The Northumberland Orchestra and Choir is a not-for-profit organization that is the county’s first and foremost purveyor of beautiful orchestral and choral music.
The Northumberland Orchestra was founded under the guiding vision of Dr. Phillip Schaus in 1978 when enthusiastic local musicians united to form a symphony orchestra. A year later the local choral society joined with the orchestra as the newly constituted Northumberland Philharmonic Choir. Throughout its history, the Northumberland Orchestra and choir has included and encouraged young local musicians, many of whom are now pursuing professional musical careers.
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Maestro John Kraus
Music Director John Kraus has been at the helm of the Northumberland Orchestra & Choir since May 2013. John’s mantra is ‘Music is life; music is my life’ and he has been engaged in musical activities for over 40 years. John’s passion and motivation are to share good music with all who wish to participate in those experiences, whether they choose to be on stage or in the audience. As Music Director, John has led the NOC in performances that range from works by Beethoven, Brahms, Lauridsen, Willan and Stravinsky to collaborative performances with guests including Anastasia Rizikov, Mary Elizabeth Brown, Ron Korb and the Sultans of String.
John has held a variety of posts, working as the Music Director of the Clarington Concert Band (2011-2013), as the founding Music Director and conductor of the Durham Chamber Orchestra (1996-2007) and the Lakeridge Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. John has been the sectional conductor and woodwind coach with the La Jeunesse Youth Orchestra, Port Hope, where his daughters participated as members of the string section. As a member of the teaching faculty of the CAMMAC/Lake Field Music Camp, John continues to work with adult amateur musicians each summer coaching chamber ensembles, conducting large ensembles and teaching clarinet and saxophone technique. John’s career as a music educator spans more than 25 years. He has had the opportunity to lead ‘honour’ student ensembles (wind ensembles, symphonic bands and orchestras) as part of the annual Conference of Independent Schools Music Festival, held annually at Roy Thomson Hall, Toronto. He is also an active clinician and adjudicator presenting at workshops and festivals across Ontario. John’s choral experiences include singing as a member of the Bell’Arte Singers (Toronto) as well as leading his high school ensembles, chamber choirs, concert choirs and vocal jazz ensembles, many of whom earned invitations to attend National MusicFest, earning critical acclaim and accolades.
John studied orchestral conducting with Jerome Summers (University of Western Ontario) and participated in master classes with Morihiro Okabe and Wayne Toews, who are all proponents of the methods of Hideo Saito, teacher of Seji Ozawa, from Japan. John’s choral conducting influences include Deral Johnson, Lee Willingham, Victoria Meredith and Gerard Yun.
As a member of the Ontario Music Educators Association, the Canadian Music Festivals Adjudicators Association and the Ontario College of Teachers, John continues to perform as a clarinetist and saxophonist in many different arenas including jazz ensembles, chamber ensembles, orchestras and wind band ensembles.
Choral Director Mitchell Cox
Mitchell Cox has worked as professional pianist around the globe; with a swing band in japan as a university lecturer and performer in the U.K., and across Canada as a church musician, accompanist, teacher and examiner for the Royal Conservatory of music since 2004. After landing a position in the Regina Symphony Regina Symphony Orchestra early in his career, Mitchell moved to England to further develop his skills in sight reading and vocal coaching. As well as accompanying for all levels of singers and choirs, Mitchell has worked as an opera repetiteur, with dance companies, in theatre productions, various styles of bands and orchestras.
His choral work has followed a natural progression into directing, and he has also filled that capacity at a number of churches through his career in Alberta and Northumberland County. He is also in his 6th season as Director of the talented amateur choir “Vocalese”, based out of Brighton.
Mitchell is in his second season as Music Director for Michael Gelman’s Process Theatre, which challenges his skills of composing and improvising music that supports the story unfolding onstage. Mitchell is also part of the jazz trio “Take 3” which plays regularly in the area, and has produced and recorded 2 solo CDs. After a year as the NOC’s Choir Accompanist, Mitchell is honoured to continue as the NOC’s Choral Director.