Guest Conductors

 

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Mark Caswell

Biography

Mark recently retired after a lifetime career of teaching music at Markham District High School, his home school for more than thirty years. He was blessed to spend these many years teaching with his wife and choral director, Dawn, as well as their daughters Faith and Madison who were also actively involved in program. The MDHS music department was home to several concert bands, jazz ensembles, choirs and chamber ensembles, consistently earning Gold awards when attending Nationals at Musicfest Canada. Through his years as Head of Music at MDHS, their senior tour bands have traveled to more than twelve countries across North America and Europe, and in 2016, the MDHS music staff were collectively presented with the YRDSB Teaching Award of Excellence.

Mark is a founding member of the Ontario Band Association, serving as President as well as his continuing role as Festival coordinator for the Provincial Band Festival for more than 20 years. He has also been an active adjudicator, conductor and clinician across the province for many years, and continues to be a member of Phi Beta Mu International Bandmasters Association, the OMEA and the Canadian Band Associations. Mark has also been the recipient of an Honorary Lifetime Membership Award by the Ontario Band Association.

Mark has always had a strong commitment to the development of student leaders within high school music programs and has been a teacher facilitator at the Ontario Education Leadership Centre, published articles, and presented workshops on student leadership at OMEA conferences. As recognition for his years of leadership and volunteer activities, Mark was recently privileged to be presented with the Canadian Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers by The Chancellery of Honours, Rideau Hall, Ottawa.

Pratik Gandhi

 

Pratik Gandhi (he/him/his) is a conductor, percussionist, clinician, and researcher based in Tkaronto (Toronto). He currently serves as music director of the Rouge River Winds, a position he has held for ten seasons. He has also served as resident conductor of the Toy Piano Composers ensemble and was the founding music director of Soup Can Theatre. He has also been a finalist for music director positions with the Northdale Concert Band and the Wellington Wind Symphony.

In frequent demand as a guest conductor and adjudicator across southwestern Ontario and beyond, Pratik serves as adjudicator and vice-chair for the concert band division of MusicFest Canada, as well as syllabus coordinator for the OBA Provincial Band Festival. He also adjudicated concert bands at the 2017 Alberta International Band Festival in Calgary, and is a regular adjudicator at the TCDSB Music Festival and the Trills & Thrills Festival in Toronto.

For five years, Pratik served as assistant conductor of Symphony on the Bay (now the Burlington Symphony Orchestra), conducting several full-length concerts, including a semi-staged production of Hansel and Gretel, and many performances by winners of the orchestra's Young Artist Competition. He has also conducted concerts with the Cathedral Bluffs Symphony Orchestra, the Greater Toronto Philharmonic Orchestra, the Oakville Symphony, and the Rose Orchestra Brampton.

Pratik is also a champion of new music, and has conducted the premiere of numerous works, including Jodi Vander Woude’s Quiet you with my love: lullaby, for soprano solo, female chorus, and large orchestra, and Kristie Hunter's Stronger Than, for orchestra. Under his leadership, the Rouge River Winds have helped to commission works from composers Steven Bryant, Cait Nishimura, Giovanni Santos, and Bill Thomas. With the Toy Piano Composers, Pratik has directed the premieres of works by Elisha Denburg, Alex Eddington, Joseph Glaser, August Murphy-King, Julia Mermelstein, Monica Pearce, Fiona Ryan, Bekah Simms, and Tyler Versluis, among others. Pratik is credited as conductor on three albums of contemporary music: Bekah Simms’ impurity chains (conducting two tracks, including the Juno-nominated “Granitic”); the Toy Piano Composers’ self-titled debut album; and the premiere recording of Benjamin Sajo’s The Great War Sextet.

Pratik is a PhD student in the department of music at York University, where his research, supported by an Ontario Graduate Scholarship, investigates issues of equity and representation among Canadian composers of music for wind band. He is also a recipient of a research grant from the Helen Carswell Chair of Community-Engaged Research in the Arts, for a workshop on improvisation and creative music-making for wind, brass, and percussion students. Pratik holds degrees in music education and conducting from Western University, where he studied conducting with James McKay, Dr. Colleen Richardson, and Jerome Summers, and percussion with Dr. Jill Ball. 

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