BOUND Artists & Creatives
Reneltta Arluk (Co-Director)
Reneltta Arluk is Director of Indigenous Arts at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. She is founder and Artistic Director of Akpik Theatre, a northern professional Indigenous theatre company. An alumni of the University of Alberta – BFA (Acting) program. Director work includes: Comedy of Errors (Theatre Calgary), The Birds (Studio Theatre), All That Binds Us (Azimuth Theatre), The Breathing Hole (The Stratford Festival) where she received the 2017 Tyrone Guthrie – Derek F. Mitchell Artistic Director’s Award, The Unplugging (Gwaandak Theatre.) Radio plays: The Unplugging (Common Boots Theatre), Niitahtaastsi (Jupiter Theatre) I Count Myself Among Them (Akpik Theatre), Ndoo Tr’eedyaa Gogwaandak – Forward Together (Gwaandak Theatre.) Co-Director: Messiah/Complex (Against the Grain Theatre), Kuekuatsheu Mak Muak (Anorae Productions) and Aklavik Journals (Stuck in a Snowbank Theatre). Reneltta has extensive directing experience working within Indigenous communities across Canada in self-creation work.
Nathan Brock (Music Director)
Brock is an internationally renowned conductor who performs regularly with many of the world’s leading orchestras, opera houses and ballet companies. After finishing his studies in Europe he began his career as Resident Conductor of the Montreal Symphony where he was the recipient of multiple awards for his programming, concerts and outreach activity by the Quebec, Ontario and Canadian arts councils respectively. During this time he also began his longstanding association with Canada’s National Ballet. In 2015, he returned to Europe as Principle Conductor and deputy Music Director at the Hamburgische Staatsoper. There he conducted an extensive repertoire ranging from dozens of popular opera revivals to new productions. This time also marked the beginning of his continuing association with John Neumeier and the Hamburg Ballet where he regularly conducts new Neumeier ballets as well as revivals of classical repertoire. During the lockdown, Brock completed an Executive MBA from Rotman, Canada’s premier business school.
Andrew Haji (Tenor)
Canadian tenor Andrew Haji has become one of the most sought-after voices on both the operatic and concert stages. Winner of the Grand Prix at the 50th International Vocal Competition in ‘s-Hertogenbosch and the Montreal International Music Competition’s Oratorio Prize, Haji recently debuted with Calgary Opera as Pollione in Norma and performed Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Carnegie Hall.
The Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern winner was heard as Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore for the Canadian Opera Company, Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia with Opéra de Québec, Alfredo in La traviata for Vancouver Opera, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 for the Toronto Symphony, and Bach’s Matthäus Passion with the National Arts Centre Orchestra. The 20/21 season also saw Andrew engage in digital productions, including starring as Satyavan in Against the Grain’s acclaimed stream of Holst’s Sāvitri.
He is a graduate of the COC Ensemble Studio, during which he appeared in leading roles including Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia and Ferrando in Così fan tutte. This season will see Andrew return to the COC for their digital Gianni Schicchi and Mozart’s Requiem in a co-production with Against the Grain Theatre.
The Salzburg Festival featured Haji in its 2017 production of Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia, his festival debut. For the Wexford Festival he starred as Hélios in Félicien David’s Herculanum and for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, as Rodolfo in Puccini’s La bohème.
Zulfikar Hirji (Storyteller)
Zulfikar Hirji is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at York University, Toronto. He is interested in how human societies articulate, represent and perform understandings of self, community, and other, and on issues of knowledge production, representation and identity, visual, material, and sensory culture, and critical pedagogy. His ethnographic and archival research focuses on Muslim societies in a range of historical and contemporary contexts including coastal East Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and South Asia. He received his DPhil in Social Anthropology from the University of Oxford, MPhil in Islamic Studies from the University of Cambridge, and BA (Joint Honours) in Religious Studies & Anthropology from McGill University.
Joel Ivany (Co-Director/Librettist)
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.
Astrid Janson (Costume Designer)
Astrid Janson’s production design work for theatre, dance, opera and film has been seen across Canada, including the Stratford Festival, The Canadian Opera Co., Canadianstage, the Citadel Theatre, National Ballet, National Arts Centre, and most Toronto theatres, including 13 of Michael Hollingsworth’s award-winning History Plays for Videocabaret. Internationally she has designed in Paris, Sweden, Germany and the US.
Her TV work includes award-winning films, specials and series.
Civic projects include designing for Expo’86, and a Discovery Gallery for the ROM.
Honours for her design work include multiple Dora Mavor Moore Awards, a Gemini, the Silver Ticket Award for Lifetime Achievement, and an Honorary Doctorate from Wilfrid Laurier University.
Miriam Khalil (Soprano)
Juno nominated artist Miriam Khalil has appeared on numerous opera stages across Canada and Europe, including a stint at the renowned Glyndebourne Festival Opera (GFO) in the United Kingdom. An alumna of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio, she won first place in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (Great Lakes Region) and subsequently appeared in the 2007 documentary The Audition. Her performance credits include Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Minnesota Opera, Opera Tampa, Fargo-Moorhead Opera, Opera Hamilton, Against the Grain Theatre (AtG), Edmonton Opera, Pacific Opera Victoria, Opera Lyra Ottawa, and prominent orchestras across Canada, in roles such as Mimì (La bohème), Mélisande (Pelléas et Mélisande), Governess (The Turn of the Screw), Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro), Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni), Cleopatra (Giulio Cesare), Almirena (Rinaldo), and the title role in Alcina. Ms. Khalil’s 2021/22 season includes appearances as Mimì in La bohème with Edmonton Opera and Strauss’ Four Last Songs with Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra.
Kevin Lau (Composer)
One of Canada’s most versatile and sought-after young composers, Kevin Lau has been commissioned by prominent artists and ensembles across the country, and his work is widely performed in North America and Europe. He was appointed Affiliate Composer of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 2012; shortly after, he composed a full-length ballet (“Le Petit Prince”) for the National Ballet of Canada. In 2021, he will serve as composer in residence for the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra. His discography includes two JUNO award winning albums: Mosaïque (Ensemble Made in Canada) and Detached (harpist Angela Schwarzkopf). Current projects include an opera (“Bound”, Against the Grain Theatre), ballet (“Kimiko’s Pearl,” Bravo Niagara & Royal Winnipeg Ballet) and an Indigenous children’s show (“The Spirit Horse”, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.) Kevin’s creative output is unified by the search for deep connections amidst surface diversity—connections that serve as a metaphor for the reconciliation of seemingly fundamental differences.
Cindy Rivers (Storyteller)
Cindy is a trans rights activist, artist, and professional standup. Originally from Newfoundland but currently calls Edmonton Alberta home. Coming out as trans in Fort McMurray Alberta at age 30 shifted her career paths and she quickly took the comedy industry by storm. She’s a comedy festival regular and has performed with some or comedies biggest names.
Breanna Sinclairé (Lyric Soprano)
Breanna Sinclairé is a graduate from Calarts and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (first Trans person in the Opera program). On the stage, she has performed in many operatic works: Carmen, Samson and Delilah, Durufle’s Requiem to name a few. She has sung with the SF, Washington DC and Los Angeles Gay Men’s Chorus as their guest artist, recently she performed for the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention (alongside House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi). She sang the national anthem for the SF GIANTS, OAKLAND A’s , and The San Francisco Deltas as the first trans singer to perform at a national sporting event. Breanna was named OUT Magazine’s LGBT Hero of the Year 2015. She has traveled across the States and Canada. Her debut at the Walt Disney Concert Hall on July 2017 was one of the many milestones in her operatic career. She performed at the Lincoln Theater, Nourse Theater and many celebrated halls. December 31st, 2018 she made her debut with the San Francisco Symphony as the first trans singer to perform with the orchestra. She was recently in The New York Times in July 2019: NY Times article by Michael Cooper. “Transgender Opera Singers Find Their Voices” and have been featured in KQED, ABC 7 News, & KRON 4 San Francisco. She was interviewed in 2019 for NPR Station KQED Radio “Three Transgender Opera Singers on the Risks They took to Live Authentically”. Breanna Sinclaire sang a rendition of the National Anthem in an episode for the Hit Emmy Award Television show “United Shades Of America with Kamau Bell” on May 30th, 2021, Memorial Day Special.
Dylan Toombs (Director of Photography)
Dylan Toombs is a visual storyteller based in Toronto, Ontario. He works in both long and short-form video as a director, producer, editor, and videographer. He’s created work for PBS: Frontline, American Experience, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, The University of Toronto and more.
British Columbia born Baritone, Justin has a career all within Canada from Opera, Oratorio, classical concerts and everything in between. Opera career highlights are playing Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro by Mozart in Victoria, Queequeg in Moby Dick by Heggie in Calgary, Marcello in La Boheme by Puccini in Montreal, Crown in a Concert staged version of Porgy and Besa with Montreal Orchestra and Scarpia in Tosca in Haliburton, Ontario. For Oratorio, performing Handel’s Messiah, St. Matthew Passion by Bach, Verdi Requiem and Beethoven’s 9th symphony to name a few. Justin is a Canadian Opera Company Ensemble and Tanglewood Summer Institute Alumni. He also has a Masters degree from the University of British Columbia.
Rania believes that when immigrant communities prosper, we all prosper. She is the National Project Manager for Immigrant Employment Councils of Canada at IEC-BC, and worked with other equity-seeking organizations such as TRIEC and the Canadian Arab Institute, channelling her lived experience as an immigrant into community service, advocacy and social development. Rania co-founded a networking initiative designed to support newcomers and young professionals, PCAN was motivated by her personal commitment to helping others, especially racialized women and youth, become the best version of themselves through peer mentoring and building a supportive environment in which they flourish. She has personally mentored many professionals getting started in their new homes and careers. Rania’s commitment is evident in the success of community-led organizations, such as WelcomeHomeTO, Yalla Let’s Talk, Canadian Arabic Orchestra, Newcomers Student Association, Scale Without Borders and others that advance the interests of our diverse and growing communities.