SJASD Children's Concert Choir Director
Heather Neufeld graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Education. Her main instrument of study was the piano and she majored in Choral and minored in Band. As an accompanist, Heather played for the Winnipeg Girls’ Choir, the Irish Association and various churches and schools throughout Winnipeg. She has performed with many choral groups, including the University Singers, ECCO, and numerous Church choirs and small ensembles. Heather was the director of the Winnipeg Girls’ Choir for ten years, as well as acting as a Choral clinician throughout the Province.
Heather has been teaching music in various elementary and middle schools in the St. James-Assiniboia School Division. Her choirs have received Gold standings as well as recommendations to the National Music Festival. In July 2018, the children's choir received second place in Class 107-Margaret Wharton, Community Choir, 12 years and under from the Federation of Canadian Music Festivals. She currently teaches K-5 music at Heritage Elementary School, directs the choral program at Bruce Middle School and is now the director of the St. James-Assiniboia Divisional Children’s Choir. In her spare time, Heather plays piano and sings at her church, and enjoys spending time with her husband, Tim, and her four children.
SJASD Junior Concert Choir Director
Gabriela Gallo is a graduate of the University of Manitoba’s Music-Education Integrated program, who has a major in Voice and a minor in French. This friendly and energetic young woman has been employed by the St. James – Assiniboia School Division in Early Years French- Immersion Music, at Ecole Bannatyne, Middle Years Choral at Lincoln Middle School and as the conductor of the Divisional Junior Concert Choir. Gabriela has been busy in the last few years, presenting as a clinician at the division-wide Louis-Riel Orff Days, attending the International Society for Music Education conference in Greece, teaching the Music for Kids Pre-School Music Program at Canadian Mennonite University and instructing choirs throughout the province as a choral clincian. Throughout her years as a performing musician, Gabriela has performed with the WSO, Canata Singers, University Singers, participated in many church chamber choirs, and has done several shows with Winnipeg's own RWB. She keeps a busy family life with her twin boys and husband.
SJASD Senior Concert Choir Director
Avonlea Armstrong-Green graduated from Brandon University with a Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Education (A.D.). She was the recipient of the Gold Medal in Music Education. She has been teaching music in the St. James-Assiniboia School Division in Winnipeg since graduating. After spending most of her career in elementary music, Avonlea teaches high school choir, vocal jazz, and musical theatre at College Sturgeon Heights Collegiate, as well as directing the award winning St. James-Assiniboia Senior Divisional Choir. Avonlea also teaches at Golden Gate Middle School, directing the concert choir “Vocal Express”, the vocal jazz choir, “Enerjazz”, as well as a boys' choir, “The Golden Boys”. Her choirs have won awards at the Winnipeg Music Festival, as well as recommendations to the National Music Festival.
At Choralfest 2017, the choir was recommended to MusicFest Canada. At the
Winnipeg Music Festival 2018, the choir was presented the following honours:
Walter Klymkiw Trophy and Walter Klymkiw Memorial Bursary for the most outstanding performance of a Folk or
Multilingual Song by a Community Choir, Caledonian Singers Peter Buchan Memorial Bursary for most outstanding performance by a Community Choir and the Saults and Pollard Limited Shield for the most outstanding performance by a youth Community Choir. The choir also competed in New York City at the Heritage World Strides Music Festival 2018, where they earned a number of accolades including the Adjudicator's Award (combined marks of over 95%), a Gold medal standing (above 90%) and the Outstanding Choral Award (Top Choir of the Festival).
Avonlea has directed the St. James-Assiniboia Divisional Children's Choir, has worked as a clinician at TEMPO, Orff Children's Day, and Choralfest, and has been the guest conductor for several choirs including the Junior Provincial Honour Choir and the Westman Youth Choir. Avonlea was the recipient of the Michael J. Proudfoot Award, recognizing a conductor exemplifying a passion for excellence in choral work. She recently completed her Post-Baccalaureate in Education through the University of Manitoba. Avonlea holds an ARCT degree in piano performance and has been active as a choir member, accompanist, and performer. Aside from teaching, Avonlea sings and plays piano in her church band, and loves spending time with her husband, Joel and son Rylan.
Justin Odwak (Interim Director)
Justin Odwak is an active performer, choral conductor and vocal instructor. Justin has performed as soloist with organizations such as the Winnipeg Singers, Canzona, Camerata Nova, and the Winnipeg Philharmonic Choir. Justin has also appeared as soloist with the University of Manitoba singers for Soundstreams at Toronto's Koerner Hall along with the Latvian Radio Choir. He has also performed as soloist with the group for the Rocky Mountain Music Festival at the Banff Centre.
Justin has performed with the Sarah Sommer Chai Folk Ensemble, appearing at Edmonton's Jubilee Auditorium, and in Winnipeg at the Centennial Concert Hall, as well as performing at the International Karmiel Festival in Israel. In 2013, he made his solo debut with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra in A Prairie Christmas Celebration, and has appeared as soloist in Messiah with Orchestra London and with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, both under the baton of Tafelmusik’s Ivars Taurins. Justin has also recently appeared as soloist with the Regina Symphony Orchestra, and the Okanagan Festival Singers and Orchestra. In 2015, Justin placed runner-up in the Zita Bernstein Competition for the Performance of German Lieder. As a choral conductor, Justin serves as artistic director of the Rainbow Harmony Project, is the current choir director of Congregation Shaarey Zedek, and served as co-founder and director of the Kolot Choir at the Rady JCC. Justin conducted the SJASD Junior Concert Choir during the 2017-18 season. He returns as the interim Director of the SJASD Senior Concert Choir for the 2018-19 choral season. He has recently completed his Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Education at the University of Manitoba, majoring in choral music education.