A JUNO-nominated artist gifted in jazz, classical, and folk, Mike Janzen is a unique Canadian talent. Possessing “a rare and infectious gift” (Steve Bell), Janzen’s artistry is displayed in his original work and his collaborations with others (Daniel Lanois, Hugh Marsh, Larnell Lewis).
Janzen’s most recent release is The Psalms Project: Volume I & II (2021), a double album of original songs reflecting on the Psalms. Described as “salve for the soul” (John Bailey, JUNO-winner for mixing), this album comprises 19 songs written and composed while recovering from a debilitating concussion just a few years prior. Janzen’s responses to God lifting and carrying him through his difficult circumstances slowly formed the lyrics to songs in The Psalms Project.
The first volume, The Carried Words, has a folk-pop sound and includes some of Canada’s finest musicians, including Steve Bell, Erin Propp, Davide DiRenzo and Joey Landreth. The Lifted Songs, the second volume, is more meditative in nature. Guest performances include JUNO-winner Laila Biali, trumpeter Kevin Turcotte, and the beautiful sounds of a 14-piece string orchestra. The entire project has been described as “a soulful marvel of songwriting” (Steve Bell), and “an oasis for the spirit” (Laila Biali).
Mike Janzen is currently is working on Psalms Vol. III as well as The Manna Sessions, a project featuring diverse original songs revolving around themes of redemption, provision and times of waiting. For this concert he will be joined by Shannon Knights (viola) and Lydia Munchinsky (cello).
Shannon Knights, viola
Shannon Knights has distinguished herself as an outstanding performer and teacher, throughout Ontario and Quebec. She has experience in chamber and symphony orchestras throughout both provinces and is a sought after viola teacher in the greater GTA.
Shannon has performed with major symphony orchestras including the Toronto Symphony, The Canadian Opera Company and Tafelmusik. She has also toured with several orchestras throughout Europe and Iceland. In addition to Steven Dann, her principal teachers include Andre Roy and Nick Pulos.
Shannon completed her Artist Diploma in viola performance from the Glenn Gould School of Music and attended McGill University in the same capacity, before becoming a member of the Quebec Symphony.
As an enthusiastic chamber musician, Shannon has been a member of several quartets and quintets over the years including her current work with the Venuti String Quartet. As a member of the Cartier Quartet in Quebec City, Shannon also had the opportunity to play with the Penderecki Quartet at Quartet Fest in Waterloo, Ontario. She has also performed on several recordings and in large performance venues, including the Juno awards.
Lydia Munchinsky, cello
Lydia Munchinsky completed her ARCT in performance for both piano and cello before coming to Toronto in 2000 to study cello with Simon Fryer and piano with Peter Longworth at The Glenn Gould School of Music.
At the ages of 10 and 12, Lydia participated in the International Suzuki Conventions in Australia and Korea, where she performed for Dr. Suzuki and worked with Haruko Kataoka. Since completing the Performance Diploma Program at the GGS, Lydia’s eclectic performance experience has included playing for Stage West and Theatre Aquarius, Dr. Draw, the Array Ensemble and Sarah Slean, and she is a member of the Venuti String Quartet and the Canadian Folk Music Award nominated group Ozere.
Lydia also toured extensively with Quartetto Gelato for 1 – 1/2 years, usually with her baby daughter in tow, and is featured on their most recent recording. She can often be found in a recording studio and has recorded soundtracks for films and tv scores including “Percy”, “The Breadwinner”, “The White Lie”, and “Astronaut”. Besides recording albums with Ozere and Quartetto Gelato, Lydia has also recorded with Alessia Cara, Sarah Slean, Mike Janzen, The Great Lake Swimmers, Royal Wood, and Laila Biali, to name a few. She has premiered solo cello and chamber music works by many Canadian and Austrian composers and gives recitals regularly, some of which have been recorded by CBC and CIUT radio. Lydia taught for two years with Sistema Toronto in Parkdale and currently teaches at the Toronto School for Strings and Piano.