Wye String Ensemble

Promoting culture in the community

Promoting Culture in the Community 
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The Wye String Ensemble


Coming September 5 - 8, 2019, Van Es Camp and Conference Centre

(Stay tuned for more information)



Click here for String Music Camp 2018 Registration form

Click here for String Music Camp 2018 Registration form with Fillable Fields

Download the form to your computer; if you download the form with fillable fields, you can fill it out on your computer, then email to miriamlewis@shaw.ca, or you may send via Canada Post. You may also pay the camp fee via e-transfer to miriamlewis@shaw.ca from an online bank account.

Click here for String Music Camp 2018 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 2018 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 6th 7th, 8th, and 9th, 2018. Join us to celebrate our eleventh 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 6 6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. at Festival Place, 100 Festival Way, Sherwood Park (Please note that Festival Way is a one-way street and the only access is from Sherwood Drive at the corner of the Sherwood Park Mall.)

Friday, September 7 6:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. at Camp Van Es (See below for directions to Camp Van Es.)

Saturday, September 8 7:30 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. at Camp Van Es

Sunday, September 9 7:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. at Camp Van Es

Sunday, September 9 6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. Concert at Camp Van Es

Sunday, September 9 at 6:00 pm at Camp Van Es.



A Note about the Music for Camp

Camp registrants will be given instructions about how to download parts for the 2018 string camp repertoire. It includes the following and some further additions which will be made in due course.

Strathcona County String Music Camp - Summer Repertoire 2018 includes the following

Moorside Suite by Gustav Holst

Ancient Airs and Dances, III Suite, Movement 2 by Ottorino Respighi

Sinfonia by Antonio Vivaldi


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 - Michael Massey


Michael Massey was born in England and emigrated to Canada in 1957. His early piano studies with Jean-Pierre Vetter Edmonton were the prime influence in his development as a musician. Later studies at the University of Alberta earned him a bachelor of music degree and the gold medal in piano performance of the Western Board of Music. Following his graduation he spent two years studying at the Geneva Conservatory where he was unanimously awarded the Premier Prix de Virtuosité and performed as soloist with L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande.

Mr. Massey's activities as a musician are many and varied. He has performed as a soloist and chamber musician throughout Canada, England and Scotland and has performed on numerous occasions on CBC radio and television.

As an accompanist he is particularly renowned for having worked with many major performing artists from Canada and abroad. He recently gave a course in conducting at the University of Alberta where he has had a long association as a coach (vocal and chamber music) and accompanist. Mr. Massey is currently part of the collaborative pianist team for the Music and Sound summer programme at the Banff Centre for the Arts where he coaches, conducts and accompanies young instrumentalists from around the world. Mr. Massey has appeared frequently as soloist with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, and has also been its orchestral pianist for over twenty-five years. He is active as a piano teacher and his students have received local and national awards and international acclaim.

As a conductor, he has been deeply influenced by his studies in England in 1984 with the renowned pedagogue, George Hurst.

Since 1977, he has been Music Director of the Edmonton Youth Orchestra programme. In 1978 he started the Intermediate Orchestra which continues to provide orchestral experience for younger players before moving to the Senior Orchestra.

In 1980 Mr. Massey started the Northern Alberta Concerto Competition where such artists as Michael Rose, Amanda Forsyth, Jens Lindemann and Angela Cheng performed their first concertos with the EYO. This competition continues to provide valuable performing experience for young soloists.

In the following years Mr. Massey took the EYO on tour to Los Angeles, Australia, Austria, Great Britain, Ontario, Quebec and Northern Alberta. The Alumni of the EYO are found in almost every professional Canadian Orchestra and such renowned groups as The Canadian Brass, The St. Lawrence Quartet, The Philadelphia Orchestra and the Boston Symphony. Under his leadership it has also produced a whole generation of educated and enthusiastic listeners. The EYO has also produced five compact discs displaying a wide variety of repertoire.

In 1988 and 1996 Mr. Massey wrote and published The Canadian Repertoire Manual, a source book and analysis of Canadian music suitable for youth orchestras in order to encourage the performance of Canadian music by youth orchestras throughout Canada.

Mr. Massey appears as guest conductor locally and abroad having worked with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra and the Scottish National Orchestra. In 1988 Mr. Mass was invited to conduct and play in the Hoffnung Music Festival concerts with the prestigious Philharmonia Orchestra of London. This event was recorded on the Decca label.

In 2002, for his contribution to the cultural life of the city, Mr. Massey was inducted into the Edmonton Cultural Hall of Fame as an Artist–Builder and also received the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal. In 2016 Mr Massey was inducted into the "Alberta order of Excellence". This is the highest honour the Province of Alberta can bestow on a citizen.



VIOLIN - Anna Kozak



Anna is a core member of the first violin section with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, an Assistant Concertmaster of the Alberta Baroque Ensemble and a Principal Second Violin in the newly formed Chamber Orchestra of Edmonton. She has earned a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Toronto and a Master of Music degree from the University of Calgary.

Anna loves being an orchestral musician. It’s a profession that has taken her to concert halls all over Europe as well as Carnegie Hall in New York.

Being a violinist, Anna finds life just wouldn’t be complete without chamber music. She’s been very fortunate to have been a part of many wonderful chamber groups and have performed in most exciting venues. She’s been a founding member of the Onyx String Quartet and Tersona Piano Trio. She’s performed at Winspear countless times at ESO events, at the Rozsa Centre with University of Calgary professor Edmond Agopian, at the Yardbird Suite with the Obsessions Octet to name a few.

She’s had the pleasure of performing solos with the Alberta Baroque Ensemble, the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and the Alberta College Percussion Ensemble. Besides performing Anna finds it fulfilling to share her passion and knowledge with her students. She holds a small private studio, teaches at the annual Wye Strings Camp and on occasion leads coaching sessions for local amateur groups.

Anna is playing on a violin made in 1770 by Giovanni Battista Gabrielli of Florence. Once she is done all her practicing, performing or teaching, Anna enjoys spending time with her husband and their Great Dane “George”.



VIOLIN - Neda Yamach


Originally from St. Albert, Alberta, Neda Yamach began studying the violin at the age of five. Under the tutelage of Thomas Williams, she attended McGill University where she was a recipient of the Lloyd Carr Harris Scholarship.

After receiving her Bachelor of Music degree, she studied with Patti Kopec at the Manhattan School of Music. Neda was a member of the Edmonton Youth Orchestra and has attended the Banff Summer Arts Festival and Meadowmount School of Music in New York. She joined the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra in 2011 following international auditions. She is also a member of the Alberta Baroque Ensemble and Kent Sangster's Obsessions Octet.





VIOLA- Martina Smazal


Martina Smazal received her Bachelor of Music Degree in Viola Performance under Jane Logan at the University of Ottawa and her Masters in Viola Performance under Gerald Stanick at UBC, where she later served as Sessional Instructor and Director of the Summer Music Institute for Strings. Having won the Friends Of Chamber Music and the BC Festival Of The Arts (among various concerto competitions), Ms. Smazal was invited to study at the International School Of Musical Arts on a full stipend.

She has performed various concertos with orchestras, including Brandenburg 6 with TSO's Susan Lipchuk. Martina has had the honour of performing chamber music with Juno Award winning Pianist Valerie Tryon, renowned cellist Eugene Osadchy and recording artists: pianist Linda Lee Thomas and violinist Marc Destrube. She had served as Principal Viola for the Vancouver Opera Orchestra, the National Ballet, BC Ballet, the Strauss Orchestra of Canada, the Canada West Chamber Orchestra and for the 2010 Olympics.She also had fun playing at the CCMAs with Johnny Reid and George Canyon, tangos with Montreal's group 'Gianelli', and with K-OS on the Stroumboulopoulos TV Show.

Martina has toured Canada, the U.S. and Japan under Pinchas Zukerman and Kazuyoshi Akiyama and has great memories of playing with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Since moving to Edmonton to follow her husband, she has been a regular extra violist with the ESO (adding Carnegie Hall to her experiences).

In the winter of 2018, Ms. Smazal was a Solo Violist in the musical “Children Of God” that got a Sterling Award Nomination.

As a violin/viola teacher and chamber music coach, youth orchestra conductor and festival adjudicator / competition judge, Martina has always loved communicating her passion for music to students and inspiring them to have their own successes, be it careers in music or producing wonderful pastime music.

CELLO - Meran Currie-Roberts


Meran Currie-Roberts enjoys a successful career as a cellist, teacher, and music administrator. Former Dean of the Manitoba Conservatory, she is currently Executive & Artistic Director of the Health Arts Society of Alberta, where she brings hundreds of concerts to elders in care annually.

As one of Edmonton’s busiest cellists, she plays frequently with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and has also appeared with the Calgary Philharmonic and Winnipeg, Kitchener-Waterloo, Windsor and Colorado Music Festival Orchestras. She joins the Edmonton Symphony as a section cellist for the 2018-2019 Season.

As a chamber musician, Meran has played for the Edmonton Recital Society, Festival of the Sound, Elora Festival, Festival Ibero Americano, Music at Port Milford, Kincardine Festival and Festival Vancouver. Meran is on faculty at MacEwan’s Conservatory where she shares her love of the cello with students from age 4 to retirement. She has an M.Mus from the University of Toronto, where she studied with Shauna Rolston.




Jan Urke

Jan Urke graduated with a Bachelor of Music Degree in Performance, the University of Toronto in 1978 from the studio of Tom Monohan. From 1972 to 1974 he was a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada. He continued his studies at the Banff Centre for the Arts in 1980 with Stuart Knussen.


Jan freelanced from 1973 through 1979 with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, the National Ballet Company, the Canadian Opera Company and the Bolshoi Ballet Company. He played with the Orchestre Symphonique de Québec in 1974-75. He also played the summer season with the Toronto Symphony in 1983. From 1991 to 1995 he was engaged as a resource artist at the Banff Centre.


Jan is currently principal bassist of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, a position he has held since1980. He has appeared as soloist a number of times with the ESO and the Edmonton Chamber Orchestra. Jan is currently sessional instructor of double bass at the University of Alberta Department of Music.



VIOLA - 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.


VIOLA - Kate Svrcek

Kate Svrcek

Alberta native Kate Svrcek began violin lessons at the age of five. While growing up in the Edmonton area, she was a member of the Edmonton Youth Orchestra under the baton of Michael Massey.

Kate attended McGill University where she received a Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance. She also attended the Meadowmount School of Music in upstate New York on two occasions. In addition to her musical studies, Ms. Svrcek has also obtained an After Degree in Education from the University of Alberta.

Kate is a frequent performer with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, The Alberta Baroque Ensemble, as well as various quartets and ensembles around the city.



VIOLIN - 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.









Esther Madsen is a career teacher and musician with over forty years of experience in her fields of choir directing, and teaching theory and piano studies. She studied with Vera Shean to complete her Associate Degree in Pedagogy/Teaching from the Western Board of Music, now known as Conservatory Canada. While working towards that degree, she taught a full studio. Esther has also successfully completed a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Alberta, specializing in music. The Royal Conservatory of Music has acknowledged her as a Certified Teacher for piano and theory in all levels of instruction from beginner to advanced. Her students have won many theory scholarships. She began conducting choirs at a tender age when the church she was attending needed a director. Since then, it is rare her life has been without a choir. Currently she directs the community choir of Festival Singers in Sherwood Park.

Esther has been extremely active in the Sherwood Park Music Festival. Many years ago, she competed as a performer in her own right, then as an accompanist, a proud parent of performers, a director for attending choirs, and finally, as the president of the festival for 8 years. Even though her administration time is done, she still volunteers at her local festival and the provinical festival to this day. In addition, Esther was a member of the Provincial Executive for the Alberta Music Festival Association from 2013 - 2016.

Today, Esther continues to enjoy learning through workshops and masterclasses, both as a student and a clinician. Her students work to prepare for theory and piano performance exams, but she also enjoys teaching music just for the sake of exploring the beauty of music. She is grateful to be able to share her joy and love and passion for music, believing it enriches and fulfills our lives. You can also find her volunteering at her church, improvising on the organ or keyboard, playing for worship services, accompanying for instrument and voice, and playing/singing in praise bands.

She loves that she is on a continuous journey with music; a lifelong quest.








Hailed by Los Angeles Times “Superb young violinist Yue Deng … “Yue has been featured as the cover story in the Ventana Magazine, Ventura County Stars, Ojai Valley News. CCTV – China Central Television made a documentary about her, and she was selected as one of China's most outstanding young artist of the year. Gene Lees wrote an essay about her in his book “Friends Along the Way”, which was published by Yale University Press.

Yue Deng was born in Hebei, China. At the age of 8, she won First Prize in the National Violin Competition in China. She won the special Judge's Prize at the First Triennial Johansen International Competiton, with a laureate at the Yehudi Menuhin International Competition. As a recording artist, Yue has recorded with Barbra Streisand, Barry Manilow, Diana Krall, Josh Groban, Johnny Mandel, Willy Nelson and Dionne Warwick, Her album with renowned French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet titled “Ogermann: Violin and Piano works” was released on Decca in 2007. Grammy Award winner Roger Kellaway arranged and wrote an album for her “Both Sides Now”.Yue has performed in Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Merkin Hall, Birdland, and Disney Concert Hall.

Yue has taught at Juilliard Pre-College, Westmont College, and Music Academy of the West (Merit Program), Westmont College. She has given Masterclasses at Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, Zhe Jiang Conservatory of Music, Tai Zhou University, and University of Shijiazhuang. Her students have been concertmasters and winners of the concerto competitions in the Santa Barbara and Ojai Youth Symphonies, as well as the Henry Schwab Violin competitions.

Yue was accepted as a full scholarship student to attend the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing when she was 9. She obtained her B.M. from the Oberlin Conservatory under Taras Gabora, and her M.M. from the Juilliard School under Dorothy Delay and Hyo Kang. Yue currently holds the position as Artist-in-Residence at the University of Alberta.





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 title of her talk is: Canadian Strings - An Introduction to String Quartets in Canada

Hang on to your hats for a quick overview of Canadian string quartets! This class will answer some of your questions like: Who wrote the first Canadian string quartet? Is there a certain style to Canadian string writing? What’s the latest scoop on Canadian string quartets?

We will listen to some examples, watch snippets of videos, and even explore some dark corners of string quartet humor!





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 $25 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, 2018.

Please note: Cancellation deadline with full refund is September 1, 2018; 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



Directions to Van Es Camp and Conference Centre