Ian Bent (Piano, Music Theory)
Sought after for his versatility, sensitivity and taste, Ian Bent is in high demand as a pianist/keyboardist and arranger in nearly every corner of Halifax’s kaleidoscopic music scene.
Since returning to Halifax after completing his Masters of Music at the University of Montreal in 2008, Ian has performed with dozens of projects, in a tremendous range of styles, from Klezmer (with Oy Gevalt, and the Halifax Klezmorim) to Tango (Libertango), Chamber music, 16th-century sacred polyphony, Jazz, Indie Rock, Contemporary Folk and Blues.
With his band, Caledonia, Ian has performed across Canada and in the United States, packing venues in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. The band’s latest album, We Are America was nominated for 5 ECMA awards in 2010.
In addition to his work as a collaborative musician, performing alongside artists such as songwriter and poet Tanya Davis, and recording and performing with the band Acres and Acres, and songwriters Keith Mullins, Steve Gates, Zac Crouse, Alana Yorke and Morgan MacDonald, Ian has been hard at work developing his career as a solo artist. He has taught students ages four to adult of all levels adding composition and theory if the student desires.
Vanessa Buhr-Rountree (Voice, Piano)
Vanessa Buhr-Rountree has been teaching voice and piano at FRSPA since 2005. She has had the privilege of performing as a principal soprano soloist and actor in numerous operettas, musical theatre productions and concerts with such groups as the Gilbert and Sullivan Society of N.S.; Theatre Arts Guild (N.S.); Maritime Concert Opera ; Savoy Society Ottawa; N.S. Drama League; and Rhapsody Quintet. She has also been music director for productions such as Do The Right Thing (an antibullying project ), G&S’s Trial By Jury ; and the Canadian premier of Sheridan Morley’s musical Noel and Gertie, (taking it to two International Theatre Festivals).She has also worked in film, TV, radio and is a full member of The Alliance of Canadian Cinema , Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA).
Vanessa has degrees in Psychology and Recreation from Dalhousie University, with a minor in Theatre. She studied voice and piano through the Royal Conservatory of Music. She loves witnessing the “light-bulb” moments from her students as the musical experiences transform them to another level and believes in finding the music that best helps a student express themselves. Vanessa’s students have done very well in RCM exams and Kiwanis Music Festival Competitions.
Ryan Cox (Bass, Guitar, Rock Ensembles, Campfire Guitar
A native of Windsor Junction, Ryan has been teaching at FRSPA for twelve years. Originally born a bass player, Ryan has grown into a talented multi-instrumentalist. Equally at home on either guitar and bass, Ryan has also developed a reputation as a uniquely stylized and prolific song writer. His current musical project, SecondBand, has released several singles to critical acclaim and has performed throughout Nova Scotia to growing audiences. Ryan teaches several of the Rock Ensembles, The Campfire Guitar Classes, and has run the popular FRSPA Rock Camps for many years.
RAQUEL WASSON - PIANO
Raquel Wasson began her love of music at the age of five at the Fall River School of Performing Arts where she studied music for fourteen years. She is now attending Dalhousie University’s Fountain School of Performing Arts studying percussion and piano as a Fountain Scholar. She has studied piano with Ian Bent, Betty Ro, and is currently studying with Peter Allen. Raquel loves to work with children and has spent many years volunteering with an after school childcare program. She also created a Music Therapy program in the Learning Centre at Lockview High School and loves sharing her music with people of all abilities. Raquel was also a percussionist in the Nova Scotia Youth Wind Ensemble for a number of years. She can’t wait to share her love of music!
Matt Gallant - Drum set - Hand drums - Guitar
What do you want to play? Rock n roll, blues, country, soul, jazz, hip hop, latin, metal, world, folk, pop? Just ask Matt, he's played it all!! With a Bachelor of Music Degree in Music Performance from Dalhousie University under his belt, Matt Gallant has been involved in the music industry for 25 years. He has worked with professional artists including Amelia Curran, Erin Costelo, Ben Caplan, Dave Sampson, Adam Baldwin, Roxy and the Underground Soul Sound, Willie Stratton and many more.
Whether engaging in community and professional theatre projects, workshops or working with bands, Matthew brings a vast musical experience, eagerness and passion. Matthew is not shy to crowds - he has facilitated many workshops to large groups and has played over 3,000 shows.
Matthew plays with people across cultures, most notably the Open Borders International Music Group that assembles 20+ musicians from different cultures to create extremely unique and vibrant shows. If you want to learn drums Matt would be a great teacher to introduce you to the vast world of music!
Sarah Surette -Musical Theatre and Drana
Kimberley Holmes (Fiddle, Piano Accompaniment, Accordion, Banjo and Ukelele)
Kimberley, a native of Nova Scotia, is one of Canada’s premier piano accompanists in the traditional style of fiddling and has won many awards for her fiddle playing as a solo performer. She has also captured first place at the Maritime Fiddle Festival in the group category with Dave Bagnell, Jocelyne Bourque, Samantha Robichaud and most recently with Sherryl Fitzpatrick on July 9, 2011. She is also the house accompanist and past artistic director of the Maritime Fiddle Festival.
Kimberley has toured with such artists as Graham and Eleanor Townsend, Richard Wood, Calvin Vollrath and April Verch among others, and has recorded with a long list of musicians including Richard Wood, Jocelyne Bourque, Ray Legere, J.P. Cormier, Tara Lynne Touesnard, Calvin Vollrath, Gordon Stobbe, Peter Dawson, Sherryl Fitzpatrick and Kelli Trottier.
Kimberley has been a member of the FRSPA staff since 2005 teaching both piano and fiddle to ages 4 to adult. She is a guest instructor at camps across Canada, most notably the Tobique Fiddle Camp in New Brunswick, Canadian Grand Masters Camp, Calvin Vollrath Camp as well as at the Gaelic College in Cape Breton.
Savanna MacLennan - Fiddle (Traditional style)
Savanna began learning to play classical violin while growing up in Edmonton, Alberta, but after moving to Nova Scotia at the age of 10, she was captured by Maritime folk and Cape-Breton fiddle music. She has been playing fiddle music ever since then; and took lessons for over 9 years from our very own Kimberley Holmes! Savanna loves sharing her music with others, and even had the opportunity to bring her fiddle music and Maritime culture across the globe to Lithuania, where she lived for 1 ½ years. She is so excited for every chance to play and to help others develop their musical talents! Welcome, Savanna to FRSPA!
Shawn Mullen (Guitar, Music Theory, Rock Ensembles)
Shawn Mullen grew up in Middleton, Nova Scotia, where lazy Sundays were spent listening to his Grampy wail out bluegrass tunes on the fiddle and music was integral to everyday life. Carrying on the family tradition, Shawn began seriously playing guitar at age eleven and has spent almost two decades developing both his ear and his technique.
Shawn holds a Bachelor of Music (guitar & music theory) from Dalhousie University, where he graduated on the Dean’s List in 2007. Subsequently, Shawn spent five years in Montreal where he achieved his Diploma in Sound Recording & Production from Recording Arts Canada and began his career as a freelance Audio Engineer, a job that has allowed him to dip his hands in everything from music studio production to sound design.
Shawn specializes in steel-string fingerstyle, bluegrass flat-picking and classical style guitar. He is admittedly a bit of a music theory nerd and has a wide-range of teaching experience, including conservatory and freelance sessions, with students of all ages.
Zach Smith (Drums, Percussion, Pipe Band Snare, Drum Line)
Zach Smith brings over 20 years of teaching and performing experience to FRSPA and has been with the school since 2003. After obtaining both his performance degree (percussion) and music education degree from Acadia in 1998, Zach has been teaching, performing, recording and touring with some of the best musicians in the Maritimes including Christine Campbell, Alycia Putnam, Kimberley Holmes, Darren McMullen, Pogey, The Band of the Ceremonial Guard (Ottawa), and Richard Wood. Zach maintains a large teaching studio where ages range from 6 to 60. He currently fronts his own band, The Worry Birds, and is the lead drummer for Maritime Champion Dartmouth and District Pipe Band.