About Us

collage2Presenting two major concerts per year, in spring and December, Bel Canto performs works from a assortment of genres, including opera choruses, Broadway show tunes, folk songs, spirituals, and even rock. The mix has proved popular with choir and audiences alike, as both have grown steadily over the past few years.

Bel Canto Singers was founded in 1993. The founding members envisaged a community choir that would provide fun and fellowship as well as excellence in singing for experienced and committed choristers. Under the devoted leadership of John Watkins for 14 years, the choir developed a broad repertoire. This mixture of styles and genres—as well as a commitment to excellence—has continued under Linda Meyer’s inspired leadership. The 2016–17 season brings an addition to the creative team: Michael Gomiega will assume direction of the choir for the spring concert.

collage1The choir meets weekly on Tuesday evenings 7:30 to 10 p.m. at St. Nicholas Church, 1512 Kingston Rd., east of Warden. Performances are held at Scarborough Bluffs United Church, 3739 Kingston Rd., in Scarborough, as well as at a variety of other churches and seniors’ homes, where we perform to benefit other audiences and charitable causes three or four times a year. Bel Canto also collects donations at its concerts that are passed on to worthy charities, most notably Kids Help Phone.

Volunteers are Bel Canto’s strength, starting with a volunteer Board made up of choir members. In addition, all functions necessary for the smooth running of rehearsals are performed by volunteers, from setting up and taking down chairs each week, to setting up sound equipment, to arranging for a snack at rehearsal break time.

Concerts are also a busy time, as choir members pitch in to set up the performance space, bake cookies and squares, and serve tea and coffee at intermission. Choir members are also mainly responsible for ticket sales, with family and friends making up the majority of our regular audience.

We hold an annual workshop aimed at improving aspects of our singing, such as breathing, tone quality, ear training, sight reading, and rhythms. This event has proven so enjoyable, we have begun calling it the “fun” shop!

The choir plans a number of social events throughout the year, including pre-rehearsal dinners, post-concert gatherings, and an annual banquet.

The heart of our group, however, is singing. That is what inspires us and what brings us together. We love to share our love of singing.

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Artistic Team

Linda MeyerMusic Director

Linda Meyer is passionate about music and singing, and she shares her passion every week as Music Director of the Bel Canto Singers.

For the past 25 years Linda has been a teacher of voice and piano, first with Carswell Music Studios and then in her own private studio. Some of her vocal students were a part of the recording of the song for the Marineland commercial.

As a soprano soloist she has performed with numerous church and community choirs and community theatre companies. She has also conducted adult and youth choirs and served as musical director for a number of community theatre productions. As a teenager she sang with her sister in coffee houses, benefit concerts, TV and radio in Montreal and Upper New York State area.

Linda started with Bel Canto Singers originally as a chorister. After filling in as interim Music Director in 2008, she soon became the official Music Director. Since that time the choir has grown in number due in part to the repertoire, which challenges, inspires and excites the choristers with a wide variety of musical genres.

She is a great believer in the benefits of making music. According to Linda: “By embracing the ‘joy of singing,’ we enhance our lives in so many ways. There is increased social contact and health benefits that come with deep breathing and vocalizing, which exercise the brain and energize each singer. We communicate this joy to all who listen, which leaves us with a sense of well-deserved satisfaction that we’re making this world, which we call home, a better, happier place.”

“And all meet in singing, which braids together the different knowings, into a wide and subtle music, the music of living.” Alison Croggan

Michael GomiegaSpring Concert Music Director

Bel Canto is pleased to welcome Michael Gomiega as our Music Director for the Spring 2017 concert. An accomplished musician, Michael has extensive experience as a singer, pianist, composer, violinist, instructor and music director. He has also been a chorister with Bel Canto Singers since 2008.

Michael graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Music, Major in Piano, from the University of the Immaculate Conception, Davao City, Philippines. Prior to moving to Canada in 2008, he sang with the world-renowned choral group Himig Singers for two years and also served as accompanist for their 6th International Concert Tour, which brought them to various parts of Ontario and Quebec.

Since then, he has sung opera with the University of Toronto Scarborough Concert Choir and Tryptych Choir, and served as choirmaster for the Canadian première staged opera production of Verdi’s Oberto. His skill as a pianist is much in demand, securing him the role of pianist for the 2012 Joy to the World concert with the Greater Toronto Philharmonic Orchestra and accompanist to numerous musical theatre productions. He also attended the National Ballet School of Canada’s Musicians’ Mentoring Program as a dance accompanist.

Making his mark as a composer, Michael has written music for a New York–based indie film, Tears In The Rain (2007), and composed several commissioned choral works and recordings. A skilled violinist, he has appeared as a guest soloist at various church concerts and fundraising events.

Currently serving as Director of Music at St. Mark’s United Church and accompanist for the Toronto Beaches Children’s Chorus, Michael also teaches both violin and piano.

As Music Director of Bel Canto, Michael affirms that he wants to “continue Linda Meyer’s professional work” with the choir, doing “music that connects with the audience.” Describing his personal style as “full of energy,” he intends to choose a repertoire of “uplifting, energetic works.” He also plans to add visual excitement and drama to performances through the use of duets, trios, and staging.

He can’t wait to share his energy, talent, and creative ideas with the choir that he declares “feels like home.”

Jacqueline MokrzewskiPianist

Bel Canto is fortunate to have had Jacqueline Mokrzewski as our accompanist since 2011. Astonishingly talented, she has spent her life learning and performing as a pianist in Canada and around the world.

At age 12 she was awarded first prize in the New York Music Teacher’s Association piano competition and never looked back. A graduate of the Master of Music program in piano performance at the University of Toronto, Jacqueline has won first prize in the University of Toronto Concerto and the Toronto Sinfonietta Concerto competitions, twice taken second place in the Canadian Music Competition, and won first prize in the Toronto Symphony Orchestra Competition for best performance of a work by a Canadian composer. She has taken piano performance master classes in Russia, Poland and New York and has had a teaching studio of her own here in Toronto since 2008.

Despite her clear talent and excellence as a musician, Jacqueline professes an early interest in a career as a police detective, an ambition her parents opposed. In retrospect, she says that choosing music has opened diverse and numerous opportunities, including teaching, performing with various groups and combos, and accompanying or directing community music groups such as Bel Canto.

Jacqueline currently teaches piano, vocal and theory through her own private studio, but has larger plans to eventually open a more comprehensive conservatory or school. Pointing to examples in Europe, where students attend after-school classes in music conservatories, she says she would like to “raise the bar” for music education by broadening the opportunities for students to study in a conservatory setting. This has advantages over private lessons by linking the study of different instruments and aspects of music in a more comprehensive approach.

Of playing piano for Bel Canto, Jacqueline says, “It’s a lot of fun. I get to sit back and enjoy the music. I like the interaction with people, getting to know them. It’s a nice approach to music!”

We are delighted to have her continue as accompanist for our 2016–17 season.