VICTOR CHENG – Conductor, Co-Founder and Artistic Director
Born in 1983, Victor Cheng has already established himself as a talented and multi-faceted musician. Inspired by Ivars Taurins, he decided to pursue orchestral conducting in 2007 and along with composer Kevin Lau, founded Sneak Peek Orchestra, an endeavor to showcase young talent and premiere works by Canadian composers. Since then, SPO has performed at the Toronto Centre for the Performing Arts and the Chinese Cultural Centre, and has had the honour of performing with artists such as Shauna Rolston, Molly Johnson, Lucia Cesaroni, and Conrad Chow. Victor was accepted to the NAC Conductor’s Program where he had the opportunity to work with Orchestre de la Francophonie Canadienne and the National Arts Centre Orchestra under the tutelage of Kenneth Kiesler and Pinchas Zukerman.
Victor’s passion in conducting stemmed from piano lessons with conductor/composer An-Lun Huang as well as his experience as a choir boy at St. Michael’s Choir School, where he specialized in voice, piano and organ. Currently Victor is the assistant conductor of Vocal Horizons Chamber Choir and a member of the Toronto Philharmonia Chorus. He is also the Musical Director and Principal Organist of Our Lady of Annunciation Church.
Victor graduated from University of Toronto with a B.Mus in Jazz Piano Performance. He studied with Gary Williamson, Dave Restivo, performed with jazz icons Dave Young and Terry Clarke, and has had the opportunity to work with Lee Konitz and Renee Rosnes. In 2006, Victor was invited to perform in Kenny Barron’s clinic at the National Arts Centre. As a freelance conductor and pianist, Victor is in popular demand for recording sessions, recitals and concerts, having worked with Toronto Philharmonia, University of Toronto Symphony Orchestra, University of Toronto Wind Symphony, Madawasaka String Quartet, Toronto Wind Quintet, Bach Children’s Chorus, and Vocal Horizons Chamber Choir.
WILLIAM ROWSON – Conductor
Saskatchewan-born conductor William Rowson is rapidly establishing a reputation as one of Canada’s most versatile emerging talents. Known for his intimate knowledge of the standard repertoire as well as his facile handling of new repertoire, Rowson has conducted the premieres of over 50 new works since 2001. His conducting career began at the Curtis Institute of Music where he conducted the institute’s Symphony Orchestra while studying composition with Ned Rorem.
Since returning to Canada, Rowson has been a frequent guest of many of Canada’s leading ensembles, including Toronto’s Talisker Players, the Glenn Gould Professional School, the National Academy Orchestra of Canada, and the Sneak Peak Orchestra. He has also conducted the McGill Chamber Orchestra, the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Orchestra, the Saskatoon Symphony, and the Scarborough Philharmonic. Upcoming engagements include return performances with the Saskatoon Symphony, the Hamilton Philharmonic’s ‘What Next’ Festival and a debut with the Stratford Symphony Orchestra.
In the fall of 2013, Rowson was picked by Philip Glass Ensemble conductor Michael Riesman to be his assistant conductor for the world premiere of the Godfrey Reggio film, Visitors, with the score by Philip Glass played live by members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. He was the Associate Conductor of the Hart House Orchestra from 2008-2014, and is the conductor and music director of the Mooredale Junior and Senior Youth Orchestras. His operatic experience includes conducting performances of the Canadian premieres of Handel’s Amadigi de Guala and Hasse’s Antonio e Cleopatra on period instruments with London Early Opera and the University of Western Ontario’s Early Music Studio.
An accomplished composer, Rowson’s music has been featured at the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival, UBS Verbier Festival, the Banff Centre’s Summer Music Series, Niagara on the Lake International Chamber Music Festival, and the Brott Music Festival. He completed his doctorate in composition at the University of Toronto in 2012.
As a violinist, Rowson has played under some of the greatest conductors of our time, including Sir Andrew Davis, Charles Dutoit, James Levine, Kent Nagano, Sir Simon Rattle, Wolfgang Sawallisch, and many others.
KEVIN LAU – Co-Founder
Kevin Lau is active as a composer of contemporary classical music. His first complete composition, Empire of Paradise (1999), was arranged and performed by the Albertan drum corps Allegiance Elite throughout Canada and the United States. Since then, he has had music commissioned and performed by the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, the Mississauga Symphony Orchestra, the University of Calgary Brass Choir, the Canadian Composers’ Quartet, the Esprit Orchestra, the Georgian Bay Symphony, the Cecilia String Quartet, the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra, the Toronto Philharmonia, Via Salzburg, and Trio sTREga. He has collaborated with renowned performing artists such as Peter Stoll (clarinet), Rachel Mercer (cello), and Scott St. John (violin), and his music has been read by a variety of eminent ensembles which include Eighth Blackbird, the Ensemble Contemporain de Montréal, and the St. Lawrence String Quartet. . His orchestral composition Fountain of Dreams was selected as the winner of both the 2005 Mississauga Young Composers’ Competition and the University of Toronto Symphony Orchestra Composer’s Competition in 2008/09. He was recently awarded the 2010 Karen Kieser Prize in Canadian Music for his composition Starsail.
Kevin is also active in many other areas of composition. In 2006 he wrote the score to the theatre musical Box Office, which was staged seven times at the Tarragon Theatre as part of the 2006 Toronto Fringe Festival. In 2007 he composed the score for a professional video game for Groove Games based on the movie 300. He has written music for over a dozen films, including the feature documentary UFOs: A Secret History, which aired on the History Channel in 2008. Recently, he co-wrote the full-length orchestral score (with Canadian composer Ronald Royer) to Gooby, a Canadian children’s feature film starring Eugene Levy and Robbie Coltrane.
In 2007 Kevin co-founded the Sneak Peek Orchestra with conductor Victor Cheng. Composed primarily of student musicians and emerging professionals from the University of Toronto, the orchestra has premiered four of his works, including his Violin Concerto (with soloist Alexa Wilks) and, most recently, The Water of Life, which was performed at the George Weston Recital Hall (with violinist Conrad Chow) as part of the international charity Free the Children. Kevin lives in Toronto and is currently pursuing his doctorate degree in music composition at the University of Toronto under the supervision of Christos Hatzis. He was appointed composer-in-residence for the Mississauga Symphony Orchestra in 2010.
BETHANY CURLEY – Director of Communications
A graduate of the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory of Music, the University of Victoria and Wilfrid Laurier University, Beth is also a member of the Sneak Peek horn section. She has twice been a member of the prestigious National Youth Orchestra of Canada, including performing on their 2009 Juno-nominated album, and touring western Canada in 2010. In 2009 Bethany was featured as a soloist in two concerts with the Georgian Bay Symphony performing Saint-Saens’ Morceau de Concert and Mozart’s fourth horn concerto, as well as hosting the performances. She is currently a member of the Scarborough Philharmonic, and can be seen regularly in other groups around the GTA.
While at Glenn Gould, Bethany studied under Christopher Gongos of the Toronto Symphony. She earned a Master’s degree in performance from the University of Victoria, where she studied with Kurt Kellan, retired principal horn of the Calgary Philharmonic, and a Bachelor’s degree in performance from Wilfrid Laurier University where she studied with Nina Brickman, formerly of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony.
SAMUEL BISSON – Financial Director
Samuel Bisson is a Toronto based cellist who recently completed a Master’s degree at the University of Toronto under the direction of Roman Borys. He has previously studied with Julian Armour and Paul Marleyn at the University of Ottawa, where he earned his Bachelor’s degree. He has had the pleasure to play for many renowned cellists and chamber musicians including Janos Starker, Hans Jorgen Jensen, Paul Katz, the St-Lawrence String Quartet, Mark Fewer, and Angela Hewitt.
Samuel performs frequently as a soloist, chamber musician and orchestral player. He has performed with renowned Canadian piano trio, the Gryphon Trio and performs regularly as part of the Passport Duo with pianist, Nadia Boucher. Samuel currently holds the position of principal cellist with both the Kindred Spirits Orchestra in Markham, Ontario and the Sneak Peek Orchestra in Toronto. He has also appeared as principal and section cellist with Orchestre de la Francophonie Canadienne and the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra and has played under the direction of Timothy Vernon, Pinchas Zukerman and Jean-Philippe Tremblay.
Samuel has performed and participated in festivals across Canada including the National Arts Centre Young Artist Program, Scotia Festival of Music, and the Toronto Summer Music Academy and Festival. He has also been a guest of the Toronto Arts and Letters Club, and the Midday Music with Shigeru concert series in Barrie, ON. Samuel has also been the recipient of many awards over the years as a solo performer as well as with chamber groups and as a composer.
Samuel has a special interest in new and unknown music and has an ease with a broad range of musical styles. He regularly performs premieres of new works and has been a guest of Toronto’s New Music Festival for two years. Beyond cello performance, Samuel is a composer and has had many works performed by ensembles across the country and recently completed scoring music for a short film for the National Film Board of Canada.