David Speers has been the General Director of Opera Hamilton since 2004. His previous positions include ten years as the General and Artistic Director of the Calgary Opera and five years in the same role with the Arizona Opera.
Mr. Speers is widely recognized for his ability to identify and willingness to promote young talent, and for his skill in assembling strong ensemble casts.
A native of Edmonton, Mr. Speers received his Bachelor and Master degrees in Music from the University of Alberta where he was the recipient of the Flore Shaw Graduate Award in Music. He pursued post-graduate studies in opera conducting at the prestigious Juilliard School in New York City and received additional training at the Tanglewood Festival and the Aspen Music Festival.
David Speers was the Chairman of The Professional Opera Companies of Canada (now Opera.ca) in 1988 and from 1993-1998, and was a member of the Board of Directors of Opera America from 1995-2001. He has received awards from The Canada Council, Alberta Culture, and the National Endowment for the Arts (U.S.). In 2000, Mr. Speers was named 'Arizona Arts Person of the Year' by the Tucson Citizen. He has served on numerous juries including the Metropolitan Opera Regional Auditions, The Sullivan/George London Vocal Competition, NATS, and panels for The National Endowment for the Arts, The Canada Council, and The Ontario Arts Council. He is a frequent speaker at Universities and Colleges across Canada and the U.S. and has taught courses in Opera History at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, and Mount Royal College in Calgary.
At the podium, David Speers has conducted more than 50 opera productions and made numerous appearances with symphony orchestras throughout Canada and the U.S. In addition to his responsibilities as General Director of Opera Hamilton, Mr. Speers continues his freelance conducting activity. He opened the “new” Opera Hamilton 2008-09 season conducting The Magic Flute. Following an engagement with the Toronto Operetta Theatre conducting The Mikado in April of 2008, he returned to that company in February of 2009 to conduct the Canadian premiere of Kurt Weill's Knickerbocker's Holiday. Through his conducting work in opera and concert, he has worked with many of North America's most distinguished established and emerging artists. In April of 2011, he will be one of three jurists for the prestigious Louis and Christina Quilico Vocal Competition.
For Opera Hamilton's 2011-12 Inaugural Season at The Dofasco Centre for the Arts, Mr. Speers will conduct a new production of Verdi's Il trovatore and participate in the company's signature Popera Plus! Concert
David Speers resides in Ancaster, Ontario with his wife and their two children.
Maestro Oleskevich is currently in his 23rd season with Opera Hamilton, having conducted Die Zauberflöte, L'elisir d'amore, and La Bohème. Other credits include Die Fledermaus, Eine Nacht in Venedig, Die Csárdásfürstin and My Fair Lady with the Toronto Operetta Theatre.
He has conducted the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, the Kitchener Waterloo Symphony, the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra, the Scarborough Philharmonic, Mississauga Symphony and the Ottawa Valley Festival.
While in Austria, Mr. Oleskevich conducted the Pro Arte Orchestra for radio broadcast, the Academy Orchestra, and the Niederösterreichische Tonkünstler Orchester in the Musikverein in Vienna.
He has received numerous awards and bursaries that include a Canada Council grant for conducting and has taught conducting at the University of Toronto.
When not in front of an orchestra Peter is behind a camera as an avid photographer – in fact many of the photos you may have seen in our House Program are his work!