St. Albert Rotary Music Festival

2022 Adjudicators

SENIOR PIANO Kathy Dornian
VOCAL John Tessier
BAND & BRASS / WOODWIND   Allen Jacobson
STRINGS Ciara Hager
GUITAR / UKULELE Oscar-Jose Garcia
FIDDLE Melanie Smith-Doderai
[as needed]
[Piano]  Kathy Dornian
[Strings]  Ciara Hager
[Vocal / Musical Theatre]  John Tessier
[Brass/Woodwind]  Allen Jacobson


Kathy Dornian

Senior Piano
Lyle Moore Scholarship Class

A native Calgarian, Kathy Dornian is a nationally respected pedagogue, chamber musician, adjudicator and examiner. She earned a Master of Music degree in piano performance from the University of Western Ontario and a Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Education and Kodaly Fine Arts Diploma from the University of Calgary. Her education was enriched by postgraduate performance studies at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, Hungary. Her teachers have included Marilyn Engle, Peter Smith and Edith Hambalko, along with masterclass enrichment from many notable artists.

Since 1985, Kathy Dornian has served on faculty at Mount Royal University Conservatory. For many years, she was an artistic collaborator with the internationally recognized Morningside Music Bridge Program, an affiliation which has taken her to Shanghai and Poland. She travels throughout Canada and the United States as an adjudicator, workshop clinician and as a senior examiner for RCM Examinations. She has been one of the RCM pioneers since 2020 in RCM online exam delivery, having conducted well over 1000 online exams. Kathy has also been a visiting faculty member of the renowned Central Conservatory and Middle School in Beijing, China.

In 2019, Kathy was awarded the prestigious national ‘Teacher of Distinction Award’ by the Royal Conservatory of Music. She is known as a kind, inspiring and imaginative educator who fosters keenness and curiosity in her students, who are frequent award and scholarship winners in festivals and national competitions. Many of her former students have forged on to create successful careers of their own in the music profession, although she is equally proud of those who have chosen other fields but maintain their passion for music and continue to show support for the arts.

Kathy is married to Paul Dornian, longtime former director of the Conservatory at Mount Royal University and former President and CEO of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. Kathy speaks fluent Hungarian and in her spare time she enjoys gardening, cooking, hiking, reading and traveling. 


Dr. Jamie Syer

Junior Piano

Though he finds it hard to believe, Dr. Jamie Syer is marking 50 years as a professional pianist, having debuted at Calgary’s Pleiades Theatre in 1971. Dr. Syer completed his graduate degrees at the Yale University School of Music as a student of Claude Frank and Ward Davenny. Earlier, he studied piano in Calgary with Linhart Walker, and harpsichord with John Searchfield. He has taught at universities and colleges in Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and New Brunswick. Recently, Jamie has launched a new website jamiesyer.ca where he shares what he knows — and what he’s still learning — about teaching and playing piano.

Dr. Syer was Dean of the Victoria Conservatory of Music until 2012. He also served as Head of the Conservatory’s Keyboard Department, and taught at the School of Music, University of Victoria. As a lecturer for UVic’s Faculty of Continuing Education, he led two arts-related travel tours to France. Jamie is the founder of the Victoria Conservatory’s Young Artists Collegium program, which continues to offer an enriched curriculum for talented young singers, pianists and other instrumentalists. He has performed many times in Europe: in Scotland, Ireland, Hungary, France, and England; as well as closer to home in recital venues across Canada. In 2019, he was a featured concerto soloist with the Sidney Classical Orchestra.

Dr. Syer is known for his imaginative recital programming and his artistic, energetic playing. He is a popular adjudicator and workshop clinician, who enjoys working with teachers’ groups, and with students of all ages. He relishes opportunities to direct local musical theatre productions. 

Beyond music, Jamie was Manager of his local public library for six years, and he enjoys the craft of letterpress printing.


Elizabeth Raycroft

Musical Theatre & Choral

Soprano Elizabeth Raycroft has trained in Edmonton, Houston and Vienna.  She has performed with Edmonton Opera and local symphony orchestras. For three years, she performed the role of Mother with “edmonton coOPERAtive’ during their Christmas performances of Amahl and the Night Visitors. In 2014, Ms. Raycroft performed in the Edmonton Fringe mega-hit “Propylene Glycol, Maltodextrin, Retinol Palmitate and Other Words I Don't Understand Like Love”, which toured throughout Alberta in 2015. In  2019 she performed the role of Signora Naccarelli in Walterdale Theatre’s The Light in the Piazza. She is an avid performer of new music and recently performed the world premiere of Four Songs, Op.15 by Joseph Lai.

She regularly shares her experience and knowledge in masterclasses, workshops and in adjudicating festivals throughout Western Canada.  Her students consistently excel at local, provincial and national festivals. Many of her students have performed with the Edmonton Youth Orchestra, the Edmonton Opera, in local, provincial and national musical theatre productions, and in international opera houses.

She maintains an active and full studio at MacEwan University’s Conservatory of Music and is also on the faculty of The King's University where she teaches voice, diction and vocal pedagogy.


John Tessier


Lyle Moore Scholarship Class

The Juno Award-winning tenor John Tessier has worked with many of the most notable conductors and stage directors of our day. Appearances of the recent past and near future include performances at the Teatro alla Scala Milano, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Wiener Staatsoper, Carnegie Hall, Teatro Colon, Oper Frankfurt, Grand Théâtre de Genève, English National Opera, Washington National Opera, Seattle Opera, New Zealand Opera, the New York Philharmonic, Wiener Musikverein, National Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Orchestre National de Lyon, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, the Sydney Symphony and the Toronto Symphony .

Equally comfortable in the genres of opera, oratorio and recital, Mr. Tessier is also an associate professor at the University of Alberta. His discography includes recordings on the Decca, Naxos, Telarc, BIS, Challenge Records and Dorian labels.


Allen Jacobson

Band & Brass / Woodwind

Allen Jacobson is a trombonist/vocalist/composer/arranger/educator who has performed throughout Canada and internationally. During the course of his career he has established a reputation as an outstanding performer and educator.

Allen Jacobson has performed with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, the Baden Baden Philharmonic (conductor & soloist), the European Philharmonie (conductor, soloist), The Citadel Theatre, Tommy Banks Band, the Joan Rivers, Rich Little and Red Skelton shows, European productions of Cats, Chicago and Cabaret, West Side Story, The EdJE (the JUNO-nominated Edmonton jazz ensemble), film scores, jingles, modern dance collaborations and numerous commercial recordings.

Allen was 1st/Jazz Trombonist with the Tommy Banks Big Band/Orchestra. He is also in demand as a soloist and conductor with contemporary music ensembles and jazz big bands and orchestras. Mr. Jacobson has many years of experience as an adjudicator, providing workshops/seminars and in private teaching. He has taught jazz trombone, vocals and ensembles at the Hochshule fur Musik Rheinland-Pfalz, Mainz, and jazz trombone, vocals (classical and jazz), improvisation, composition, ensembles and big band at the Frankfurt Musik Hochschule (University of Performing Arts). Mr. Jacobson has also been on the faculty of the Peter Cornelius Conservatory (Mainz) and as Visiting Professor at the Mannheim University of Performing Arts.


Ciara Hager


Lyle Moore Scholarship Class

Ciara Hager has played violin since the age of 4, and currently teaches and performs locally in her hometown of Medicine Hat, Alberta. She received her Bachelor’s degree from the Eastman School of Music in New York under the tutelage of Oleh Krysa and Federico Agostini.

A previous performer at the esteemed Carnegie Hall, Ciara has won prizes such as first place at the Glenn Miller competition in Clarinda, Iowa; the Celentano Award for Excellence in Chamber Music at the Eastman School of Music; and the Senior Provincial String Competition in Edmonton, Alberta.

In 2017, she performed as concertmaster of the Calgary Youth Orchestra under the baton of guest conductor Andres Cardenes, and has toured as a member of the National Youth Orchestra in the 2018 Migrations tour to Scotland and Germany.

Ms. Hager has performed for guest artists such as James Ehnes, Andres Cardenes, Noah Bendix Bailey, Gerardo Ribeiro, the Kronos Quartet, Ian Swensen, Shanshan Yao, Ivan Chan, and Gwen Hoebig.

Throughout her journey as a musician, she has also had the advantage of being part of programs such as the Meadowmount School of Music, the Advanced Performance Program of Mount Royal University under the tutelage of Bill van der Sloot, and the Morningside Music Bridge Summer Festival in Beijing, China.

In addition to Ciara’s extensive studies in Classical violin playing, Ciara has spent much of her time playing alternative styles of music and studying improvisation on the violin. She considers herself a contemporary artist and enjoys studying Jazz language and playing in Jazz ensembles. While studying at the Eastman School of Music, Ciara had the advantage of studying Jazz with Gary Versace and Bob Sneider, as well as participated in various Jazz ensemble classes.

She aspires to release her own compositions as a solo artist and be an active performer in Canada’s Jazz scene, as well as teach Classical and Jazz lessons to young musicians of today’s modern music scene.


Dr. Allan Gilliland

Music Composition

One of Canada’s busiest composers, Dr. Allan Gilliland has written music for orchestra, choir, big band, film, television and theatre. His music has been performed by some of the finest ensembles and soloists in the world and appears on over 20 CDs.

For five years (1999‐2004) he was Composer-in-Residence with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and has written concerti for violin, trumpet, harp, cello, flute, oboe, accordion and clarinet. Some of the soloists who have performed his music include James Campbell, Jens Lindemann, Jim Walker, Dean McNeill, Nora Bumanis and Julia Shaw.

His music has been recorded on over 30 CDs including two, Collaborations and O Music, dedicated entirely to his music. All his music can be found at allangilliland.com.

Allan is currently the Dean of Fine Arts and Communications at MacEwan University where he was Head of Composition from 2004–2016 and Chair of Music from 2012–2016.


Oscar-Jose Garcia

Guitar / Ukulele

Currently a guest clinician and adjudicator, Oscar-Jose Garcia retired from full-time band and music teaching in 2016 after 34 years as the Director of Bands at St. Mary Catholic School in Westlock, Alberta. He has also served as an adjudicator for The WorldStrides and Heritage International Music Festivals. He is currently the director of the True North Community Jazz Ensemble from Westlock, Alberta.

Over his tenure at St. Mary, Oscar-Jose operated junior and intermediate junior high concert bands, a high school wind ensemble (concert band) and a high school jazz band. He has coached many school combo bands (student-run rock bands) and instrumental quintets. His school bands have received countless Superior and Gold Awards at local, national and international music festivals.

Oscar-Jose was nominated for the Alberta Excellence in Teaching Award. He has appeared as a guest conductor for the Alberta Honour Band in Calgary and the Fort McMurray Honour Band. His school band program was known all across Canada and was considered to be one of the top small high school band programs in Alberta.

Oscar-Jose is also well known as an accomplished flamenco guitarist. He performs regularly with his wife, singer and flamenco dancer Judith Garcia, along with their flamenco troupe “Flamenco En Vivo”, which they founded in 1999.

Mr. Garcia is very passionate and has a great understanding of music and conducting student bands. He has an easy and fun way of getting kids to understand the concepts of teamwork in relationship to playing as a complete ensemble.

His teaching motto is simple: “All kids should have the opportunity to learn to play and love a musical instrument with the chance to surround themselves in a cohesive group of musicians working together to produce beautiful music during their formative educational years. Music does make you smarter.”


Melanie Smith-Doderai


Melanie Smith-Doderai holds a B.A, B.Ed, and an M.Ed.  She s an active member of the Alberta Registered Music Teachers Association, holds an Advanced Specialist Certification from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Canada, and has published ten theory books for string instruments through Mel Bay Publications.

Melanie has been awarded the 2009 Excellence in Music Teaching Award as well as the CMFTA Award for Recognition of Professional Achievement from 2010 to present. She is proud to have the title of being Canada's first aerial silk violinist. 

At present, Melanie performs with the Divertimento Baroque Ensemble, with Vivace Strings and Keys and as a freelance musician.