Scott MacFarlane - Treasurer
Craig Thomson is an award-winning saxophonist and educator currently based in the beautiful Okanagan region of British Columbia. Through his dedication to the arts and music education, Craig’s students have earned numerous national and international honours over the past decade.
Raised in an area of BC long known for its top-quality music programs, Craig was inspired by his teachers at an early age to pursue a career in both music performance and music education, leading to study at Grant McEwan University in Edmonton, Capilano University in Vancouver and the University of British Columbia.
Craig is the artistic director for the B.C. Interior Jazz Festival, an annual three-day educational event that brings together approximately 1500 students from around Canada and the United States and connects them with the expertise of North America's finest music professionals. The festival is one of the last remaining competitive festivals in the Pacific Northwest. Prior to assuming the role of artistic director, Craig was the festival coordinator for ten years.
Sophie Armstrong - Strings Director
Charissa Schamuhn is a charismatic marketing maven with over a decade of experience in event promotions. Equipped with a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration, Charissa has harnessed sharp skills in social media, marketing management, and event curation.
Scott joined the board in 2022 filling the role of treasurer. He has been an avid musician most of his life playing piano for a gospel choir, jazz big bands, and other music groups. In recent years, with his son playing violin and fiddle music, Scott has enjoyed accompanying him on piano and guitar in music festivals, and fiddle contests, as well as some busking opportunities.
Alexandra Babbel - Voice Advisor
The Kiwanis Music Festival Society of Kelowna, better known as The Kelowna Kiwanis Festival, is a non-profit charitable organization.
We are a small but mighty team comprised of an Executive Director, and a Governing Board.
Membership is open to the public, and executive positions are elected from the membership.
We rely heavily on volunteers during festival season (March, April, May), and are always happy to welcome new members and volunteers to our ranks!
Craig Thomson - Music Advisor
Tascheleia Marangoni - Executive Director
We acknowledge that the Kelowna Kiwanis Festival is held on the shared traditional, ancestral, and unceded Indigenous territories of the Syilx Okanagan people.
Charissa Schamuhn - Marketing Director
Our Board Advisors
Ellen Ehlers, Ph. D. - Secretary
Sandra Wilmot - Strings Advisor
Kelowna violinist Sandra Wilmot is much in demand as a teacher, performer, and clinician. She has been teaching group and private violin lessons as well as RCM (Royal Conservatory of Music) theory classes since 2002. Many of her students play regularly with the Okanagan Symphony Youth Orchestra (OSYO), participate in the Kelowna Kiwanis Music Festival, and have successfully completed RCM exams levels 3-9, with some students going on to pursue music at the post-secondary level. She currently maintains a private studio of over 60 students ages 4 to adult and ranging in level from absolute beginner to RCM ARCT level. She taught grades 3-8 classroom music from 2006-2010, and currently coaches violin sectionals for the Okanagan Symphony Youth Orchestra (OSYO) and co-directs the KCMS Junior and Senior String Ensembles. She is also a former string faculty member at KISSM (Kamloops Interior Summer School of Music) and has been on faculty at the Strings the Thing summer string camp since 2016. Sandra works with various ensembles throughout the Okanagan as a professional freelance musician and has been playing regularly with the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra and Kamloops Symphony Orchestra since 2001. She has performed with various other orchestras across Canada and has attended many prominent orchestral and early music training programs including Early Music Vancouver, and the Symphony Orchestra Academy of the Pacific. She regularly plays weddings and other corporate and private functions along with her colleagues from the Okanagan Symphony. Sandra also has an extensive choral background, having accompanied many prominent BC children’s choirs, directed school choirs, and acted as official accompanist for the World of Children's Choirs Symposium in Vancouver in 2000. Sandra is also a journalist, pianist, arranger, and award-winning composer. She was the 1st place winner in the Jean Coulthard Composition Competition and the Vancouver Chamber Choir's Young Composers Competition in 2000 and has had original works commissioned and performed by the Aura Chamber Choir, Vancouver Chamber Choir, B.C Choral Federation, University of Victoria, and the Kelowna Community Music School.
Sandra is a graduate of the University of British Columbia and is currently on faculty at the Kelowna Community Music School, Kamloops Symphony Music School, Penticton Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts and Strings the Thing summer string camp.
Alexandra Kosachukova Babbel, Conductor of CANDESCA, brings to the organization years of proven artistic vision. Ms. Babbel has demonstrated a keen eye for identifying new talent and providing a sound educational environment for musicians to fully develop their craft.
Not only has Ms. Babbel enjoyed an operatic career with multiple leading roles as an operatic and concert solo performer, she holds a BA in Choral Music Education, University of Michigan, a MA in Opera Performance, University of Alberta and Post-Masters Certiﬁcate of Performance, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois including doctoral studies.
Before relocating to Canada, she held position of Voice Department Head at Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois.
As the founding artistic director of CANDESCA, Ms. Babbel has trained and developed young singers who have gone on to succeed in performing. Encouraging young voices to embrace personal discipline and training at the collegiate levels has culminated in numerous successful careers, not only in music, but in medicine, law, finances, and home economics.
Sergie Ryga - Concert Band Advisor
Marion MacNeil - President
Tascheleia Marangoni is a professional dancer & artist who resides in Kelowna, BC. She began her studies in dance at the age of 3, and boasts over 40 years of training and experience as a dancer, instructor, choreographer, studio owner, performer, and producer of dance from over twenty genres, including classical dance styles, and cultural dance, focusing on her passion for Dance Ethnology.
As well as a performing artist, Tascheleia is also a visual artist & painter, creating works of art in a variety of mediums.
Tascheleia has a wide variety of experience in the non-profit sector; and was honoured to be a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.
She is also educated as a wine professional and sommelier.
Laura Elliot - Dance Director
Ellen Ehlers has experience in various dance styles include teaching and performing Middle Eastern dance for over twenty-five years. Entering university as a mature student, Ellen combined her considerable personal practical knowledge with her eclectic educational background to design and teach arts-based workshops.
Marion Macneil has volunteered with the Kiwanis Music Festival since 1995, and has been on the Board of Directors several times over the years holding both President and Secretary positions. Marion is a charter member of the Kiwanis Club of Kelowna Summit that was formed in 1988, name changed to Kiwanis Club of the Central Okanagan. She has been Secretary/Treasurer off and on, President twice, Lieutenant Governor of the Division in 2001/02, and now Secretary/Treasurer; and awarded Kiwanian of the year three times.
Sophie Armstrong, BMus, LMusA, AMusA is a UK born, Australian raised violinist and composer, and has shared her story through her global music style in over 40 cities internationally. An award winning entrepreneur, Sophie founded and ran Every Woman Foundation for ten years; and Sophie Armstrong Entertainment Inc provides corporate entertainment, public relations services and media training.
Kelowna Kiwanis Festival
Sergei Ryga is a music educator with School District #23. He has spent the past 19 years teaching at George Elliot Secondary in Lake Country, a school which very closely resembles his high school in Summerland from the 1970’s. Kids come from farms and vineyards and have experienced a very rural upbringing in places like Oyama and Carrs Landing. There is a strong arts and cultural community in Lake Country.
His program features choir, guitar, concert band, jazz band and commercial music which focuses on songwriting.
Mr. Ryga acts as the coordinator for the concert band portion of the Kelowna Kiwanis Festival which is held annually at the Creekside Theatre.
Graham Vink - Piano Director