Artistic Director: Yohei Sakai
Before joining the Calgary Men’s Chorus in August 2021, Yohei was the founder and Artistic Director of the St. John’s Gay Men’s Chorus. Sakai is an energetic director with a passion for queer community arts and experiencing new cultures.
Sakai is a classically trained singer/choral conductor originally from Japan. After studying Spanish in Japan, he moved to Mexico where began formal musical education at the National School of Music (currently Faculty of Music), National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in 2010. During his time in Mexico, he actively performed and organized recitals for festivals and events, especially collaborating with the student group "Amor es Amor" to support the queer community.
Sakai moved to Canada in 2013 to pursue further education and completed a Bachelor of Music in voice in 2017 and Master of Music in choral conducting in 2019 at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Sakai is also active as a language teacher and translator. He has taught introductory Spanish at MUN from 2019 to 2021 and has a decade of experience as a Japanese instructor.
Sakai founded the St. John's Gay Men's Chorus in April 2017, which is now the oldest gay men's chorus in Atlantic Canada. The Board of the Calgary Men’s Chorus first became aware of Sakai and was impressed when he brought his young chorus to Calgary for the 2018 Unison Festival. The Unison Festival is Canada’s quadrennial LGBTQ2S choral festival which the choir co-hosted in 2018 and has participated in since 1998.
Since then, Sakai has worked hard to elevate the St. John’s Men’s Chorus and has become a leader within Canada’s LGBTQ2S choral network. Sakai’s energy and experience building the St. John’s Men’s Chorus will be tested as the chorus rebuilds after the pandemic.
Accompanist: Antonina Cox
Native of Belarus, Antonina Cox received extensive training in Belarus, Russia and Canada which totals over 20 years. She studied many musical disciplines, majoring in piano and musicology at the Special Music School in Minsk (Belarus) and St.Petersburg Conservatory (Russia). Upon arrival to Canada she decided to take organ lessons at the Mount Royal Organ Academy (with T.Fullerton and later, Neil Cockburn). Upon finishing exams with high marks she obtained certificate of Associate with Royal Canadian College of Organists. She also took studies in a program “Master of Teaching” at the U of Calgary and taught music in elementary schools.
As a pianist and organist she has worked with choirs and soloists, including Calgary Bach Society, Calgary Women’s Chorus, Okotoks’ Big Rock Singers, Calgary Choral Society, Cantare Children’s Choir, Revv 52, the Dutch Canadian Choir, Mount Royal Children’s choir. She also provided accompaniment for many elementary and high school productions and accompanied dancers at the Alberta Ballet. She has traveled with singers and dancers from Russia and Canada to many countries the US, the Netherlands, Ireland, Italy, Vatican, Bulgaria, Australia and New Zealand.