Director and Violin Instructor
Elena Spanu started playing the violin when she was three. She began her studies at the Royal Conservatory of Music. Her formative training was in the Suzuki Method and the RCM Method. She received her Bachelor of Musical Arts Degree from the University of Western Ontario, where she studied with Robert Skelton, Virginia Baron and Mel Martin. It was at Western where she discovered Baroque violin and moved on to complete an Artist Diploma in Baroque Violin at the University of Toronto. There, she studied with Jeanne Lamon and other members of Tafelmusik. Elena has also studied with such notable teachers as Kelly Parkins and Burton Kaplan.
Elena has had the opportunity to travel with her violin. She has traveled to France to participate in the Saintes Music Festival with the Jeune Orchestre Atlantique and to Powell River, British Columbia to participate in the Symphony Orchestra Academy of the Pacific program.
Elena has received teacher training in the Suzuki Method at the Southwestern Strings Suzuki Institute (SOSI). She has completed training in books 1-8. Her teacher trainers have been Edmund Sprunger, Daphne Hughes, Kathleen Spring, Allen Lieb and Brian Lewis. Elena continues to expand her teaching skills by attending workshops and institutes.
Elena currently holds the seat of principal second with the North York Concert Orchestra. She is also a regular section player with the Niagara Symphony.
An active freelance musician in the Toronto area, Violinist Kenin McKay completed her Masters degree in Performance at the University of Toronto, where she studied with Annalee Patipatanakoon and Scott St. John. In 2006, upon receiving her Bachelor of Music degree with honours standing from the University, she was awarded the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto graduating scholarship, and in 2007 she also received the Frank M. Waddell scholarship for outstanding academic achievement, as well as the Felix Galimir Award for Chamber Music. Kenin also received an Associate Diploma in Performance from the Royal Conservatory of Music in 2002.
In previous summers, Kenin has participated in the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute, the St. Lawrence String Quartet Seminar, The Banff Centre Chamber Music Residency and Masterclasses, and the National Academy Orchestra. A seasoned orchestral player, Kenin has recently performed throughout Southern Ontario with various ensembles such as the Esprit Orchestra, the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, the Brantford Symphony, the Scarborough Philharmonic, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, and the Canadian Sinfonietta, as well as travelling somewhat further afield to play with the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra and Symphony New Brunswick.
In addition to her many performance commitments, Kenin maintains a busy teaching schedule, both privately, and through the Classical Music Conservatory, the Toronto Suzuki Studio, and the Toronto School for Strings. Coming from a Suzuki background herself, Kenin has completed her Suzuki certification through Book 4 and has extensive experience working with students of all ages.
Cellist Amber Walton-Amar is certified as an instructor through the Suzuki Association of the Americas and is an accredited Royal Conservatory Instructor. She has held teaching positions with Columbia College Suzuki School, Valparaiso University Summer String Institute and Sistema Toronto. She is currently a faculty member at The Royal Conservatory School and the North York Suzuki School.
As a freelance musician she enjoys collaborating with an eclectic range of artists performing a variety of music. She has held principal and assistant principal positions with orchestras including the Chicago Composers Orchestra and South Shore Symphony, with whom she toured China in 2014. She is an avid chamber player and has studied and performed at summer festivals in Italy and Germany. In 2016 she recorded at the Glenn Gould Studio and toured western Canada with the Thin Edge New Music Collective.
Amber earned her Masters in cello performance from Stephen Balderston at DePaul University in Chicago and her Bachelors from Simon Fryer at the University of Toronto. She recognizes valuable mentorship from former principal of the Lyric Opera Daniel Morganstern and is the proud steward of a cello she commissioned by David Wiebe.