Board of Directors & Advisors

Heidi Klassen – President/Treasurer –


Ms. Klassen holds a Masters of Music with Distinction from Indiana University where she studied with the legendary soprano Virginia Zeani and with whom she continued to study her roles throughout her career. Ms. Klassen’s career as teacher extends 30 years in which she has taught at the University levels including as Head of the Voice department, University of Manitoba School of Music, on faculty at Edmonton’s NUOVA and is in demand internationally as a voice teacher, adjudicator while sustaining a private voice studio in Vancouver.

Presently Ms. Klassen looks for and creates projects that raise awareness for charities and humanity’s awakening.


Catherine Burnett – Vice President

Associate Professor, University of British Columbia Department of Theatre and Film

With an extensive career as an international dancer and teacher, Ms Burnett’s credits include: co-artistic director of Montage Dance Theatre, performer with the American Dance Machine in NYC, writer and choreographer for children’s shows. Ms. Burnett has been on the faculty of the University of Alberta’s BFA Theatre Program and is currently movement professor in the University of British Columbia’s BFA Theatre Program. Catherine has coached and choreographed for operas across Canada, taught at renowned opera programs including Nuova’s Summer Opera Intensive, New York Opera Society’s Vassar Summer Intensive, and UBC’s Opera Program. Most recently she has been teaching “Authentic Listening” workshops across Canada. Catherine is increasingly interested in bringing the spiritual and multi-dimensional aspect of her life into her work with performers including energetic healing and channeling.


Frédérik Robert – Secretary

Classical Cross-Over and Solo Artist, Tenor Frédérik Robert has been hailed across North America as a “spine tingling” vocalist and emotionally stirring performer. Whether he is singing opera, musical theater, cabaret, crossover, jazz or composing, Frederik is becoming one of Canada’s most sought after vocalists. Opera Canada recently stated, “Robert has a vibrant tenor, well-controlled, beautifully articulated, and sensitively acted. He had the audience in tears by the end of the last act. His last ‘Carmen, Je t’adore’ breaking our hearts.”

Frederik began his career early. As a child Frederik was often seen and heard on Radio Canada/CBC and he performed all across Alberta and frequently hired to sing the National Anthems for the Edmonton Oilers, Trappers and Drillers.

By 23 Robert had already sung lead and supporting roles with major companies and orchestras including: Winnipeg Symphony, Regina Symphony, National Arts Center Orchestra, Prince George Symphony, Edmonton Opera, Calgary Opera, Opera Saskatoon and The Opera Project.

His most influential teacher and mentor, international Soprano Heidi Klassen encouraged Frédérik to sing every style. That he did! In 2004, he stepped aside from opera and had a torrid love affair with classical cross-over, touring for many years as a soloist with vocal groups such as Canadian Tenors and Romanza. This has led to more work in musical theater and even dabbling occasionally in counter-tenor, cabaret and finally composition & arranging.

As a composer and arranger, Frederik is versatile in many kinds of music including pop, films scores, art song, orchestral and choral. It is Frederik’s next goal to premier/workshop his ground breaking new opera in 2012. On his time off the stage Frederik teaches master classes, workshops and is a vocal and performance coach and adjudicator.


Karen Shumka – Music Associate / Piano Collaborator

Karen Shumka is a much sought after vocal coach, répétiteur and accompanist. Karen has performed throughout North America in recitals, recordings and competitions and with opera companies from coast to coast in Canada, as well as in Austria. Karen is thoroughly enjoying her latest adventure with The Opera Project and firmly believes that this company is integral to the growth of opera in Canada…


Laszlo Gati –

International Conductor / Violinist / Violist

Born in Timisoara, Rumania, 25 Sep 1925. He studied first in Rumania but moved in 1946 to Budapest, where he attended the Academy of Music and the National Cons and played in the Hungarian State Orchestra. His teachers were Dezsö Rados (violin), János Ferencsik (conducting), Sándor Veress and Pál Jardanyi (composition), and Zoltán Kodály (Hungarian folk music). He taught violin 1953-6 at the Budapest Cons and worked 1954-6 with the Hungarian Radio. He emigrated to Canada in 1957 and was a violist with the MSO under Igor Markevitch (with whom he studied) and Zubin Mehta. While in Montreal he conducted the Montreal Philharmonia in 1958 and founded the Montreal Chamber Orchestra in 1959. He studied with Hans Swarowsky in Nice in 1964 on a Canada Council grant. He was conductor of the Victoria Symphony Orchestra 1967-78. He conducted in Columbia and Venezuela in 1978, in Rumania in 1983, and was music director of the Windsor Symphony Orchestra 1979-85. He moved to Vancouver in 1989 and has continued to guest conduct, and to lecture on musical subjects for the Vancouver school board and for the Cunard line music tours. Gati is a gifted exponent of the romantic composers and of 20th-century Hungarian music, notably Bartók and Kodály, but he is at ease in most styles and includes Canadian works in his repertoire. – Excerpt taken from the The Canadian Encyclopdia of Music


Howard Dyck - Artistic Director & Conductor – Kitchener Waterloo Philharmonic
Host – CBC’s Saturday at the Opera and Sunday Morning Choral Concert

Howard Dyck is the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Kitchener Waterloo Philharmonic Choir. He is also the founding Artistic Director and Conductor of Consort Caritatis. Mr. Dyck is known across Canada as the programme host of Choral Concert and Saturday Afternoon at the Opera on CBC Radio.


Ruggero Barbieri

Conductor – Manila Orchestra, Philippines / Former Maestro – Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra

Maestro Barbieri currently resides in Italy.