Adjudicators – Spring 2024 VAM Performance Exams

Meet the adjudicators!

PIANO – Lucas Wong

Dr. Lucas Wong

Pianist Lucas Wong, whose life encompasses “careers of at least two or three people,” shares his “brilliant and sensitive” playing (Fanfare) and “gifts for color, nuance, and tasteful dynamic contrasts” (Gramophone) with audiences in solo and chamber recitals, as well as opera performances. With over 20 years of proven excellence across 4 continents and 12 countries in performance, masterclass teaching, and adjudication, he specializes in French music, collaborative piano, and voice coaching. Dr. Wong currently serves as a full-time Business Development Lead at The Royal Conservatory in Canada.

Dr. Wong’s performances have graced renowned organizations such as Carnegie Hall, New York City Opera, The Metropolitan Opera Laffont Competition, Banff Centre, and Songfest in LA. He has collaborated with esteemed artists including Joseph Alessi, Soovin Kim, Frank Morelli, Suzanne Mentzer, Simone Osborne, Edward Parks III, David Shifrin, Lee-Chin Siow, and Guang Yang. Solo recitals have taken him to major venues worldwide, including the Grand Hall at the University of Hong Kong and The Cobbe Collection in the U.K.

In addition to performing, Dr. Wong has served on the adjudication panel of piano competitions, including the Texas Music Teacher Association State Performance Competitions, Hong Kong Schools Music & Speech Association, Pacific Rim International Music Festival, Stony Brook International Piano Festival & Competition, the University of Florida International Piano Festival, Asia Piano Competition, and the UCSI International Piano Festival & Competition. As an active pedagogue, he has presented at the Music Teachers National Association, International Piano Professionals Association, and the Worldwide Music Conference. He has been invited to guest lecture and give masterclasses at Peking University, Seoul National University, Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, and The Juilliard School.

Dr. Wong’s performances have been featured on CBC Radio (Canada), PBS (North Carolina/US), and RTHK Radio (Hong Kong). Notable media coverage includes a Fazioli Fourth Pedal video that attracted over 50K viewers. His CD releases include the world premiere recording of the 8 preludes from L’art de toucher le clavecin on a modern piano on Rediscovering Couperin & Rameau (Centaur), transcriptions of French sonatas and melodies for double bass and piano on Ma Chèrie Contrebasse (Centaur), and Jake Heggie’s world premiere Under the Blessing of Your Psyche Wings (The Opera America Songbook).

As a multifaceted musician, Dr. Wong transcribes and publishes music for solo piano as well as works for 16 pianists. As an educator, he offers innovative resources, such as the recent essay “The Multifunctional Pianist: The Recipe for Orchestral Color and Playing” in the NATS Journal of Singing. He is the author of “The Multi-Functional Pianist” — a four-chapter curriculum designed to strengthen pianists’ awareness of improvisational, fundamental, and piano reduction skills. He also shares insights on “Humour in Late Debussy” in The Musical Times.

Born in Hong Kong and raised in Vancouver, Canada, Dr. Wong earned his Bachelor of Music from the University of British Columbia, and both Master and Doctorate of Music from the Yale University School of Music. His teachers include Boris Berman, Tak Poon, Edward Parker, Robert Silverman, and Warren Jones. Dr. Wong was the Artistic Director of Liederfest of Suzhou, introducing singers to art songs in various languages including Chinese. He was one of the founding piano faculty members of the Soochow University School of Music, where he also served as the chamber music and collaborative piano coordinator. He has previously served as a Visiting Professor at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

VIOLIN – Jacob Lakirovich

Jacob Lakirovich holds a Diploma of Graduation from the State College of Music, Baku, USSR, a Professional Studies Certificate from the Music Academy Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Israel and a Concert Artist Certificate from the Conservatorium of Music Luzern, Switzerland. His principal teachers were Rami Shevelov, Yair Kless, Boris Goldstein and Rudolph Baumgartner.

Mr. Lakirovich has held positions in numerous orchestras in Europe, Australia and Canada, including Heidelberg Opera Orchestra, Germany, Principle Violinist for the Queensland Pops and Theatre Orchestras, Brisbane, Australia and Concertmaster for the Canadian Chamber Academy Orchestra. He appeared as a soloist and conducted chamber and youth symphony orchestras in many European countries, as well as Israel, Australia and Canada that were broadcasted on radio and TV, including the Radio Vatican.

He was a Co-Founder and Director of the Stoliarsky School of Music, Brisbane and Sydney, Australia and former faculty at Sydney Conservatorium University of Wollongong, Australia and was involved in developing and teaching a program for gifted youth. He is an active adjudicator for music festivals and competitions and has led many workshops on Violin Technique and Interpretation at international music festivals in Germany, Italy, Australia and Canada. He is a member Ontario Registered Music Teachers’ Association and also is a member of the Royal Conservatory of Music Examiner College and conducts string examinations across Canada. Jacob Lakirovich worked as one of the reviewers for the Royal Conservatory publication of the 2013 Violin Syllabus’ Violin Repertoire and Violin Technique and Etudes books.

Many of his students are graduates from Universities and Conservatories of Music in Mannheim, Stuttgart, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, New York, Cincinnati and Michigan and hold positions with the leading orchestras and universities in Europe and Australia. His students from Australia, USA and Canada are scholarship recipients of the Aspen Music Festival, Juilliard School New York, Universities of Cincinnati and Michigan, Vanderbilt University of Tennessee, City University of New York and Royal College of Music London, UK. His students have won Silver and Gold Medals in the RCM Examinations, and are the top prizewinners of various international and Canadian violin competitions. In 2013, two of his students were the laureates of the Cremona International Competition for strings in Italy.

He was Artistic Director of International Youth Music Festivals and International Master Courses and Workshops in Brisbane and Sydney, Australia. Guest artists include Australian musicians: Roger Woodward, Professor John Hopkins, Alexander Semetsky, Max Olding, John Curro, as well as Professor Yair Kless (Israel), Professor Giuseppe Giglio (Italy), Dr. Felix Andrievsky (UK), Kurt Sassmannshaus (USA), Nelli Shkolnikova (USA), Ferdinand Schmitz (Germany) and Sir Yehudi Menuhin.

He also directed the series of Annual Charity Concerts in aid of various organizations including Children Hospitals, SPELD, Drug-Arm and Rotary International. Most of the concerts were recorded by 4MBS FM Brisbane for the special radio broadcasts.
Mr. Lakirovich is the founding director of the JVL Summer School for Performing Arts “Music in the Summer” Festival that brings together some of the leading performers and teachers from North America and Europe. Mr. Lakirovich served as head of the string department at the New Conservatory of Music in Toronto (1997 to 2013) and currently teaches privately in his studio in Vaughan, Ontario. He is also the past President of Rotary Club of North Scarborough, Canada and was named a Paul Harris Fellow, the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International award for his contribution to the community and significant assistance given for the furtherance of better understanding and friendly relations among people of the world.

VIOLA – Katrina Chitty

Katrina Chitty – PCMAKatrina Chitty is a full time violist in the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. As a native of Langley, BC, Katrina originally began her musical education on the violin at age four. She studied violin for almost two decades, achieving a diploma from the Conservatoire Darius Milhaud in France, followed by a Bachelor’s of Music from Wilfrid Laurier University (studying with Jerzy Kapłanek). To further her musical education, Katrina then made the switch to viola, and completed her Master’s degree at McGill University under the direction of André Roy.

As a chamber musician, Katrina has enjoyed a multitude of musical opportunities, including a first-place win at the Canadian Music Competition with her ensemble. She spent a year performing around the world on cruise ships with her quartet, and also has presented numerous chamber concerts with ‘Looking at the Stars’ in prisons across Ontario.

Before joining the VSO, Katrina also enjoyed many years of orchestral freelancing – performing with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, National Ballet of Canada, and Canadian Opera Company. Katrina is now happy to call Vancouver her home. When not on stage, Ms. Chitty serves as a Logistics Officer in the Canadian Armed Forces Reserves.

CELLO – Rafael Hoeckman

Praised by the Toronto Star for his “spirited and fiery performances,” Rafael Hoekman’s varied career as a soloist, teacher, chamber musician, and orchestral cellist has taken him on a journey across Canada. He became the Principal Cello of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra in 2015.

Rafael grew up in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and began his musical training with his parents at the age of three. His principal teachers were Theo Weber in St. John’s, and Yuli Turovsky in Montreal. He he completed his master’s degree with Shauna Rolston at the University of Toronto. His appointment to the ESO brought Rafael full-circle – his father was born in Lethbridge, and his mother was born in Conrad, Montana, a short drive from the Canadian border.

As a young soloist, Rafael first attracted attention by winning First Prize at the Orford International Competition. This award led to performances of the Boccherini Concerto with I Musici de Montreal and a subsequent CD on the Amberola Label. In quick succession, Rafael garnered awards from competitions including the Montreal Symphony Competition, the CMC Stepping Stone Competition, the Debut Young Artist Competition, and the Quebec Symphony’s Canadian Concerto Competition. In addition to his time with the ESO and I Musici de Montreal, he has appeared as soloist with the Calgary Philharmonic, the Quebec Symphony, the Newfoundland Symphony, Sinfonia Toronto, the Sudbury Symphony, and the Etobicoke Philharmonic.

As a chamber musician and founding member of the Tokai String Quartet, Rafael won Fourth Prize in the Banff International String Quartet Competition, as well as the Felix Galimir Chamber Music Award and the Sir Ernest MacMillan Grant for a young Canadian chamber ensemble. Rafael’s chamber music performances have been featured on several national broadcasts for the CBC. He has been heard across Canada on tours for Jeunesses Musicales and Debut Atlantic. His chamber music partners include James Ehnes, Alexander Tselyakov, Anton Kuerti, and the St. Lawrence String Quartet.

Rafael is a passionate teacher. He enjoys working with aspiring cellists as a faculty member at the University of Alberta and across the country at festivals, including the Kincardine Music Festival, Southern Ontario Chamber Music Institute, and Music at Port Milford.

Rafael lives in Edmonton with his wife, ESO cellist Meran Currie-Roberts, and their two children, Sam and Anastasia. Rafael gets very excited whenever the ESO plays the music of Dmitri Shostakovich – his music is what got Rafael completely hooked on classical as a teenager.

HARP – Angela Schwarzkopf

The Royal Conservatory's Angela Schwarzkopf Wins Classical Album of the Year at the 2020 Junos | The Royal Conservatory of Music

JUNO award winning harpist Angela Schwarzkopf concertizes throughout the Toronto area and beyond as a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral harpist. The first harpist to receive a Doctorate of Music in harp performance in Canada, she now teaches at a number of esteemed institutions and performs with top ensembles nationwide. Favorite performances include Raga by Caroline Lizotte with harp legend Judy Loman, Bartok Concerto for Orchestra with the National Art Centre Orchestra for their 50th Anniversary, and the double harp concerto The Passion of Angels by Canadian composer Marjan Mozetich with fellow harpist Erica Goodman and the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra. She is also a founding member of The Topaz Duo with flutist Kaili Maimets. She is the newly appointed principal harp of London Symphonia and is playing the 2022-2023 season with the National Arts Centre Orchestra.

As an advocate for new music, Angela has worked on commissioning projects with many prominent composers. Her debut album, detach, of all Canadian new music won a 2020 JUNO award for Classical Album of the Year: Solo or Chamber, and is regularly played on CBC radio. detach, features several new Canadian commissions by composers Monica Pearce, Elisha Denburg, Kevin Lau, and Mark Nerenberg. She has received grants from the American Harp Society for commissioning new works and a grant from the Ontario Arts Council for her recording project. In the spring of 2022 Topaz Duo released their debut recording, lumena, in featuring works by living North American composers including a new commission by Kevin Lau. The recording has since been met with praise and is played regularly on CBC radio. They received grants from both FACTOR Canada and the Ontario Arts Council for this project. Angela’s past collaborations with organizations like the Caution Tape Sound Collective and the Toy Piano Composers have yielded several new harp solo and chamber works for harp. Angela continues to actively support Canadian new music giving presentations on writing for the harp to different organizations including the Canadian League of Composers.

Angela is an instructor at the University of Toronto and the Glenn Gould School of Music. During the summer she is on faculty at the internationally renowned Young Artist’s Harp Seminar in the US. Angela maintains a thriving studio of private students in Toronto. Angela is the newly appointed harp examiner with the Royal Conservatory College of Examiners. Recently, Angela has given masterclasses and presentations at several institutions including the University of Arizona and Sam Houston State University. As a juror, she has adjudicated for recitals, juries, chamber music, orchestral exams, and auditions of all kinds. Most recently she has adjudicated for the National Arts Centre Orchestra Bursary Competition, the Kiwanis Music Festival, the University of Toronto, the Glenn Gould School, and at the Young Artist’s Harp Seminar Competition.

A frequent contributor to the international publication Harp Column, Angela also served on the editorial board of The American Harp Journal 2018-2022. An extract of her doctoral dissertation was published in the 2016 summer edition of The American Harp Journal. During the summer of 2016 Angela presented her research at the American Harp Society National Conference in Atlanta. In 2019 and 2022 she was invited to perform recitals and speak on a panel discussion at the American Harp Society Summer Institute and Conferences. After serving as President of the Toronto Chapter of the American Harp Society from 2012-2018, she now serves as President and Director at Large for the American Harp Society. Angela Schwarzkopf received a Bachelor of Music in harp performance from the University of Ottawa in 2007; a Master of Music in harp performance from the University of Toronto in 2009; and a Doctorate of Music in harp performance from the University of Toronto in 2015.

VOICE – Melanie Adams

Melanie Adams, Mezzo-SopranoMezzo-soprano Melanie Adams is a prominent member of Vancouver’s music community as a solo and ensemble performer and as a teacher.  As a soloist, her repertoire ranges from early music to world premieres of new music by prominent Canadian composers.  She has collaborated with many musical and theatrical organizations, including the Pacific Baroque Orchestra, the Vancouver Island Symphony, Fugue Theatre, Redshift Musical Society, Vancouver Pro Musica and The Opera Project.  Most notably, recently she created the dual role of “Margot/Amelia McGillen” in the world premiere of Supernatural Noir, and she created the role of “Spirit of the Maple Tree” in the world premiere of Shadow Catch. She was also the soloist in the world premiere of Nerakhoon by Howard Shore, as part of Ottawa’s Music and Beyond Festival.

Melanie is also very well-known as a long-time member of Vancouver’s musica intima, with whom she sang from 2000 – 2020. With this group, she toured extensively in Canada and the United States, as well as France and Ireland, and has appeared on 8 of their 10 recordings.  Since January 2012, she has also been a member of the Vancouver Cantata SingersShe is also a member of the Erato Ensemble, a group of singers and instrumentalists who perform a variety of eclectic and original works.

Teaching is also a very important facet of Melanie’s career, and she owns and operates an active and thriving studio from her New Westminster home.  She is a Certified Teacher of the Royal Conservatory of Music, and a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) and is on the Executive Board of the Vancouver chapter.  She has also served as the NATS District Governor for the province of BC.

Apply for VAM’s Spring 2024 Performance Exams