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Meet the 2020-21 Rebanks Fellows, artists on the cusp of professional careers

Meet the 2020-21 Rebanks Fellows, artists on the cusp of professional careers

Published on October 28, 2020

The Royal Conservatory is pleased to announce the five exceptional artists accepted into the prestigious Rebanks Family Fellowship and International Performance Residency Program for the 2020-2021 academic year. 

Unique in Canada, The Rebanks Family Fellowship and International Performance Residency Program is the one-year postgraduate program of The Royal Conservatory’s Glenn Gould School. Created in 2013 for artists on the cusp of a professional career, 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 international 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. 

2020-21 Rebanks Fellows 

Michael Bridge

Michael Bridge, accordion, is internationally renowned for his warm stage personality and striking musical versatility.

A recipient of the Lieutenant Governor’s emerging artist medal, Michael, originally from in Calgary, Alberta, is invested in the future of the accordion and performs almost exclusively his transcriptions of concert music or new contemporary works, including over 50 world premieres.  A modern hybrid of classical musician and dynamic entertainer, Bridge describes his repertoire as ‘concert music’ – encompassing baroque, classical, and contemporary works, along with a vast array of his concert arrangements of folk and jazz music.

River Guard

River Guard, tenor, is a singer-songwriter, composer, actor, and multi-instrumentalist. 

River, who is from Hamilton, Ontario, completed his Opera Diploma at Wilfrid Laurier University; he is also a graduate of the University of Toronto’s Master of Music Performance (Opera) program. His many performance roles include Lippo Fiorentino in Kurt Weil’s Street Scene, Il Podesta in La Finta Giardiniera, Miles Zegner in Proving Up by Missy Mazzoli, Basilio in Le Nozze di Figaro, Henry Crawford in Jonathan Dove’s Mansfield Park, Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi, and Lensky in Eugene Onegin. He has participated in the Banff Centre’s Opera in the 21st Century program and attended Highlands Opera Studio run by world-renowned tenor Richard Margison.

Jesse Je Young Kim

Jessy Je Young Kim, violin, is a graduate of the University of Toronto and the Yale School of Music.

She has studied with Ani Kavafian, Jonathan Crow, Barry Shiffman, and Paul Kantor. Originally from Seoul, South Korea, in her career, Jessy has won numerous awards and scholarships including​ the Hnatyshyn Foundation Developing Artist Grant and the Oneppo Chamber Music Prize.​​ Her performance highlights include appearances with the Vancouver Youth Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Northwest, Vancouver Pilgrim Orchestra, the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Symphony, the Guelph Symphony Orchestra, the Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

Hezekiah Leung

Praised for his “lovely lyricism” by The Calgary Herald, Hezekiah Leung, viola, has been featured as a performer throughout North America and Europe. 

A graduate of the University of Michigan, Rice University, and The Glenn Gould School (Artist Diploma Program), Hezekiah, from Maple Ridge, British Columbia, also participated in the Fellowship Quartet in Residence program at the Yale School of Music (as a founding member of the Rolston String Quartet). He received top prizes in the Glenn Gould School Chamber Music Competition and the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal Standard Life Competition as a soloist, as well as in the Chamber Music Yellow Springs Competition and the Banff International String Quartet Competition with the quartet. Hezekiah plays on the viola made by Samuel Zygmuntowicz, on loan through the El Pasito Foundation.    

Korin Thomas-Smith

Korin Thomas-Smith, baritone, graduated from the Master of Music Performance (Opera) program at the University of Toronto. 

Hailing from Toronto, Ontario, Korin’s engagements in 2020-2021 include a fellowship at the Music Academy of the West in California, his Koerner Hall debut singing Beethoven’s 9th with the Mendelssohn Choir of Toronto, and performing as Collantinus in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia with GGS. His past roles include Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro and Edmund Bertram in the Canadian premiere of Mansfield Park. He also performed in the hybrid opera and dance work “Against Nature” composed by James Rolfe and choreographed by James Kudelka O.C. Korin is the 2019 recipient of the Norcop Prize in Song and a graduating award from the University of Toronto. 

The Royal Conservatory is grateful to the Rebanks Family and the Weston Family Foundation​ who have made The Rebanks Family Fellowship and International Performance Residency Program possible through their generous support. 


The Glenn Gould School is also supported by funding from the Department of Canadian Heritage through the Canada Arts Training Fund, and from the Ontario Arts Council.