(in alpha order)
Rarely does one come across an artist whose career has been as varied as it is focused. On each journey his music takes him, Manitoba-based singer/songwriter Steve Bell consistently plumbs the depths of beauty and truth while maintaining a humble generosity—a robust kindness—that has profoundly impacted the lives of countless individuals. More than a quarter-century since the release of Steve’s first solo album, his accomplishments continue to demonstrate his commitment to excellence and creativity, as well as his marked dedication to the performing arts within Canada and beyond.
A modern-day troubadour, Steve composes eloquent songs and sings them in his charming vocal style, accompanied by rootsy guitar riffs and storytelling prowess that are uniquely his own. He uses these remarkable gifts to share a message of hope that resonates deeply within the hearts and souls of fans, providing both solace and inspiration. It is this connection, rather than platinum plaques to hang on the wall, that is Bell’s true goal and his most real achievement.
Despite having flown under the radar in terms of media recognition, Steve Bell’s career statistics are striking. To date he has put out a total of 20 albums which have sold well over 400,000 copies independently. Add in four concert videos, five songbooks, and more than 2000 shows, and you have a body of work equaled by few artists in any genre. Over the past several years Bell has also performed his material 30 times with nine different symphony orchestras, often to capacity crowds including Massey Hall in Toronto. Refuge31 Films released a feature length documentary about his career and life journey, entitled Burning Ember: The Steve Bell Journey.
These endeavors have led not only to commercial success for Steve’s self-launched record label Signpost Music, but have also garnered a stream of accolades including three JUNO Awards, numerous Western Canadian and Prairie Music Awards, and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal. His rare longevity, marked by a commitment to his vocation as equally social and artistic, has earned him a large and loyal fan base that continues to grow both in Canada and the United States.
After a storied lifetime of contribution to the Canadian music industry, Steve remains compelled to express his art in the wider context of bounty and need. As such, he has mentored several emerging artists and worked with various organizations to promote arts and education. He also uses his stage to attract attention, build awareness, and provide thoughtful helps to the world’s less fortunate and resourced—locally, nationally and internationally—represented by such worthy organizations as Canadian Foodgrains Bank, Compassion Canada, Siloam Mission, and the National Roundtable on Homelessness and Poverty.
In addition to his year-round touring schedule and increasing number of speaking engagements at conferences and universities, Bell has written articles for various publications; co-published a book on the Psalms with Jamie Howison; and recently completed a seven-book boxset called Pilgrim Year, which features reflections on the spirituality of the Christian liturgical calendar that incorporate story, song, poetry and art.
John Dickson, Conducting the Summer Institute Choir
John Dickson is the Stephanie Landry Barineau Professor of Choral Music and Chair of the Division of Ensembles and Conducting in the School of Music at Louisiana State University. As Director of Choral Studies he conducts the internationally acclaimed A Cappella Choir and supervises the masters and doctoral programs in choral conducting. He recently assumed the LSU choral post after a four-year tenure as Dean of the Townsend School of Music at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, where he also served as Professor of Conducting in the graduate program. He continues as the founding artistic director and conductor of Coro Vocati, one of Atlanta’s newest and most accomplished professional chamber choirs.
Internationally known as a conducting pedagogue, Dr. Dickson has presented master-classes before the Association of British Choral Directors and the Russian State Music Conservatories of St. Petersburg and Moscow, served as adjudicator for international choral festivals, and conducted workshops throughout England, Wales, Scotland, Finland, France, and Canada. He has served as conductor and guest clinician for numerous state, regional, and national ACDA conventions, All-State choruses, and choral festivals around the world.
As the former Director of Choral Studies and Chair of the Conducting Division at Texas Tech University, his University Choir gave invitational performances before divisional and national ACDA conferences, the Association of British Choral Directors, and various international workshops and conferences.
Appointed as a Visiting Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge University, Dr. Dickson sang with Sir David Willcocks and The Bach Choir in London. A second post-doctoral fellowship allowed him to serve as David Hill’s assistant conductor for The Bach Choir. Dr. Dickson’s work as chorus-master with The Bach Choir chamber ensemble resulted in a recording of Handel’s L’Allegro, il Pensieroso ed il Moderato with John Nelson and his Ensemble Orchestral de Paris on EMI’s Virgin Classics. As chorus-master, Dr. Dickson has prepared choirs for other distinguished conductors including Sir David Willcocks, Michael Tilson Thomas, Lawrence Leighton Smith, Max Bragado-Darman, and David Hill.
He was the founder and Artistic Director for the Cambridge University, St. John’s College /Texas Tech University Summer Choral Institute. Dr. Dickson is also the Founding Director of the C. S. Lewis Foundation’s Oxbridge Choral Institute, a professional chorus serving the triennial symposium in Oxford and Cambridge. He served on the Editorial Board of The Choral Journal as editor of the sacred music column, “Hallelujah.” The Choral Journal and The Mastersinger have published several of his articles on conducting and church music. His most recent article, “The Crossroads of our Calling,” appeared in the April 2009 issue of The Choral Journal. He was a past Vice-President for the Texas Choral Directors Association.
A strong advocate for church music, he championed artistic, graduate church music education for fifteen years as the Director of Choral Studies at the former graduate school of church music at Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY.
Malcolm Guite is an Anglican priest; Chaplain & Fellow of Girton College, Cambridge University; a poet; and the lead singer and founder of the rock band Mystery Train.
His books include nonfiction – Beholding the Glory and What Do Christians Believe? – and poetry – The Singing Bowl; Waiting on the Word: A Poem a Day for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany; and The Word in the Wilderness: A Poem a Day for Lent and Easter. He also contributed to The Cambridge Companion to C.S. Lewis.
Guite teaches Literature and Pastoral Theology for the Cambridge Federation of Theological Colleges. He is involved with a number of projects linking theology and the arts, and has published poetry, literary criticism and theology in various journals. As founder of the rock band, Mystery Train, he writes lyrics and performs on guitar and vocals. He has been a regular contributor to Oxbridge since 2005 as well as to Foundation conferences and retreats throughout the U.S.
Max McLean is an award-winning actor and founder and artistic director of New York City-based Fellowship for Performing Arts.
Max adapted for the stage The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis Onstage: The Most Reluctant Convert, The Great Divorce, Genesis and Mark’s Gospel. His recent writing and producing credits include Martin Luther on Trial.
As an actor, he created the roles of Screwtape in New York, on national tour and in London; C.S. Lewis in The Most Reluctant Convert on national tour and in an extended 15-week run in New York; Mark in Mark’s Gospel; and Storyteller in Genesis. Max received the Jeff Award—Chicago theatre’s highest honor—for his performance of Mark’s Gospel.
He has been nominated for four awards from the Audio Publishers Association for his narration of The Listener’s Bible. His creative work has been cited with distinction by the New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Wall Street Journal and CNN to name a few media outlets.
J.A.C. Redford is a composer, arranger, orchestrator and conductor of concert, chamber and choral music, film, television and theater scores, and music for recordings.
Artists and ensembles that have performed his work include: Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Joshua Bell, Liona Boyd, Cantus, Chicago Symphony, De Angelis Vocal Ensemble, Debussy Trio, Israel Philharmonic, Kansas City Chorale, Los Angeles Chamber Singers, Los Angeles Master Chorale, Anne Akiko Meyers, Millennium Consort Singers, New York Philharmonic, Phoenix Chorale, Staatskapelle Dresden, St. Martin’s Chamber Choir, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Utah Chamber Artists and Utah Symphony.
His music has been featured on programs at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., the Lincoln Center in New York, Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and London’s Royal Albert Hall. Most recently, he composed the Raymond W. Brock Memorial Commission for the American Choral Directors Association 2017 National Conference in Minneapolis, MN. Redford has written the scores for more than three dozen feature films, TV movies or miniseries, including The Trip to Bountiful, One Night with the King, What the Deaf Man Heard, Mama Flora’s Family and Disney’s Oliver & Company, Newsies and The Mighty Ducks II and III. He has composed the music for nearly 500 episodes of series television, including multiple seasons of Coach and St. Elsewhere (for which he received two Emmy nominations).
His incidental music has been heard in theatrical productions at the Matrix Theater in Los Angeles and South Coast Repertory Theater in Costa Mesa, California, as well as in the American Playhouse series on PBS. Two of his musical comedies are published by Dramatic Publishing and performed frequently across North America.
Collaborating with other artists, Redford has orchestrated, arranged or conducted for Academy Award-winning composers, James Horner, Alan Menken, Randy Newman and Rachel Portman, as well as for Terence Blanchard, Danny Elfman, Mark Isham, Thomas Newman, Marc Shaiman, and Cirque du Soleil’s Benoit Jutras, on projects including The Little Mermaid, The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Perfect Storm, WALL-E, Avatar, The Help, The Amazing Spider-Man, Skyfall, Bridge of Spies and SPECTRE. He orchestrated and conducted Adele’s Oscar-winning title song for Skyfall, wrote arrangements for Joshua Bell’s Voice of the Violin, At Home with Friends and Musical Gifts recordings, Anne Akiko Meyers’ Serenade: The Love Album, and has written for and recorded with other Grammy Award-winning artists Steven Curtis Chapman, Placido Domingo, Bonnie Raitt and Sting.
He has produced, arranged, and conducted music for the Los Angeles Master Chorale, and served as a consultant for the Sundance Film Institute, a teacher in the Artists-in-Schools program for the National Endowment for the Arts, a guest lecturer at USC and UCLA, and on the Music Branch Executive Committees for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
Redford’s music is published by G. Schirmer, Hal Leonard, Fatrock Ink, AnderKamp, Fred Bock and Plough Down Sillion Music. He is the author of Welcome All Wonders: A Composer’s Journey, published by Baker Books. His many recordings include seven collections of his concert, chamber and choral music, The Alphabet of Revelation, Eternity Shut in a Span, Evening Wind, The Growing Season, Inside Passage, Let Beauty Be Our Memorial and Waltzing with Shadows.