The Musicians

The String Section

(Introductory description could go here.)

Welcome to the String Section of Orchestra Toronto

Violin I

  • Corey Gemmell (Concertmaster)

    Corey Lyle Gemmell, violinist, has distinguished himself as a soloist, chamber musician and concertmaster throughout Canada, Germany, the United States and China. He has been privileged to be the concertmaster for Orchestra Toronto since 2016. As soloist Mr. Gemmell has recently performed concertos by Beethoven, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Sibelius, Prokofiev and Vivaldi. He is a frequent guest artist with New Music Concerts, the CCSA, Array Music and the Chamber Music Society of Mississauga, to name but a few. Mr. Gemmell is on faculty at the National Music Camp of Canada as well as the Great Lakes International Summer Music Institute at Algoma University. He has taught at the Royal Conservatory of Music and the University of Western Ontario and is a member of the Royal College of Examiners.

    Corey Gemmell, Concertmaster
  • Jennifer Tracy Chung

    Coming soon.

  • Michele Clemo

    Coming soon.

  • Jean-Paul Desaulniers

    Coming soon.

  • Yani Hausman

    Yani Hausman was taught by the professor Jacob Lakirovich to prepare for her ARCT Performance exam. She taught at several music schools as well.

    Yani is also a realtor, receiving a multi-million dollar producer award.

    Yani Hausman, Violin I
  • Michael Lee

    Coming soon.

  • Gina Maenhaut

    Coming soon.

  • Grace Morrison
    Grace Morrison
    Board Member of Orchestra Toronto

    Grace has a Masters degree in French and Italian Literature from the University of Glasgow, where she studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music/Drama. As a teacher and administrator she was a chair of the French Immersion Program in Toronto.

    Her presentation/workshops integrating Canadian History, Theatre, Music and French have been given in universities and schools across Canada and in France; these align with her books. Grace enjoys playing in a cool jazz trio volunteering at seniors’ residences and loves sailing (Past Commodore at her yacht club), golfing and skiing.

  • Richard Nurgitz

    Coming soon.

  • Frank Song

    Coming soon.

    Frank Song, Violin I
  • Haeun Song

    Coming soon.

  • Florentina Tohatan

    Florentina started violin at the age of 6. After 16 years of specialized music education, she graduated from the National University of Music Bucharest with an Honours Degree in Music (Music Theory and Violin).

    During her career as a musician, Florentina was a violin teacher, music TV producer and host of more than 200 programmes for TVR Romania. She also performed as a Concert Master and soloist in chamber orchestras in her native Romania.

    More than 20 years ago, she opted for a career change to Information Technology and she is currently working as a Senior Software Developer with RBC Capital Markets.

    Florentina is a dedicated member and donor of Orchestra Toronto since 2011. In recognition of her volunteer activity in support of the community, she was awarded each year the RBC Volunteer Grant ($500 a year) to be donated to Orchestra Toronto.

    Florentia Tohatan, Violin I
  • Carlos Vasquez

    Originally from Venezuela, Carlos began his musical studies on violin at the age of 10, and later on clarinet under “El Sistema” the world renowned program of musical immersive training started in 1975 by José Antonio Abreu.

    Carlos actively participates in the musical community within Toronto, performing on both clarinet and violin with many orchestras in the GTA including Orchestra Toronto, Greater Toronto Philharmonic Orchestra and North York Concert Orchestra.

    Outside of music, he holds a Bachelor degree in Civil Engineering, and a Construction Management Certificate and works full time as a construction coordinator.

    Carlos Vasquez, Violin I
  • Elyse Waslat

    Coming soon.

  • Frédéric Mercier

    Originally from France, Frederic began his musical studies on violin at the age of 7, with Pierre-Olivier Queyras as teacher (brother of the famous cellist Jean-Guyhen Queyras). In parallel to his working activities in Finance (mainly in the Staffing industry), he also graduated from the private music school “Ecole Normale de Musique Cortot” in Paris, with Maestro Devy Erlih (winner of Long-Thibaud competition in 1955).

    During the last 20 years, Frederic played in different non-professional orchestras in Paris as concertmaster or violin solist under the direction of talented young conductors like Julien Leroy, Aurelien Azan or Romain Dumas.

    Frederic joined Orchestra Toronto for Christmas at the movies in December 2022.

    Frédéric Mercier, Violin I

Violin II

  • Ines Pagliari(p)
    Ms. Pagliari has been the Director and owner of the Beaches Suzuki School of Music for the last 25 years. It is a Suzuki-based violin and piano music program for children. Ines has been teaching following the principles of the Suzuki Method since the early ’90s. Ms. Pagliari is a graduate of the University of Toronto, Faculty of Music, where she earned an Honours Degree in Violin Performance. Ines enjoyed the role of Concertmaster with the Cathedral Bluffs Symphony Orchestra for 18 years where she appeared as soloist numerous times. Previously, Ines was the Concertmaster of the York Symphony Orchestra … Read more
  • Geral Billinghurst
    Coming soon.
  • Joon Hur
    Music has been a lifelong passion for Joon. Joon started playing violin as early as when he was about 5 years old. However, it was when he started playing with other musicians in his high school and early university years that he truly discovered the joy of ensemble and harmony, which created many lasting memories that he cherishes to this day. Joon held the position of principal 2nd violinist with Korea University Orchestra, one of the oldest and most esteemed college orchestras in South Korea. He was also involved in various musical projects as a violinist as well as a … Read more
  • Patricia Howells
    Trish Howells is a violinist and music educator in Toronto. Beginning at the age of 11, Trish studied violin privately with Professor Ivan Kowaliw, the director of the Mykola Lysenko Ukrainian Music Institute, in Toronto. She continued her studies with both David Zafer and Andrew Dawes at the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto. Trish has enjoyed many years performing in a variety of ensembles including the Lysenko Music Institute String Orchestra, the Trinity Chamber Ensemble, and the Trinity String Quartet. As well, she sang with the Bell’Arte Singers for many years. Trish was a music educator for 38 years, … Read more
  • Diane Lee
    Diane joined Orchestra Toronto as a violin member beginning in the 2022-2023 season. She enjoys being an active member of various orchestra such as Korean Canadian Symphony Orchestra, North York Concert Orchestra and World Civic Orchestra (Alice Tully Hall, New York). She also involved in chamber music program such as CMC New York and CAMMAC Summer Chamber music camp. Diane holds CPA designation and currently works for a global asset management firm.
  • Andrew Kizas
    Andrew Kizas is currently the Artistic Director of the Regional Strings Program for the Peel District School Board at Port Credit Secondary School. He studied violin at the Royal Conservatory of Music, and the University of Toronto, with John Montague, Erica Davidson, and Gerard Kantarjian, former Concertmaster of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. He holds an Honours Bachelor’s degree in Music from Dalhousie University and the University of King’s College, where he studied violin with Philippe Djokic; and, Master of Music and Doctor of Philosophy (in Music) degrees from the University of Western Ontario. Andrew received his teacher training at the … Read more
  • Ralph T. Bose
    Born in Pembroke, ON, Ralph has been playing in Orchestra Toronto since 1996 and currently plays in the Second Violin section. Ralph’s violin was owned and played by his paternal grandmother which she gifted to him when he was 7 years old. During his elementary and high school years in Kincardine, ON he studied with various teachers and received his Grade VIII from the Royal Conservatory of Music. Ralph also picked up the drums in high school and toured both Northern Ontario and the UK with the Kincardine Knights of Jazz. After moving with his family to Oshawa, ON, he … Read more
  • Ken Chow
    Coming soon.
  • Lois Chung
    Coming soon.
  • Michelle Louise De Souza Gomes
    Coming soon.
  • Alex Lam
    Coming soon.
  • Pia Pace-Asciak
    Pia started playing violin from a young age through the conservatory. Music was always a passion that she continued to cultivate over the years. Although her career path led her down the route of science and medicine (Otolaryngologist – Head and Neck Surgeon), she uses music as a means of relaxing from the busy hospital life. Previously, she played violin with the Kamloops Brandenburg Orchestra on the west coast. Now that her and her family have moved back east, she is delighted to play second violin with Orchestra Toronto.
  • Carolyn Rogers
    Coming soon.
  • Katie Stephens
    Coming soon.
  • Lucy Tong
    Coming soon.
  • Raadhika Venkatesh
    Coming soon.
  • Donald Yoon
    Coming soon.
  • James Zhang
    Coming soon.


  • Elizabeth Morris (p)

    Violist Elizabeth Morris, B.Mus(perf), originally from Edmonton, studied at University of Alberta, University of Western Ontario, the String Quartet Institute in Kingston, and the Banff School of Fine Arts. She is currently principal violist with Orchestra Toronto, the Peterborough Symphony and plays in the Tost String Quartet. As a freelance musician, she has played with many ensembles including the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, Talisker Players, Canadian Opera Company, the Royal Winnipeg and National Ballets, Stratford and Shaw Festivals. She was principal violist for the Live Entertainment productions Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, ShowBoat, Sunset Boulevard and Ragtime. Elizabeth is also active in the visual arts, creating watercolour and pencil crayon miniatures and original computer animations. An avid bread baker, she writes about it in “blog from OUR kitchen”. She also maintains the website for Peacemakers Trust, the Canadian charitable organization for research and education in conflict transformation and peacebuilding.

    Elizabeth Morris, Principal, Viola
  • Aniko Zsuzsanna Antal

    Coming soon.

  • Harikoa Bronsdaughter-George

    Musician biography goes here.

  • Veronica Koopmans

    Coming soon.

  • Jessamyn Schertz

    Coming soon.

  • Nora M. Webster
    Nora M. Webster, Viola

    Nora is a Corporate Law Clerk who has been working exclusively in Toronto’s Film and Television industry since 2006. She has been a proud member of Orchestra Toronto’s viola section since 2002 and grateful product of exceptional music programs in Toronto public schools and private teachers at the Royal Conservatory of Music. She credits the superiority of the viola and the blessings of a great city with a lifetime of joyous play.

  • Heather Whitney

    Coming soon.


  • Zuzanna Chomicka-Newnham (p)

    Polish-Canadian cellist Zuzanna Chomicka-Newnham received her Master’s Degree from the Chopin University of Music in Warsaw. Among her teachers were Daniel Shafran, Milos Sadlo and Arnold Rezler. While still a student, she became a member of the Polish Radio Orchestra, with which she toured Europe several times and made numerous recordings. She also performed extensively with the Warsaw Philharmonic and the Polish Chamber Orchestra in Gdansk.

    In 1997, she was invited to teach at Taegu-Hyosung University in South Korea. During her tenure there, she performed as a chamber musician and soloist in various settings and music festivals

    In July 2023, Zuzanna was appointed Principal Cello of Orchestra Toronto. Along with her duties with OT, she is also Principal Cellist of the Peterborough Symphony Orchestra. Her debut as cello soloist was with the Opole Philharmonic in her native Poland, and has since given solo and chamber performances with the Peterborough Symphony Orchestra, as well as throughout Ontario. Presently, she performs with various professional orchestras in the GTA. As a chamber musician, Zuzanna has been active as a member of the PSO String Quartet and has appeared with the Gould String Quartet.

    Teaching and educating cellists has been one of Zuzanna’s passions for many years. She has coached the cello sections of the Kawartha and Niagara Youth Orchestras. Currently, she runs a successful private teaching studio in Peterborough.

    Zuzanna Chomicka-Newnham, Principal, Cello
  • Janet Allen

    It is such a pleasure and privilege to be part of Orchestra Toronto. Having played in a variety of community orchestras for over 35 years, Orchestra Toronto , without a doubt, has been the very best experience. And thank you fabulous cello section! I am frequently reminded that I would not be here had it not been for a robust public secondary music program and an amazing teacher that opened a door. I am thankful, too, for retirement which has allowed not only more time with family , friends but for practice!

    Janet Allen, Cello
  • Lou Bacs

    Lou was born in a musical family in Romania and started playing the cello in his early school years. His passion for music continued during his university studies in engineering at the Polytechnic University of Bucharest, when he played in his alma mater’s Chamber Ensemble. After graduation as a chemical engineer he became a member of the Engineers Orchestra of Bucharest, while practicing full time in his chosen profession.

    After arriving in Toronto, he continued to play the cello initially with the North York Concert Orchestra and joining the East York Symphony Orchestra (currently Orchestra Toronto) in 1993.

    Lou Bacs, Cello
  • Karen Devonish-Mazzotta

    Coming soon.

  • Claire leRiche

    Coming soon.

  • Jane Litherland

    Retired Librarian, Jane has been part of Orchestra Toronto for too many years to count. As a member of the amazing cello section she has been privileged to learn and play much wonderful music with the orchestra. Jane looks forward to much more in the years to come.

    Jane Litherland, Cello
  • Michael Lordly

    Michael had the great fortune to be swept up by the nascent Halifax Music Department strings division which ultimately led to a B. Mus. at Dalhousie. Later, after a spell in the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra, becoming an architect and moving to Toronto, he spent long years in the wilderness, occasionally playing bass in blues, jazz or ska bands, including the inimitable Hopping Penguins, before finally responding to his father’s frequent query, “why aren’t you playing in an orchestra?” by dusting off the cello and finding a home in the wonderful Orchestra Toronto cello section.

    Michael Lordly, Cello
  • Fern C. Reinhartz

    I have been playing the cello only since around age 50. I love it and have played in a few other community orchestras. Orchestra Toronto is by far the most challenging and fulfilling. It’s a wonderful warm, organized and professional level group.

    Fern C. Reinhartz, Cello
  • Wendy Yun-Chieh Shih

    In 2011, I earned a Master of Music degree in Cello Performance at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, UK. After graduation from the school, I have been participating in many concerts in a great number of places such as London, Cambridge, Birmingham, Taipei, Myanmar and Disney Concert Hall in California., etc.. All performances and concert tours are formative experiences that have absolutely enriched me as an individual who endeavors to pursue a lifelong career in music. For the past years in England, I had fully committed myself to work as a professional musician and actively engaged in concerts and shows such as string quartet concerts, orchestra, Shakespeare’s show, and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert, etc.. In 2013, I became the first Taiwanese who was an honored member in City of Cambridge Symphony Orchestra. After all these years traveling around the world, I decided to settle down in Toronto, Canada.

  • Norman Rosenblum

    My cello journey began at age 14 years when I attended a performance of Bernard Greenhouse playing the Tchaikovsky A minor Piano Trio with the Beaux Arts Trio in Sydney, Nova Scotia. I was floored by the intensely beautiful sounds of the cello and turned to my parents and said, “I have to play that instrument”. And so it began with studies in Sydney and then Halifax, continuing with chamber and orchestral playing, and returning to private cello studies some 50 years after I first began to play! There appears to be no limit to how one can refine one’s musical voice. For me, the cello is an incredible vehicle for expression. I am so fortunate to be able to regularly explore musical conversation with my cello in Orchestra Toronto and chamber music.

    Norman Rosenblum, Cello
  • Amit Rotem

    Coming soon.


  • Tomas Casciato

    Tomas began playing the double bass as a high school student at Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts. He went on to spend 5 years in the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra while pursuing a Bachelor of Commerce at Toronto Metropolitan University. Eager to continue playing double bass after exiting the TSYO, Tomas joined Orchestra Toronto in 2020. Outside of the Orchestra, Tomas enjoys spending time outdoors and playing hockey.

    Tomas Casciato, Bass
  • John Wiener(p)

    John Wiener plays principal double bass in Orchestra Toronto. He has a Master of Music degree from Yale University and has in the past been a member of the Orchestre des Jeunes de Québec, the Victoria Symphony Orchestra and other professional ensembles, both large and small.

    John Wiener, Principal, Bass
  • Melissa Cavelti
    Melissa Cavelti, Bass and Board Member of Orchestra Toronto

    Melissa started playing bass in high school, eventually becoming a member of the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra (TSYO). She went on to study music and business at Northwestern University in Evanston Illinois. Melissa then took a break from Music and pursued a career in finance and investment management, as well as raising two daughters. In 2019, she happily returned to music and is thrilled to have become a member of Orchestra Toronto’s bass section.

    View Melissa’s board member profile.

  • Rick Murrin

    Coming soon.

  • Eric Mykhalovskiy

    Coming soon.

  • Radek Puky

    Coming soon.

  • Frank Santopuoli

    Coming soon.

  • Jack Schachner
    Jack Schachner, Bass

    Jack joined Orchestra Toronto for the 1995-1996 season. He has enjoyed playing for the several Music Directors who have each challenged the orchestra to continuously improve and expand our repertoire. “I’m thrilled to belong to this remarkable orchestra family.”

Comments are closed.

0 %