mirvish Production’s Lion King School. 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. He has been nominated four times as a candidate finalist by the Ontario Arts Council for the Leslie Bell Prize for excellence in conducting. Mr. Howard pursues an active adjudicating schedule across North America, most recently overseeing Music Theatre and Classical Voice at the Federation of Canadian Music Festivals National Finals, Nova Scotia Provincial Finals for Voice and Choirs, and the Ontario Music Festivals Provincial Finals. Currently, Markus is the Artistic Director for two of Ontario’s most outstanding youth choir organizations, the award-winning Guelph Youth Singers and La Jeunesse Choirs, Cobourg. He serves as the founding choir of the professional chamber choir LA MOVIDA and appears as guest conductor for advanced choirs around the province. Upcoming engagements include concerts with Pro Musica, London, guest conductor with the Guelph Symphony Orchestra, and as conductor for the Handel opera, Alcina with Halifax Summer Opera. He held the position of Lead Artist Educator with the Canadian Opera Company and was on the faculty of the Royal Conservatory of Music, Glenn Gould School and the Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts. At the University of Toronto, Markus directed the Hart House Jazz Choir and Massey College Choirs.
Debbie Fingas, Assistant Artistic Director / Accompanist
Debbie is the Minister of Music at Trinity United Church in Cobourg, Ontario, Canada, 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 being involved with local community music groups, including being the accompanist for La Jeunesse Choirs.
An experienced organist, pianist, choral director, singer and flautist, Debbie has performed in numerous concerts and recitals throughout southern Ontario. In 2014, she toured the Canadian Maritime provinces as Conductor for the North Lakeshore Massed Chorus on their tour “‘Til the Boys Come Home”, commemorating the start of WW I. She conducts workshops in handbell ringing and has been faculty for the Ontario Guild of English Handbell Ringers Festival and the Summer Institute of Church Music. In addition, she is a Past President of the Northumberland Centre of the Royal Canadian College of Organists.
Debbie graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education and 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. Debbie has completed a Doctorate of Ministry at Emmanuel College at the Toronto School of Theology, University of Toronto. Her thesis was a qualitative study examining how participating in church choir or handbell choir nurtures a participant’s spiritual life.