Band Leader Bios

Cathy Wilcox

cathy-wilcox

Cathy Wilcox studied piano in Bobcaygeon and with dear friend and mentor Edythe A. Holmes Meekin in Lindsay.  She completed an Honours Bachelor of Music, as well as a Bachelor of Education at Western University, mentored by Marian MacLennan, Deral Johnson and others.  Soon after graduating, she joined the vocal Renaissance octet Vox Humana, where a passion for music of the Renaissance was ignited.  In her career as a teacher, Cathy directed musicals, choral ensembles, concert and jazz bands, and her school music program was selected for special projects, such as the pilot of Blues in the Schools and Listen Up!  In her retirement, Cathy has taken up primitive rug hooking and French horn.

Cathy has guided the Ottawa New Horizons Band program as founding band leader since 2008 at Dominion Chalmers United Church, and continues to serve on the volunteer board of directors for the ONHB.  She is thankful for the many talented people who support the ONHB as volunteers, clinicians and band leaders.

Colin Williamson

Colin Williamson

Colin Williamson has been performing, teaching, coaching and leading ensembles in Ottawa and Indiana for almost four decades. He recently retired from the OCDSB after 30 years experience as a band director/music teacher.

As a bass trombonist he has performed with most of Ottawa’s finest orchestras, ensembles and military bands. He is a former member of the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra and the Terre Haute Symphony. As a member of the Canadian Forces (Regimental Band of the Governor General’s Foot Guards) he performed with all the Canadian Regular Force bands. In addition, Colin was a member of the prestigious Ceremonial Guard band for 5 years.He is currently a member of the Ottawa Wind Ensemble and the O.W.E Brass Ensemble.

Colin studied at the University of Ottawa, Indiana University and Queens University. In 1999 Colin was awarded a Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence by the Right Honourable Jean Chretien, Prime Minister of Canada.

In Colin’s teaching career he has helped countless thousands of young students learn to play musical instruments.

Felicia Persaud

Felicia Persaud received her Bachelor’s in Music, with a profile in Music Education, from the University of Ottawa in 2016 and her Master’s of Arts in Music Theory in 2018. During her time at uOttawa, she studied with many members from the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra and the National Arts Centre Orchestra.  She is currently completing a B. Ed in the Intermediate/Senior Division to teach in schools.

Felicia began studying music with Cathy Wilcox at Featherston Drive Public School and has been involved in music ever since. She has volunteered with OrKidstra and at Featherston Drive P.S., where she ran small group lessons for students, assisted individual students, and directed the Jazz Ensemble, all while in the Canterbury High School Music Program. She started working with the ONHB in 2008 and has worked in varying capacities as volunteer, clinician and band leader.

Jean-Pierre Lafleur

Jean-Pierre Lafleur has been involved with community bands for over 35 years. His music director and performer experience spans many years, with concert bands, jazz bands, pit bands, and many other ensembles. He has received several awards and accolades for his support to community and youth music programs. Jean-Pierre has also been a member of the executive committees of the Sackville Community Band (Halifax, NS) and the Concert Band of Kanata. He has served as associate conductor of the 14 Wing Volunteer Military Band (Greenwood, NS), the Comal Community Band (New Braunfels, TX), the Hill Country Community Band (Wimberley, TX) and as instructor for a Royal Canadian Air Cadets Squadron Band. Jean-Pierre’s primary music focus continues to be in entertaining audiences all over. 

From starting his high school’s Jazz Band program, in his native Québec, to performing as lead trumpet with Big Band Ottawa and Aardvark Big Band, some 30 years later, J-P has been dedicated to keeping the music of traditional Big Bands alive and to promoting today’s Jazz Band music. Jean-Pierre is very grateful for the opportunity to lead Two Beats Ahead Jazz Band and carry on the great work of its previous band leaders. 

Along with leading Two Beats Ahead Jazz Band, with the ONHB, J-P is also the Music Director of the Barrhaven Community Concert Band, since 2016

Laurel Ralston

Laurel Ralston completed her Bachelor of Music at the University of Ottawa and has enjoyed a varied performing career as a trumpeter, flutist, accompanist, and conductor. She was honoured in December 2017 to join the Nelson Choral Society as a trumpet soloist for two performances of Karl Jenkins’s Stella Natalis. Laurel performed for seven seasons with the Symphony of the Kootenays, recorded and toured with The Jazz Council, and founded and toured with the Kootenay Brass Quintet. She served as director of the Kimberley Community Band, Kimberley Community Choir, and Kimberley United Church Choir, and as an accompanist and brass coach at Selkirk Secondary School. In addition to performing, Laurel coordinated two editions of the Kimberley Arts Festival, served five terms as president of the Kimberley Arts Council, and founded the successful Jazz at Centre 64 concert series. Laurel returned to Ottawa in 2016 to pursue a PhD at the Institute for Comparative Studies in Literature, Art and Culture at Carleton University.

Laurie HamiltonLaurie Hamilton Bio Picture

Laurie Hamilton (B. Mus, B. Ed, Phi Beta Mu, A.R.C.T) recently retired as Head of the Music Department within the specialized Arts program at Canterbury High School in Ottawa. She is equally at home working with instrumental and choral ensembles and is the recipient of many awards both personally and for excellence in her performing ensembles locally and nationally. Laurie directed all three of the choirs at Carleton University from 2015 until 2019, and has directed the Ottawa Carleton Choristers, the staff choir of the Ottawa Carleton District School Board for the past 31 years. Laurie also directs two choirs within the Salvation Army and plays in two brass bands. Laurie has travelled extensively to work with instrumental and choral specialists and is especially known for innovative programming.

Rocco Romeo

Rocco Romeo has been on the Ottawa music scene for the past 45 years performing in a wide variety of ensembles as a composer, arranger, conductor, vocalist, trumpeter and on the electric bass.  He was an original member of the legendary rock and roll band Bruce and the Burgers for 25 years and organized several Latin dance bands over the years. Rocco is currently the Music Director of the National Capital Concert Band and has formed a new rock band that performs music from the 70’s and 80’s.

Rocco is a retired music teacher and taught at Nepean High School with the Ottawa Carleton District School Board.  His high school concert and stage bands consistently performed challenging repertoire and were the recipients of numerous awards for their technical accuracy and blend. His commitment to live performance also led him to collaborate and produce several high school Broadway musicals and offered musicians insight into alternative styles of ensemble opportunities.

Rocco’s recipe for musical success is simple; mix in a melody, stir it with rhythm, pour it into your community, and have fun!

sheila-whiteSheila White

Sheila White (BMus) has been involved with Ottawa New Horizons since 2013 as a flute clinician and band director, and has taught chamber music workshops at ONHB intercity gatherings. Her background includes concert band, orchestral and small ensemble performances across Canada, Ireland and in Germany. She has also played Irish flute in various Celtic bands including the Ottawa Ceili Band and Paddies on the Tundra. Well known for her work with the Ottawa Flute and Harp duo, she has co-produced three albums of original arrangements for flute and harp.

From teaching pre-schoolers through to university students and seniors, Sheila was also Ottawa’s first Suzuki flute teacher. She directs flute choirs, and has instructed elementary and secondary music programs for the Ottawa Carleton District School Board. In addition, she has maintained an active teaching studio since 1986. A strong supporter of school music and arts programming, she is a member and Past Chair of the OCDSB’s Advisory Committee on the Arts.