Janna Sailor, conductor

Hailed by critics as “charismatic, crisp, precise, and elegant”, Janna Sailor has firmly established herself as a conductor, violinist, and groundbreaking visionary on the Canadian music scene. Originally from rural Saskatchewan, Janna completed her studies in violin and conducting at the Brandon School of Music and the University of British Columbia.

Recently listed on the Women in Music Canada’s “Honour Roll ­ 10 Female Artists to Watch” in March of 2023, and Winner of the Betty Webster Award for Orchestral Innovation from Orchestras Canada, Janna combines diverse experiences on the international stage with a deep sense of community, equality, and social justice. Janna’s creative output is firmly rooted in the conviction that classical music should be inclusive and accessible to all. This guiding principle has led Janna to work on a number of arts­based social initiatives, including music instruction for disadvantaged youth in downtown Vancouver’s Eastside, fundraising and outreach activities for immigrants, establishing music therapy programs, and the founding of the Allegra Chamber Orchestra, an all­female professional ensemble with a social action mandate to champion the works of female minority artists and to enact change through music.

Highlights for Janna Sailor in 2024 include presenting at the International Conductor Guild Conference in New York as well as at the Global Leaders Institute Innovation Summit in Arequipa, Peru. In January, Janna conducts the debut of IndigiDivas: Indigenous Stories and Opera Hits in Vancouver with Allegra Chamber Orchestra, and with guest artist Marion Newman and the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. Janna Sailor leads the Saskatoon Symphony in YXE Divas, showcasing local female artists in pops, rock, blues and jazz, and returns to conduct Torch Songs with Julie Nesrallah with the Saskatoon Symphony.

Janna has conducted major orchestras and ensembles including Ottawa Symphony Orchestra, Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Symphony Nova Scotia, Kingston Symphony, Brott Festival (National Academy Orchestra), Winnipeg Symphony, Edmonton Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, Vancouver Philharmonic Orchestra, Vancouver Inter­Cultural Orchestra, Kensington Sinfonia, Saskatoon Symphony, Regina Symphony, Symphony New Brunswick, and Société de musique contemporaine du Québec.

Active as a concert producer, Janna’s work can be seen on stages across Canada, and heard on the airwaves as a producer for CBC Calgary.

 

Cris Derksen, cello

Juno-nominated Cris Derksen is an Internationally respected Indigenous Cellist and Composer. In a world where almost everything—people, music, cultures—gets labelled and slotted into simple categories, Cris Derksen represents a challenge. Originally from Northern Alberta, she comes from a line of chiefs from NorthTall Cree Reserve on her father’s side and a line of strong Mennonite homesteaders on her mother’s. Derksen braids the traditional and contemporary, weaving her classical background and Indigenous ancestry with new school electronics to create genre-defying music.

As composer Derksen has a foot in many worlds, 2019 compositions include Maada’ookii Songlines – a Mass Choral piece for 250 singers Commissioned by Luminato Festival. Rebellion—a short symphony commissioned by the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra. Iron Peggy – a Theatre piece commissioned by the Vancouver Children’s Festival. A new performance art piece commissioned by the National Art Gallery of Canada, Ikumagiialit. Her 2018 works include the DORA Award for Best Sound Design for Theatre 2018; Kiinalik: these sharp tools, TIFF Premier Biidaaban (the dawn comes) Short Animation Film by Amanda Strong, Ka:hawai Dance Company production of BloodTides, Kamloopa Theatre production, 2018 Banff Centre for the Arts String Quartet Residency White Mans Cattle and Wood Quintet International 5 bucks per head.

As a performer, Derksen performs nationally and internationally solo and with some of Canada’s finest, including Tanya Tagaq, Buffy Sainte Marie, Naomi Klein, and Leanne Simpson, to name a few. Recent destinations include Hong Kong, Australia, Mongolia, Sweden, and a whole lot of Canada—the place Derksen refers to as home.