Praised by critics for the beauty, clarity and fluidity of her sound, impeccable phrasing and consummate musicality, Joanna G’froerer enjoys an exciting career as an orchestral player, chamber musician, soloist and educator. Principal Flutist of Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra since 1992, she was appointed to that position at the age of 20, one of the youngest musicians ever to be hired by the NACO.
A native of Vancouver, Canada, Ms. G’froerer comes from a family of professional musicians. She studied flute in Vancouver with Kathleen Rudolph, and in Montreal with Timothy Hutchins, earning a Licentiate in Music from McGill University in 1993. Her education also included orchestral training at the Interlochen Arts Camp and with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada.
Joanna performs regularly as a soloist with the NACO, having appeared as soloist in over thirty different programs since joining the orchestra. She has also performed concerti with many of Canada's other fine ensembles, including the symphony orchestras of Vancouver, Victoria, and Quebec City. Joanna G’froerer is a past first-prize winner of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra Competition.
Among Ms. G’froerer’s acclaimed recordings are a CBC disc of Mozart’s Flute Quartets with Pinchas Zukerman, Martin Beaver and Amanda Forsyth, named Best Canadian Chamber Music Recording of 2002 by Opus Magazine. A Naxos recording of Rodrigo’s Flute Concerto and Fantasia Para un Gentilhombre with the Asturias Symphony under Maestro Maximiano Valdes was “exquisitely played by the Canadian virtuoso Joanna G’froerer” (Anthony Holden, The Observer). Also for Naxos, Saint-Saens, Music for Winds was an Editor’s Pick for Gramophone Magazine in 2011. A new recording of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2, with Jens Lindemann, James Ehnes, Jon Kimura Parker and Charles Hamann, was nominated for a Juno Award in 2021.
Joanna G’froerer has been featured in the chamber music festivals of Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, and Ottawa, at the Scotia Festival and at Brazil’s Campos do Jordao Festival. She is a member of the National Arts Centre Wind Quintet, and the G’froerer Gott Duo, with harpist Michelle Gott.
Joanna was a co-founder of the Classical Unbound Festival in Prince Edward County, Ontario, and served as Co-Artistic Director during its first three seasons.
As an educator, Ms. G’froerer has taught flute at the NAC Summer Music Institute, at Domaine Forget and the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, and has presented masterclasses at universities and conservatories throughout Canada, as well as in the US, Europe and Asia. Joanna is presently on faculty at the University of Ottawa and at McGill University in Montreal.
Joanna G’froerer is a Wm. S. Haynes Artist, playing a custom 19.5 K gold Haynes flute with lightweight silver mechanism and headjoints in 19.5K and 14K gold.
A native of Montreal, Stephanie Morin is an up and coming flutist on the Canadian music scene. Before her appointment as Second Flute and Piccolo with the National Arts Centre Orchestra in 2020, she held positions as Assistant Principal Flute with the Edmonton Symphony, and Principal Flute of the Laval and Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean orchestras.
As a chamber musician, Stephanie has performed with small ensembles for the Health Arts Society of Alberta and the Lakeshore Chamber Music Society. She also enjoys teaching flutists of all ages and levels, and was an ambassador for the YONA Sistema program at the Winspear Centre in Edmonton.
Stephanie completed her music studies in Montreal, first at Marianopolis College with Carolyn Christie, then at McGill University with Denis Bluteau, and finally at the Montreal Conservatory of Music with Marie-Andrée Benny. She spent her summers at music programs such as the Music Academy of the West, the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, and the NAC’s own Young Artists Program.
Stephanie is a prize-winner at the Canadian Music Competition, the Prix d’Europe, and the Orchestra Toronto Concerto Competition. She has also performed with ensembles such as Les Violons du Roy, the Orchestre Métropolitain, and the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal.
Originally from St. John’s, Newfoundland, Sean Rice has performed extensively throughout North America and around the world. His broadcasts include recitals with CBC National Radio, performances for Swiss Radio DRS, and Lucerne Festival live streams for the 2016 New York Philharmonic Biennial and 2019 Lucerne Festival Alumni Orchestra.
Recognized as an exciting interpreter of contemporary music, The New York Times has described Mr. Rice as a “technically precise, exuberant protagonist” in performance. Mr. Rice has performed at festivals such as Lucerne Festival, Ottawa Chamberfest, New York City’s Museum of Modern Art Summergarden Series, Toronto Summer Music Festival, and Banff Music Festival. In addition to numerous New York Times reviews, Mr. Rice’s performances have received high praise from the Ottawa Citizen, Musical Toronto, and Artsfile. For a recent performance of Golijov’s Ayre at Ottawa Chamberfest, Musical Toronto wrote: “The performers were strong, especially NACO clarinetist Sean Rice, who unloaded a wailing solo that rivalled even the best Klezmer effort by Giora Feidman.”
At an early age, Mr. Rice was invited to perform a concert with the National Arts Centre Orchestra during their 2002 Atlantic Tour and subsequently, he has appeared as a soloist with ensembles including the Orchestre Symphonique de Québec, Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, Axiom, The New Juilliard Ensemble, and Symphony Nova Scotia. The recipient of numerous awards, Mr. Rice received first prize at the 2006 Canadian Concerto Competition hosted by the Orchestre Symphonique de Québec. Following his 2007 Montréal debut at Jeunesses Musicales, La Presse wrote: “…clarinettiste canadien Sean Rice y révéla une technique impeccable, une authentique musicalité, une sonorité tour à tour éclatante et chaleureuse, et un vrai talent de chambriste.” Continuing the 2007-08 season, Mr. Rice performed his first national tour with pianist Jean-Philippe Sylvestre for Jeunesses Musicales’ touring series. Since then, he has toured frequently throughout major cities across the United States, Europe, Malaysia, Brazil and Japan.
As an educator, Mr. Rice has served as Visiting Professor at Memorial University (2017-18) and Director of the Contemporary Music Ensemble at the University of Ottawa (2012-17). He has been invited to give masterclasses at institutions such as the Royal College of Music, Beijing Central Conservatory, University of British Columbia, and the University of West England. Additionally, Mr. Rice has adjudicated numerous competitions, including the National Music Festival Competition held by the Canadian Association of Music Festivals. Starting in the fall of 2021, Mr. Rice will join the clarinet faculty at the University of Ottawa.
As a conductor, Mr. Rice made his debut in 2012 as the Director of the Contemporary Music Ensemble at the University of Ottawa. In 2017, he led an ensemble of musicians from the National Arts Centre Orchestra and made his international conducting debut at the International Society for Contemporary Music Festival in Vancouver. Recently, Mr. Rice conducted the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra for their 2021-22 season opener – their first performance since the pandemic.
Outside the concert hall, Mr. Rice has developed a significant profile as a classical music podcaster and host. Under his tenure, the National Arts Centre NACOcast has enjoyed great success and international recognition, with ClassicFM continuing to list his podcasts among the Top 10 in the world for classical music. Mr. Rice also hosts the NAC Wolfgang Sessions – a contemporary music series that he helped design and curate for the National Arts Centre.
Sean Rice is a graduate of Memorial University of Newfoundland, where he received his Bachelor of Music while studying with Paul Bendzsa. Continuing his studies under the tutelage of Charles Neidich, Mr. Rice graduated with both a Master of Music and Doctorate of Musical Arts from The Juilliard School. Currently residing in Ottawa, audiences can hear him perform regularly as a recitalist and chamber musician and as Second Clarinet/Bass Clarinet of the National Arts Centre Orchestra.
A dedicated champion of contemporary music, Montreal-born violinist Noémi Racine Gaudreault is renowned for the virtuosity and sensitivity of her playing. She has performed as a soloist in orchestras across Canada, in the United States, France and Turkey. In addition to her career as a soloist, she is much sought-after chamber musician, playing regularly in contemporary and chamber music festivals. She has been principal second violin of the Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal and solo violin of the SMCQ, the ECM and Quartango Ensemble. She holds a First Prize with Great Distinction from the Montreal Music Conservatory and an Artist Diploma from McGill University. Noémi currently lives in the National Capital Region. She is assistant concertmaster of the National Arts Centre Orchestra.
Mintje van Lier (1982) is Principal Second violin with Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra.
At the age of five, Mintje started studying the violin under Anneke Schilt-Plate and continued with Hans Scheepers, Joyce Tan, Mimi Zweig, Chris Duindam and Lex Korff de Gidts. In 2006 she received her Bachelor of Music at the Amsterdam Conservatory. She continued her studies in the class of Ilan Gronich at the Universität der Künste, Berlin, receiving the Diplom in 2009.
From 2004-2006, Mintje performed as a member of the European Union Youth Orchestra under the direction of Bernard Haitink, Sir Colin Davis, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Paavo Järvi and Sir John Eliot Gardiner.
In 2007, Mintje studied in the Academy of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, after which, she was awarded a scholarship from the Bernard Haitink Fund for Young Talent. In 2008, Mintje won the position as assistent principal 2nd Violin with the Netherlands Radio Chamber Filharmonic. In the five years leading up to the closing of this orchestra, Mintje enjoyed playing under the frequent guest conductor’s Philippe Herreweghe and Frans Brüggen. Mintje freelances with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. From 2014—2021 Mintje was the assistant principal 2nd violin of the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as a member of the Jenufa String Quartet.
She has taken part in the Zermatt Festival with the Scharoun Ensemble of the Berliner Philharmoniker. In Berlin, Mintje played with Solistenensemble Kaleidoskop.
Mintje plays a Theo Marks violin (2018).
Described as a “pure chamber musician” (The Globe and Mail) creating “moments of pure magic” (Toronto Star), Canadian cellist Rachel Mercer has appeared as a soloist and chamber musician across five continents. Grand prize winner of the 2001 Vriendenkrans Competition in Amsterdam, Rachel was cellist of the Aviv String Quartet from 2002-2010. An active chamber musician, she currently plays with piano quartet Ensemble Made In Canada, the Mercer-Park Duo, and the AYR Piano Trio (with Yehonatan Berick, violin and Angela Park, piano). In 2010 she co-founded the “5 at the First” Chamber Music Series in Hamilton for which she is Artistic Director.
Rachel has given masterclasses across North America, South Africa and in Israel, as well as talks on topics from performance to self-management, and is Artist-in-Residence at Western University in London, ON. An advocate for new Canadian music, Rachel has commissioned and premiered works including a cello concerto by Kevin Lau, solo music by Vivian Fung and Andrew Downing, and chamber music by Nicole Lizée, Abigail Richardson-Schulte, Sarah Slean, Samy Moussa, and John Burge.
Her first article, on commissioning, was published in 2018 by the Association of Canadian Women Composers Journal. Rachel can be heard on the Naxos, Naxos Canadian Classics, Centrediscs, ATMA, Dalia Classics and EnT-T record labels, and released a critically acclaimed album of the Bach Suites on Pipistrelle in March 2014, recorded on the 1696 Bonjour Stradivarius Cello from the Canada Council for the Arts Musical Instrument Bank. Rachel joined the National Arts Centre Orchestra as Associate Principal Cello in 2016, winning the Principal Cello chair in 2017.
Frédéric Lacroix has performed in Canada, the United States, Europe and Asia as a soloist, chamber musician and collaborative pianist. He is a frequent collaborator with members of the NAC Orchestra both in chamber music and recitals, having first performed in the Music for a Sunday Afternoon concert series in 2015. This past September, he curated, as fortepianist (and composer), the late-night concerts of the NAC Orchestra’s Beethoven Festival.
Following the University of Ottawa’s purchase of a fortepiano, he has devoted part of his time to the study and performance of music on period keyboard instruments, for which he was recognized as the Westfield Center Performing Scholar for 2008–2009. He has presented numerous concerts in Canada and the United States as harpsichordist and fortepianist.
Intrigued by the seemingly infinite diversity of new music, Lacroix has enjoyed collaborating with composers and performers in the premiere of a number of Canadian and American works. Also active as a composer, his song cycle, Nova Scotia Tartan (2004), is featured on Hail, a disc dedicated to Canadian Art Song.
Frédéric Lacroix teaches piano and composition at the University of Ottawa. He recently completed his doctorate degree in keyboard performance practice with Malcolm Bilson at Cornell University.