First Violin (Leader) — Raya Fridman
Raya holds a College Diploma in Orchestra/Music Education from Russia and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Concordia University, as well as a Master in Music from the University of Victoria. Her performing experiences include the Chamber Orchestra of Leningrad, Montreal Chamber Orchestra, Vancouver Island Symphony Orchestra, Victoria Symphony Orchestra, Victoria Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonic Choir, Victoria Operatic Society, Gilbert & Sullivan Society and Palm Court Orchestra. Raya has performed as a soloist with Chamber Orchestra of Leningrad and the Cowichan Consort. She has been leading the Civic Orchestra of Victoria for the last eight years.
Having finished her formal education, Raya still continues learning through observing and participating in masterclasses and workshops. She has enjoyed working with many outstanding musicians, such as Pinkas Zukerman, Eleonora and Yuli Turovski, “I Musici” and “Quador Bozzini”.
Raya is a Suzuki trained teacher, she loves working with children of all ages. Every year several of her students participate in festivals and many of them win awards. Ms Fridman also had a pleasure of adjudicating talented young musicians at the Cowichan Festival several times. She is conversant in Russian, French and English.
Oboe (Principal) — Sheila Longton
Sheila Longton holds degrees in Oboe Performance from the University of Calgary and the University of Victoria. As a student, Sheila performed with the Calgary Youth Orchestra, the Trouverian Woodwind Quintet, the Okanagan Symphony, and the Victoria Symphony. She was often found in the 'pit' of the MacPherson Playhouse as well. Currently, Sheila is privileged to perform regularly with Via Choralis, including the world première of Fairbanks' Sea Cantata (2011), and she is honoured to play in the Victoria Chamber Orchestra. Being a founding member of the actively performing woodwind quintet Windrift further rounds out Sheila's musical life.
Sheila is also a published writer of short fiction who enjoys home maintenance and midnight gardening.
Second Violin — Jim Ham
James Ham has been engaged in the repair and restoration of stringed musical instruments in Victoria since 1972. During the past decade the focus has shifted to primarily making new double basses. The experience gained from repairing thousands of instruments led Mr. Ham to believe that he could design an instrument that could solve many of the problems he repeatedly observed with traditional instruments and offer significant ergonomic and acoustic advantages. A commission to make a double bass for Mr. Gary Karr, a long time client and world famous soloist, provided an opportunity to put these ideas into practice and the resulting instrument was so successful that additional commissions followed, leading to the decision by Mr. Ham to move from a downtown shop to a separate business in his home. He now works in his home shop where he makes new instruments and continues to do repair, restoration and appraisals by appointment. Double basses made by Mr. Ham have been sold to clients (mostly professional players) in The U. S., Japan, Taiwan, Germany and Canada. He is a member of the American Federation of Violin and Bowmakers and the Violin Society of America. Mr. Ham has appeared as a musical instrument expert on the Canadian Antiques Roadshow and is a winner of a Manning Innovation Award (2001) for “His great talent in developing several innovative features for the double bass”.
Viola (Principal) — Mary Clarke
Mary is an accomplished violinist, violist and conductor. volved with orchestral music. She was a violinist in the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra for 17 years. With the encouragement of Thomas Rolson, she took up the viola in 1975. She continues to play violin and viola in numerous orchestras around town, including the Sooke Philharmonic, Victoria Chamber Orchestra, Juan de Fuca Community Strings, and the Civic Orchestra of Victoria, where she is principle viola. She also plays in various small ensembles, accompanying choirs and various other ensembles. She was one of the founders of the Strings program in the Edmonton Public Schools, where she taught for 29 years, retiring in 1999. She also conducted the Trembita Folk Orchestra in Edmonton for 17 years.
Since moving to Victoria in 2000, Mary conducted the Victoria Balaliaka Orchestra for 7 years, which has since disbanded. Mary has been a member of the String department at the Victoria Conservatory of Music since 2005, and her students vary in ages from 5 to 75. Though officially retired, Mary is very active in promoting players of all ages to become involved in orchestra music.
Flute (Principal) — Mary Jill McCulloch
Mary Jill earned her B.A. and Teaching Credential in music from California State University, Chico, and her Masters in Performance Practice from Stanford University. She received Music Guild Scholarships and was twice winner of concerto competitions, playing with the Chico Symphony and Nielsen Concerto with Stanford Symphony. She was flutist with the Stanford Bach Cantata Series, Albany Consort and The San Jose Gilbert and Sullivan Society.
Since coming to Victoria in 1989, Mary Jill has appeared as flute soloist with St. Cecelia Orchestra, Civic Orchestra of Victoria, Victoria Chamber Orchestra, Sidney Community Music School Orchestra, and she has performed frequently in the Christ Church Cathedral Summer Recital Series.
Mary Jill also sings with Capriccio Vocal Ensemble and Voces Intimae. She is Section Head of Woodwinds for the Greater Victoria Performing Arts Festival. She is currently reviving her (second instrument) violin skills with the Sooke Philharmonic. She is a flute instructor at the Victoria Conservatory of Music and teaches flute and beginning violin at the Sidney Community Music School.
Trombone (Principal) — Tom Eadie
Tom received his early musical education in Detroit, Michigan and at the age of 17 was touring with the show "Up With People". He graduated from the Eastman School of music in 1974 with a Master of Music degree, and soon after moved to Victoria to play with the Victoria Symphony and to teach at the University of Victoria until 1992. Currently he is a free-lance musician with many credits to his name in both the classical and popular genre and also he maintains a class of private students.
Oboe, Cor anglais — Gail Nash
Gail started her early musical training on clarinet, moving on to the oboe later. She currently enjoys studying with Russell Bajer of the Victoria Symphony.
She was a founding member of the Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra, with which she still plays. She enjoys performing in pit orchestras for musical theatre productions and in chamber ensembles, as well as with other local orchestras from time to time.
Gail served as Civic Orchestra president from 2004 to 2009, has been webmaster since 2006, and for many seasons also designed the posters and programs.
She is secretary of the West Shore Arts Council, the Metchosin Arts & Cultural Centre Association and the Sooke Philharmonic Society.