Emerging Artists Program

Ensemble Laude is proud to present our Emerging Artists Program.

This is an enriching musical opportunity which teaches performance, coaching and leadership skills to advanced vocalists. The program builds musicianship and professional connections, and is an excellent addition to the young artist’s curriculum vitae, serving as a valuable stepping stone to future career prospects.

Meet the 2023-24 Emerging Artists


Darby Howard

Darby Howard is a current Teacher Candidate studying at Uvic. For the past three years they have studied voice with Anne Grimme as they gained their bachelor’s in music education. Darby also enjoys working with children as an out of school care leader and enjoys video games and reading. They are pleased to have the opportunity to stretch their range and work alongside the choir at St. Andrews Presbyterian and Ensemble Laude this fall.

Eva Smith

Eva Smith is a recent graduate of the music education program at UVic. She also holds a diploma in Music Production from Nimbus school of Recording and Media. Her passion for music and singing began at a young age, and she has been involved in music lessons, choirs, and bands for most of her life. Voice and piano are her primary instruments, but she also enjoys picking up and learning new instruments such as guitar, bassoon, baritone horn, and clarinet. She aims to pursue a diverse musical career that involves conducting, performance, songwriting, music production, and music education. Eva is very excited for a season of singing and learning new skills with Ensemble Laude!


Past Emerging Artists


Katherine Allen

Katherine Allen’s love for music started early at the age of 3 when her parents enrolled her in piano lessons. At 12 years old she switched to voice, where she trained classically all throughout high school until she graduated in 2018 and moved to Victoria to pursue a BMus in Vocal Performance at UVic. Inspired by the abundance of wonderful music teachers she has had in her life, her passions include vocal coaching as well as songwriting with her twin sister. Katherine has fallen in love with Victoria and is so excited to be a part of Ensemble Laude this season!


Sarah Higginson

Sarah Higginson is a fourth year music education student at UVic. Sarah’s primary instrument is euphonium, but she has always had a love for singing. Sarah has mainly sung in church, musical theatre settings and in her high school’s R&B band but she recently developed a love for choral music after taking choral pedagogy at UVic. She is extremely grateful for this opportunity to be an Emerging Artist so she can continue to develop her choral teaching skills.



Annika Sauser

Annika Sauser is a motivated individual who has a passion for working with youth and fostering their growth through musical explorations. Throughout her experiences teaching piano and working as an Educational Assistant, she has had the opportunity to work with a variety of exceptional learners. Her teaching approach is described as intuitive and nurturing, with a focus on supporting the needs of each individual through a creative lens. Annika holds a Bachelor of Music with Distinction with a specialty in Music Education from the University of Victoria.

She plans to continue her schooling so that she can receive her teaching certification.Born in Vancouver BC, Annika took piano lessons from a young age, cultivating a deep love and appreciation for music that led her to explore the numerous possibilities in that field. She has completed her Grade 10 piano from the Royal Conservatory; as well, she has sung and accompanied in various choirs such as the Vancouver Youth Choir and Coastal Sound Youth Choir. Annika has developed a deep connection to choral music, participating in national choral conferences such as Podium and working with revered choral mentors such as Jon Washburn, Eric Whitacre, and Carrie Tennant. She recently participated in the Vancouver Chamber Choir Conducting Symposium, and has been selected as the intern conductor for the BC Youth Choir this year.

As a dedicated individual, Annika has been the recipient of several awards, such as the Dave Ian Dunnet Scholarship in Music Education, the Constance E. Hoyte Award in Music Education, and the Gilbert and Marie Alice Peart Scholarship in Music. In addition, Annika is intrigued by music’s role in children’s social and emotional growth, and aspires to devise classes and workshops that make music more accessible and inclusive to students of diverse needs.


Past Emerging Artists


Kaylene Chan

Kaylene is a current voice student at the University of Victoria, studying under Anne Grimm. She is completing her music degree and will be graduating in the Spring of 2020. Having completed the 2-year Music Diploma program at Capilano University in North Vancouver Kaylene moved to Victoria to complete her Bachelor’s in Music. She has always had a passion to learn all she could about music and refining her instrument.

Kaylene hopes to participate and lead in ensembles after she graduates, having a passion for choir and bringing people together through music. She has a joy for teaching voice and dreams of having her own studio someday. She is excited and honoured to grow as a soloist and leader as an Emerging Artist in Ensemble Laude.

Desirée Hall

Soprano Desirée Hall has been a member of the Victoria choral community for many years. An active member of Viva Youth Choirs and later the Oak Bay High choir program, these early experiences sparked her interest in the individual and community impact that choral singing offers. Merging with her passion for human rights and equality, Desirée holds close to her heart a belief that choirs can simultaneously be a safe and inclusive experience for all whilst striving for musical excellence.

Desirée also enjoys working as a soloist across a variety of genres, and audiences appreciate her pure, clear tone and honest performance style. She holds a diploma in contemporary music performance and is currently completing her music degree at the University of Victoria, studying voice under the guidance of Anne Grimm.

Today, Desirée remains active in the choral community as a member of Vox Humana Chamber Choir, the UVic Chamber Singers, and holds a position with Ensemble Laude as an Emerging Artist for the 2019-2020 season. She is honoured to be learning about choral conducting and leadership from Dr. MacIsaac, as she works toward one of her life-long goals of being a choral conductor herself.

Romaine Jacklin

Romaine Jacklin is a choral musician and elementary choir director in the Greater Victoria School District. She fell in love with choral singing after joining her first choir in high school and has never looked back.

In 2012, Romaine received her Bachelor of Music at the University of Victoria, majoring in piano, and completed the BC Choral Federation Directorship Course in 2016. She has sung with a number of local choral groups, including Philomela Women’s Choir, the UVic Chamber Singers, the Victoria Choral Society, and Vox Humana.

Romaine is passionate about introducing singing and choral music to musicians of all ages and skill levels, and working to build a joyful musical community.


Irina Kim

Today, Irina is the best version of herself: she is fulfilling her lifelong dream of studying voice full time. Her grade 10 RCM piano certificate as well her fluency in a couple of extra languages – Russian and French – facilitated her switch from economics and math to vocal performance.

Irina received her Diploma of Music in Voice from Capilano University, as well as a Certificate in Conducting. This year, Irina is completing both her Certificate of Music Teaching in Voice at the Victoria Conservatory of Music as well as her Bachelor of Music – major in vocal performance – at the University of Victoria.

Irina finds tremendous delight in sharing her love and knowledge through choirs and teaching.

Mandy Wiltshire

Mandy Wiltshire prides herself on being a well rounded singer and educator. With experience in opera, jazz, musical theatre, and pop music, she believes in the importance of variety in music and in life itself.

Mandy’s love of singing started at a young age. She sang in the Vancouver Bach Children’s Choir under the direction of Bruce Pullan, pursued vocal lessons, and received a scholarship for Performing Arts. Mandy then went on to receive a diploma in Vocal Performance from Camosun and a music degree from the University of Victoria.

Mandy has recently been finishing her Masters of Arts in Choral Conducting at the University of Birmingham in the UK and is now at Shawnigan Lake School as their new Music Director.

Natasha Gosling

Natasha Gosling is a third year voice major in music education at UVic, planning to be a high school music teacher.

Natasha’s passion lies in choral music, and she believes that sing is about more than just the music, but about the community created when people sing together.

Natasha is devoted to instilling passion for music in future generations.

She hopes to provide opportunities similar to those which have shaped her into the person she is today. Natasha recently toured Canada as part of the National Youth Choir of Canada.

Victoria Zielke

A current student in University of Victoria’s Music Education program, Victoria Zielke is dedicated to growing and refining her skills as both an educator and performer. Victoria’s love of singing sparked early when she began performing with her seven siblings at various churches and care homes. In her first year of postsecondary in the nursing program, she took a sight-singing elective and realized she needed to switch majors. She completed her music diploma at Douglas College and transferred to the University of Victoria.

Victoria studies voice with Anne Grimm, directs worship at her home church, and participates in various choirs in Victoria. She has been a guest clinician at BC Music Educators Association, serves as president for UVic Student Music Educators Association, and offered the opportunity to teach a summer intensive theory class at Douglas College.  Victoria is now Assistant Director of Jubilate Vocal Ensemble in Vancouver.


Christina Banman

Christina Banman is a dynamic choral educator, passionate about making music in community with others. Having grown up in the rich choral culture of Southern Manitoba, Christina has been singing in choirs since the age of 10. Throughout junior high and high school, she was active in choir, vocal jazz, and musical theatre productions. She went on to study voice and education at the University of Manitoba where she was fortunate to tour the Maritimes and Sweden/Finland with the University of Manitoba Women’s Chorus and the University of Manitoba Singers, respectively. Graduating with her Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Education in 2013, Christina poured herself into the choral programs at Parkside Junior High and W. C. Miller Collegiate in Altona, MB. It was during her three years of teaching that she had the honour of directing both You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown and High School Musical. In 2016, Christina and her husband, Jordan, moved to BC where she has been fortunate to enjoy many outdoor adventures and cultivate her love of cycling. Christina’s one-year-old son, Charlie, is a huge supporter of Ensemble Laude and can often be heard cheering on the choir from the audience.

Christina is now the Assistant Director of Ensemble Laude.

 Kassandra Schantz

Kassandra Schantz is a mezzo-soprano from Westlock, AB. She grew up performing musical theatre and then she discovered opera. She completed her BMus majoring in vocal performance at the University of Victoria under the guidance of Benjamin Butterfield. During her degree she performed as Tessa in Opera NUOVA’s production of the Gondoliers and as Marcellina in the Victoria Conservatory’s production of Nozze di Figaro. She is a choral scholar at Christ Church Cathedral and the emerging young artist for Ensemble Laude. Currently she is deciding on an Ontario University for her Masters. As an aspiring opera singer her dream is to one day sing at Teatro alla Scala.

Kassandra is now studying her Master’s program in Voice at the University of Ottawa.