2018 Festival Adjudicators

Geoff McCausland – Strings

Geoff McCausland (B.Mus McGill, ARCT Royal Conservatory of Music) is a musician of diverse experience and training. Growing up in Saint John, New Brunswick, he was trained in the Classical tradition, which he continued at McGill University's Schulich School of Music as well as through intensive training programs including the Domaine Forget Summer Institute, the Orford Arts Centre Summer Academy, the Toronto Summer Music Festival, and the St. Lawrence String Quartet Chamber Music Seminar at Stanford University. 

Geoff is himself a passionate teacher, and his love of coaching chamber groups, orchestras, and individuals alike has found him teaching at the North Bay Symphony Summer String Retreat, CAMMAC, Saint John Summer Strings, Wilfrid Laurier’s QuartetFest, and at various conservatories. 

As an orchestral musician, Geoff has sat as Principal 2nd in the Timmins Symphony Orchestra, the Sudbury Symphony Orchestra and the North Bay Symphony, and played section violin with the Thunder Bay Symphony, Symphony New Brunswick, the PEI Symphony, Opera New Brunswick and the Toronto Concert Orchestra. Geoff also coaches and directs the 5th Avenue Strings, an amateur string orchestra in Timmins ON. 

As a chamber musician, Geoff played from 2008-2016 with the Juno and Felix-nominated Silver Birch String Quartet. With the quartet he recorded two albums, commissioned new works from Canadian composers, and toured extensively. As a member of the quartet he performed alongside such notable artists as Peter Longworth, Simon Fryer, Joel Sachs, Erika Raum, Tanya Tagaq, Serena Ryder, and the Penderecki String Quartet. 

In 2013 Geoff joined the Sudbury-based bluegrass band Murder Murder - exploring the art of improvisation, composition and arrangement of music of all genres. They have since recorded two full-length albums which see regular airplay internationally, performed live on BBC, and toured internationally. He has also shared the stage/recorded with other artists including Iskwe, Pistol George Warren, Barry Miles, Carden Cove, and the Nickel City Specials. 


Peter Stoll – Instrumental

Known for his virtuoso energy on stage as well as an easy and entertaining way of speaking with the audience, Peter Stoll teaches clarinet, chamber music, woodwind performance and the Business of Music at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Music, and is a frequent performer with orchestral and chamber ensembles in southern Ontario. Also a very popular adjudicator up to the national level, he has worked across Canada and in the United States. Peter is particularly known for his enthusiastic, positive comments and detailed suggestions to young musicians.

Peter was a prizewinner in the International Clarinet Society Competition, and has been heard many times on CBC radio featured on several CD recordings and concert broadcasts. First-Prize winner in chamber music in the Federation of Canadian Music Festivals National Finals, he was invited back for the Festival's 50th Anniversary to perform as soloist in the Gala Celebration Concert.

Tours as soloist and with various ensembles have taken him across Europe, to Russia and to the United States. Recent performance highlights have included chamber concerts in Japan and a tour of 3 Chinese cities, as well as at the International Clarinet Association’s conference in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In 2016 Peter was featured on a recording with members of the Canadian Brass.

Over the past 25 years Peter has been invited to adjudicate at over 130 local festivals across Canada. Fluent in both official languages, he has heard countless bands, orchestras, and woodwind, brass and percussion solos and ensembles coast-to-coast. Above the local level, he has judged at the finals of fifteen Provincial competitions, and has twice been asked to serve as the woodwind adjudicator for the national finals of the Federation of Canadian Music Festivals.

Peter is also a member of the Royal Conservatory of Music's National College of Examiners, where he is the area Specialist for Winds, and was the Chief Compiler of the 2014 edition of the clarinet examination syllabus. His website is . 

Donna Garner – Vocal

Toronto based Singer/Actor/Musician Donna Garner was raised on a dairy farm near Stratford, Ontario as the youngest of thirteen children in a home filled with music. Her classical musical studies took her to Western University, The University of Toronto and to the AIMS Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria.

Donna works as an actor, a singer, a pianist and multi-instrumentalist. Her performing has taken her across Canada, the U.S., Austria and Japan in such roles as Baruška in Once The Musical, Thea in Two Pianos, Four Hands, Vi Petty in Buddy:The Buddy Holly Story, Fräulein Schneider in Cabaret and Fairy Godmother for Disney, to name a few. Most recently, she toured as Frau Schmidt in the brand new North American tour of The Sound of Music directed by three time Tony award winner Jack O’Brien.

When not on stage, Donna works as a voice specialist for masterclasses and lectures, as an adjudicator, private voice teacher, repertoire coach, accompanist, and as a Music Director. She has been a member of the College of Examiners for the Royal Conservatory of Music since 1997 and has been a long time faculty member of the prestigious Sheridan College Musical Theatre program.

She shares her life with her talented actor husband Rick Hughes.

 Frances Balodis– Piano

Frances Mae Balodis MEd., ARCT, LCCN(H), LCNCM(H), RMT, MYCC is founder  (in 1980) of Music for Young Children® and cofounder of CLU™. As a Registered Music Teacher, Frances received the Hugheen Ferguson Distinguished Teacher award in Regina SK in July 2011. She was nominated (in 2011) and was a finalist for the Louis Applebaum Composer Award. 

A certified  Neurolinguistic Programmer (NLP) and an Accredited DISC Training provider, as well as teacher with over 60 years experience, Frances is a speaker and a workshop clinician, adjudicator and examiner. She delights in helping people of all ages and places understand their learning styles. 

Frances is the Chairperson for the MYC Composition Festival. Frances has adjudicated at many Festivals. In addition, in 2016 she was the adjudicator for the Mary Gardiner Junior and Senior candidates for Performance Excellence across Canada for ACNMP Contemporary Showcase. Frances enjoys being a piano teacher (she teaches Seniors too!) and Conservatory Canada examiner. 

She lives in Ullswater, Muskoka, ON with her husband, Gunars. She shares the organist position at St. Thomas Anglican church, Ullswater, ON. Frances played handbells for five years. Frances makes and sells birch bark cards for her business Creative Muskoka Cards.

Frances is a member of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers CAPS. She is also the director of The Muskoka Men of Song, a 35 voice male choir centered in Bracebridge, ON.

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