Before / After School Care Renaissance Kids Early Childhood Education Centres

Music Faculty

Drums & Guitar

Cheryl Ballard | Drums |

Cheryl Ballard is a passionate and dynamic musician, teacher, performer, arranger, composer, multi-instrumentalist, and vocalist. She completed her first two years of a Bachelors of Music degree at Douglas College where she majored in voice performance. Then, switching her major to percussion performance, she attended the University of British Columbia to complete her degree. Cheryl has a true passion for teaching, especially drums/percussion, and delights in working with students of all ages to further enhance their own musical appreciation and skill.

Chris Albanese | Guitar |

Chris has played the guitar since the age of eleven, having written and recorded several independent records. He composed and performed the music featured on the soundtrack for the feature film Sex, Drugs, Love, Marx and many of his songs have been broadcast on CBC Radio’s Brave New Waves.

Chris studied with Michael Strutt, completed Grade 10 through the Royal Conservatory of Music and is currently studying with Hahn Nguyen to complete his ARCT diploma.

Chris is a board member with the Vancouver New Music, and an active member of the Vancouver Classic Guitar Society. Chris is currently writing and performing with the band French For Sled Dogs.

Piano and Theory

Raul Velasco | Piano |

Dr. Velasco earned his DM ADB, MM and BM performance degrees from Indiana University. He has studied with the distinguished South American pianist Teresa Quesada, Zadel Skolovsky, Leonard Hokanson, and Herbert Seidel from Hockschule fur Musik in Frankfurt. Raul’s performances include orchestral engagements and solo recitals in South America and the USA. In addition to his private studio, he has been a piano instructor at Indiana University and has judged American National Music Teachers’ Federation, Vancouver Music Festival and Carillon Music Festival competitions. In addition to his teaching, Mr. Velasco conducts regular workshops for intermediate and advanced level students. He has taught for The Arts Connection for more than nine years now and has a heavily booked teaching schedule.

Linda Shirley | Piano, School Director |

Please see the “Founders” page for a full biography.

Vance Hoy | Piano |

Mr. Hoy, a native of Vancouver, includes as his mentors in the study of piano, Dale Reubart and Robert Silverman of Canada, and Reginald Stewart and John Perry of the United States. A former professor of piano at the University of Calgary, Mr. Hoy has performed extensively throughout Western Canada in radio broadcasts and solo recitals, and has appeared as guest soloist with several orchestras across Canada, including the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. Currently, a barrister and solicitor by vocation, Mr. Hoy divides his time between his law practice and teaching piano students at various institutions throughout Vancouver.

Nikolai Maloff | Theory |

Nikolai is a graduate of the Moscow Conservatory and the University of British Columbia, where he earned a D.M.A. in piano. His mentors include Jane Coop, Gleb Axelrod, Dale Reubart, Robert Rogers and Kum Sing Lee. As a performer, Nikolai was the winner of major piano competitions such as the Virginia Waring, Franz Liszt (Italy), Eckhardt-Gramatte and Canadian Music Competitions, and has appeared as recitalist, guest soloist and chamber musician throughout the Americas and Europe.

Aside from his piano teaching commitments, Dr. Maloff teaches music theory at UBC, and is in his fourth season of theory teaching at the Arts Connection.

Violin and Viola

Angela Cavadas | Violin and Piano |

Angela won First Prize in the CBC Young Performers Competition in 1973. Prior to that she was the recipient of numerous awards and scholarships, including prizes in the Vancouver and Montreal Symphony Competitions and several B.C. Cultural Fund Grants. Her advanced studies were with the renowned Canadian violinist Steven Staryk and she has also been coached by Yuri Mazurkevich, Joseph Gingold and Ruggiero Ricci, twice participating in Ricci’s Masterclass in Kitzbuhel, Austria and performing in the final concerts. She has played as soloist on CBC Television and Radio with the Vancouver Symphony, the Abbotsford Symphony and a number of community orchestras. She plays regularly with Westcoast Chamber Music, the Lyre of Langley Trio, and the Vancouver String Trio, and has also performed in chamber music concerts with Steven Staryk, Ray Still, Nicholas Fiore, Jaroslav Karlovsky, and Quarteto Beethoven di Roma. Angela has for many years been a member of the CBC Radio and Vancouver Opera Orchestras and has perfomed as a freelance player with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. She is an associate concertmaster of the Vancouver Opera Orchestra and has been a guest concertmaster of the CBC Radio Orchestra and the Saskatoon Symphony and most recently for a production of Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty. For several years she was Concertmaster of the Abbotsford Symphony, a group comprised of freelance Vancouver Musicians. A respected teacher, she is associated with Douglas College, Vancouver Academy, and The Arts Connection.


Beth Buono | Voice and Piano |

From the small town of Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia, soprano Beth Buono began her pursuit of music at the age of five with piano. This soon led to lead roles in school and community musicals, winning awards with instrumental and vocal categories in music festivals, singing in community choirs, playing trumpet in elementary and high school bands, playing cello, and her second love – the violin – as concertmaster in the community youth orchestra, and later studies at the Vancouver Academy of Music with violinist Angela Cavadas through out her teens.

It seemed a natural progression that she decided to pursue music in her post-secondary studies. Starting in Arts, majoring in Linguistics with a minor in German; spending a summer at the University of Udine, Italy, and studying Italian Beth quenched her thirst for travel and her love of language.

A 2008 graduate from the UBC School of Music, majoring in Voice with Piano as her secondary instrument, she studied alongside fellow Vancouver Chamber Choir sopranos Kathleen Allan and Madeline Lucy Smith. Under the tutelage of Heather Thompson-Price, the conducting prowess of Bruce Pullan , and the coaching of Nancy Hermiston in the UBC Opera, Beth combined her passion for music with travel which lead to multiple singing tours in Scotland, England, Beijing and Chengdu in China.

She was also engaged in singing in such masterpieces as Edward Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius with Ben Heppner and the Vancouver Symphony under Bramwell Tovey, Handel’s Messiah with University Singers and the Vancouver Bach Choir, and Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Mass in G minor as the soprano soloist. Following graduation, Beth continued as an active recitalist, entertaining her versatility with a wide variety of genres ranging from early music and opera, to the greats of jazz and musical theatre. Further endeavors included being awarded in Vancouver’s Sonic Boom Music Festival, singing the national anthem before 30,000 BC Lions football fans, and continuing with Bruce Pullan in his final season of the youth division of the Vancouver Bach Choir: Sarabande. This included Beth’s second singing tour to the United Kingdom, in which one of the concerts was so enjoyed by composer Eric Whitacre that he extended a personal invitation to selected members to perform in his commissioned opera Paradise Lost. Beth then traveled to New York to sing at Carnegie Hall.

Since 2010, she has been a soprano section leader and soloist at Christ Church Cathedral, under the direction of Canadian composer and conductor Rupert Lang. She was soprano soloist for Mozart’s Alleluia from Exsultate Jubilate at St. Ann’s Academy in Victoria, BC. Beth is currently on staff at Steveston’s Arts Connection teaching voice, piano and violin.