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Rebanks Fellows Look Back on a Very Special Year

Rebanks Fellows Look Back on a Very Special Year

Published on September 2, 2020

Since completing their Fellowships this past spring, the diverse roster of performing artists that made up the 2019-20 Rebanks Family Fellowship and International Performance Residency Program have embarked on a fittingly diverse range of projects as they launch professional careers.

And while each artist’s path forward is unique, what’s clear is that all five alumni of The Glenn Gould School are grateful for the program’s flexibility, the huge range of performance opportunities, and the strong community of colleagues they’ve been able to build.


Sydney Baedke

Sydney Baedke, soprano

For Sydney Baedke, participating in The Rebanks Family Fellowship Program represented an unprecedented opportunity to fast-track her path to one of the most significant stages in the world.

“It was surreal to perform a solo recital in Koerner Hall back in September – right at the start of the program,” she says. “Over the years, I’ve seen some of the world’s greatest musicians perform on this stage, so having a chance to bring my artistry to a venue that represents such a high level of musicianship was a literal dream come true. Plus, it happened much sooner than I ever could have anticipated.”

She notes that other important experiences from her time at The Glenn Gould School include one-on-one time with internationally renowned artists in masterclass settings, and a meaningful collaboration with musicians from the Royal Academy of Music in London that resulted in the exploration of Ernst Toch’s rarely performed Die Chinesische Flöte. For Sydney, The Royal Conservatory’s support from an artistic and financial perspective has been “an absolute gift”.

The Rebanks Fellowship has been so helpful in my transition from being a student musician to an emerging professional. Due to the hugely malleable nature of the program, you really have the opportunity to craft a year which addresses your specific artistic needs and bridges the gap from being a student to entering into the vibrant music scene of Toronto and beyond.”

Jillian Bonner
Jillian Bonner, mezzo soprano

Jillian Bonner has dreamed of being a Rebanks Fellow for as long as she’s known of the program’s existence.

“The Rebanks Family Fellowship and International Performance Residency Program is ideal for emerging professional musicians as it allows them the freedom to study with whomever they want and the chance to perform and record in a beautiful hall. And in my case, I was able to take on a leading role in an opera with an orchestra.”

She notes that the support that the Fellows receive – both from The Glenn Gould School itself and from the small cohort of artists in the program – is unmatched.

“The professional photoshoot organized for us at the very beginning of our time at GGS was so much fun. I also feel very lucky to have had the singular opportunity of being part of December’s Rebanks Showcase concert, which allowed me to be part of an event with an incredibly high level of musicianship and camaraderie.”

The mezzo soprano says that she has been afforded many opportunities through her participation in The Rebanks Fellowship Program. “The Rebanks Fellowship has allowed me to grow as a professional musician, while still having crucial financial support and access to facilities. It is an ideal program for young adults who have done their master’s degree. I highly recommend it.”

Ryan Davis

Ryan Davis, viola

Ryan Davis says that much of the joy to be found in The Rebanks Fellowship Program lies in the diverse performance opportunities that participants are afforded.

He describes an experience at Toronto’s Aphasia Institute where he played to a group of individuals suffering from a condition that affects their ability to communicate.

“The patients in the audience were incredibly kind and receptive to my performance, and I was reminded of the medicinal properties of music in a communal setting,” he reminisces. “I was grateful to share some music with them and felt very welcomed in their space.”

Ryan points to another unique concert event, The Royal Conservatory’s 21C Music Festival, where he performed Christos Hatzis's The Mega4 Meta4 – a composition that he describes as “fiendishly difficult”. “This piece is one of the most challenging works I've ever learned – and I was so thankful to Steven Dann, my teacher and mentor, for helping me prepare for this performance. Plus it was exhilarating to be able to perform it with the composer in the audience!”

Up next for Ryan is his solo project, Little King, which involves the creation and performance of works for viola, loop pedal, sampler machine, and electronics. He says that he’s interested in carving out a career path that isn't exactly traditional, and that his time in The Rebanks Family Fellowship Program will support this trajectory.

“In order to be successful, I will need to be at the top of my game in a variety of contexts – be it orchestral, chamber, or solo playing. The Rebanks Program has allowed me a unique space to be creative and spend my time in a way that has allowed me to grow in my artistry. I am grateful for all of the mentorship and wisdom that has made this past year extremely special.”

Rosie Gallagher

Rosie Gallagher, flute

For Rosie Gallagher one of the most significant outcomes of her participation in the Rebanks Family Fellowship was becoming empowered to pursue projects and passions that most interest her.

“Crafting my own musical journey has been a challenge at times,” she muses. “But I am grateful for the Rebanks Fellowship experience. I’ve grown a lot from it in unexpected ways.”

Rosie says that some of her most enjoyable moments as a Fellow have been when performing in somewhat non-traditional settings.

The best thing about the Fellowship has been performing at different community venues from around Toronto. I absolutely adored performing at the Dotsa Bitove Wellness Academy, a day program for adults with memory loss due to mild dementia, their families, and their care partners. The staff was so welcoming, and the community was open and supportive.”

She describes how she had a unique opportunity to work one-on-one with a sound engineer during rehearsals for The Royal Conservatory’s 21C Music Festival in January, noting that she “loved the chance to experiment with a different sound world” while performing the piece Kaija Saariaho in Temerty Theatre – the Conservatory’s most technologically advanced venue.

Up next for Rosie: a full-time commitment to perform as a trio with a New-York based violist and harpist, and a gig as the Artistic Director of the Jacaranda Chamber Festival. And if that weren’t enough, she also plans to pursue a Doctor of Musical Arts at Stony Brook University.

Byungchan Lee

Byungchan Lee, violin

According to Byungchan Lee, The Rebanks Family Fellowship and International Performance Residency Program is a wonderful opportunity for emerging artists to develop aspects of their career including creative freedom, entrepreneurship and individuality.

“Come in with big dreams, be involved, and imagine how you could grow while being a force for good in the music community.”

He credits The Rebanks Fellowship Program with bringing together a nurturing and supportive network of like-minded musicians and music lovers.

“Right at the beginning of the program, we were invited to a special event where we were introduced to important supporters of The Glenn Gould School. There was something special about seeing donors spending time with ‘their’ students – and the vibrancy of music appreciation was palpable among all attendees.”

For the violinist, one of the highlights of the program was the opportunity to perform across Canada and the US.

“During my time as a Fellow, I experienced the most perfect afternoon in Puerto Rico before heading to the US Virgin Islands for chamber music performances, plus a brief residency in Prince Edward County where we were able to visit the nearby wineries – in between rehearsals, of course!”

Up next for Byungchan, hopefully more travel. “I’m thinking about touring chamber music projects, auditions, and where I want to be based!