The Algonquin Ensemble writes & performs music inspired by great Canadian art.
Their debut project "Sonic Palette - Tom Thomson's Voice Through Music 100 Years Later" premiered at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in July 2017 to an enthusiastic, spellbound, sold out crowd in Gallery 8. They have since brought their passion for Tom and the beauty of Algonquin Park to audiences across Ontario including Ottawa Chamberfest and Thomson's childhood church in Leith. The members of The Algonquin Ensemble are: Kathryn Briggs, piano; John Geggie, double bass; Lisa Moody, viola; Laura Nerenberg, violin; Margaret Maria, cello & Terry Tufts, Manzer Palette and assorted guitars. The group is an eclectic mix, weaving classical, folk and jazz backgrounds into a vibrant tapestry of musical landscapes.
Born and raised in Canada's capital city, Kathryn Briggs has committed her life to creating and sharing music. She is a well-respected pianist, teacher, composer and performer. Beginning at the age of 7, Ms. Briggs excelled in her conservatory studies and completed her pedagogical training at the age of 18 with concert pianist and music educator Irene Woodburn-Wright. In her late teens, she conducted and accompanied children’s and youth choirs, mentoring with Ottawa’s award-winning choir master and Order of Canada recipient Barbara Clark.
Ms. Briggs has managed her own private teaching studio for over 30 years, teaching a diverse range of Western music, including classical, popular and jazz repertoire, as well as improvisation and theory. Throughout her teaching career, Ms. Briggs has mentored many student-teachers, both in her private studio and at private music schools in the Ottawa area. One of her greatest gifts as a music teacher is creating musicians for life.
As a recording artist, Ms. Briggs has a solo album of original compositions for piano entitled “Small Awakenings” to her credit. In addition to her solo project, she has released 2 CDs with the configuration KEWT; a trio comprised of her life- partner guitarist Terry Tufts and acclaimed Canadian bassist John Geggie. Ms. Briggs also arranged and recorded “Carols For A Christmas Eve” with JUNO award-winning artist David Francey.
As a founding member of The Algonquin Ensemble, Ms. Briggs was integral in the vision and manifestation of the acclaimed production “Sonic Palette: Tom Thomson’s Voice Through Music”. This premiered at The McMichael Canadian Art Collection in July 2017 to mark the 100th anniversary of the artist’s untimely death. The Algonquin Ensemble has since released a CD entitled “Sonic Palette” in which she is credited with co-production, composition and string arrangements. The project continues to grow and has garnered standing ovations at each performance thus far.
Ms. Briggs has toured Canada from coast to coast to coast both on her own behalf and as an accompanist for artists including David Francey, Laura Smith, Kelly Trottier and the Inuit duo Tudjaat.
Double bassist John Geggie is an internationally established performer and composer. He studied at Indiana University with Lawrence Hurst and Bruce Bransby and his jazz studies including work with David Baker, Gary Peacock, Palle Danielsson and Anders Jormin. As a performer, he works regularly with the National Arts Centre Orchestra (Ottawa) and Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra. Current projects include the Algonquin Ensemble (with Terry Tufts and Kathryn Briggs) as well as the John Geggie Journey Band. John has recorded or performed with a who's who of creative improvised music: Bela Fleck, Donny McCaslin, Ben Monder, Craig Taborn, Sheila Jordan, David Murray, Matt Brubeck, Marilyn Crispell, Cuong Vu, DD Jackson, Mark Dresser, Vic Juris, Billy Hart, Andrew Cyrille and Grammy-winner Ted Nash. His performing and recording credits also include work with Lynn Miles, Ian Tamblyn and Terry Tufts.
For 13 years, he programmed, curated and performed in his own invitational series of concerts (The Geggie Series) at the NAC Fourth Stage. He has hosted the Ottawa Jazz Festival Late Night Jam Series for almost 20 years. Soon, John will be releasing a new trio CD (with Roddy Ellias and NY saxophonist Joel Frahm). Mr. Geggie has composed works (St. Andrew's Vibrations and Paraphrase) on two occasions which were premiered by Thirteen Strings. He can also be heard regularly performing on the Ottawa Jazz Festival, Music and Beyond and the Ottawa Chamberfest. John Geggie is on faculty at the Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam and the Conservatoire de Musique de Gatineau.
Lisa is a versatile musician who performs primarily in the classical field but also enjoys collaboration with singer-songwriters and early music specialists. She has held positions with both the Vancouver and Winnipeg Symphony Orchestras and has performed in numerous summer festivals and small ensembles including the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra and the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival. In 2009, Lisa released a CD of Canadian Works for Viola and Piano with Pianist, Dina Michelson Namer, available for purchase on the Canadian Music Centre website. Lisa has a strong background in music pedagogy with formal training in the Suzuki Method, the Royal Conservatory of Music examinations, and over twenty years teaching experience.
Pursuant to her interest in music education, Lisa earned a Master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Health Sciences from the University of Ottawa in 2014, researching strategies for managing music performance anxiety in adolescent musicians using visualization and mental training techniques adopted successfully by athletes. In 2018, Lisa was invited to take part in the 3D String Theory Project, an initiative of the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra exploring how new technologies such as 3D printing can expand musical boundaries. Lisa's most recent passion is yoga! As a newly trained yoga instructor, her goal is to share her love of music and the benefits of yoga with others and to make the world a better place.
Montreal native, Laura Nerenberg, started playing the violin at 3 and the piano at 7. Laura has performed chamber music, orchestral music, jazz, pop, folk and improvised music all over the National Capital region. She has also performed in Newfoundland, California, Tanzania and beyond. Laura is a founding member of Gatineau, Quebec's premier chamber music group: “Ensemble Prisme.” She also helped found the Ottawa Baroque Consort, the Courage4 jazz quartet, the Ottawa Jazz Orchestra and the Triptych Piano Trio. Since, 2017, she's been a proud member of the truly original Algonquin Ensemble – playing music dedicated to the art, life and legacy of Canadian luminary artist, Tom Thomson. She held leadership roles in the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra as assistant concertmaster and principal second violin from 2000-2011. She was also principal second violin of the now-defunct, “Orchestre des concerts symphoniques de Gatineau.” Laura plays often with Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra and also performs with choirs all over the region, most notably Gatineau's “Choeur classique de l'outaouais,” with whom she recorded in 2017. Always wishing to push herself musically, Laura recently returned to the piano by taking jazz piano lessons.
Laura is the director of the Rideau Falls Violins. She teaches Suzuki Violin and Creative Ability Development (improvisation) to students aged 3-18. She is also one of only three Creative Ability Development teacher-trainers, guiding her fellow teachers to cultivate their own creativity and teach their students how to improvise. Her students perform in formal concerts as well as at hospitals and retirement homes. In concert, they play standard classical repertoire, folk music and their own creative improvisations. Much sought-after as a Suzuki, chamber music and improvisation clinician, she has taught in four Canadian provinces, and one territory as well as in New Hampshire, Connecticut, Boston, Tanzania and further afield. In 2016, a group of her students participated in a “play-in” with renowned Canadian violin virtuoso, James Ehnes at Rideau Hall, the residence of Canada's Governor General.
Margaret Maria is a respected cellist, teacher and co-founder of Ottawa’s OrKidstra. Since leaving the National Arts Centre Orchestra in 2011, along with teaching, she has embarked on a flurry of different projects including composing music and recording CDs. Born in Toronto, Margaret Maria began playing the cello at the age of twelve and was admitted to the University of Toronto when she was sixteen. Margaret received her Bachelor of Music in Performance in 1992 and continued, on full scholarship at the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. She was also the recipient of three consecutive Canada Council Grants for study abroad. Following her graduation from the Curtis Institute of Music in 1994 with an Artist Diploma, she immediately won a position with the Vancouver Symphony, and was a member of the National Arts Centre Orchestra from 1999-2011.
After resigning from her professional post as cellist with the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Canada she began composing and producing her own music. Enchanten Productions released Enchanten (2012) which received a 55′th Grammy Entry Nomination, Enchanten Rising (2013), her web-collaborative album Piancelle (2013) which received a 56th Grammy Entry Nomination, with her 6th album Enchantress released December 2014. Her 2 children’s albums, A Cello for Chelsea (2005) and Zara the Maggini (2006) were her first creative musical stories that incorporate her narration, musical compositions, and arrangements. Her latest recording is an homage to Canadian heroines from the arts, politics and everyday life called Heroines in Harmony released in 2018. This album was a year in the making and came about through an Ontario Arts Council Music Recording Grant.
She is currently scoring music for film, co-writing a rock opera, is a member of the Screen Composers Guild of Canada and teaching with both the National Capital Suzuki School in Ottawa and the North York Suzuki School which includes a new class called ‘Music of the Future’ - a Creativity Ability Development based improvisation/creativity class. Rage Angel is a production band that she formed with composer Craig McConnell, an intense cello and electronics hybrid which is part of the APM Music Licensing Catalogue. She has also co-created ‘Art in Divine Harmony’ with the master Spanish surrealist painter, Ángel Muriel.
Margaret won a Global Music Awards Silver Medal for her ‘Heroines in Harmony’ Album – for Outstanding Achievement for Album and composition. In Spring 2019, she was awarded “Best Classical Album” by the CLOUZINE International Music Awards for her Heroines In Harmony recording. In May 2019, she conducted Orkidstra in a ground-breaking project "ConneXXions 2019: Crossing distances through collaboration", sponsored in part by the National Arts Centre Orchestra. She is about to debut her compositions based on the poems of soprano Donna Brown with the Ottawa Chamber Orchestra in October 2019.
Guitarist and award-winning songwriter Terry Tufts has been obsessed with the fretted string since the age of 5. He began his career as a working musician upon graduating high school and has since been active as a solo artist and an accompanist for the past 40 years. He has shared the stage with many treasured North American musicians such as Laura Smith, David Francey, Jessie Winchester, Valdy, Colleen Peterson, Susan Aglukark, Wayne Rostad, Tamarack, The Arrogant Worms, The Family Brown, George Fox, Dario Domingues, Willie P. Bennet, Sneezy Waters, Stephen Fearing, Don Ross, Tom Paxton and more. He did 4 tours through out Canada with "Hank Williams: The Show He Never Gave".
Mr. Tufts career has included such performance highlights as the Human Rights World Conference in Vienna, Austria, festivals in Finland, Sweden Australia, Germany, Denmark, the U.K, the U.S., and in Canada from coast to coast to coast. He also had the honour of having performed in Italy for Governor General Roland Michener in Rome, Canada Day Celebrations on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, The Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Romeo Leblanc's Inauguration in the House of Commons in Ottawa, and for HRH Elizabeth II's visit to Canada.
As a renowned triple threat guitarist and singer and song writer, Mr. Tufts is a two-time recipient of Ontario Council of Folk Festivals SONGS FROM THE HEART Award (1998 and 2001). He has performed widely on TV and radio countless times on programs such as CBC Radio for Musical Friends with Marie Lynn Hammond, Morningside with Peter Gzowski, Swinging On A Star with Murray McLauchlan, Madly Off In All Directions with Lorne Elliott, on CBC TV for The Rita McNeil Show, True North shows (Yellowknife,and Whitehorse), The Dini Petty Show, Canada AM, The George Hamilton IV Show, The CCMA Awards, and The Tommy Hunter Show.
Mr. Tufts is a founding member of THE ALGONQUIN ENSEMBLE and is endorsed by several esteemed Canadian luthiers such as White Guitars, Beneteau Guitars, Bounsall Guitars, and Manzer Guitars. He has 6 solo albums of original works to his credit plus two albums with his musical/life partner Kathryn Briggs and John Geggie as K.E.W.T. He has contributed music and session work to over 20 compilation projects and guested on countless North American artist's albums.
Terry Tufts has taught finger style guitar courses and workshops across Canada. He currently teaches songwriting at Carleton University in Ottawa. His past teaching experiences encompass many schools including The Ottawa Folklore Centre, and Algonquin College in Ottawa, Ontario.