Handling Performance Jitters

Sonia Poon


Sonia began playing the piano at age five with Constance Kline with who she completed her RCM examinations. During her years of study, she received five Silver Medals for top provincial marks as well as numerous honors at the Kiwanis Music Festival. She competed in the Canadian Music Competition, where she was a semifinalist. Following that, Sonia studied with Marek Jablonski for three years at the University of Alberta, as well as with Alexander Sandler and Jean-Paul Sevilla. After completing her Bachelor of Music, she went to Paris to continue her studies at Schola Cantorum L’Ecole des Beaux Arts. She studied piano solo, chamber music and analysis with Narcis Bonet and Prof. Sevilla. She has been teaching full time since, starting Forte Music in 2001, and is a standing member of the Alberta Piano Teacher’s Association. She has three wonderful and demanding children- Sascha, Luka and Camila.. and when possible, loves to play tennis, read and sleep in.


Festival Adjudicators

Marissa Feria


Marissa Feria was born in Taiwan and immigrated to Calgary at the age of 12. She obtained her
performance diploma with Peter Turner at Mount Royal University (MRU) and her Bachelors of
Music at the University of Calgary, studying under Marilyn Engle. Marissa also completed the
Suzuki Piano Pedagogy Diploma under Merlin Thompson at Mount Royal University in 2002,
and has been teaching at MRU since that same year. In 2007 she completed her master’s degree
in music therapy at Wilfrid Laurier University (MMT) and received her MTA (Music Therapist
Accredited) designation (2009). She also completed her Suzuki Early Childhood Education
training under Dorothy and Sharon Jones in London Ontario and has been teaching Suzuki Baby
classes since 2009. In addition, Marissa joined the MRU Conservatory Early Childhood Program
(2014) teaching baby music classes. Today she continues to demonstrate her leadership as an
educator, adjudicator and performer and has rekindled an interest in furthering her mastery of her
secondary instrument, the cello. She continues to teach Suzuki piano and children with special
needs at the Conservatory and maintains a private teaching studio with her husband Marc Houde.


Dr. Karen Gerelus


Dr. Karen Gerelus is a third-generation piano teacher, musician, author, and scholar. She has completed an Associate diploma in Piano Pedagogy from the Royal Conservatory of Music (ARCT), a Licentiate diploma in Piano Performance from Trinity College of London (LTCL), a Master of Arts in Piano Pedagogy from the University of Ottawa, and recently a PhD at the University of Calgary. Her dissertation titled “The Musical Identities of Piano Students: a Phenomenological Case Study” focused on motivation, social environment, future selves, and identity. She is a certified teacher and advanced specialist with the Royal Conservatory of Music, and active member of the Suzuki Association of the Americas. Her scholarly work has been featured in the American Music Teacher journal, Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, and at the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy.


Jani Parsons

Praised for her “combination of tenderness and vivaciousenergy” (San Francisco Chronical) and “sheer virtuosity”(LA Splash), Canadian pianist Jani Parsons has establishedherself as a musician of warmth, brilliance, versatility, andvivid expression. An active soloist and chamber musician,Jani is a founding member and executive director ofLatitude 49, a mixed chamber ensemble recently inresidence at Princeton University and the pianist of theAurora Trio with violinist Timothy Steeves and cellist MaxGeissler. Jani joined the faculty at the University of Calgaryas the newly appointed Assistant Professor of Piano andhead of the piano program in 2021.
As an avid performer and supporter of living composers,Jani has worked directly with many composers includingSteve Reich, Christopher Cerrone, John Zorn, Stacy Garrop,Marc Mellits, Roshanne Etezady, Augusta Read Thomas,Jared Miller and Shulamit Ran and has premiered upwardsof eighty new solo and chamber works. She is especiallyenthusiastic about featuring a wide array of “classics” andundiscovered masterpieces in her programming that spansfrom pre-Baroque to newly inked works.
A sought-after chamber musician, Jani has appeared with the Pittsburg New Music Ensemble, members ofBang on a Can All-Stars, Eighth Blackbird, and New Music Detroit as well as members of the Chicago andDetroit Symphony Orchestras. Performances across North America include the Chan Centre for the Arts(Vancouver, British Columbia), the Banff Centre for the Arts, Detroit Symphony Center, Detroit Institute ofArts, the Ravinia Festival and the Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago) and at various educationalinstitutions including the New England Conservatory, Indiana University, and Northwestern Universityamong others. Jani has appeared in 8 professionally released recordings and can be heard on the NewAmsterdam label, Tzadik label and Çedille Records among others.
Jani studied in Canada with Lorraine Ambrose at the Vancouver Academy of Music, and graduated fromthe University of Michigan under Arthur Greene and John Ellis. She has served on faculty at the Fresh Inc.Summer festival, the Interlochen Summer Arts Camp and the Piracicaba International Piano Festival inBrazil and is a passionate teacher and life-long music geek.


Amy Wood

Amy Wood is a self-taught singer songwriter then classically trained musician. She has serenaded noisy coffee shops and bars, quiet house concerts and theatres with her original voice and piano music and performed timeless classical repertoire in master classes, recitals and concerts as a classical vocalist and pianist. This musical journey brings a unique perspective to her writing, performing and most of all teaching.


Amy began her formal piano studies late in high school, completing her RCM Grade 10 exam a few years later and continuing on to receive a Bachelor of Music Performance (Classical Voice) from the University of Victoria and a Bachelor of Education in Ottawa. Amy studied with pianists Kathy Dornian and Derek Stoll, vocalists Erin and Dawn Johnson, Winston Noren, Pat Hrynkiw and Ben Butterfield. She has trained in Orff, RCM and Montessori education methods and attended professional development at Carnegie Hall in New York as well as the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. 

For the last 15 years, Amy has taught over 1000 students in Calgary, Victoria and Ottawa as a private music instructor and an elementary music specialist with the Calgary Arts Academy, Calgary Board of Education and the Calgary Montessori School. She is honoured each time she gets to witness a student’s gifts and take part in nurturing them. 

Highlights of Wood’s performing career include being voted one of Victoria, B.C.’s Top 5 musicians in CBC Radio’s ‘Hunt for Canada’s Best New Artist’. She was also recognized as a semi-finalist in the annual International Songwriting Competition and as a finalist in the Calgary Folk Festival Songwriting Competition. Amy has been highlighted twice on CBC Radio’s ‘This is My Music’ as an artist of great potential and unique style by Canada’s renowned classical vocalists Benjamin Butterfield and Daniel Taylor. She also held a leading role in Opera Nuova’s Albert Herring. 


Amy and her husband live a wonderful, ordinary life filled with bike rides, family meals and playtime with their two young sons.

Listen to Amy Wood’s most recent album Sound Home Light on Spotify, Apple music or www.amywoodmusic.com