Western students awarded five fellowships with London Symphonia

Five Don Wright Faculty of Music students have been selected as the inaugural fellows of the London Symphonia Fellowship program, a new initiative funded by Western’s Strategic Priorities Fund.  

(From left) Tasman Tantasawat, Meika Sonntag, Patricio Flores, Yanet Campbell Secades and Ethan Allers will join the Symphonia for all of the main stage full orchestra programs for the 2022-2023 season. (Submitted)

Starting in December, the students will join the Symphonia for all of the main stage full orchestra programs for the 2022-2023 season. They will receive regular mentorship and feedback from London Symphonia members and will be paid for their work during all rehearsals and concerts. 

“I’m so pleased our students have this opportunity to work directly with the outstanding musicians of London Symphonia, and then to perform alongside them. This type of practical, experiential learning is critical for producing well-rounded musicians,” said Don Wright Faculty of Music Dean Michael Kim.  

“We are proud of our close relationship and partnership with London Symphonia, especially within London, Ontario, as we continue to foster relationships within Canada’s first and only UNESCO-designated City of Music,” Kim said. 

London Symphonia concertmaster and director of Western’s Early Music Studio Joseph Lanza congratulated the winners and all those who auditioned. 

“The entire audition committee was both impressed by and excited about these wonderful young musicians. We know they will bring inspiration and energy to our entire orchestra,” said Lanza. 

A professional symphony orchestra with a core of 30 players, London Symphonia presents well-known symphonies, Canadian premieres, and collaborations with some of Canada’s top singer-songwriters. Incorporated in 2015, London Symphonia carries on an orchestral tradition that began in 1937 as the only professional ensemble offering a full season of orchestral music in the London, Ont. region.  

“The fellowship is a great opportunity to introduce us to professional performances, and to gain appreciation to experience in the real world,” said Meika Sonntag, viola player and one of the fellowship awardees. They are to play their first concert with the Symphonia on Dec. 10. 

“We are really lucky to have two of our professors in the Symphonia,” said Sonntag, who is interested in a future career as a solo performer, or as member of an orchestra. 

Don Wright Faculty of Music string students selected as the inaugural fellows of the London Symphonia Fellowship program: 

Patricio Flores, violin

Patricio Flores is a multifaceted musician who engages in solo, chamber, and orchestral playing, as well as performance research and education. He has performed as a member of various performing organizations including Magisterra Soloists, the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra and the National Youth Orchestra of Canada.  

The recipient of several performing prizes, including the Thomastik-Infeld Outstanding String Player Award and the Kiwanis Foundation Award, Flores’ passion for sharing music led him to co-create and perform in the Toca Chamber Collective. Having begun his violin studies at the age of eight, Patricio is currently studying with Annette-Barbara Vogel at Western as a recipient of the Gordon Jeffery Endowment.

Yanet Campbell Secades, violin

Born in Camagüey, Cuba, violinist Yanet Campbell Secades is an accomplished soloist, chamber and orchestral musician. She has performed in some of the most important venues in Cuba, Europe, North America and the Caribbean. In 2015, she won the first prize at Cuba’s prestigious Unión de Artistas y Escritores Cubanos competition, and in 2019 she was awarded second prize, in the strings category, in the Federation of Canadian Music Festivals’ National Competition.  

Campbell Secades has performed in several major international music festivals such as the Rheingau Musik Festival in Germany and the Mozartwoche in Austria. She received a Master of Music from Memorial University of Newfoundland and an Artist Diploma from The Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. Currently, she is pursuing doctoral studies Western, under professor Annette-Barbara Vogel. 

Meika Sonntag, viola

A third-year music student, Meika Sonntag is pursuing a Bachelor of Music degree in viola performance under professor Sharon Wei. Originally from Regina, Sask., she began studying music at the age of three.  

Sonntag’s history of orchestral work includes two years as a utility violist with the Regina Symphony Orchestra as well as performances alongside many talented musicians such as Michael Bublé and the 2Cellos. She was awarded first place in the chamber music portion of the National Music Festival with the Fiearro String Quartet in 2018.

Tasman Tantasawat, viola

Tasman Tantasawat is a violist in his final year of the Master in Music Performance degree program under the guidance of professor Sharon Wei. He came to Canada from Thailand in 2014 and spent most of his time in Halifax, N.S. where he received his Bachelor of Music Degree in music performance from Dalhousie University.  

Tantasawat has played in an orchestra since he was 10 years old in Thailand, and he continued to be involved in many orchestras during his time in Canada. He was the principal violist for the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra for two years, and he was awarded winner of the Concerto Night competition, subsequently performing with Dalhousie Symphony orchestra as a soloist in 2021. He was accepted into the renowned National Youth Orchestra of Canada for their 2022 tour, where he performed in multiple cities across Ontario and Quebec.

Ethan Allers, cello

A cellist from Victoria B.C., Ethan Allers has collaborated with many artists including Canadian composer Vincent Ho as well as National Arts Centre Orchestra principals Yosuke Kawasaki, Joel Quarrington, Jethro Marks and David Marks, for a performance of Strauss’ Metamorphosen.  

During his undergraduate degree, Allers won the University of Ottawa concerto competition and performed the Elgar Cello Concerto with the University Orchestra conducted by John-Philippe Tremblay. He also performed at the NAC’s Fourth Stage uOttawa concert series with various chamber groups and as a solo artist. Under professor Paul Marleyn, Allers recently completed his Masters of Music at the University of Ottawa and is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Musical Arts at Western studying under professor Tom Wiebe.