Our Staff

Our Staff

John Wiebe

Artistic Director

DR. JOHN WIEBE is an award-winning conductor and pianist based in Edmonton, Alberta where he runs the Edmonton Youth & Children’s Choirs and is the Director of Choral Activities at the University of Alberta – Augustana campus. He is the Past-President of Choral Canada, and has studied at Wilfrid Laurier University, the University of Alberta, with Frieder Bernius from Stuttgart, Germany, and in Vienna, Austria. John is a regular clinician and adjudicator across Canada who likes to keep in shape for his music schedule by travelling with his family, running, and golfing.

Samara Bortz

Artistic & Executive Director, Conductor

SAMARA BORTZ is a dynamic choral conductor, singer, and music educator, originally from Vancouver, BC, but now proud to call Edmonton home.  For the past four years she has worked as the founder and Artistic Director of the Crescent Choirs, helping grow the organization from a single choir of 25 singers to six different ensembles with more than 150 singers across all ages and levels.

Samara is known for creating a rehearsal atmosphere that allows her singers to grow as musicians, as well as empathetic community members and confident leaders. As a conductor, she is committed to creating choral artistry while embracing the joyful human connection that comes from singing with others.  Samara holds a Bachelor of Music in voice performance from Mount Allison University, a Master of Arts in historical musicology from UBC and a Master of Music degree in choral conducting, also from UBC. 

Samara has performed and travelled with a number of acclaimed choral ensembles, worked as an elementary music teacher, taught a private voice studio, and run a website and brand design business. 

We are beyond excited to have Samara join us as the Artistic & Executive Director starting next year!

Andrew Bortz

Conductor

Andrew Bortz Andrew is a sought-after conductor, singer, composer, pianist, and music educator. He is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in choral conducting from the University of Alberta. Before continuing his studies at the U of A, Andrew was the founder and artistic director of Aurora Chamber Choir, and also worked as the assistant conductor for Vancouver’s Phoenix Chamber Choir and Chrysalis Vocal Ensemble. As an accompanist, Andrew is known for his sensitive and intuitive music making, and has collaborated with high school, collegiate, and community choirs across the United States and Canada. He has recently sung bass with musica intima, Vancouver Chamber Choir, and Edmonton’s Pro Coro Canada. 

Andrew received a Master of Music degree in choral conducting from the University of British Columbia in 2017, where he directed the Chamber Choir, Men’s Choir, and Women’s Choir. His previous studies include a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington where he studied voice, composition, and piano.

Cherie Larson

Accompanist

CHERIE LARSON, B.Mus., has been with the choirs since 1998, either as accompanist or choir mom. Cherie started her degree at the U of A as a pianist and violinist, graduated with a B.Mus (Performance) in Viola and Organ; and continues to perform on all four instruments. She has served as Music Director (Edmonton Society for Talent Education), accompanies recitals and concerts, and has a viola and violin teaching studio. Cherie accompanies two choirs at Trinity Church, the Semitones choir, the Parkinsong choir, and the Edmonton Junior Choir.

Lisa Eriksson

Choir Manager

LISA ERIKSSON, our Choir Manager, is a long-time choir mother and supporter who enjoys getting to know and support the families in our choirs. You’ll know her as the cheerful person you speak to by phone and email regarding the many details that keep our choirs running. 

Taylor Ryski

Choir Manager

TAYLOR RYSKI is the newest member of the administrative team and a long-time chorister. Having been in both ECC and EYC for almost 10 years, Taylor has a passion for choir and is looking forward to working with the choirs in an organizational role.