The SPOGreatMusic Podcast Series: S01E07

Release Date: December 11, 2020

The Huron Carol was the first Christmas song composed in Canada, written using the language of the Huron/Wendat people in 1642. Progressing through the centuries to present day music, this episode will look at Canada’s cultural history through the lens of holiday music. Including musical traditions and music from Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and the unique “Santa Claw” songs from the Maritimes. Featuring interviews with SPO music director/conductor and composer Ronald Royer; Toronto Choral Society artistic director/conductor Geoffrey Butler; Toronto based singer-songwriter Jacelyn Holmes; and folk artist, translator, farmer, and pilot Anastasia Fyk.

Here’s some additional information and pictures on our special guest interviewees for this episode:


Ronald Royer, Music Director & Conductor

Ronald Royer is an extremely talented cellist, composer, and educator. His wife, Kaye, has played clarinet with the SPO for more than thirty years. You can learn more about Ron here, or on his fantastic new website,


Anastasia Fyk, 4th Generation Ukranian-Canadian

Anastasia Fyk is a 4th generation Ukrainian Canadian. Her family moved from Ternopil oblast in Ukraine and settled on the homeland of the Anishinaabe and Dakota peoples in Treaty 2 territory (Garland, MB) in 1904 and resides on the same land to this day. Anastasia is a folk artist, translator, farmer, and pilot, whose practice is a melding of these areas. To her, embracing her roots is deeply meaningful; maintaining the connection with contemporary Ukrainian culture is what keeps those roots alive and able to nurture the development of her life’s purpose. Learn more about Anastasia on her Instagram page


Geoffrey Butler, Artistic Director & Conductor of the Toronto Choral Society

It was inevitable that Geoffrey Butler’s lifelong passion for all forms of music would lead him to the concert stage—first in a successful international career as a tenor, and then onto the podium where he has conducted some of the greatest and most challenging works of the choral and opera repertoires.

Under Mr. Butler’s baton, the 150-member Toronto Choral Society Community Choir (of which he has been artistic director since 1994) presents at least two concerts each year in performances that have included Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, Handel’s Messiah, Carmina Burana by Carl Orff, Haydn’s Creation, and the Music Makers and Coronation Ode by Edward Elgar, as well as many others. He also conducts the North 44º chamber ensemble and the Street Haven Women’s Choir, a choir he founded whose members are drawn from clients of Street Haven at the Crossroads in downtown Toronto.

As co-artistic director of Opera York, Mr. Butler conducts up-and-coming young professionals in an outstanding range of well-received productions that have included The Magic Flute, The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, The Barber of Seville, La Traviata, Carmen, Die Fledermaus, Rigoletto, and the North American premiere of And the Rat Laughed by Ella Milch-Sheriff. His rapport with young singers means he is also in great demand as a vocal instructor, clinician, and adjudicator.

Other conducting credits include a critically acclaimed production of Puccini’s Suor Angelica; the requiems of Mozart, Fauré, and Duruflé; and serving as music director for the world premieres of The Warrior Bard, a celebration of the life and music of Thomas Moore, and David Warrack’s Piper. He has further performed as guest conductor with the Niagara Symphony, the Hart House Orchestra, the Oakville Symphony, and the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra.

Mr. Butler is also music director of Holy Rosary Church in Toronto.

Learn more about Geoffrey at the Toronto Choral Society’s website, or on the TCS Facebook page


JACELYN, Singer-Songwriter, Actor, and Entrepreneur

JACELYN is a Canadian singer-songwriter, actor, and entrepreneur based in Toronto, Canada. She is best known for her sultry jazz vocals and music that is a melange of the classic and elemental sounds of jazz, blue-eyed soul, and pop, which offers a dynamic and refreshing contemporary twist.

She got her start with music from a young age as a self-taught guitarist and also developed her skills on the ukulele while also completing voice instruction.  JACELYN learned she had a natural knack for music, including having perfect pitch and her passion for music grew from there.

Simultaneously, JACELYN also began a career in the entertainment industry as a child actor appearing in roles alongside Adam Sandler.  While acting still remains a huge passion, she put it aside to professionally develop her music. Being both a gifted vocalist and singer-songwriter, JACELYN began co-writing country music songs in Toronto and New York City for various artists and spent three years touring and performing her own music.  She shared bills with country stars like Keith Urban, Blue Rodeo, and Johnny Reid, to name a few.

JACELYN’s first successful break as a songwriter was with  Born to Love You by Donavon Lee Carpenter, a song she co-wrote. It became #1 on country music radio charts in Europe.

Due to its success, JACELYN began to write custom love songs for couples getting married under the launch of her new company Our Song, which has been featured in magazines like Bridal Guide and Canadian Gay Weddings.

While JACELYN still wrote country songs through Our Song and for other artists, she started to  zero in on her own personal sound as an artist. Blending her love of jazz, blues, pop, and soul, she mixed in theatrical elements from her background in acting to create her own adult contemporary sound that charms any audience.

With her album Dovetailing, all the music was recorded in live takes giving it a specific quality that translates to her live performances.

To fund Dovetailing, JACELYN created a Kickstarter campaign to cover the costs. It reached $60,000 ($30,000 in just 16 hours) and became #1 in the world out of close to 60,000 music campaigns. It was also in the top 5 successful Jazz campaigns ever to exist on the crowdfunding site – alongside Quincy Jones, Questlove, and Paula Cole.

Raising almost 200% of her asking amount, JACELYN was able to fund her album start to finish and partnered with internationally recognized and critically acclaimed pianist and composer, Amina Figarova, to co-produce her album as well as two-time Grammy-award winning audio engineer, Max Ross, from Systems Two in New York City.

While the album was set to be released in early 2020, JACELYN had to pivot after all her performances to support the launch of Dovetailing were cancelled due to COVID-19.

JACELYN decided to create an online album release and put together a captivating visual experience of Dovetailing in collaboration with over ten different Canadian female artists. Each artist created unique pieces of art in different mediums inspired by the songs on her album.

During the creation of Dovetailing, JACELYN also released the radio single, Waiting For Christmas, which received national radio play across Canada and her Spotify single, Spike My Drink, reached almost 60,000 streams.

The singer also announced that she will be partnering again with the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra as they embark on creating a Christmas album and concert series – which for now, has been postponed due to COVID-19.

Dovetailing was released on October 16th, 2020 on all platforms.

Learn more about JACELYN on her website You can also shop on her website. Check out a video on her YouTube channel Download or stream music Or, follow her on Instagram page


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