Meet VCM Alumni
Sarah MacDonald is the Director of Music at Selwyn College, a constituent college of the University of Cambridge in the U.K. She is also Director of the Girl Choristers at Ely Cathedral. Sarah has been at Selwyn since 1999, and is the first woman to hold such a post in an Oxbridge Chapel. A Victoria native, Sarah studied at the Victoria Conservatory of Music from 1981 to 1987. Read more here.
Jonathan Crow is Concertmaster of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and Associate Professor of Violin at the University of Toronto. From 1992 to 1995, he took private lessons with Sydney Humphreys at the Victoria Conservatory of Music. Read more here.
Nikki Chooi began his Suzuki violin studies at the Victoria Conservatory of Music, which included private lessons with Sydney Humphreys. In 2016, at the age of 27, Nikki was named the Metropolitan Opera’s new concertmaster. In June 2019, Nikki was named the Buffalo Philharmonic’s newest concertmaster. Read our interview here.
Timothy Chooi began his studies at age 3 at the Victoria Conservatory of Music and made his orchestral debut at the age of seven performing with his brother Nikki and the Victoria Symphony Orchestra. In July 2019, Timothy was awarded 2nd prize at the Queen Elisabeth International Violin Competition in Brussels, Belgium. Learn more about Timothy here.
Simon MacDonald studied violin at the Victoria Conservatory of Music from 1985 to 1992. He participated in a variety of programs including private lessons with Sydney Humphreys, the Senior String Orchestra with Stuart Knussen, and graduated from the Camosun College/ VCM AVCM Performance and Teaching Certificate in 1992. After 25+ years of performing in various groups including the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra (principal 2nd) and Regina Symphony Orchestra (concertmaster), he joined the VCM faculty in 2017 as the Artistic Director of the Young Artists Collegium, the Department Head of the Strings Department, and Artistic Director of the Summer Strings Academy. Read his full faculty bio here.
Acclaimed tenor Benjamin Butterfield has enjoyed a near 30-year career in opera both in Canada and abroad. Since 2006, while continuing his singing career, Benjamin has been teaching voice to the next generation at the University of Victoria, where he became a full professor in 2016. Benjamin began lessons at the VCM with Selena James when he was seven years old. Learn more here.S
Kelly Derrickson is a First Nation artist from Westbank, BC. She won the 2015 Coachella Valley Music Award for Best Country Artist and won Best New Artist at the 2015 and 2016 Indigenous Music Awards. She loved music from the age of four, and while at school in Victoria, she began studying at the VCM. Learn more about Kelly here.
A recognized operatic conductor, Robert Tweten currently holds the position of Head of Music Staff for the Santa Fe Opera and is also the Music Director of Opera Studies for New England Conservatory. Starting in his early teens, Robert studied piano with VCM legends Winifred Scott Wood and Robin Wood. Learn more here.
Celtic music fans around the world know Jamie Laval from his prestigious career in Celtic music, but Jamie was not always a fiddler. He trained as a classical violinist beginning in 1978, studying under the distinguished teacher Sydney Humphreys, who occupied a second floor corner studio at Craigdarroch Castle, the first home of the newly named Victoria Conservatory of Music. Learn more here.
Patricia Au is a Resident Teaching Artist at the Boston Lyric Opera where she works in Boston Public Schools to empower youth with little or no formal music education to create and perform original opera projects. As a youth, she studied at the VCM, later joining faculty. Learn more here.
VCM Alum! We want to hear from you!
The Victoria Conservatory of Music boasts a vibrant Alumni community of individuals who studied, worked and volunteered at the VCM over the last 50 years. Our alumni community is open to everyone who has been involved with the VCM – students, faculty, staff and board members.
We want to hear from you! Get in touch with us by sharing your stories in the form below or send us an email.