The Artists

DRSO
Brandon Wilkie

Brandon Wilkie

Cellist Brandon Wilkie grew up in Pembroke, Ontario where he began playing cello at the age of 13. His first teacher was Peter Morris. After high school, Brandon had the opportunity to study with several renowned teachers including Paul Marleyn at the University of Ottawa and Shauna Rolston at the University of Toronto. For several years, Brandon was based in Toronto, where in addition to working as a performer and teacher, he was also the cellist of the Arkadas String Quartet. As a member of the Arkadas, Brandon had the opportunity to perform at music festivals in Banff and San Francisco, and receive coachings from eminent musicians such as pianist Leon Fleisher and cellist Joel Krosnick of the Juilliard Quartet.

Brandon and his wife Dian moved to Ottawa in 2014, where they currently reside with their daughter Sofia. Since moving to Ottawa, Brandon has been featured several times playing with the Capital Chamber Choir and their music director Jamie Loback. This past fall Brandon was chosen to collaborate on the CCC’s debut recording, performing Jocelyn Morlock’s “Exaudi“. He also participated in a debut recording of chamber works by Canadian composer Joanna Estelle, which is set to be released in Spring 2017 on Parma Recordings. As a teacher, Brandon is on the faculty of Ottawa's Suzuki Music program, where he works with young cello students.

Brandon currently plays on a custom made “lefty” cello from Wayne Burak that he acquired in 2013.

Jessica Belanger

Jessica Belanger

Renfrew native Jessica Belanger is thrilled to be making her debut with the Deep River Symphony Orchestra today.

As a graduate of the Schulich School of Music at McGill University, Jessica studied voice performance with tenor Stefano Algieri and Early Music performance with Valerie Kinslow. She then completed an Education degree at Nipissing University, and began her career as an Elementary Music Specialist. She currently teaches General Music to grades Kindergarten-7 in Renfrew. Since 2009, she has held the position of Director of the Renfrew Children’s/Youth Chorus and from 2009-2013 Professional Chorister with the Ottawa Choral Society, where she enjoyed frequent performance opportunities with both the NAC and Ottawa Symphony Orchestras. Jessica has performed with the chorus and been featured as a soloist with the Ottawa Valley Music Festival many times since its inception in 1994. She was also thrilled to perform as a soloist with the Pembroke Community Choir last season. Jessica is heavily involved in the Music Ministry in her hometown, serving as cantor at the two Catholic Parishes in Renfrew and directing the children’s choirs there. Along with her friend Nick Walters on organ, Jessica organizes fundraising concerts with area musicians at Our Lady of Fatima Parish, as they embark on a sizeable organ restoration project for their renowned Casavant pipe organ.

Jessica is also involved as a volunteer with the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog program, bringing her 5 year old Golden Retriever “Rory” on weekly visits to read with children at the Renfrew Public Library, something she has found to be incredibly gratifying.

Steve Bemis

Steve Bemis

Steve is delighted to partner with the DRSO for the upcoming performance of Bach’s Peasant Cantata.

Steve had his upbringing in the Whitby-Oshawa area where he began to shape his passion for music in a Performing Arts program run through O’Neill Collegiate and Vocational Institute. Steve went on to study engineering at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, where he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Manufacturing Engineering and a Master of Applied Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. While he pursued a career in engineering, he never lost sight for the arts. After moving to Deep River in 2009, Steve joined the Deep River Choral Group, the Deep River Musical Society for Les Misérables, and most recently the Deep River Players where he featured as Billy Crocker in Anything Goes (2018), and Bill Austin in Mamma Mia (2019). Also, Steve is currently an active worship leader at Real Hope Christian Assembly. Steve extends his appreciation to Peter Morris and the DRSO for this opportunity and eagerly awaits the performance.

Megan Jones

Megan Jones

Megan Jones was born in Deep River, Ontario in 1977 and began violin at the age of 6 with Caryl Clark. Throughout her childhood, Megan had an important connection to music, whether it was playing in the Deep River Symphony Orchestra or singing in local school musicals. Upon graduating from high school, she moved to Montreal where she earned a Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance from the University of McGill in the year 2000, graduating with high distinction. Her teachers there included Richard Roberts and Yehonatan Berick.

Megan currently plays as a substitute violinist with the Kitchener Waterloo Symphony, the Windsor Symphony Orchestra, the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, and several other symphonies across Ontario. She is the concert master of the Jeans n’ Classics Rock Symphony as well as the newly established Sinfonia Ancaster and often works as Principal 2nd with the National Academy Orchestra. She has performed several solo concertos with the Timmins Symphony Orchestra and Deep River Symphony Orchestra, including a 2016 return visit to perform Kabalevsky’s Violin Concerto. In 2010, Megan teamed up with violinist Stephen Sitarski to perform several duo concertos with both the Kitchener Waterloo Chamber Orchestra and the Timmins Symphony Orchestra. In 2015, she performed as soloist with the Arcady Ensemble as well as the Kitchener Waterloo Chamber Orchestra.

Megan holds the position of Ochestra Manager with the Brott Music Pestival / National Academy Orchestra, an organization that mentors young musicians coming out of university music programs. Megan is thrilled to be back in her home town to play with the Deep River Symphony Orchestra again, as it was here that her love for orchestra playing began.