Home » Bios » 2017 Bios

Organix 17 January

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Organix 17 February

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Organix 17 March

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Organix 17 April

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Organix 17 May

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Organix 17 June

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Organix 17 July

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Organix 17 September

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Organix 17 October

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Organix 17 November

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Organix 17 December

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2017 Bios

Gordon D. Mansell - Co-founder, Executive Producer, Artistic Director

Gordon D. Mansell - Executive Producer, Artistic Director

Gordon Mansell is Music Director, composer and titular organist at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Toronto, Canada. In 2012, he also formed the touring and concert choir, MOSAIC Canadian Vocal Ensemble, based at Our Lady of Sorrows. Mr. Mansell is also Ontario, Canada, dealer for the world’s largest organ builder, Allen Organ Company. 

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Andre Rakus

Andre Rakus began his musical studies with the violin at the age of five. At eight years of age, he attended St. Michael’s Choir School in Toronto, Canada adding voice and piano to his studies. During high school at St. Michael’s College School in Toronto, he studied trumpet. While attending St. Paschal Baylon Roman Catholic Church in Thornhill, Ontario he met the late British concert organist, Stanley Arthur King, under whom he studied organ from the age of twelve.

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>Andrew Adair

Andrew Adair

Andrew Adair is Director of Music and Organist at Toronto’s historic Church of St. Mary Magdalene. He previously served as Associate Director of Music at St. James’s Cathedral, Toronto, and as Assistant Organist at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene. At St. James’s Cathedral he contributed regularly to the recital series, playing well over 100 programmes. Andrew studied at the University of Toronto with University Organist John Tuttle, and has additionally received tuition from a number of international sources. 

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Gordon Mansell with Emily Canning (Soprano)

Gordon Mansell is Music Director, composer and titular organist at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Toronto, Canada. In 2012, he also formed the touring and concert choir, MOSAIC Canadian Vocal Ensemble, based at Our Lady of Sorrows. Mr. Mansell is also Ontario, Canada, dealer for the world’s largest organ builder, Allen Organ Company. 

Emily began choral singing at the age of 9 with the Mississauga Children’s Choir. Since then she has joined a number of choral groups, touring in New York City, Chicago, Vancouver, England, and most recently, Italy as both soloist and ensemble member with the MOSAIC Canadian Vocal Ensemble under the direction of founder and artistic director, Gordon Mansell.

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J. Thomas D. Gonder

J. Thomas D. Gonder

J. Thomas D. Gonder, born in Cayuga, Ontario in 1971, exhibited musical gifts at an extremely early age. He spent most of his life in London, Ontario, his family having relocated there in 1981. Immediately becoming involved in the musical life of St. Paul’s Cathedral, he spent many years there as a chorister, Organ Scholar, Assistant Organist, and Organist and Master of the Choristers. Thomas quickly rose to the forefront of the Canadian Organ scene as one of its brightest young performers shortly after his public debut at the age of 15 under the tutelage of D. Mervyn Games. His teachers, mentors and greatest influences also include David Palmer, Ian Sadler, William S.J. McArton, Catherine Crozier, Simon Preston, Gerald Bales, Naji Hakim and David Briggs.

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John Laing with Roger Flock (Percussion)

John Laing, conductor, composer, organist and pianist, was born in London, U.K. He began to play the piano and compose at a very young age, and he became a treble chorister in the choir of King’s College, Cambridge under Sir David Willcocks. 

Roger Flock has toured extensively with the Royal Winnepeg Ballet, the National Ballet, and the Bolshoi ballet companies. His orchestral experience includes forty-five seasons with the Hamilton Philharmonic, numerous seasons with the Canadian Opera Company, Opera Ontario/Hamilton, Toronto Philharmonia, Stratford Festival, Hanniford Street Silver Band as well as hundreds of theatre productions in Toronto, Hamilton and throughout south and central Ontario.

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Manuel Piazza

Manuel Piazza is a second year student at the University of Toronto, pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Organ Performance and studying with Dr. John Tuttle. A recent graduate of St. Michael’s Choir School, he has developed a strong passion for sacred music, Gregorian chant, and renaissance polyphony. At the choir school, he sang under the direction of Dr. Jerzy Cichocki, studied organ with René Belic, and participated in numerous additional musical activities involving accompanying and conducting. Currently, Manuel is the Bevan Organ Scholar at Trinity College, where he accompanies the Trinity College Chapel Choir and collaborates with students from the Faculty of Divinity. As Director of the Senior Choir at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church, he plays for the 12:30 Sunday mass, conducts one of the parish choirs, and assists the Principal Organist during liturgies involving combined choirs. Additionally, he is the rehearsal accompanist for the Tallis Choir of Toronto, an ensemble which focuses on the performance of early music. Manuel is honoured to participate in the ORGANIX concert series today and hopes you enjoy the programme!


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Mario Ciferri

Mario Ciferri was born in Fermo (FM) – Italy. His extensive studies led him to receive Diplomas with brilliant results in Piano, Organ, Orchestral Conducting, Harpsichord (with first-class standings) and Sacred Music (cum laude) from the “G.B.Martini” Conservatoire in Bologna, the “S.Cecilia” Conservatorie in Roma and the “G.Rossini” Conservatoire in Pesaro, where he studied Composition too. 

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Mark Himmelman

Mark Himmelman

Mark D. Himmelman (b. 1978), a native of Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, Mark Himmelman began playing the organ at the young age of seven years and by age eight had played his first church service. At age eleven Mark began studies in piano and organ under David Zwicker. His teachers have also included Allen Wayte, F. Alan Ressor and John Vandertuin. Mark holds a bachelor’s degree in music performance from the University of Prince Edward Island.  Subsequent studies in organ have included teachers such as Simon Preston, David Higgs, Sara Buldock, Neil Cockburn, William Porter and Oliver Latry.  Mark has held several positions as organist in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Ontario and is currently Organist and Director of Music at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Waterloo, Ontario. As a composer Mark has over 50 compositions for organ, choir, handells, and brass to his credit which he publishes under his own label “M.D. H. Publications”.  He was the 2014 – 2015 composer in residence for the Woodstock Fanshawe Singers of Woodstock, Ontario.  As a recitalist, Mark has performed throughout Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. In 2006 he released his first compact disc entitled “Enigma”.  


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Richard Birney-Smith

Richard Birney-Smith discovered his fascination with the organ at the age of four and began working as a church musician at the age of ten.  After study with Thomas Matthews, Edna-Scotten Billings, Marcel Languetuit, and Clarence Watters,  Dr. Birney-Smith moved to Canada to become Organist & Master of the Choristers at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Saskatoon (1965-67).

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Richard Spotts

Organist Richard Spotts, a native of Bucks County, Pennsylvania and a graduate of Westminster Choir College in Princeton, has set out to perform and educate the public of this seminal work, with the ultimate goal of performing the complete fifteen-hour cycle in a recital series over a period of ten days.

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Simon Walker

Simon Walker

SIMON WALKER is Director of Music at St. Jude’s Anglican Church, Oakville, and Accompanist to Pax Christie Chorale. In addition to this he is Artistic Director of the ’Celebration of the Arts’ concert series in Oakville, and is also in regular demand freelance as an accompanist, teacher and conductor.

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Thomas Fitches with Paul Sanvidotti (Trumpet)

Thomas Fitches received his training in Oshawa, Toronto and Croydon, England, at the Royal School of Church Music.  His teachers have been George Rapley, Alan Reesor and Douglas Bodle.

Paul Sanvidotti is a freelance classical trumpeter in the Toronto area.  As a chamber musician, Paul has a regular and substantial schedule of trumpet and organ recitals throughout Ontario.

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W. Dudley Oakes

Organist, Dr. Dudley Oakes is a church musician, performer, teacher, and organ consultant. Oakes is also a member of the faculty of Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester, Virginia where he has taught theory and organ since 2001. Oakes has served many churches in the DC area including ten years as organist and choirmaster at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Georgetown Parish. He has been busy nationally in the organ building industry since 1987.

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Wayne Carroll with Samuel Bisson (Cello)

Wayne Carroll was born in London Ontario. Since accepting his first position as organist, at age fifteen, he has maintained a high profile musical career in Southern Ontario for over forty five years.

Samuel Bisson is quickly distinguishing himself in Canada as a versatile soloist, chamber musician and orchestral player. Currently based in Toronto, he performs frequently in the GTA and has performed and toured across Canada, the US, Austria and China.


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