Our Conductor and Music Director
Claudio Vena was appointed Conductor and Music Director in December, 2015.
Gemini award winning composer, producer and musician Claudio Vena has had an eclectic career. As a composer for Film and Television, he has scored the feature films, Silver Man and Boy Meets Girl and his arrangements were used in the Norman Jewison movie Only You staring Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr. He has scored documentaries like the 2011 Gemini award winning score to TO in 24 and Johnny Lombardi, The Great Communicator. His current score for King John for the 2014 Stratford Festival will soon be filmed and released as a feature film. His other compositions for this festival include original scores for Romeo & Juliet in 2013, Peter Pan in 2010 and Hamlet in 2008. From 2001 till 2005, his music could be heard daily, as the background music to the CBC television news shows, The National, Canada Now and The Main Network News. He has written jingles for the Canadian market for Telus and Chrysler and composed a score for The Wanderers, a CBC Radio drama.
Claudio is currently the conductor/music director the Academy Chamber Orchestra at the Royal Conservatory of Toronto. He has appeared as guest conductor across Canada and held Music Director positions for the Huronia Symphony (1991 – 1995) as well as Assistant Conductor for The Hart House Orchestra (1987 – 1993) and the Toronto production of Miss Saigon (1992 – 1995). His first major recording and debut as conductor and arranger was with baritone of the Met, Louis Quillico, on the CD Ricordi d’Italia. Since then, Claudio has released and produced 3 solo CDs, La Vita E Un Circo (2005), Peter Pan Soundtrack (2010) and Romeo & Juliet (2011) as well as the recordings Quartetto Gelato, Rustic Chivalry and Aria Fresca. He cofounded the group Quartetto Gelato and during his 12 year tenure with QG, Claudio won NPR’s Debut Artist of the Year and received 2 Juno nominations. The first 3 recordings of QG were co-produced with Chad Irschick and include many arrangements and original compositions of Claudio.
As record producer, he has worked with Catherine Wilson’s Ensemble Vivant; Homage to Piazzolla, Fete Francaise and Audience Favourites, Canadian pop artist Alfie Zappacosta, Michelle B and Diana Kristina Salvatore. He has worked in studio with Blue Rodeo, Jim Cuddy, Ron Sexsmith, Ann Murray, Steven Page, Ashley MacIsaac and Patricia O’Callaghan. As a violist, violinist, accordionist, guitarist and mandolin player, Claudio has performed and regularly performs with artists such as Paul Anka, Andrea Bocelli, Jim Cuddy, Placido Domingo, Roger Hodgson, Robert Michaels, Anne Murray, Patricia O’Calighan, Page and Plant, Luciano Pavarotti, Robert Pilon, Blue Rodeo, Rod Stewart and Alfie Zappacosta. He also appeared regularly on the CTV show Canadian Idol as a member of the Band during its 6 year run.
Manager Orchestra Operations
Jeff Zoeller is an experienced event planner who has held management positions at York, Ryerson and OCAD universities. His services have been engaged by Pride Toronto, The JUNO Awards, Canada’s Walk of Fame and LandMarks2017 — a Canada 150 initiative that is coordinating new art for various national parks and historic sites across Canada.
Jeff believes that community and grassroots events are key to growing and developing a vibrant arts and cultural sector. As such, Jeff is proud to be part of Symphony on the Bay, “one of the most talented volunteer-based orchestras anywhere around.”
Librarian & Personnel Manager
Graham Young maintains an active schedule as a performer, volunteer and businessman. Completing a Bachelor of Music at McMaster University in 1974, he went on to graduate studies at the University of Victoria and earned a B.Ed. at the University of Western Ontario. Graham is the principal trumpet of Symphony on the Bay and the McMaster University Chamber Orchestra where he is also the personnel manager. He is the leader and founder of the Celebration Brass quintet and plays soprano cornet with the Weston Silver Band. He is also in demand as a soloist with choirs and churches in the Hamilton area.
Our Music Director Emeritus
Prof. James R. McKay was appointed Music Director and Conductor in 1995. He retired at the beginning of the 2014-15 season and was granted the title of Music Director Emeritus in recognition of his 19 years in that position. Prof McKay maintains an active schedule as a bassoonist, conductor, acoustic researcher, university teacher and adjudicator. He appears on over a dozen commercial recordings with artists including James Campbell, Anton Kuerti and Steven Staryk, and with ensembles including the Festival of the Sound, the Amadeus Ensemble and the Contemporary Chamber Players of Chicago. He is frequently featured as a soloist or conductor in broadcast concerts on the CBC and NPR networks and in many North American, Japanese and European music festivals. His book, The Bassoon Reed Manual, which details Lou Skinner’s theories and practice of bassoon reed making, was published by Indiana University Press in 2000.
Formerly the Chair of the Department of Music Performance Studies in the Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario and Director of the Reverberation and Acoustics in Performance Laboratory, a part of the National Centre for Audiology at Western, he carries out research on room acoustics with special attention to the perceptions and needs of musicians in relation to reverberation.