Tim is a singer, teacher, vocal coach, conductor, arranger, composer, bass player, and accompanist. Stiff spent twenty years in Toronto singing in concerts, broadcasts, television
commercials, studio recordings, and stage productions. He spent two years with the Elmer Iseler Singers, eight years (3381 performances) with the Toronto production of "The Phantom of the Opera,” one season with Toronto Operetta Theatre, and five seasons with the Canadian Opera Company.
In 1997, Tim was invited to be in the Broadway revival of, “Candide.” He won scholarships to study at the Royal Conservatory of Music, and the Opera Division, University of Toronto. Tim has sung with orchestras in repertoire from Baroque to Broadway and has shared the stage with such greats as Paul Stanley of Kiss, Kenny Rogers, Oscar Peterson, David Foster, Colm Wilkinson, Maureen Forrester, Rene Simard, and Yo-Yo Ma.
He has worked with children’s choirs, youth choirs, and adult choirs, mainly as guest conductor and clinician. Tim is thrilled to be a part of this year’s Take the Stage Festival.
Michael Esch holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts degree in Piano Performance from Rice University where his teachers included Robert Roux and Jon Kimura Parker. His other major influences include his first teachers Rosemary Collins and Dorothy Morton, and extensive coachings with Rebecca Penneys, Lazar Berman and Anton Kuerti.
Dr. Esch has been featured in numerous recitals throughout Canada including the Glenn Gould Studio for the CBC, and for the Canadian University Music Society. He has also appeared in concert throughout Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, the United States and Germany, as well as various centers in the far east. He has performed with numerous orchestras in Canada, and has collaborated with a number of acclaimed artists including the Belgian violinist Michael Guttman and the eminent violist, Rivka Golani, as well as the Canadian Sinfonietta Chamber Players. The Canadian Composer Robert Rival has composed and dedicated the work ‘6 pieces for Piano’ (found in the ARCT and LRCM repertoire lists) for Michael. Dr. Esch is a featured pianist on the RCME 2015 Piano Syllabus CD set.
Michael has enjoyed grant support from the Chalmers Foundation, and is a multiple grant recipient from the Canada Council for the Arts. A sought after adjudicator in Canada, Michael has adjudicated festivals at the Provincial level for the O.M.F.A., ORMTA, SMFA, NSMFA, PABC, the Canadian Music Competition 50’th Anniversary National Tour and the Glenn Gould School Concerto Competition, the Cresendo International Piano Competitions among many others. He is a senior examiner for RCM examinations and is a regular masterclass clinician for the Phil and Eli Taylor Young Artist Performance Academy at the RCM.
A sought after teacher, Dr. Esch's students have been featured in major GTA recital venues including Koerner Hall, The Glenn Gould Studio, the University of Toronto Arts and Letters Club, Markham Theatre, as well as Carnegie Recital Hall in NYC. They have performed with important orchestras in Ontario and Europe, been featured in the CBC rankings of “Top 30 under 30”, and in masterclasses with major artists in prestigious international music festivals such as the Morningside Music Bridge and John O'Conors 'Beethoven Boot Camp'.
Recent achievements of Dr. Esch's students include: winner of the CFMTA National Piano Competition, First Prize winners in the Sound Espressivo, Crescendo International Competition, GOCCA Int, winners of the ORMTA Young Artist Tour (4), National Gold Medal Winners for the RCM Licentiate Diploma (2), ARCT National Gold Medal, the youngest candidate to have earned the LRCM with Distinction, and as well as Prize Laureates at the Berlin and Boston Intl Amateurs competitions.
Dr. Esch has taught at Wilfrid Laurier University and has served on staff at the Glenn Gould School/RCM since 2007. In September of 2010 Michael and his wife opened the Esch Music Academy in Markham Ontario. He joined the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto in September 2021.
Michael is a Top Teacher Award recipient from Steinway and Sons (2016-2021) and was recently awarded a 2020 National Teacher of Distinction Award from the Royal Conservatory of Music.
Bijan Sepanji is a Canadian-Iranian violinist and educator who is based in Toronto, Canada. As a member of the Ton Beau String Quartet (TBSQ), Bijan has lead The Black Fish Project, a free-adaptation of the well-known Iranian children's book, 'The Little Black Fish,' and he has recently performed The Black Fish at venues such as Aga Khan Museum and the Meridian Centre in Toronto.
Bijan has also toured across Canada, as well as in China, Turkey, Iran, Italy and the USA playing concerts and giving masterclasses with The Ton Beau at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, University of Toronto, Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee as well as in Chicago, Illinois.
Bijan holds a Bachelor's degree from McGill University, and a Master's degree from Indiana University Bloomington, both in violin performance. He has also studied at the Glenn Gould School in Toronto, obtaining an Artist Diploma.
As an educator, Bijan conducts the Mooredale Youth Orchestra, working with the junior strings division and preparing them for three diversely-programmed concerts a year. He is also a certified Suzuki violin instructor and is a member of the Suzuki Association of the Americas (SAA).
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