Clinicians (2024)

Adjudicators for the 2025 festival will be announced soon. Here you can review profiles of our 2024 adjudicators.

Christine Blanchard

Mark Adam


About Mark

Canadian drummer/percussionist Mark Adam has shared the stage and studio with many of Canada’s leading artists and is fluent across a wide range of musical styles. From jazz with Phil Dwyer, Laila Biali, Dave Restivo, Adrean Farrugia, David Braid and Mike Murley, to award winning classical recordings with Derek Charke, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and WIRED Ensemble, Mark’s love of music knows no bounds. He has played on recordings of country artists George Canyon and Dave Gunning, worked with leaders in modern dance at the Toronto Dance Theater and the National Ballet and enjoys a career in music production. Mark’s ability to hear across musical styles allows him to hear and develop artists’ voices and visions. He has produced albums for Laurenn Marchand (2016 Music Nova Scotia nominations for Solo Recording of the Year, Folk Recording of the Year and New Artist Recording of the Year), Carmen Braden (2020 ECMA nominee for Classical Recording of the Year, 2017 WCMA
Classical Composition of the Year), Tom Easley (2019 Music Nova Scotia Jazz Recording of the Year) and Kim Barlow (2019 Music Nova Scotia Folk Recording of the Year nominee). His latest projects include a sophomore album for Tom Easley, fourth album with Carmen Braden, a trio release with Phil Dwyer (BPM Trio, WCMA Jazz Recording of the Year Nominee)) and albums from East Coast songwriters Michael Dalton and Pat LePoidevin. Mark was a 2020 East Coast
Music Award nominee for Producer of the Year. He is a professor at Acadia University in Wolfville, NS and regularly appears as a guest presenter and educator for music festivals, universities, high schools and conferences across Canada.

Christine Blanchard

Dorian Leigh Baker


About Dorian

Dorian was born and raised in Halifax, NS. Dorian completed his Undergraduate Degree in Music from Mount Allison University, while simultaneously studying Clarinet Performance at The Boston Conservatory. Dorian later moved to Toronto where he completed his Masters Degree in Clarinet Performance from the University of Toronto. As an artist, Dorian has participated in masterclasses across North America and throughout Europe. He has worked with world-renowned artists from leading orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, and Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Dorian has performed at numerous prestigious venues including Sanders Theatre at Harvard, CBC Studios, and Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto. At present, Dorian is engaged with the local music scene, where he serves as a member of the Board of Directors with the Chebucto Symphony Orchestra. Dorian is also the principal Clarinetist with the Chebucto Symphony Orchestra, and an on-call musician with Symphony Nova Scotia. Above all, Dorian remains passionately dedicated to his clarinet and saxophone students. His students are members of provincial ensembles, community orchestras, and are leaders within their own school music programs.

Christine Blanchard

Dr. Olivier Blakney


About Olivier
Dr. Olivier Blakney has been Assistant Professor of Applied Brass at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick since 2019 as well as Teaching Artist for New Brunswick Youth Orchestra, after graduating with his Doctorate in Horn Performance from Indiana University. With the Volante Winds Quintet he has performed at the Mineral Point Chamber Music Festival in Wisconsin, the Juneau Jazz and Classics Festival, the Jeju International Wind Ensemble Festival in Jeju South Korea, the American Music Festival in Morehead City, North Carolina, and Chamber Music Wilmington. An avid performer, chamber musician, and advocate for new music, he also enjoys reading, hiking, and spending time with his wife Diana, 1 year old son Benjamin and 8 year old cat Olivia.
Christine Blanchard

Dr. Tristan De Borba


About Tristan

Tristan De Borba is a classical and contemporary saxophonist and conductor and is quickly gaining a reputation as an innovative and engaging musician. Tristan has a strong interest in the music of our time. Tristan is a member of the Alkali Collective, a Halifax-based new music ensemble dedicated to the creation, performance, documentation, and educational outreach of 21st century music. Tristan is also one-half of the Strum-De Borba duo with fellow saxophonist Nicole Strum. As a soloist, his recording of Derek Charke’s Wired and Wound with pianist Simon Docking can be found on the ECMA nominated recording “Live Wired” (Centrediscs, 2015). Tristan also appears as saxophone soloist on “In the Wide Awe of Wisdom” featuring the choral music of Paul Halley (Pelagos, 2017). Alongside pianist Mary Castello, Tristan released a video recording of Fernande Decruck’s Sonata and William Grant Still’s Romance. Dr. Tristan De Borba completed a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Toronto. He is Assistant Professor at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia where he teaches saxophone, conducts the String Orchestra and Symphonic Band and teaches musicianship. When taking a break from a busy performing and teaching career, Tristan can be found alongside his wife Sara and their dogs Lua and Sasi exploring beautiful Nova Scotia.

Christine Blanchard

Shauna DeGruchy


About Shauna
Shauna DeGruchy is a freelance trombonist and music educator based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Her performance career spans a wide range of genres and performance settings including orchestras, wind ensembles, big bands, musical theatre productions, and pop music groups. She is a founding member and co-artistic director of Alkali Collective, a contemporary chamber group based in Halifax. As an avid supporter of contemporary music she has commissioned and premiered several new solo and chamber music compositions for her instrument.

Shauna has performed in many festivals and conferences across Canada, including the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, Sonic Boom New Music Festival, the Montreal International Jazz Festival, Acadia University’s Shattering the Silence New Music Festival, Upstream Music Association’s Open Waters Festival, and the Halifax Jazz Festival, as well as events such as the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo. She has toured internationally with several ensembles, including a performance in Tokyo, Japan as a soloist with the Vancouver Pops Symphony Orchestra.

Shauna is a dedicated music educator with more than fifteen years of teaching experience. Her approach prioritizes well-rounded musicianship and practical skill-building, including strong technique, diverse repertoire, and a sound-driven approach to self-analysis. She offers lessons through her private teaching studio the Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts. She also teaches at the post-secondary level at the Fountain School of Performing Arts at Dalhousie University. As a clinician, she has coached and led workshops for the Dalhousie University Wind Ensemble, the Nova Scotia Youth Wind Ensemble, the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra, as well as many school band programs and community groups.

Shauna holds an undergraduate degree in music education and performance from Acadia University and a master’s degree in trombone performance from Université de Montréal.

Christine Blanchard

Andrea Kim


About Andrea
Andrea Kim is a flautist from Abbotsford, British Columbia, and has studied the flute for over ten years. She studied with Paolo Bortolussi during high school and with Suzanne Snizek at the University of Victoria from 2019 to 2021 until she transferred to Acadia University in 2022. She has since been studying with Jack Chen and has
erformed solo and in numerous ensembles and recitals at both the University of Victoria and Acadia University. Some ensembles Andrea has been a member of throughout her musical journey include the Surrey Youth Orchestra, British Columbia Honour Wind Ensemble, and The Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra. She has also performed with the National Youth Band of Canada for their 2018 and 2022 seasons and with the Stadacona Band of the Royal Canadian Navy for the Canadian University Music Society Conference in 2022 as well as the Atlantic Music Festival in 2023. In addition to her performances, Andrea has also been a guest clinician for the Nova Scotia Youth Wind Ensemble. In the summer of 2023, She attended Orford Musique where she studied with Denis Bluteau and Alexa Still. Andrea is a dedicated and passionate musician and is currently working to further her education and pursue a career in music performance.
Christine Blanchard

Jamie LeBlanc


About Jamie
James LeBlanc is an instructor at Acadia University where he teaches applied trumpet, and trumpet methods courses. A native of Nova Scotia, James picked up the trumpet in his school band program and has been immersed in music ever since. He spent time away studying and performing with clinicians, conductors, and orchestras across Canada. He returned to Nova Scotia to share his passion, and knowledge of music with future generations.

James holds a Bachelor of Music in Performance from McGill University where he studied with soloist and educator Edward Carroll, a Master of Music in Performance from the University of Ottawa where he studied with Karen Donnelly, Principal Trumpet of NACO, and a Bachelor of Education in Secondary Instrumental Music from the University of Calgary.

James held a position with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra, and has performed with the National Arts Center Orchestra, Ottawa Symphony Orchestra, and PEI Symphony Orchestra. He has performed with chamber groups such as Altius Brass, and Capital Brass Works.

James was a member of the Canadian Armed Forces as a reserve musician for 16 years, where he has gained numerous awards and recognitions. He has performed with the Stadacona Band of the Royal Canadian Navy, Central Band of the Canadian Forces, La Musique du Royal 22e Régiment, and the Ceremonial Guard Band.

In addition to teaching at Acadia University, James teaches music and band with the Halifax Regional Center for Education. He is a regular clinician with the Nova Scotia Honour bands, and maintains a private teaching studio. James has also taught courses at the University of Ottawa.

Christine Blanchard

Sean McLennon


About Sean
Originally from Grand Falls, NL, Sean received a Bachelor of Music, majoring in tuba, and a Bachelor of Music Education from Memorial University of Newfoundland. During that time he completed an external semester at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, England. After teaching music and band for many years in Newfoundland and Labrador, he went on to complete a Master of Music at the
University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. Sean then moved to Nova Scotia where he taught band for the remainder of his public school career, retiring in 2022 after teaching band for 35 years.

Sean is or has been a member of several musical groups in Nova Scotia including Nova Brass Quintet, Scotia Brass, Cape Breton Brass Band, Second Wind Community Band, Cape Breton Orchestra, and Donkin Citizens’ Brass Band. Other ensembles in which Sean has been a member in the past include the Savoy Theatre Pit Orchestra and the Cape Breton University Pit Orchestra. He was co-conductor of Second Wind Community Band in Sydney, Nova Scotia. He was also a co-conductor with Second
Chances Community Band in Halifax. He founded and conducted the Happy Valley-Goose Bay Concert Band and the Labrador School Board Honour Band (Encore). Sean was also the conductor of the Dal Wind Ensemble (Halifax, NS).

Outside of Nova Scotia, Sean was a member of the Band of the Ceremonial Guard (Ottawa, ON), principal tubaist with the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra , the Plumbing Factory Brass Band (London, ON), Stratford Concert Band (ON), Memorial University of NL Brass Quintet, Memorial University of NL Concert Band (principal), City University Symphony Orchestra (London, England), City University Brass Band, Guildhall School of Music and Drama Brass Quintet (London, England), and the
Guildhall Tuba Quartet (London, England).

Sean has served on various arts education boards over the years including president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Music Educators Association, vice president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council, president of the Nova Scotia Music Educators Association, and board member on the Canadian Music Educators Association.

Sean currently resides in Debert, NS and is extremely pleased to be the low brass
(Tuba/Baritone/Euphonium) clinician at Atlantic Festivals of Music this year.

Christine Blanchard

Dr. Paul Rushka

Jazz Rhythm Section

About Paul

Rushka “comes across like a postmodern Milt Hinton, providing a powerful pulse that never flags”

– Bill Bennett, All About Jazz

Award-winning bassist, composer, arranger and educator Dr. Paul Rushka has been engaging audiences for over two decades with his sonorous tone, confident beat and eloquent melodic creativity. Paul’s debut recording As It Happens showcases his lyrical original compositions, highlights his deep grooves
and hip basslines, and demonstrates his ensemble’s formidable improvisations and dynamic group interplay.

Paul’s bass playing has been featured on over 20 commercially released recordings. He has appeared on stage with numerous jazz luminaries, including John Taylor, Joe LaBarbera, Julian Priester, Jimmy Greene, Peter Bernstein, Seamus Blake, Gary Smulyan, Champian Fulton, Brad Turner, Ross Taggart,
Lorne Lofsky, Kirk MacDonald, Kevin Dean, André White, and many more. In 2003, Paul won a Western Canadian Music Award for Best Jazz Album for his work on the Mike Allen Trio’s Dialectic.

Paul holds a D.Mus. degree in Jazz Performance from McGill University, and is currently an Assistant Professor of Music at StFX University.

Christine Blanchard

Ciara Wheeler

Double Reeds

About Ciara
Ciara Wheeler has been an oboe and English horn player for about 14 years, and has
been involved in music her entire life. She completed her undergraduate degree in
Oboe Performance at the University of Toronto in 2020, studying with Sarah Jeffrey.
Ciara has always jumped at the chance to play in ensembles as often as possible:
chamber, orchestral, band, etc., but enjoys solo playing every now and then as well.
She has played at many national and international music festivals over the years,
including chamber festivals in Luxembourg and Italy. Aside from her classical music
studies and performances, Ciara mainly loves to listen to as many different musical
genres as she can find and spend time with her very good dogs.

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