Wye String Ensemble

Promoting culture in the community

Promoting Culture in the Community 
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The Wye String Ensemble


Coming September 6 - 9, 2018, Van Es Camp and Conference Centre



Click here for String Music Camp 2018 Registration form

Click here for String Music Camp 2018 Registration form with Fillable Fields

Download the form to your computer; if you download the form with fillable fields, you can fill it out on your computer, then email to miriamlewis@shaw.ca, or you may send via Canada Post. You may also pay the camp fee via e-transfer to miriamlewis@shaw.ca from an online bank account.

Click here for String Music Camp 2017 Schedule




Staff Concert (Anna Kozak, Neda Yamach, Martina Szmazal, Julie Amundsen), Strathcona County String Music Camp, September 10, 2017

To listen, go to the "Concerts" page!


One of many chamber groups at the Strathcona County String Music Camp, 2017


Breakfast Club entertainment at String Music Camp, 2017





Time for relaxing at Camp!




Final Concert, September 11, 2017, Michael Massey conducting






Look forward to a great start to the season, for Camp 2018 is sure to be another huge success! Sponsored by the Wye String Ensemble of Sherwood Park, Alberta, this year's Strathcona County String Music Camp will be held September 6th 7th, 8th, and 9th, 2018. Join us to celebrate our eleventh year of this wonderful string music camp.


The camp is designed for string players 14 years of age and up. Whether you play the violin, viola, cello or double bass, you are sure to learn, connect with new people, and have fun while enjoying a rewarding musical experience. There are opportunities for playing both in orchestra and in chamber groups.


Held in a beautiful country setting at the Van Es Camp and Conference Center in Strathcona County, the camp provides opportunities for those at all playing levels and instruction from coaches who are highly skilled professional musicians. Participants will hear the coaches perform in concert as well as fellow campers in their chamber groups. Past attendees can attest to the incredible benefits of this unique camp.


The camp will run:

Thursday, September 6 6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. at Festival Place, 100 Festival Way, Sherwood Park (Please note that Festival Way is a one-way street and the only access is from Sherwood Drive at the corner of the Sherwood Park Mall.)

Friday, September 7 6:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. at Camp Van Es (See below for directions to Camp Van Es.)

Saturday, September 8 7:30 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. at Camp Van Es

Sunday, September 9 7:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. at Camp Van Es

Sunday, September 9 6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. Concert at Camp Van Es

Sunday, September 9 at 6:00 pm at Camp Van Es.



A Note about the Music for Camp

Camp registrants will be given instructions about how to download parts for the 2018 string camp repertoire. It includes the following and some further additions which will be made in due course.

Strathcona County String Music Camp - Summer Repertoire 2017 - To be updated for 2018

Cooking Lake Suite by Michael Massey 1. Arrival, 2. Camraderie, 3. The Eagle, 4. Serenity

Suite in B Flat Major “Les Nations” TWV 55:B5 by Georg Phillip Telemann

Fantasy on Sumer Is Icumen In by Quenten Doolittle


Our Camp Director, Conductor and Music Coaches


CAMP DIRECTOR: Murray Vaasjo


Murray was born and raised in Edmonton and attended the University of Alberta where he received a Bachelor of Music degree. He has been a member of the Okanagan Symphony, the Victoria Symphony, the Alberta Baroque Ensemble, the Arden Ensemble, National Youth Orchestra of Canada and the Edmonton Youth Orchestra. Murray studied with Sally Thomas in Meadowmount, New York and with Shirley Givens and Sidney Humphries in Victoria.

In 1990 Murray returned to Edmonton to join the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra.

Murray is also active as a teacher and is the co-founder of the Wye String Ensemble. Murray conducted the Penticton Strings, an amateur adult orchestra in the Okanagan.

For two seasons, he conducted musicals with the Penticton Singers and Players with professional members of the Okanagan Symphony. He was the conductor and founder of the Sherwood Park Youth Strings and Penticton Junior Strings. Murray is happy to conduct both the Wye String Ensemble and the Edmonton Philharmonic Orchestra next season.


CONDUCTOR - Michael Massey


Michael Massey was born in England and emigrated to Canada in 1957. His early piano studies with Jean-Pierre Vetter Edmonton were the prime influence in his development as a musician. Later studies at the University of Alberta earned him a bachelor of music degree and the gold medal in piano performance of the Western Board of Music. Following his graduation he spent two years studying at the Geneva Conservatory where he was unanimously awarded the Premier Prix de Virtuosité and performed as soloist with L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande.

Mr. Massey's activities as a musician are many and varied. He has performed as a soloist and chamber musician throughout Canada, England and Scotland and has performed on numerous occasions on CBC radio and television

As an accompanist he is particularly renowned for having worked with many major performing artists from Canada and abroad. He recently gave a course in conducting at the University of Alberta where he has had a long association as a coach (vocal and chamber music) and accompanist. Mr. Massey is currently part of the collaborative pianist team for the Music and Sound summer programme at the Banff Centre for the Arts where he coaches, conducts and accompanies young instrumentalists from around the world. Mr. Massey has appeared frequently as soloist with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, and has also been its orchestral pianist for over twenty-five years. He is active as a piano teacher and his students have received local and national awards and international acclaim.

As a conductor, he has been deeply influenced by his studies in England in 1984 with the renowned pedagogue, George Hurst.

Since 1977, he has been Music Director of the Edmonton Youth Orchestra programme. In 1978 he started the Intermediate Orchestra which continues to provide orchestral experience for younger players before moving to the Senior Orchestra.

In 1980 Mr. Massey started the Northern Alberta Concerto Competition where such artists as Michael Rose, Amanda Forsyth, Jens Lindemann and Angela Cheng performed their first concertos with the EYO. This competition continues to provide valuable performing experience for young soloists.

In the following years Mr. Massey took the EYO on tour to Los Angeles, Australia, Austria, Great Britain, Ontario, Quebec and Northern Alberta. The Alumni of the EYO are found in almost every professional Canadian Orchestra and such renowned groups as The Canadian Brass, The St. Lawrence Quartet, The Philadelphia Orchestra and the Boston Symphony. Under his leadership it has also produced a whole generation of educated and enthusiastic listeners. The EYO has also produced five compact discs displaying a wide variety of repertoire.

In 1988 and 1996 Mr. Massey wrote and published The Canadian Repertoire Manual, a source book and analysis of Canadian music suitable for youth orchestras in order to encourage the performance of Canadian music by youth orchestras throughout Canada.

Mr. Massey appears as guest conductor locally and abroad having worked with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra and the Scottish National Orchestra. In 1988 Mr. Mass was invited to conduct and play in the Hoffnung Music Festival concerts with the prestigious Philharmonia Orchestra of London. This event was recorded on the Decca label.

In 2002, for his contribution to the cultural life of the city, Mr. Massey was inducted into the Edmonton Cultural Hall of Fame as an Artist–Builder and also received the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal. In 2016 Mr Massey was inducted into the "Alberta order of Excellence". This is the highest honour the Province of Alberta can bestow on a citizen.



VIOLIN - Anna Kozak


Anna Kozak is a violinist with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, an assistant concertmaster of the Alberta Baroque Ensemble, and a member of the Onyx String Quartet. She has earned a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Toronto and a Master of Music degree from the University of Calgary.

Anna Kozak joined the First Violin section of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra in 2001 after winning an international audition. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Toronto and a Master of Music degree from the University of Calgary.

Anna loves being an orchestral musician. It's a profession that has taken her to concert halls all over Europe as well as Carnegie Hall in New York. She has also performed with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Kensington Sinfonia, Red Deer Symphony, and Okanagan Symphony.

Before becoming an orchestral musician Anna was a freelance violinist, collaborating with different artists and groups as a chamber musician and soloist. Now, in addition to the ESO, she is the Assistant Concertmaster of the Alberta Baroque Ensemble and a member of the Onyx String Quartet.

Recently, Anna has had the pleasure of performing as a soloist with the Alberta Baroque Ensemble, and the Alberta College Percussion Ensemble. She has performed at the Yardbird Suite with the Obsessions Octet and at the Contrasts Music Festival at the Rozsa Centre in Calgary.

Anna is a founding member of the Onyx String Quartet, which has been exploring the rich repertoire of the string quartet genre since 2008. Besides performing recitals, Onyx has participated on numerous occasions at special ESO events at the Winspear Centre and performed for the St. Albert Recital Society Series.

Besides performing Anna finds it fulfilling to share her passion and knowledge with her students. She holds a small private studio, teaches at the annual Wye Strings Camp, and on occasion leads coaching sessions for local amateur groups.

Anna performs on a violin made in 1770 by Giovanni Battista Gabrielli of Florence.

Once she is done all her practicing, performing and teaching, Anna enjoys spending time with her husband and their Great Dane, "George".

VIOLIN - Neda Yamach


Originally from St. Albert, Alberta, Neda Yamach began studying the violin at the age of five. Under the tutelage of Thomas Williams, she attended McGill University where she was a recipient of the Lloyd Carr Harris Scholarship.

After receiving her Bachelor of Music degree, she studied with Patti Kopec at the Manhattan School of Music. Neda was a member of the Edmonton Youth Orchestra and has attended the Banff Summer Arts Festival and Meadowmount School of Music in New York. She joined the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra in 2011 following international auditions. She is also a member of the Alberta Baroque Ensemble and Kent Sangster's Obsessions Octet.

VIOLA- Martina Smazal


Martina Smazal received her Bachelor of Music Degree in Viola Performance under Jane Logan at the University of Ottawa and her Masters in Viola Performance under Gerald Stanick at UBC, where she later served as Sessional Instructor and Director of the Summer Music Institute for Strings. Having won the Friends Of Chamber Music and the BC Festival Of The Arts (among various concerto competitions), Ms. Smazal was invited to study at the International School Of Musical Arts on a full stipend. She has performed various concertos with orchestras, including Brandenburg 6 with TSO's Susan Lipchuk. Martina has had the honour of performing chamber music with Juno Award winning Pianist Valerie Tryon, renowned cellist Eugene Osadchy and recording artists: pianist Linda Lee Thomas and violinist Marc Destrube. She had served as Principal Viola for the Vancouver Opera Orchestra, the National Ballet, BC Ballet, the Strauss Orchestra of Canada, the Canada West Chamber Orchestra and for the 2010 Olympics. She also had fun playing at the CCMAs with Johnny Reid and George Canyon, tangos with Montreal's group 'Gianelli', and with K-OS on the Stroumboulopoulos TV Show. Martina has toured Canada, the U.S. and Japan under Pinchas Zukerman and Kazuyoshi Akiyama and has great memories of playing with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Since moving to Edmonton to follow her husband, she has been a regular extra violist with the ESO (adding Carnegie Hall to her experiences). As a violin/viola teacher and chamber music coach, youth orchestra conductor and festival adjudicator / competition judge, Martina has always loved communicating her passion for music to students and inspiring them to have their own successes, be it careers in music or producing wonderful pastime music

CELLO & BASS - Julie Amundsen


Julie was born in Edmonton and raised in Lethbridge. She received her early cello instruction at the University of Lethbridge and Medicine Hat Conservatories. In 1998, she was awarded the Diploma for Kunsterlische Ausbildung from the Hochschule fur Musik und Theater in Hannover, Germany where she studied with Frederick Jurgen Sellhelm and Klaus Heitz. During her studies there she was awarded the 19th century Lorenzo Ventapane cello for excellence in performance. She appeared regularly in the cello section of the North German Radio Philharmonie Hannover.

Over the last few years she has performed two full seasons with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra as well as being a guest player with a number of other orchestras and chamber music groups. She has also taught several semesters at the University of Alberta.

In 2003, Julie completed graduate studies with Tanya Prochazka at the University of Alberta, receiving her Master of Music degree. Julie currently enjoys performing with the Bonnie Doon Trio, adjudicating in various music festivals in Alberta, as well as teaching a class of cello students ranging in age from six to sixty, all lovingly known as "her kids".




Jan Urke

Jan Urke graduated with a Bachelor of Music Degree in Performance, the University of Toronto in 1978 from the studio of Tom Monohan. From 1972 to 1974 he was a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada. He continued his studies at the Banff Centre for the Arts in 1980 with Stuart Knussen.


Jan freelanced from 1973 through 1979 with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, the National Ballet Company, the Canadian Opera Company and the Bolshoi Ballet Company. He played with the Orchestre Symphonique de Québec in 1974-75. He also played the summer season with the Toronto Symphony in 1983. From 1991 to 1995 he was engaged as a resource artist at the Banff Centre.


Jan is currently principal bassist of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, a position he has held since1980. He has appeared as soloist a number of times with the ESO and the Edmonton Chamber Orchestra. Jan is currently sessional instructor of double bass at the University of Alberta Department of Music.



VIOLA - Miriam Ferguson


Miriam Ferguson began studying the viola at the age of eleven when she joined the Edmonton Public Schools Strings Program.

In 1997, she graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Music Degree in performance on the viola. She decided four years later to return to the University of Alberta and graduated in 2003 with a Bachelor of Education Degree. Her viola teachers have included Miyo Inouye, Norman Nelson, Jonathan Craig and Rivka Golani. She is currently studying viola with Tom Johnson.

Miriam Ferguson has been the principal violist of the Edmonton Youth Orchestra, the University of Alberta’s Academy Strings and the University Symphony Orchestra. She taught and conducted at the Edmonton Public Schools Music Enrichment Strings Program from 1998 to 2008 and is currently busy as a private violin and viola instructor and freelance player.

Miriam Ferguson performs with Quartetto con Brio and with the Cifra Hungarian Folk Music Ensemble. The Cifra Ensemble has performed with the Edmonton Symphony and has been broadcast on CBC Radio One. Miriam has twice visited Hungary and Rumania with the Cifra Ensemble to study and perform authentic village folk music.


VIOLA - Kate Svrcek

Kate Svrcek

Alberta native Kate Svrcek began violin lessons at the age of five. While growing up in the Edmonton area, she was a member of the Edmonton Youth Orchestra under the baton of Michael Massey.

Kate attended McGill University where she received a Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance. She also attended the Meadowmount School of Music in upstate New York on two occasions. In addition to her musical studies, Ms. Svrcek has also obtained an After Degree in Education from the University of Alberta.

Kate is a frequent performer with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, The Alberta Baroque Ensemble, as well as various quartets and ensembles around the city.



VIOLIN - Jim Cockell

Jim Cockell

Violinist Jim Cockell was born and educated in Edmonton, Alberta. He received degrees in English and Music Theory from the University of Alberta while studying violin privately. His teachers included Ranald Shean, James Keene, Norman Nelson and Tom Johnson. Jim has played with the symphony orchestras of Edmonton, Saskatoon and Red Deer, the Alberta Baroque Ensemble and the National Ballet of Canada. He has also recorded, broadcast and toured internationally with his own ensemble, Cifra.







Daniel Gervais


2016 and 2011 Canadian Grand Master Fiddle Champion


Daniel has been playing the violin since the age of five. He plays a variety of fiddle styles and classical violin. Daniel completed a Master of Music degree in classical violin at the University of Alberta studying with Dr. Guillaume Tardif. During his studies, Daniel was awarded a prestigious research grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).


Daniel had the opportunity to perform at the 2012 London Olympics as a cultural ambassador of Alberta. In the spring, he performed for a reception at the prestigious Carnegie Hall in New York City. Daniel has toured with Zéphyr, a French-Canadian dance group, performing at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C., Mondial des cultures in Drummondville, PQ, the Folkmoot USA Festival in North Carolina, and Festival Interfolk in France. Daniel has also had several television and radio appearances. In 2010, he was a guest artist with The Lost Fingers, performing at the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto, ON.


Daniel is the first and only Albertan to win the Canadian Grand Master Fiddle Competition. Daniel first competed in the Canadian Grand Masters in 2003 and returned to this competition in 2004 and again in 2008, finishing in the top eleven both times.


In 2014, Daniel received the Eugène-C. Trottier award from the French-Canadian Association of Alberta (ACFA) for community involvement. Daniel was also awarded the Prix Sylvie Van Brabant-Excellence en création artistique (2010) by the Regroupement artistique francophone de l'Alberta and the City of Edmonton Arts and Culture Award (2007).


Daniel currently teaches as sessional faculty at MacEwan University in the jazz and popular music program. Daniel has had experience teaching a variety of students of different ages and abilities in collaboration with other music organizations such as the National Arts Centre MusicAlive! program, Calvin Vollrath Fiddle Camp and the North Eastern Music Association in St. Paul, AB, the John Arcand Fiddle Fest, Kenosee Lake Kitchen Party and the Pelletier Guitar and Music Camp in Saskatchewan, The Hills are Alive Music and Dance Cultural Fest in Elkwater, AB, Frontier Fiddlers in Manitoba, and the Suzuki Strings and Fiddleheads in Whitehorse, YT. In 2010, Trad'badour in collaboration with Canadian Parents for French completed a school show tour of over 90 presentations in Western Canada.


Daniel has six albums to his credit, including three solo albums, Flying Fiddle (2003) and Endless Possibilities (2005) and Old Red Barn (2013). In 2006, he was nominated for “Young Performer of the Year” at the Canadian Folk Music Awards. Daniel is a founding member of Trad’badour, a French-Canadian duo, with Roger Dallaire and Hot Club Edmonton with guitarist Clinton Pelletier. Hot Club Edmonton was awarded "Instrumental Album of the Year" at the Western Canadian Music Awards in 2010.





The rate of $350 includes the 4-day camp with instruction, all meals and dormitory accommodation, if desired (you must bring your own sheets/blankets or sleeping bag and towels). Rooms in the brand new Unity Lodge are charged at the rate of $25 per night over and above the camp rate (linens provided). Space for recreational vehicles is available for an additional $15 per night and includes electricity but no water or drainage. Take advantage of our early bird registration of $300 by August 1, 2018.

Please note: Cancellation deadline with full refund is September 1, 2018; cancellations received after this date are subject to a $30 administration fee.

The facility also offers a swimming pool (bring your bathing suit and towel), fire pits and picturesque walking trails.

Please note that the management of Van Es Camp strictly prohibits the use of alcohol on its premises.

Selected Participants' Comments on Previous String Music Camps


Staff concert was worth the price of admission of the whole workshop! So inspiring!

Outstanding staff & food

The whole 'camp' was a great weekend of fun, learning and entertainment.

The coaches were, as usual, fabulous.

These sectional practices changed my cello life! Amazing. Thank you!

It's such a pleasure when the conductor has the ability to teach as well as give clear directions. Positive approach and lots of encouragement with very specific suggestions for improvement made.


Directions to Van Es Camp and Conference Centre



Directions to Van Es Camp and Conference Centre