Intermediate & Senior Piano Adjudicator

Dr. Jamie Syer

Now living in Alberta, Dr. JAMIE 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. Dr. Syer completed his graduate degrees at the Yale University School of Music as a student of Claude Frank and Ward Davenny. He has taught at universities and colleges in Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and New Brunswick.

Jamie Syer 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 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. Last season, 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. In addition to his musical activities, Jamie is a skilled letterpress printer, former Manager of his local public library, and Musical Director for a recent production of Matilda: the Musical.

Junior Piano Adjudicator

Helve Sastok

Helve Sastok is a creative, innovative, published and performed composer, educator, adjudicator and multi-instrumentalist. Her many musical interests and abilities have resulted in a diverse career. Helve uses her varied skills in her positions as teacher, church music director, conductor, piano soloist and accompanist, pipe organist, violinist and guitarist.

As a composition or a piano adjudicator, Helve is comfortable working with all levels of students. She has a positive and energetic adjudication style that draws in the participant as well as the audience. She is able to quickly solve musical problems and make all ages of students experience the joy of music.

Helve has a Master of Music degree in composition and a Bachelor of Music degree (With Distinction) in composition/performance from the University of Alberta. As well, she has earned two piano performance diplomas. Her professional memberships include Associate Composer of the Canadian Music Centre, the Canadian League of Composers, as well as the Canadian Federation of Music Teachers’ Association, Alberta Registered Music Teachers’ Association and the Alberta Piano Teachers’ Association.

Helve's compositions have been performed across Canada and in Europe. Her compositions have been released on CD: her electroacoustic piece ‘Shooting Stars’ on Beat (2019), a performance of her graphic score 'Southwest Soundscapes' on Agglomeration (2016), her electro-acoustic composition 'Sailing the High 'C'' on Cult Figures (Centrediscs/Centredisques - 2008), her piano solo ‘Elegy' on Glossa (1999), and 'Duologue' for cello and piano on Brief Confessions (1997).

For further information, please visit her website at

Classical & Popular Vocal Adjudicator

David Shefsiek

David Shefsiek has enjoyed a successful career in music and theatre for the past 35 years, serving in leadership positions on all sides of the stage, as an educator, administrator and performer. He is currently a Voice Instructor at the University of Lethbridge Conservatory of Music, where he has the pleasure of working with a studio of singers of all ages in classical, musical theatre and popular styles.

David received Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees of Music in vocal performance, and performed with Des Moines Metro Opera, Sarasota Opera and Ohio Light Opera, and companies in Vancouver, New York and New England.

For over two decades, arts administration was the focus of his professional life. He has held executive positions at Pacific Opera Victoria, Vancouver Opera, Pittsburgh Opera and Alberta Theatre Projects, providing expertise in strategic planning, marketing, fundraising and artistic administration.

Throughout his career, David has remained active as an educator, adjudicator and voice instructor. He has taught opera history at Carnegie Mellon University Extension Programs and the UBC Downtown Campus. He has been a judge for the Metropolitan Opera Council National Auditions program. He directed the Southern Alberta Vocal Experience at the University of Lethbridge, and has been on faculty at the Opera NUOVA, Victoria Summer Vocal Academy, St. Michael’s University School Opera Program, and served as an adjudicator at music festivals throughout Alberta and British Columbia.

Musical Theatre Adjudicator

Karen Charlton

Although very tempting to list education and performing experience and teaching experience in the traditional adjudicator's bio, I'd rather you just Google me at to discover that kind of information.

It has been my privilege to adjudicate 18 years of big city festivals, small town festivals, and Provincials. I am happy to use this bio space to commit to applying all my knowledge and experience to the best of my ability while adjudicating your performers - treating each individual with respect and kindness while providing constructive opinions and suggestions that are supported by practical, technical, and artistic applications.

Festivals are intended to encourage, grow, and appreciate our performers. We can all strive for creating a festival environment that emboldens exciting performances as these artists strive for the highest level of their own personal achievements.

I’d also like to express my gratitude to all the volunteers that make this festival and its invaluable performing opportunities possible.

I can’t wait to celebrate this year's festival together!

Speech Arts Adjudicator

Ellen Chorley

ELLEN CHORLEY is an Edmonton-based playwright, producer, performer and arts educator. She is the current Festival Director of Nextfest, Edmonton’s annual emerging arts festival. Ellen teaches acting and playwrighting to ages 8-18 with Foote Theatre School at the Citadel Theatre and works with public schools to teach acting, playwrighting and more.

Guitar & Instruments Adjudicator

Oscar-Jose Garcia

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. Oscar-Jose is currently a guest clinician and adjudicator. He has also been accepted as an adjudicator for The WordStrides and Heritage International Music Festivals which operate each year across major cities in the U.S. and Canada.

He is currently the director of the True North Community Jazz Ensemble from Westlock Alberta

which he formed last fall. Oscar–Jose is also very well known as an accomplished and recognized 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.

Over his long tenure at St. Mary, Oscar-Jose, has operated Junior and Intermediate Junior High Concert Bands, a High School Wind Ensemble (Concert Band) and a High School Jazz Band. He has also 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 for their high level of performances and accomplishments. Over the years, he has traveled extensively with his high school Wind Ensemble and Jazz Band exposing them to the cultures and musical experiences worldwide and having them partake in international music festivals. Enjoying such U.S. cities as New York, San Francisco and Seattle. Closer to home and here in Canada they visited such cities as Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Calgary and Edmonton. He has also taken his school bands to Spain where they performed in Madrid, Segovia, Avila, Cuenca and Toledo.

Oscar-Jose was also 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 very passionate and has a great understanding of music and conducting student bands. He has an ease and fun way of getting kids to understand the concepts of team work in relationship to playing as a complete ensemble.

Oscar-Jose’s teaching motto is very 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."

Strings Adjudicator

Frank Ho

Violinist FRANK HO enjoys a multi-faceted career as a chamber musician, soloist, and pedagogue. His early training was at the Alberta College (now MacEwan University) Conservatory of Music. Further studies with Sidney Harth and Erick Friedman (Yale School of Music) and Yfrah Neaman (Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, England) led to performance opportunities on three continents. Highlights include concerts at venues such the Royal Festival Hall and the Purcell Room in London; Weill Recital Hall, Alice Tully Hall, and Merkin Hall in New York City; and numerous campuses and concert series in western Canada. Many of his concerts have been featured on the CBC.

He is currently a faculty member of the MacEwan University Conservatory of Music, and sessional violin instructor at King’s University and Concordia University of Edmonton. Frank is an active adjudicator nationally and international--most recently as a member of the international jury panel for the 2019 Hong Kong Music Schools Festival--as well as a member of the College of Examiners for the Royal Conservatory of Music. He is currently the concertmaster of the Concordia Symphony Orchestra. A sought-after private teacher, many of his students are previous prizewinners of local, provincial, and national competitions; in 2017, two of his students were chosen to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City through the American Protégé International Competition. Since November 2019, he has been the president of the Alberta String Association.