Founder & Artistic Director

Joel Ivany (he/him)

Joel Ivany is the Founder and Artistic Director of AtG, is the artistic director of Opera at Banff Centre and was recently appointed Artistic Director at Edmonton Opera. His directing credits include productions of Verdi’s Macbeth (Minnesota Opera), Carmen (Vancouver Opera), Les Contes d’Hoffmann (Edmonton Opera), Gavin Bryars’ Marilyn Forever (Adelaide Festival) and Le nozze di Figaro (revival at Norwegian National Opera). He is the author of seven (and counting) original librettos for companies such as the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and the Canadian Opera Company. He is a multiple Dora Mavor Moore Award nominee for Outstanding Direction as well as for Outstanding New Opera/Musical, winning one for Figaro’s Wedding. Recent mainstage directing credits include Dead Man Walking at Minnesota Opera and the multiple award-winning production of Gluck’s Orphée⁺ with Opera Columbus, AtG and Banff Centre. He has directed productions for the Canadian Opera Company (Hänsel und Gretel, Carmen), Toronto Symphony Orchestra (Mozart’s Requiem, Kurt Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins), the Canadian Children’s Opera Company (Brundibár), Vancouver Opera (Carmen, Dead Man Walking), and Claude Vivier’s Kopernikus (AtG and Banff Centre). Recent highlights include Messiah/Complex (AtG) and directing the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards. He is a proud graduate of the Opera School at U of T and is a member of the Alumni Wall of Fame at his alma mater, Western University.
Executive Director

Robin Whiffen (she/her)

An arts administrator and performer from St. John’s, Newfoundland, Robin Whiffen was appointed as Against the Grain Theatre's first Executive Director in September 2019 after spending three seasons with Opera on the Avalon. Inspired by a lifelong love of music, Robin is passionate about creating opportunities for all to see themselves reflected through opera and removing the barriers of entry that make opera inaccessible to many.

Robin is a Master of Business Administration candidate at Memorial University of Newfoundland and holds a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance from The University of Toronto. In September 2021, Robin was appointed as a member of The College of Electors for the University of Toronto representing the Faculty of Music.

Robin has been selected to participate in the Business/Arts Executive Leadership Program and the OPERA America Leadership Intensive, both of which identify promising future leaders, and provide them with mentorship and education to bolster their leadership capacity and advance their careers. Further, she is a mentor in the RBC Future Launch Fellowship Program. Robin has been invited to speak in her capacity as an arts leader and ambassador of the operatic art form for audiences in Canada, the United States, and Europe.

Miriam Khalil headshot
Founding Member & Associate Artistic Director

Miriam Khalil (she/her)

Two time Juno nominated artist, Miriam Khalil has established herself as one of Canada’s most versatile and expressive performers. She has become increasingly known for her non traditional performances of opera, art song and concert repertoire.

She has sung on numerous opera stages across North America and the UK, including a stint at the renowned Glyndebourne Festival Opera (GFO) in the United Kingdom. Notable roles include Mimì in La Bohème (Canadian Opera Company, Minnesota Opera, Opera Hamilton, Calgary Opera, Edmonton Opera and Against the Grain Theatre (AtG)); Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni (Opera Tampa and AtG/The Banff Centre/Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival); Mélisande in Pelléas et Mélisande (AtG); the Governess in The Turn of the Screw (AtG); Cleopatra in Giulio Cesare (GFO); Almirena in Rinaldo (GFO); Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro (Pacific Opera Victoria, Opera Lyra Ottawa and AtG), Alcina (Fargo Moorhead Opera), Marzelline in Fidelio (Pacific Opera Victoria) and Mamah Cheney in Hagen’s Shining Brow (Urban Arias) among others.

She is a proud founding member and Associate Artistic Director of the Dora Mavor Moore Award-winning chamber opera company Against the Grain Theatre (AtG). With vision and dedication, AtG explores different and innovative ways of presenting opera to new and familiar audiences. Miriam is delighted to help shape “one of the most important opera companies in Canada” (Calgary Herald).

She also recently joined the Voice Faculty at the University of Alberta and is very excited to be working with the next generation of singing artists and creators.

Digital Marketing & Social Media

Daevyd Pepper (he/they)

Chair of the Board of Directors

Marc Chalifoux (he/him)

Marc is Associate Vice President of Digital Performance where he oversees digital sales and servicing for TD’s largest business lines. He has had an eclectic career path that spans the private, public and non-profit sectors in both Canada and the US. He holds an MBA for MIT Sloan School of Management in Boston. Marc’s sole artistic talent is as an audience member and he pursues it passionately. After being blown away by Orphée+, he reached out to Against the Grain offering to help out. He joined the Board of Directors in January 2019 and became Chair in March 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 crisis. He enjoys great art and overcoming adversity.

Board of Directors

Marc Chalifoux, Chair
Marzena Gersho, Vice Chair
Ilona Dougherty, Treasurer
Ian Cusson, Secretary
Philip Akin
Matthew Bernstein
Piyush Bhatnagar
Simion Candrea
Kim Finkelstein
Amy Burstyn Fritz
Joel Ivany, ex-officio
Robin Whiffen, ex-officio