Mezzo-soprano Aoife Bonaventura, a founding member of Luminous Voices, is a music graduate of the University of Toronto and the Royal Academy of Music (RAM) in London, UK. She currently studies with Winston Noren at Mount Royal Conservatory, and has studied with Diane Forlano, Jean MacPhail, and Jonathan Papp. She was also a member of the core in the RAM production of Rameau’s Dardanus under the direction of Laurence Cummings.
Aoife sang as a chorister with the Opera Atelier productions of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas and Acteon, the Toronto Symphony’s performance of Bach’s Magnificat with a select ensemble under the direction of Ivars Taurins, and three times with the International Festival Ensemble under Helmuth Rilling in Stuttgart, Germany. Currently, in addition to Luminous Voices, she performs often with VoiceScapes and La VIe. In addition to her musical education, she also holds an engineering degree from the University of Calgary. She works as a drilling engineer and is currently on maternity leave with her baby daughter.
JULIE FREEDMAN SMITH
Alto Julie Freedman Smith has been singing since childhood and has travelled the world with her music. A founding member of Luminous Voices, she loves to perform and to teach, having spent many years as a music teacher, voice instructor, choral conductor, soloist and clinician. Since 2002, she has encouraged parents across the country as co-founder of Parenting Power.
Joanna was born and raised in Coquitlam, BC, and at a young age realized her passion and gift for music. Joanna began studying piano at the age of 5 and progressed through the years completing her Grades 4, 5, 8 & 10 Practical Piano Certificates and Grade 3 Keyboard Harmony & Music History exams with the Royal Conservatory of Music. Similar to her piano background, at an early age Joanna also had a love for singing. Joanna began her choral adventures joining one of Western Canada’s leading choral organizations, the Coastal Sound Music Academy, where she progressed from Girlchoir and Children’s Touring Choir, to one of the vocal leaders within the Coastal Sound Youth Choir. Joanna has also attended youth mentorship program with Elektra Women’s Choir and the Vancouver Chamber Choir. In July 2015, she travelled to Italy to attend the COSI (Center for Opera Studies in Italy) Program. Joanna is honoured to have sung with the National Youth Choir in 2016 and 2017. Joanna holds a Bachelor of Music and a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Calgary. She is a teacher with the Calgary Catholic School District.
CELIA RAVEN LEE
Mezzo-soprano Celia Raven Lee collaborates regularly with VoiceScapes and Rosa Barocca, is a founding member of La VIe, and has performed with both the Festival Chorus and Calgary Pro Musica Society. She has been a soloist in productions of Handel's Messiah and Dixit Dominus, Vivaldi's Gloria, Saint-Seans' Christmas Oratorio, and J.S. Bach's Mass in B Minor. Operatic and musical theatre roles include 'Dido' in Dido and Aeneas, 'Annio' in La Clemenza di Tito, and the 'Queen' in The Queen, the Bear and the Bumblebee'. Celia has a background in environmental biology and environmental design, and currently consults on social policy. She attended York University for a senior year in Voice, and participated in young artist programs with Tafelmusik, the Summer Opera Lyric Theatre, and the Conservatory of Victoria.
Julia Millen holds a Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance (Lethbridge) and a Master of Music degree in musicology (Toronto). She has sung with both Tafelmusik Chamber Choir and Opera Atelier. She has worked with Dr. Elmer Iseler, Lydia Adams, Kevin Mallon, Ivars Taurins, Jon Washburn, and Herve Niquet. She is principal alto in the Calgary Philharmonic Chorus, alto section lead for the Cathedral Church of the Redeemer in Calgary, and a longtime member of the award-winning Spiritus Chamber Choir. She is a founding member of Luminous Voices.
Julia also has a career in science communications and environmental education. Last summer, she worked with volunteers to remove 10 metric tons of non-natural flood debris by hand from Fish Creek Provincial Park. Her interests include hiking, botanizing, cross-country skiing, and insect illustration.
Meghan Prescott is originally from the Waterloo region of Ontario, Canada, where she studied piano, voice and violin at the Beckett School of Music, and was a student in the Eastwood Collegiate Arts Program. She spent three years travelling throughout the United States as a singer and vocal coach with Life Action Ministries. She studied voice with Stephanie Kramer at the University of Waterloo, taught piano and voice at the Guelph School of Music, and maintained a private piano studio for many years. A lifelong choral singer, Meghan sang seven seasons with the Grammy-nominated Elora Festival Singers (Noel Edison, director). She is also a founding member of Luminous Voices.
When she's not singing or at the office, she enjoys spending time in the mountains or exploring the city with her husband.
Sara Staples, Mezzo-Soprano is an active performer across North America specializing in opera, concert work and in professional ensembles. She has performed the roles of Annie Davidson (Annie Davidson), Maria (The Sound of Music), La Suora Zelatrice (Suor Angelica), Fiamma with Mercury Opera, Hansel (Hansel and Gretel), Mercédès (Carmen), Doris Whithers (Mr. Moreover’s Magic), The Foreign Princess (Rusalka), Nancy (Albert Herring), Hermia (A Midsummer Night's Dream) and Hora (Egisto). Equally at home on the concert stage, Sara has been featured as a soloist with The Richard Eaton Singers, The Bow Valley Chorus, The Wild West New Music Ensemble, The Calgary Bach Society, Symphony of the Vines, Luminous Voices, Spiritus Chamber Choir, VoiceScapes and La VIe. She has also performed as a soloist at the Taipei International Choral Festival and the Boston Early Music Festival. Also an active recitalist, Ms. Staples has performed as a part of the Mountain View International Festival of Song & Chamber Music, The Paso Robles Paderewski Festival, The Sunday’s Live Concert series at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Casalmaggiore International Festival. Ms. Staples holds a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of North Texas and a Master of Music in Vocal Arts from the University of Southern California. Also a voice teacher in Calgary, Sara is passionate about arts education and the next generation of performing artists. She is thrilled to be the Artistic Director of the Cowtown Opera Summer Academy (COSA).
Mezzo-soprano Patricia Thompson, a founding member of Luminous Voices, is the soloist you hear in Schubert's Ständchen (Zögernd leise) on Luminous Voices' award-winning Mendelssohn's Te Deum album. She has been a frequent soloist with the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra; the Bach Societies of Louisville, West Lafayette, IN and St. Louis; the Hale Library Concert Series; and the Masterworks Chorus of New Jersey, making her Carnegie Hall debut in 2009. She has sung with the famed Dale Warland Singers, where she was featured on the award-winning recordings Cathedral Classics and December Stillness with the Ensemble Singers of Vocalessence in Minneapolis.
In recital, Patricia has been praised for "bringing to the texts an expressive intensity, interpreting their emotional values with a sympathetic grasp that effectively revealed their inherent drama, all without sacrificing beauty of vocal production."
Patricia recently celebrated her 12th season as a recitalist and member of the Professional Chorale of the Carmel Bach Festival. She is a member and soloist of the Spire Chamber Ensemble of Kansas City. Also an enthusiastic jazz singer, her first vocal jazz album, It's Only Natural, will be released this winter. She holds degrees from St. Olaf College (BM), and Indiana University (MM and DM), and is Associate Professor of Voice at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas.