Nico Dann, drums, co-curator OCMS dérangé

Described as being “…fiendishly precise…” (, Toronto based Canadian Nico Dann has been playing drums for over 15 years. Nico is the co-curator of Toronto Music Series OCMS dérangé.  Besides composing/arranging for and leading his own jazz ensembles in Toronto and New York. Nico has played and recorded with chart-topping indie luminary tUnE-yArDs (4AD Records), Montreal-based ex-indie band Sister Suvi and many other bands and ensembles. Nico has performed at various festivals including the North Sea Jazz Festival in the Netherlands, Montreal’s Off Jazz Festival and POP Montreal, Austin’s South by Southwest, England’s Glastonbury Festival, New York’s CMJ Festival and the Distillery Jazz Festival in Toronto. Nico has also played at many world-renowned venues including New York’s the Bowery Ballroom, Rockwood Music Hall, Rockshop and Sidewalk Café, Toronto’s The Rex, Montreal’s The Upstairs, Edinburgh’s The Jazz Bar and The Living Arts Center in Philadelphia.

Although Nico’s primary output has been in the jazz and indie-rock idioms, he has had the opportunity to play with ensembles in many musical contexts. Nico made his Contemporary-Classical Music debut playing the music of Peter Lieberson with violist-father Steven Dann and bassist Joel Quarrington at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre in 2008. In 2010 Nico performed the Musical-Theatre compositions of Bram Gielen in Toronto’s Summerworks “Indie Theatre and Arts Festival”. Lately Nico has been one third of Contemporary Blue-Grass Band The Alex Mallett Band.

After beginning his drum studies with Jim Blackley, Nico earned a Bachelor of Music in Jazz from McGill University in Montreal under Chris McCann, Michel Lambert and Rémi Bolduc. He attended Canada’s Banff International Workshop on Jazz and Creative Music studying with New York Jazz greats Dave Douglas, Clarence Penn, Gerald Cleaver and Scott Colley among many other notable players. In 2011 Nico completed his MA at CUNY Queen’s College in New York City, studying with famed jazz drummer Nasheet Waits, alto-saxophonist Antonio Hart, trumpeter/arranger Michael Mossman and pianist David Berkman among others. Currently Nico lives in Toronto with his wife Classical soprano Ilana Zarankin.

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Robin Dann, singer-songwriter, bandleader (Bernice)

Robin Dann is a singer and a songwriter. Educated in music, (BMus in jazz from U of T, MMus in creative practive from Goldsmiths, U of London, UK) Robin is lucky to belong to a close community of musicians both in Toronto, where she is based, and abroad. She works frequently with many different bands and projects. Recent collaborations include the creation of Noisy with Ame Henderson, Matt Smith and the dancers of Toronto Dance Theatre, a co-written and produced EP with Ben Gunning under the name “POM”, continuing backup vocal work for Martha Wainwright on her 2017 “Midnight City” UK tour and a collaboratively made video with dancers Julia Male and Brendan Jensen in partnership with photographer Claire Harvie and bandmates Felicity Williams and Thom Gill for a forthcoming album release from their trio ‘Bliss Gloss’. Robin’s band Bernice have been actively recording and playing live since 2011, have toured internationally, and spent two weeks working on new material at the Banff Centre for the Arts in the winter of 2015. Through the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, Bernice has completed a new full length album and will be releasing it with label Arts & Crafts this year.

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Steven Dann, viola

Steven Dann was born in Vancouver, Canada. His foremost teacher and mentor was the late Lorand Fenyves. Upon graduation from university he was named Principal Viola of the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, Canada, a position he has subsequently held with the Tonhalle Orchestra in Zurich, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam, the Vancouver Symphony and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

Steven Dann has collaborated as a soloist with such Maestri as Sir Andrew Davis, Rudolph Barshai, Jiri Belohlavek, Sir John Elliott Gardiner, Jukka- Pekka Saraste and Vladimir Ashkenazy.

Since 1990 Mr. Dann has been a member of the Smithsonian Chamber Players in Washington D.C. and was a founding member of the Axelrod String Quartet. He is currently violist of both the Zebra Trio (with violinist Ernst Kovacic and cellist Anssi Karttunen) and Toronto’s twice Grammy-nominated ARC Ensemble.

Steven Dann teaches viola and chamber music at the Glenn Gould School in Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music and is the Coordinator of the chamber music program at the Domaine Forget in Quebec.

Mr. Dann plays a viola of Joseph Gagliano, circa 1780.

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Michael Davidson, vibraphone

Michael Davidson is a Toronto-based vibraphonist in the improvised, jazz, and creative music scene.

He works with many of the active jazz and improvised music players in Toronto including: David Occhipinti, Nick Fraser, Brodie West, Ryan Driver, Rob Clutton, David French, Harley Card, Andrew Downing, Alex Goodman, Jim Vivian, Darren Sigesmund, Ethan Ardelli, Fabio Ragnelli, Felicity Williams, Dan Fortin, Trevor Giancola, Allison Au, Rebecca Hennessy, David Braid, and Michael Herring.

Michael leads a chamber jazz septet with cello, voice, bass clarinet, vibraphone, alto sax, double bass, and drums. Another compositional outlet is the trio, Digital Watch, featuring Dan Fortin and Davidson French.

He also co-leads the chamber jazz quartet Hobson’s Choice, who in the words of CBC’s The Signal host Laurie Brown,

“…has made a unique contribution to the Canadian scene with their debut album (of the waves). Just when I think I have the sound pegged, they switch things up.”

Michael approaches improvising with passion and stunning sensitivity, as well as Monk-like wit.

Michael Davidson, is a vibraphonist of remarkable dexterity and wit, whose fascination with Monk’s body of work has led to this weekly ongoing tribute to the jazz piano colossus.”

-bob ben for wholenote magazine

He is an active composer in the realm of jazz, and his inventive compositions are featured in The Michael Davidson Septet, Digital Watch and Hobson’s Choice.

He has been composing seriously since 2001 and has received funding from The TAC, The OAC, and The CCFTA for his original projects. Recently, Michael composed and recorded a film score for the BravoFact film, “She Sings for Me.”

His compositions have received praise from esteemed Canadian jazz drummer/ composer Barry Elmes,

“Not only are his songs creative and well crafted, each one has a story to tell.”

Michael is also a devoted educator through his work at Humber College in the jazz program.

You can hear Michael playing around Toronto with The Michael Davidson Septet, Hobson’s Choice, Pocket Camera, Monk’s Music, The Dan Fortin Quartet, Digital Watch, Ben Gunning, Ryan Driver, Andrew Miller’s Congruence, Andrew Downing’s Otterville, Tara Davidson’s Duets, Darren Sigesmund’s Strands, and the Jefferson Grant sextet. These ensembles represent the diversity of Michael’s musical interests, spanning from contemporary jazz to chamber to improvised. Both his original material and his interpretation of standard repertoire are evocative and communicative with the intensity of someone who, while madly in love with the tradition, has something new to say.


Lucy Dhegrae, mezzo soprano

“Vocal versatility and an omnivorous curiosity” (New York Times) are the hallmarks of mezzo-soprano Lucy Dhegrae, a passionate vocalist with a flexible technique that fits a variety of styles. She has performed with the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Talea Ensemble, the Albany Symphony, among others, at such venues as Miller Theatre, Lincoln Center, and the Kennedy Center.

Dhegrae, who is “everywhere new music is being sung” (New York Classical Review) regularly premieres new vocal works and operas, and has worked closely with such composers as Unsuk Chin, Jason Eckardt, Susan Botti, Alexandra Vrebalov, and Sky Macklay. Her opera premieres include Trillium J by Anthony Braxton, Andy: A Popera (Opera Philadelphia/Bearded Ladies Cabaret), A Marvelous Order by Judd Greenstein, and Ashley Fure’s The Force of Things. Dhegrae’s festival appearances include Darmstadt (Germany), Klangspuren (Austria), Mostly Mozart, Bard Music Festival, Gesher Music Festival (St. Louis), and Aldeburgh Music Festival (as a Britten-Pears Young Artist).

As “soprano and raconteur” (The New Yorker) she directs the Resonant Bodies Festival, an annual festival of new and experimental vocal music, which she founded in 2013. She is on the faculty at the Bard College Conservatory Graduate Vocal Arts Program (where she graduated with an MM in Vocal Performance ’12), and is a core member of the new music ensemble Contemporaneous. She lives with her husband, composer Shawn Jaeger, in New York.


Lara Dodds-Eden, piano

Winner of the University of Toronto’s Gwendolyn Koldovsky Prize in Accompaniment (2014-2015), Australian pianist Lara Dodds-Eden has just completed her second year of the DMA programme in Collaborative Piano with Lydia Wong. Frequent performances at Gallery 345, the Arts and Letters Club, the Burdock, the Holy Oak and Walter Hall, alongside a tour of the Danube by river boat and a recent performance with the principal tubist of Iceland Symphony, Nimrod Ron, have highlighted her first two years. Before moving to Toronto, Lara spent much of the previous year as Collaborative Pianist and Artistic Associate of the Banff Centre’s Fall and Winter Music Residencies, where she assisted in curating the public events of the season and performed with international visiting artists including cellist Gavriel Lipkind, pianist Ronan O’Hora, Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew and as soloist with the Australian Chamber Orchestra.

Lara studied both in Canberra and in London, at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She has performed as a song accompanist, chamber musician, and concerto soloist alongside many of the prominent musicians of her generation, in major international venues including London’s Purcell Room; Wigmore, Royal Festival, and Barbican Halls; Amsterdam’s Het Concertgebouw, Bratislava’s Philharmonic Hall, Sydney’s Angel Place Recital Hall and as a featured artist at the Aldeburgh Festival. From 2010 – 2013 she was Artistic Director of the Paxos Chamber Music Festival, Greece.


Rebecca Hennessy, trumpet, bandleader (FOG)

Rebecca Hennessy is a Toronto based trumpeter, vocalist and composer active in many different genres of music. Focused mainly in performing and composing jazz and creative music, Rebecca is equally comfortable playing roots, folk, R&B, mariachi, pop and blues. She has been carving her way in the Canadian and international music scene since moving to Toronto in 2003 from Nanaimo, BC. Since then, she has toured to Mexico, Panama, Europe, USA, and extensively in Canada playing with various groups.

Rebecca’s band, FOG, is a New Orleans Brass band party with the intricacies of a modern jazz sextet. This band features the brassy fun-times frontline of tuba, trombone and trumpet, that will have your toe tapping and your body grooving alongside energetic electric guitar, rich piano harmonies and deep drum beats that that will take you through sounds inspired by funky blues, old country, folk tunes and chamber/modern jazz.

Rebecca is a member (co-leader, composer) of Toronto’s chamber-jazz quartet, Hobson’s Choice, alongside Felicity Williams , Harley Card and Michael Davidson. Hobson’s Choice has been performing and recording since 2008 and has since released three independently funded EP’s and a new full length album (“Of The Waves”) on Barnyard Records with the support of the OAC. “Of The Waves” (NNNN).

In 2013, Rebecca spent seven months composing and playing in NYC after being awarded the OAC Chalmers Professional Development Grant. While in NYC, Rebecca studied trumpet and composition with Ralph Alessi and John McNeil. She was also able to record with a new group featuring Petr Cancura, Michael Herring and Richie Barshay called Way North.

Rebecca is the musical director Massey Hall’s annual Women’s Blues Revue. She can also be heard performing regularly with The Woodshed Orchestra, Drumhand, as well as Viva Mexico Mariachi.

Rebecca has performed and or recorded with many world class jazz and pop artists including: Ab Baars, Ken Vandermark, Mike Murley, Andrew Downing, Nick Fraser, Ron Sexsmith, Andy Kim, Owen Pallett, Broken Social Scene, Feist and Adele.

Rebecca has a jazz performance degree from University of Toronto and Vancouver Island University, and in 2007 participated in the International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music directed by internationally renowned trumpeter Dave Douglas.

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Emily Kruspe, violin

Emily Kruspe, violin (Toronto, Ontario), is the winner of the Glenn Gould School’s Concerto Competition, the University of Toronto’s Concerto Competition, the Orford String Quartet Scholarship, and is a CBC Music Young Artist of 2015. Emily has participated in the Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival, Banff Centre, and Domaine Forget Chamber Music Festival. She has performed concerts with Augustin Hadelich, Pekka Kuusisto, Anssi Karttunen, and the Artists of the Royal Conservatory (Toronto). Emily has served as concertmaster of The Royal Conservatory Orchestra and the University of Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and frequently performs with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto under Erika Raum, and obtained an Artist Diploma at the Glenn Gould School under Paul Kantor and Barry Shiffman. Emily is currently a Master of Music candidate at the Colburn Conservatory of Music, where she studies with Martin Beaver.



Britton Riley, cello

Canadian-American cellist Britton Riley joined the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 2015. Formerly Assistant Principal of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Mr. Riley enjoys a diverse musical career as a performer, teacher, and recording engineer. He has recorded for film and radio for Sony Pictures, CBC Radio 2, KUSC, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Live from Orchestra Hall series, and live performances have brought him to Carnegie Hall, Boston Symphony Hall, Chicago’s Orchestra Hall, and Walt Disney Concert Hall, among others.

Mr. Riley has received recognition throughout North America in the National Foundation for the Advancement in the Arts Awards (now YoungArts), the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Concerto Competition, and the Sphinx and Hellam Competitions. He has performed at music festivals throughout North America and Europe, including the Banff Summer Music Festival, New York String Orchestra Seminar, Music by the Sea, Le Domaine Forget Chamber Music Festival, Weimarer Meisterkurse, St. Lawrence String Quartet Seminar, and the Sunflower Music Festival.

After receiving degrees in Cello Performance and Music Industry from the University of Southern California, Mr. Riley went on to earn Master of Music and Doctorate degrees from the University of Michigan. During this time, he performed regularly with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and served as teaching assistant to Richard Aaron. Following his graduation, he was named a Rebanks Fellow at The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. In addition to maintaining a private teaching studio, he has coached young musicians at The Royal Conservatory of Music, Mount Royal University, Calgary Youth Orchestras, and the Alberta Youth Orchestra Symposium at the Banff Centre. He has a strong interest in collaborating with artists of various disciplines, particularly dancers and photographers.

Among his many interests, Britton enjoys travelling, nature, golf, college football, cooking, hiking, and photography.


Ilana Zarankin, soprano, co-curator OCMS dérangé

Described as possessing a voice capable of “vaulting to vertiginous heights” (The New York Times), with “bell-like high notes” (OperaRamblings), soprano Ilana Zarankin is a graduate of Dawn Upshaw’s Bard College Graduate Vocal Arts Program in NY. After five years living and working in Brooklyn, Ilana moved back to Toronto in late 2014 and has since made her debut with Talisker Players, New Music Concerts and Array Music and has joined the Canadian Opera Company Chorus. She is also the co-curator (with her husband jazz drummer Nico Dann) of a two-concert Off Centre Music Salon offshoot series entitled dérangé, which launched in February 2015 at the Music Gallery. Ilana’s recent Banff Centre Winter Music Residency was spent studying with American New Music champion, soprano Lucy Shelton. . In 2013, Ilana joined the adjunct faculty of the Bard College GVAP as the instructor of Russian Lyric Diction. In 2012 she was a Vocal Fellow at the Tanglewood Music Festival, where she performed a centennial celebration performance of Pierrot Lunaire, and the roles of Potted Plant, Baby and Mother Goose in Oliver Knussen’s Higglety Pigglety Pop! to great critical acclaim. In 2011, Ilana made her Carnegie Hall (Weill Hall) debut in a World Premiere of a song-cycle by Christopher Mayo.

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