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Introducing the 2024-25 Rebanks Fellows

Introducing the 2024-25 Rebanks Fellows

Published on May 31, 2024

The Royal Conservatory is pleased to announce the six exceptional artists accepted into the prestigious  Rebanks Family Fellowship and International Performance Residency Program for the 2024-25 academic year. 

2024-25 Rebanks
Unique in Canada, The Rebanks Family Fellowship and International Performance Residency Program is a one-year postgraduate program of The Royal Conservatory’s Glenn Gould School. Created in 2013 for artists poised for professional success, it offers a rich curriculum for career development including private study with exceptional faculty and guest artists; concert presentations and career coaching; and marketing training and support.  Additionally, each  Rebanks Fellow also participates in a funded European residency.   

The continued success of The Rebanks Family Fellowship Program is possible thanks to the unwavering  support of the Rebanks Family and the Weston Family Foundation. 

David Baik

David Baik, violin (Canada & South Korea)

Featured on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s (CBC) “30 Hot Canadian Classical Musicians Under 30", South Korean-born violinist David Baik is noted for his powerful yet sincere sound. Baik is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2023 Peter-Mendell Award from the Jeunesses Musicales Canada Foundation, Grand Prize at the 2021 NAC Bursary Competition, consecutive First Prizes at the 2016 and 2017 Canadian Music Competition, Sturdevant Prize, Gerhard Kander Graduating Award, Dorothy Richard Starling Foundation Fellowship, and the Gabriella Dory Prize. Most recently, Baik was named a winner of the 2023 Canada Council Musical Instrument Bank competition.  

An avid chamber musician, Baik has engaged in notable collaborations with esteemed artists such as Camden Shaw, Charles Richard Hamelin, Jennifer Koh, Andrew Wan, Desmond Hoebig, Jonathan Crow, and Philip Chiu. Additionally, his string quartet, the Stelios Quartet, has garnered acclaim, earning multiple awards, including the 2024 Schiermonnikoog Festival Audience Award and the Grand Prize at the 2023 McGill Chamber Music Competition.   

David Baik performs on the 1871 Jean Baptiste Vuillaume violin, generously on loan from the Canada Council for the Arts.

Ellita Gagner

Ellita Gagner, mezzo-soprano (Canada)  

Toronto-based mezzo-soprano Ellita Gagner has been praised for having a "gorgeous, warm tone and winning gamine personality" (Gianmarco Segato, La Scena Musicale). She has been seen in the roles of Cendrillon (Cendrillon, UofT Opera), Lysistrata (Lysistrata, UofT Opera), Hansel (Hansel and Gretel, GoodMess Opera), Dorabella (Così fan tutte, Opera Nova Scotia/Brott Festival), Announcer (Gallantry, UoT Opera), Peep Bo (The Mikado, UWOpera), Tisbe (La Cenerentola, Brott Festival), and Iphigenia (Disobedience, UoT Opera). She has workshopped the role of Gabby for the Royal Swedish Opera’s Melancholia by Mikael Karlsson and librettist Royce Vavrek, and Mimi in scenes from Indians on Vacation by Ian Cusson and Royce Vavrek. Ellita was a young artist with Manitoba Opera in the 2022 DEAP program where she created the short film, Love Songs to the Piano.

Outside of operatic repertoire, Ellita sang as Alto soloist in Handel’s Messiah with the Uxbridge Messiah Singers and Orchestra in 2022, and in concert with the London Community Orchestra as their concerto competition winner in 2019. Ellita holds a Bachelor of Music from the University of Western Ontario where she studied with acclaimed mezzo-soprano Patricia Green, and is a graduate of the Opera School at the University of Toronto, where she studied under renowned Canadian soprano and pedagogue, Lorna MacDonald. In August 2024, Ellita will be a vocal fellow at the Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance (LAMP) studying 20th century chamber music under Barbara Hannigan.


Matthew Hakkarainen

Matthew Hakkarainen, violin (USA & Finland)  

Matthew Hakkarainen is the first American violinist to win first prize at the Premio Rodolfo Lipizer International Violin Competition, where he also received three special prizes. He attended the Curtis Institute of Music (BM ‘22), where he studied with Pamela Frank, and the Juilliard School (MM ‘24), where he studied with Sylvia Rosenberg and Ronald Copes.

Matthew was recently awarded third prize at the Stuttgart International Violin Competition. He also won the second prize, audience prize, and contemporary piece prize at the Mirecourt International Violin Competition. Matthew performed as a soloist with Michael Tilson Thomas and the New World Symphony as the winner of their Concerto Competition, and he also won the Aspen Music Festival’s Violin Competition. This past summer, he received first prize ex æquo in the Prix Ravel at the Conservatoire américain de Fontainebleau.   

Matthew has served as Concertmaster of the Juilliard Orchestra and the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, the latter for which he recorded the violin solos from Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade. He is Associate Concertmaster of Symphony in C, and has appeared as a substitute with the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra. He is also an active chamber musician, recently appearing as a guest artist with Caspian Monday Music and Viridian Strings.  

Matthew is very grateful to perform on a Giuseppe Guadagnini violin and an Étienne Pajeot bow graciously provided by the company CANIMEX INC. from Drummondville (Québec), Canada.

Matthew Li

Matthew Li, bass (Canada)  

Hailing from Ottawa, Chinese-Canadian bass Matthew Li recently completed a two year residency at the Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal. His operatic roles include Dulcamara in Elisir d’amore, Seneca in L’incoronazione di Poppea, Polyphemus in Acis and Galatea, Antonio in Le Nozze di Figaro, the Imperial Commissioner in Madama Butterfly, Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte, Masetto and Il Commendatore in Don Giovanni, and Colline in La Bohème. Concert highlights include the bass solos in Handel’s Messiah, Dvořák’s Stabat Mater, and Mozart’s Requiem. An ardent collaborator with contemporaries, Li created the leading bass role of Xon Pon in Alice Ping Yee Ho and Madeleine Thien’s new opera Chinatown with City Opera Vancouver in its world premiere to critical acclaim. He also most recently premiered a new song cycle titled Triptych by Roydon Tse in in Montréal. Next season, Li will return to Opéra de Montréal to portray the role of Polonius in Hamlet, and is delighted to make his role debut in Koerner Hall as Sarastro in The Glenn Gould School’s spring opera production of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte.

Elias Theocharidis

Elias Theocharidis, tenor (Canada)

Born of Greek and Italian descent, Toronto-based tenor Elias Theocharidis is celebrated for his powerful stage presence, alluring tone, and emotional singing. In 2023, he received an Encouragement Award at the Metropolitan Opera’s Laffont Competition and was an Audience Choice Prize Winner at the Western Canada District Auditions.

Theocharidis performs the roles of Azaël in Debussy’s L'enfant prodigue with a new English libretto by Ashley Pearson and Tamino in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. A recent graduate of Calgary Opera’s McPhee Development Program, he was seen as Froh in Wagner's Das Rheingold, Nemorino in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore, Bénédict in Berlioz's Béatrice et Bénédict, and Malcolm in Verdi's Macbeth. Other roles include Don José in Peter Brook's La Tragédie de Carmen (an adaptation of Bizet's Carmen), and Mr. Rushworth in the Canadian Premiere of Jonathan Dove's Mansfield Park. He grew up in an artistic Mediterranean family, coming from a long line of Broadway performers, classically trained pianists, folk singers, models, disc jockeys and dancers.

McKenzie Warriner

McKenzie Warriner, soprano (Canada)  

Saskatchewan-born, Toronto-based soprano McKenzie Warriner is excited to perform as the Queen of the Night in The Glenn Gould School’s upcoming spring production of Die Zauberflöte. Acclaimed for her "poise and musical aplomb" (Opera Canada), last season McKenzie performed Die Zauberflöte with Vancouver Opera as Papagena and also made her debut with Edmonton Opera, performing chamber works by Osvaldo Golijov. Other recent/upcoming repertoire highlights include Handel’s Messiah (Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra), The Handmaid’s Tale (The Banff Centre), Le Portrait de Manon (Vancouver Opera), and Abigail Richardson-Schulte’s Alligator Pie (Regina Symphony Orchestra).

Winner of the 2023 Eckhardt-Gramatté National Competition, McKenzie is one of Canada’s rising stars in the field of new music. She has premiered over a dozen works by composers from across North America and the United Kingdom, with performances at the Aldeburgh Festival, on tour across Canada with pianist Danielle Guina, and in concerts with Slow Rise Music, the series McKenzie co-founded with composer Tristan Zaba (her husband). Her voice can be heard on an album of Zaba’s compositions, Unfinished Business, that was released on the Centrediscs label last year.   

McKenzie earned her Master’s degree from the Eastman School of Music and her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Manitoba, and is an alumna of Vancouver Opera’s Yulanda M. Faris Young Artist Program and the Britten Pears Young Artist Program.