Wye String Ensemble

Promoting culture in the community

Promoting Culture in the Community 
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The Wye String Ensemble


September 9 - 12, 2021, Van Es Camp and Conference Centre









Click here for String Music Camp 2021 Registration form

Click here for String Music Camp 2021 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 2021 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 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th, 2019. Join us to celebrate our twelfth 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 9, 6:15 pm - 9:00 pm at Camp Van Es

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

Saturday, September 11, 7:30 am - 8:00 pm at Camp Van Es

Sunday, September 12, 7:30 am - 6:00 pm at Camp Van Es

Sunday, September 12 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm Concert at Camp Van Es



A Note about the Music for Camp

Please note - the information for the music for String Camp 2021 has been posted and camp registrants have been given instructions about how to download parts for the 2021 string camp repertoire. It includes the following and some further revisions/cuts may be made in due course.


Strathcona County String Music Camp - Summer Repertoire 2021 includes the following:

Benjamin Britten Simple Symphony

Edvard Grieg Air from Holberg Suite

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Divertimento II in B flat major KV137 (Andante)

Johann Stamitz Symphony in A major (Allegro assai)

Abelardo Valdes Almendra


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 - Cossette Justo Valdés



Cosette Justo Valdés is the Assistant Conductor and Community Ambassador of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, starting in the 2018-19 season. Born and raised in Cuba, as a daughter of amateur musicians, she’s loved music all of her life, and she began learning piano and music theory from age 8. At 18 she saw a symphony orchestra for the first time and immediately knew she wanted to be a conductor. She took up conducting in 2002 at the National Institute of the Arts of Cuba, in Havana, and after graduating in 2009 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Orchestral Conducting, she was appointed Music & Artistic Director of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Oriente (OSO) (Santiago, Cuba), Cuba’s second-most important orchestra.


During her first three years at the OSO, Cosette organized and conducted numerous concerts of a broad repertoire of classical, jazz, pop, and traditional Cuban music, which allowed her to start consolidating her foundation as a conductor. She also developed several programs for improving the technical and musical level of the orchestra, and founded a Kid’s Orchestra and a Youth Orchestra, both tutored by the musicians of the professional orchestra.


With Cuba’s OSO, Cosette conducted premières for some of Cuba’s best known composers. She also performed the Cuban première of Domenico Scarlatti’s intermezzo La Dirindina, including designing the costumes, sets, super-titles and directing the overall artistic production.


In 2012, Cosette entered the Mannheim Staatliche Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst (State University for Music & Performing Arts) in Germany, to learn more about conducting classical repertoire from the European perspective, and she earned her Master’s Degree in 2018. She has conducted many orchestral, choral, and chamber ensembles in Europe, while remaining Music & Artistic Director of the OSO and returning often to conduct it.


Her passion for 20th century music inspired her to conduct a performance of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 1 with the National Orchestra of Cuba in Havana for the first time in more than 30 years. She also organized several large projects combining the forces of the two major symphonic orchestras of Eastern Cuba.


Cosette also brought to the OSO for the first time pieces like Shostakovich’s Symphonies Nos. 1 and 5, West Side Story Suite by Leonard Bernstein (in his centenary, performed in January, 2018), Symphony No. 1 by Robert Schumann, Symphony No. 5 by Felix Mendelssohn, Pulcinella Suite by Igor Stravinsky, The Unanswered Question by Charles Ives, and others. She conducted concerts specifically for children to give them an opportunity to get to know an orchestra and its instruments. She also invited music students to listen to and play with chamber orchestras and/or symphony orchestras for the first time.


Cosette conducted the OSO for the CD “Popularmente Sinfónico”, and guest-conducted several other CD recordings in Cuba. She organized the project “SinfóniJazz” for jazz quartet and orchestra, which had its first performance in December 2016 at the International Jazz Festival of Havana. For it, she commissioned music from some of the best young jazz players and composers in Cuba. The National Orchestra of Cuba performed the première of this project, and it was a great success.


Combining a command of standard repertoire with a flair for traditional Cuban music as well as a passion for educational outreach, Justo Valdés has conducted across Europe and North America. She has recently been appointed Assistant Conductor of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. She is involved in establishing strong ties with the community through outreach initiatives. As such she is Artistic Lead of the ESO’s Youth Orchestra of Northern Alberta (YONA-Sistema) program.



Camp Coordinator - 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.






Violin 1 Instructor/Chamber Coach- Ewald Cheung



Edmonton native Ewald Cheung joined the ESO's first violin section in 2018 after earning performance degrees at the Juilliard School and McGill University.

A prize-winner in multiple violin competitions and an avid chamber musician, Ewald was a founding member of the Roddick String Quartet and Geistrio, and has performed extensively around Canada in recitals, chamber music collaborations, and as soloist with orchestras.

Ewald can be heard on his 2015 recording with pianist Philip Chiu, "A Tribute to Fritz Kreisler."



Violin 2 Instructor/Chamber Coach/Guest Lecturer - 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.




Viola Instructor/Chamber Coach - Ethan Filner



American-born violist of the San Francisco-based, internationally acclaimed Cypress String Quartet from 2001-2016, Ethan Filner studied at Indiana University-Bloomington, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, and New England Conservatory.

Ethan has been the ESO's Assistant Principal Violist since 2019, having previously held the same position with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony from 2017-19 and taught viola at the University of Toronto from 2016-19. With the CSQ until they disbanded.

Ethan has recorded nearly 20 albums, performed concerts in major and minor venues all across North America and Europe, commissioned and premiered dozens of new works for string quartet (and a few for solo viola), presented educational outreach programs for tens of thousands of students of all ages, and collaborated with many of the most inspiring musical artists of our time.

Cello Instructor/Chamber Coach - Caitlin Laslop



Caitlin Laslop is an Edmonton based cellist, teacher and conductor. Mrs. Laslop has taught at Grant MacEwan University, Edmonton Public School Board Music Enrichment Program and the Strathcona Conservatory of Music as well as performed and conducted in many venues including the Winspear Centre for Music and the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium.

Caitlin currently has a studio of 30+ students, teaches from home, and at Suzuki Charter School. She also enjoys playing in the Vif String Quartet.

Mrs. Laslop graduated from the University of Alberta in 2007 with a Bachelor of Music in Cello Performance where she studied under the guidance of Tanya Prochazka.





Double Bass Instructor/Chamber Coach - Doug Ohashi


Mississauga-born Douglas Ohashi joined the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra in 2019. Prior to this, he had been a core member of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra in Maryland and has had a rich freelancing career in the Toronto area as a substitute player for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Canadian Opera Company Orchestra.

Douglas has also made a solo appearance in Toronto’s 21C festival. Douglas holds degrees from the University of Toronto, Peabody Conservatory, and a performance diploma from the Glenn Gould School. During his education, he has studied with some of the foremost players and pedagogues in North America such as: Edward Tait, Jeffrey Beecher, and Ira Gold.







Friday Night Concert - Performance will be given by:

Ewald Cheung and Ethan Filner

Ewald & Ethan have been exploring and performing virtuosic and beautiful duets for violin and viola ever since meeting as new members of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra in the 2018-19 season.

With a fast-growing repertoire ranging from the Baroque to the Beatles and beyond, the dedicated duo brings an exciting blend of energy, passion, generosity, and fun to every concert. (also see bios and photos above)


Saturday Night Concert - Performance by Keri Lynn Zwicker - Harp


Keri Lynn Zwicker is a versatile harpist who is sought after as a soloist, teacher and side musician in both Celtic and Classical realms. She holds an ARCT in piano performance from the Royal Conservatory and a Bachelor of Music and Master of Arts from the University of Alberta.

She is currently an instructor at the MacEwan Conservatory of Music.

She tours internationally with David Wilkie’s band Cowboy Celtic, plays second harp with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and leads a trio of musicians in her solo project “HarpRouge.” Keri Lynn has independently released three CD’s of her arrangements of traditional music that feature her gaelic-styled vocals and Alberta-built carbon fibre harp.



Rebecca Schellenberg



Hang on to your hats! Get ready for another caper through some fascinating string music! This year we cover everything from a concert in a castle in Prague, to the eclectic sounds of Prog... Prog Rock, that is! Koussevicky, Radiohead, Magma, you’ll hear it all, with even a little Jethro Tull thrown in for good measure.

We will listen to some examples, watch snippets of videos, and explore some musical humor

Come ready to listen to some great tunes!

Rebecca Schellenberg is a violinist, teacher and writer. She also teaches creative writing classes, and recently taught for ELLA at U of A, a course called All Things Music.

Rebecca has performed with various symphonies including Edmonton Symphony, Saskatoon, Regina and Prince George symphonies. She plays in ensembles, adjudicates and teaches privately.

Rebecca has a Master of Music degree from The U of Alberta, and a Bachelor of Music from Brandon University.







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 $50 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, 2021.

Please note: Cancellation deadline with full refund is September 1, 2021; 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



Click here for Directions to Camp Van Es