Artistic Leadership

Conducting excellence

The TMChoir’s artistic leadership team guides the artistic planning for the Choir, leads the Choir in rehearsals and prepares them for appearances with the TSO and other orchestras, and conducts TMChoir concerts.

Jean-Sébastien Vallée, Artistic Director

Internationally recognized conductor, scholar, and pedagogue Jean-Sébastien Vallée was named as the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir’s 8th Artistic Director in June 2021. In addition to his work as Artistic Director of the TMChoir, Jean-Sébastien is Associate Professor of Music, Director of Choral Studies, and Coordinator of the Ensembles & Conducting Area at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University. Jean-Sébastien has conducted ensembles throughout North America, Europe and Asia and has prepared choruses for leading orchestras including the Toronto Symphony, the Montreal Symphony, and the National Arts Center Orchestra in Ottawa. In addition to his interest in choral, operatic, and orchestral music, Jean-Sébastien is an advocate for contemporary music, making one of his priorities to premiere and commission works by young composers and program rarely performed repertoire. He has recorded extensively under the label ATMA Classique.

Read the media announcement.

Read Jean-Sébastien’s full biography.

Jamie Hillman, Director of Community Engagement and Associate Conductor

Jamie Hillman

Jamie Hillman joins TMChoir this Fall as Director of Community Engagement and Associate Conductor. He is a Canadian and American musician, active as a conductor, singer, pianist, music educator, and composer. He holds the endowed Elmer Iseler Chair in Conducting at the University of Toronto where he is also Director of Choral Studies and an Associate Professor. He conducts the MacMillan Singers and leads the master’s and doctoral programs in Choral Conducting. As a Boston University Prison Arts Scholar and faculty member of BU’s Prison Education Program, Hillman co-initiated an innovative vocal music program in the Massachusetts prison system.

Read Jamie’s full biography.

Shireen Abu Khader, Composer in Residence

Shireen Abu Khader

Shireen Abu Khader is a Palestinian Jordanian Canadian artist, composer and educator. She holds a PhD in Music Education from the University of Toronto, a Master’s in Choral Music from the University of Southern California and a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education from Oberlin College Conservatory. In 2002, Shireen founded Dozan wa Awtar Music Establishment which has been an important venture in her personal development as well as the evolution of choral music in Jordan.

Read Shireen’s full biography.

Irene Gregorio, Collaborative Pianist and Musical Assistant

Irene Gregorio enjoys a diverse and active musical life as a pianist, educator, and music director. As a pianist and chamber musician, she has collaborated with members of the LA Phil and San Francisco Symphonies. She has served as pianist for the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, LA Opera Education and Outreach, and the University of Southern California Chamber Singers, among others. Her performances as a collaborative pianist have taken her throughout North America, Europe, Cuba, and the Philippines, and she has also appeared on PBS, CBC Radio 2, and on film soundtracks in the LA area.

Read Irene’s full biography.

Simon Rivard, Artistic Collaborator

Conductor Simon Rivard is looking at the camera and holding a conducting baton. He has brown hair and a beard and is wearing a black turtleneck

Simon Rivard is the RBC Resident Conductor of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Conductor of the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra since 2018. In 2020, he was appointed Associate Conductor, and in 2022, Artistic Collaborator of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, Canada’s largest choral organization.

At the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Simon Rivard is mentored by Music Director Gustavo Gimeno. In addition to leading concerts throughout the season, he has been assisting world-class conductors such as Sir Andrew Davis, Peter Oundjian, Donald Runnicles, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, John Storgårds, Barbara Hannigan, Xian Zhang, and Eun-sun Kim. Since 2019, he has been an Equilibrium Young Artist, as part of Canadian soprano and conductor Barbara Hannigan’s internationally acclaimed mentorship program for early-career professional musicians.

Read Simon’s full biography.

Rena Roussin, Musicologist in Residence

Rena Roussin is a doctoral candidate in musicology at the University of Toronto, and is currently writing a doctoral dissertation on constructions of disability and gender in Joseph Haydn’s operas and oratorios. More broadly, her research interests include conceiving of art music and music theatre as forms of activism and social justice in historic and current contexts. As a Métis and settler woman with additional Haida ancestry, Rena also has a major interest in the ways art music in Canada might work in solidarity with Indigenous artists, communities, and peoples to realize equity and reconciliation. She is an active public musicologist, and in addition to her work with the TMC, also serves on the curatorial/editorial board of Musicology Now, the Canadian Opera Company’s Indigenous Circle of Artists, and as a Guest Curator for Soundstreams’ 2022-23 Indigenous Encounters concert series. Rena is also a pianist and vocalist.