The leader and founder of the Royal City Saxophone Quartet, Ernie is a graduate of the University of Waterloo in Mathematics and Music. A native of Peterborough, Ontario, Ernie now calls Elora home. He studied piano from the age of 8 and became more serious at age 12 when he picked up the saxophone and clarinet. He played his first professional gig at 14, competed in the local Kiwanis Festival, and was active in dance bands, concert bands, Dixieland, Ska, R&B, and saxophone quartets. Saving up his paper-route money, he bought his first tenor sax on his 16th birthday. He studied saxophone at Humber College with Pat LaBarbera, Alex Dean, Mark Promane, and later in the USA with James Houlik, Jerry Coker, and Eric Alexander. He has traveled to play in jazz events and festivals throughout the United States and Canada. His influences include Stan Getz, Sonny Stitt, Zoot Sims, Dexter Gordon, Hank Mobley, Branford Marsalis, Eddie Daniels, James Moody, and various classical performers.
Ernie served six years as President of the Central Ontario Musicians’ Association (Kitchener Local 226 of the Canadian Federation of Musicians), and to offset his day-job as a database consultant, he is a competitive fly-fisherman. Ernie holds gold and silver medals in Fly-Fishing Championships held throughout Canada and represented Canada at the 2007 World Championships in Finland, and the 2009 Commonwealth's in Scotland. In 2006 he produced his first Jazz Quartet CD “The Autumn Leaves” and is working on new recordings in addition to teaching saxophone, clarinet and flute privately to aspiring musicians. Lately, the Ernie Kalwa Jazz Quartet tours performing concerts as “A Tribute to 1960s Jazz and Bossa Nova”. Ernie often assists with the UW Jazz Ensemble, performing in concerts at Conrad Grebel University College.