Claude brings a unique blend of focused intensity and lighthearted enthusiasm to his work as Artistic Director of the North Shore Celtic Ensemble. Motivated always to encourage and to connect with others, Claude and Jay developed an alternative music program that has continued to evolve over the past 16 years. With six CDs, a dozen original compositions and multiple performances across BC yearly, the organization is going strong and continues to expand under his expert leadership.
A consummate artist himself and a graduate of the Vancouver Academy of Music, Claude's music experience is explorative and varied. As a professional violinist Claude has a passion for excellence and for bringing out the best in others through music. He is a founding member of the Babayaga string quartet and with them recorded a CD and played the Vancouver and Montreal International jazz festivals. He has played with the Vancouver Symphony, the Vancouver Opera Orchestra and CBC Orchestra, toured western Canada with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and performed at the Queen Elizabeth Playhouse as the co-creator of a musical-theatre production called ‘Timesteps – The Story of Music”.
He was the musical director of Les Danseurs du Pacifique during their tour of France and Italy and has played in back-up orchestras for big production shows in Vancouver such as Page and Plant, Rod Steward and Smokey Robinson. Prior to this, he studied at the Conservatoire de Musique du Québec and was a member of the National Youth Orchestra.
Claude’s vision for the NSCE springs from an innate quest for excellence, a desire to connect in community and a willingness to explore and to interact with all aspects of music. In 2016, Claude was the recipient of the Outstanding Supporter of Youth Award by the City of North Vancouver.
William Chernoff has been with the NSCE since 2013 as bass player, mentor and more recently Artistic Director of the Senior Ensemble as well as working with and accompanying the Junior Ensemble for their major concerts. He co-writes and arranges music and has accompanied the senior ensemble on three major tours. A young man of many interests and an inexhaustible supply of performing vigour Will’s musical projects with NSCE alumni and co-directors have been featured across Canada and the US.
- Artistic Director for Strings & Things
Assistant Artistic Director for the Intro Group
Trained in Celtic and classical violin, Brienne joined the NSCE at the age of 10 and she hasn't left yet! During her time as a member of the NSCE, she participated in the Ensemble's first three studio recordings and was part of the first appearance of the NSCE at the Aberdeen Youth Festival, as well as many other NSCE tours. In 2009, Brienne transitioned from student to teacher to head the NSCE's newly created novice programs. Since then she and Noah Gauthier have developed the Strings & Things novice program and the Intro Group for the NSCE, where they balance fun with a desire to learn and excel. Drawing on her dramatic and choral background, Brienne also integrates voice and a strong performance foundation into the program.
Outside of the NSCE, Brienne holds a Bachelors of Kinesiology and is the founder and Director of RISE Youth Society, a non-profit dedicated to using movement programs to empower teen girls to improve their lives and connect with others. She also works as a lifeguard and Red Cross Teacher Trainer.
Jodie Nowell joined the Junior Ensemble in 2007 and spent four years playing in the Senior Ensemble. She travelled to Québec and Scotland with the group, making hundreds of wonderful memories along the way. She is delighted to be back with the ensemble as the assistant artistic director for the Strings & Things and Intro Group, and can't wait to share the magic of fiddle tunes and performance with them.
Kirin has been immersed in Celtic music since childhood, getting her start with the Coast String Fiddlers of Roberts Creek, BC. She loves to blend folk traditions with other styles and holds a Diploma in Jazz Piano from Capilano University. Beyond the NSCE, she also performs with Elsay, a lively quartet that has twice graced the stages of CelticFest Vancouver.
Kirin is also a passionate outdoor and environmental educator. She presents sustainability programs for schools across the Lower Mainland and coaches youth rock climbing. Previously, she has written and performed ecology-themed musical amphitheatre shows for Alberta Parks, and snowshoe guided in the beautiful North Shore Mountains.
For the last 16 years, Jay has worked closely with Claude Giguère as Artistic Director for the Senior Ensemble. Together, Jay and Claude have written, arranged and produced much of the material recorded on the NSCE’s six CDs. Audiences around the world have witnessed their collective love of performance.
Jay was a founding member of the seminal folk band Spirit of the West and went on to work with such Canadian luminaries as Connie Kaldor, Hart Rouge and Daniel Lavoie. He has been involved in the recording of over 50 albums, has won West Coast Music awards, has been part of five Juno Award–winning projects and was recently inducted into the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame along with the other members of Spirit of the West. Jay has also scored music for the National Film Board, Danish National television and the CBC.
Jay was an instructor at Simon Fraser University, teaching a music/physics course entitled Logarithm and Blues with Dr. Mike Hayden. He has also maintained a profile in the broadcast community. Since graduating from BCIT in Broadcast Journalism in 1981, he has worked as a producer for CBC projects in Montreal, Ottawa and Vancouver and for 5 A.D. Radio in South Australia.