Guest Speakers


The 2017 symposium committee is delighted to welcome these featured invited speakers, all leading authorities in their respective fields.


In alphabetical order:


Carol Beynon (Canada)

Dr Carol Beynon is currently an Associate Professor in Music Education at the Faculty of Education at the University of Western Ontario; she has served in several senior administrative roles there, including Associate Vice Provost of the School of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies and acting Dean of the Faculty of Education.  She is the founding co-artistic director of the renowned and award-winning Amabile Boys & Men's Choirs of London, Canada. Carol is the first author of the book Learning to Teach published by Pearson Canada (2001) and co-editor of Critical Perspectives in Canadian Music Education (2012), and also a co-investigator with the multidisciplinary SSHRC funded project, entitled Advanced Interdisciplinary Research in Singing (AIRS). Carol is a specialist in vocal and choral development, specializing in unchanged and changed male voices and serves as a clinician and adjudicator for national and international conferences and music festivals. She has received several awards for outstanding teaching and was named the Woman of Excellence in Arts, Culture and Heritage in London, Ontario and community.  In 2010, Carol was inducted into the “Wall of Fame” at the Don Wright Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario.



Susan Brumfield (USA)

Dr. Susan Brumfield is Professor of Music Education at Texas Tech University. She is an internationally recognized author, composer and Kodaly specialist; recent publications include the First, We Sing! Series of Kodály-inspired teaching materials, Hot Peas and Barley-O: Children's Songs and Games from Scotland, Over the Garden Wall: Children's Songs and Games from England and most recently, Jean Ritchie's Kentucky Mother Goose, both published by Hal Leonard. She also has an extensive catalogue of choral publications. Her areas of expertise include methodology, folk music research and performance, and choral music for treble voices.


Lois Choksy (Canada)

Dr. Lois Choksy, Professor Emeritus and former Head of Music at the University of Calgary, is author of six seminal books in music education, the most familiar of which to music teachers everywhere is The Kodály Method. She served on the organizing committees of the Organization of American Kodály Educators and the International Kodály Society, and was President for two terms of the Kodály Society of Canada.


James Cuskelly (Australia)

Dr James Cuskelly is Head of Faculty: Creative Arts and Design Studies at St Aidan's Anglican Girl's School, Brisbane, President of the International Kodály Society, Director of the Summer School Music Program, and Director of the Cuskelly College of Music. James has a very broad base in education, having taught in Kindergarten, pre-school, primary and secondary classrooms as well as in tertiary institutions. His passion for music, and his ability to enthuse and bring about effective learning in students across all ages or abilities, is internationally recognized. James is considered a global leader in music education and he directs internationally recognized programs including the Summer School Music Program (Brisbane) and Australian Kodály Certificate programs in Malaysia, Perth and New Zealand and Indonesia.

Laurier Fagnan (Canada)

With a doctorate in choral conducting (U of A / IRCAM, Paris) and a master’s degree in vocal pedagogy (U. Laval), there is nothing Laurier Fagnan enjoys more than inspiring singers to make the most beautiful sound possible. He is Professor of Music at Campus Saint-Jean of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, where he has conducted the dynamic Chorale Saint-Jean since 1995. His doctoral thesis titled “The Acoustical Effects of the Core Principles of the Bel Canto Method on Choral Singing” won national dissertation prizes in Canada and the US (Julius Herford Prize). He is currently writing a book on this subject. Dr. Fagnan is director of the Vocal Acoustics Lab at the U of A and has recently released an instructional DVD that combines the practical application of bel canto principles to choral singing with innovative vocal acoustics analysis techniques. He has enjoyed giving over five hundred workshops in the area of bel canto vocal technique for choirs from Whitehorse to Paris and is a frequent guest conductor at festivals in Canada and abroad. He was keynote speaker for the General Assembly of the European Choral Association in Sophia, Bulgaria and invited speaker for Acoustical Society of America. The endless possibilities of the human voice in both solo and choral contexts never cease to amaze him.


Eric Favaro (Canada)

Dr. Eric Favaro is trained as a music educator and has more than 40 years experience in teaching and administration. The latter part of his career was working at the Department of Education in Nova Scotia, during which he was responsible for the development and implementation of curriculum K-12. He is Past Chair of the Canadian Music Educators' Association, Current Chair of the Coalition for Music Education in Canada, and a former Board Member for the International Society for Music Education.


Robert Filion (French Canada)

Robert Filion has spent the past 20 years bringing choirs to the pinnacle of choral excellence. Recognized across Canada, his choirs earn top awards at local, provincial, and national levels. His vocal ensembles from École sécondaire De La Salle have won five national championships. Filion's choirs are heard and seen regularly on the airwaves of CBC and Radio-Canada. The voice program he heads in the performing arts stream at É.S. De La Salle was twice designated Best Music Programme in Ottawa, Canada's national capital, by the Kiwanis Music Festival and CBC (2008 & 2012). A talented musician and artistic director, in 2011 Robert Filion was appointed Artistic Director of Unisong, the annual Canada Day festival of Canadian choirs in Ottawa. He works with the National Arts Centre Orchestra on concerts involving youth choirs. He focuses on new works and music from around the world, directing the Canadian productions of the Clifford Crawley opera, " Angel Square," Glenn McClure's "Messe des Caraïbes," "Misa Tango" by Luis Bacalov, and "Missa Popularis" by Claus Bantzer. He has collaborated on productions of original Canadian works by, among others, Ruth Watson-Henderson, Laura Hawley, Kelly-Marie Murphy, Stephen Hatfield, Donald Patriquin, Frédréric Lacroix and Clifford Crawley. Robert Filion likes to surprise his audiences, and offer them the experience of all kinds of music. Robert Filion directed the Choeur classique de l'Outaouais from 1997 to 2011, when it earned the prestigious Liette Turner award. Under his direction between 2002 and 2007, the Ottawa Children's Choir won the international Angel Network prize for the Radio-Canada/CBC broadcast "Evergreen Wishes." In 2013 M. Filion was awarded the Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence. Robert Filion holds an Ontario Teaching Certificate and is a member of Choral Canada, the American Choral Directors Association, and is a member of the Board of Choirs Ontario.


Lucinda Geoghegan (Scotland)

Lucinda Geoghegan graduated in music from the University of Edinburgh in 1982, completed a postgraduate teaching qualification at Moray House College of Education and trained with the Kodály Institute of Britain where she gained an Advanced Diploma in musicianship with Distinction. She worked as a secondary music teacher in Edinburgh before deciding to specialise in Primary and Early Years Music Education. Lucinda is Education Director for the National Youth Choir of Scotland and a musicianship lecturer at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. She has been a guest lecturer on the summer and yearly courses at the Kodály Institute in Kecskemét, Hungary and in addition has delivered workshops in Ireland, Germany, Holland, Singapore, Indonesia, Taiwan and Australia.


Leela Gilday (Dené-Canadian)

A passionate singer/songwriter and soulful performer, Leela Gilday has a voice that comes straight from the heart.  Confessing her stories to her audiences with a gutsy voice and open stage presence, Gilday weaves her experiences as a northerner, a member of the Dene nation, and a traveler into a beautiful world that transports the listener. With four full-length recordings and a long touring history, Gilday has numerous awards to her credit, including a Juno, two Western Canadian Music Awards, Aboriginal Female Entertainer of the Year to name a few.  Above all, she seeks connection with her audiences through music, and with each record brings more unique stories to the world. Whether it’s an anthem for the oppressed, or an upbeat song about mortality, she infuses her songs with a sense of humour as well as a sense of social justice, and an ironic appreciation of human folly. Based out of Yellowknife, NT, Leela has toured festivals and concert halls with her four-piece band through every province and territory in Canada. She has also played internationally in several countries including Japan, US, Greenland, Denmark, and New Zealand.  Her live shows, and many appearances on television and radio have earned her an important place in the Aboriginal music scene, as well as a loyal mainstream following. Her new record “Heart of the People” (fall 2014) resonates with the heartbeat of the earth and the connection we all have to it as human beings.



Gail Needleman (USA)

Gail Needleman is Lecturer in Music at Holy Names University, where she developed a new model for undergraduate music teaching, integrating musicianship, theory, and historical contexts. She holds a B.A. in English Literature from Stanford University and an M.M. from Holy Names University. Together with Anne Laskey, she received a Parsons Fellowship from the Library of Congress for research in American folk songs for teaching and a grant from the Hewlett Foundation to create the American Folk Song Collection website ( She has presented sessions on musicianship and folk song at OAKE National Conferences and at the IKS Symposium (2009, 2015).


Dr. László Nemes (Hungary)

László Nemes is professor of the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music in Budapest and director of the Kodály Institute of the Liszt Academy. He holds a doctoral degree in conducting from the University of Alberta and a habilitation certification from the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music. Since 2014 he has been artistic director of the New Liszt Ferenc Chamber Choir of the Liszt Academy. For twelve years he worked as the associate conductor of the Hungarian Radio Children's Choir. In recognition of his artistic activities he received the Bartók-Pásztory Award in 2005. As a music pedagogue and conductor, Nemes has led workshops, master classes and seminars in Australia, Brazil, Canada, the People's Republic of China, Finland, Greece, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Korean Republic, The Netherlands, The Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Republic of China/Taiwan, Singapore, Switzerland, the UK and the USA. He is a professor and consultant at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, China.

Marcia Ostashewski (Canada)

Dr. Marcia Ostashewski is Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology at Cape Breton University, where she teaches courses on a variety of topics including the music and dance of immigration and settler communities, Indigenous groups, and places where these groups overlap; as well as on issues related to gender and performance, culture and tourism. She also heads the Centre for Sound Communities, at CFI-funded research facility that supports community engaged research - projects that engage with diverse groups from across sectors in the critical exploration and production of sound, movement and multimedia. In addition to publishing in a variety of academic formats, Ostashewski regularly curates, hosts and presents in public venues.


Susanna Saw (Malaysia)

Susanna Saw is a graduate of the Melba Memorial Conservatorium of Music, Australia. She was the choir teacher for The Australian Boys Choir Institute 1996-1998, obtaining her Australian Kodaly Certificate in Primary Level Music Education in 2001 and Secondary Level Music Education in January 2015. Since her return to Malaysia, she has founded The Young Kuala Lumpur Singers and The Kuala Lumpur Children's Choir. Currently, she is a lecturer and choir director at the Faculty of Music at the University of Malaya, University Teknologi MARA, and Malaysian Institute of Art (MIA). She also conducts the MIA Ladies Chorus, which has won many Gold Medals from various international competitions. She is the organizer for the 24th International Kodaly Symposium 2019, in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia, and through this, hopes to bring more
awareness on the Kodaly teaching philosophy to the Asia Region.


Nancy Telfer (Canada)

Nancy Telfer is a Canadian composer who received her formal education at the University of Western Ontario where she concentrated on music education, composition, piano and voice. She then worked full-time as a composer. Since 1979, she has composed more than 350 works for soloists, chamber ensembles, orchestras, bands and choirs, almost 200 of which are published in Canada, the United States and Europe. Her music is performed in many different countries and she has been commissioned by many fine performers. She has also been in demand as an adjudicator and guest conductor. Nancy's reputation for creative experimentation is linked with the belief that all music should delight the ears, capture the imagination of the mind and feed the soul. In each of her pieces she has attempted to bring some new kind of experience to the performers so that their lives might be more meaningful and more enjoyable. Ms. Telfer has always been interested in the outdoors and has often drawn inspiration from the beauty of natural environments. She has been strongly influenced by the teaching of conductor Deral Johnson and arranger Kenneth Bray.


Laurel Trainor (Canada)

Laurel Trainor is a Professor of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour at McMaster University, a Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, a Research Scientist at the Rotman Research Institute, and the current and founding Director of the McMaster Institute for Music and the Mind (MIMM). She has published over 120 articles on the neuroscience of auditory development and perception of music in journals including Science and Nature ( She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, an Innovator of Distinction, and holds a patent for the Neurocompensator hearing aid. Laurel is the Director of a cutting edge laboratory/concert hall, the LIVELab for studying music performance and human interaction. Laurel also has a Bachelor of Music Performance from the University of Toronto and is currently principal flute of Symphony on the Bay.


Jill Trinka (USA)

Dr. Jill Trinka is Professor of Music Education at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, SC, where she teaches ear training and sight-singing, music education, world music, and elementary music methods courses. A past president of the Organization of American Kodály Educators and 2003 recipient of their Outstanding Educator Award, Dr. Trinka is known as "a dynamic, winsome, and energetic teacher and performer." Her performances bring new life to the musical and cultural treasures of American folk music as she accompanies herself on the dulcimer, autoharp, guitar, and banjo.


David Vinden (UK) 

David's musical life started as a choirboy at Truro Cathedral and continued at the Royal Academy of Music. As a choral scholar at Windsor Castle's St George's Chapel he co-founded and conducted of the Collegium Musicum of Windsor. He went to the Kodály Institute in Hungary and returned to take up a position at the Purcell School later becoming its director, conducting many concerts on London's South Bank. He has taught at major conservatoires and is now at the Guildhall School of Music teaching Kodály musicianship, conducting the Wind, Brass, Percussion choir and is the GSMD's chorus master. He has produced over 30 publications for use in Kodály education. Currently an elected board member of the I.K.S he lectures world-wide working with the Szilvay brothers/Colourstrings Foundation. He is co-author of the series of
Primary school music curriculum books called 'Jolly Music', as well as 'Harmony through Relative Solfa' with
Mónika Benedek.