Jennifer Benson lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland, where she enjoys an active career of music- making. Her collaborative work ranges from collaborative pianist and vocal coach at Memorial’s School of Music, to playing for various community ensembles and theatre productions. She is also a dedicated and sought-after teacher and adjudicator, and is the owner and operator of the Jennifer Benson Music Studio.
Jennifer is passionate about advancing and evolving the piano community in Newfoundland and Labrador. She was the co-founder and co-artistic director of the not-for-profit organization PlayPianoNL (2016 - 2019), an organization dedicated to fostering the sense of community among pianists by promoting artistic collaboration and participation in music programs, festivals and competitions. Through PlayPianoNL she organized and served as clinician and coach at events such as PianoFest, PianoSymposium, PianoCamp, and PianoTour.
Most recently, in response to the lack of piano performance opportunities in 2020/2021 due to Covid-19, she and her colleagues volunteered their time to develop and facilitate the Piano Masterclasses for Youth Series - a free online monthly performance opportunity for young pianists across the province.
Jennifer is also secretary of the Newfoundland and Labrador Registered Music Teachers' Association (NLRMTA) where she actively participates in the creation of local events such as Canada Music Week, an annual event designed to celebrate Canadian Music in all of its forms.
Jennifer attended Memorial University, where she received her undergraduate degree in piano performance in 2010, and Master’s degree in piano performance/pedagogy in 2014.
Born and raised in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Erin Lee is a third year Joint Music & Business student majoring in vocal performance under the direction of Dr. Jane Leibel at Memorial University. Erin has been performing in local music and theatre productions for over ten years. Her favourite credits include Glinda (The Wizard of Oz, HHM Productions), Silly Girl (Beauty and the Beast, Rennie’s River Productions), Bohemian/Dance Chorus (We Will Rock You, Tada! Events) & The Dew Fairy Understudy (Hansel & Gretel, Memorial University Opera Workshop).
This year, Erin was awarded The Dorothy and David Peters Scholarship in Music - awarded to the best student at the MUN School of Music who displays the aptitude, ability, and passion for concert performance. She has also received the Conservatory Canada Carl Duggan Medal of Excellence for the highest grade ten voice exam mark in Canada (2019), as well as the Conservatory Canada Study and Travel Scholarship (London, Ontario 2017).
In addition to her passion for music making and performing, Erin is committed to activism, leadership and involvement within the community. Co-founder of the local Fridays For Future St. John’s Environmental group - Erin has devoted countless hours to fighting climate change through strike initiatives within the city. She also served as the Music Representative of the MUN Student Union in 2020, and is currently the Secretary for the MUN Music Society. Erin is ecstatic to be joining the Jennifer Benson Music Studio faculty in the fall, and is looking forward to making music with her new students!
Leah is a third year Vocal Comprehensive Major at MUN studying under the direction of Shelley Neville. Leah ran her own private music studio, teaching voice, classical guitar, piano, and flute in her hometown of Lethbridge, NL. Leah successfully auditioned for Memorial’s School of Music in flute and voice. Leah was a recipient of numerous awards in the Clarenville Rotary Kiwanis Music festival including the junior rose bowl in 2016 as well as the adjudicator's award in both 2016 and 2017, and the Dr. Harold J Crew award for best performance in classical guitar in 2012 and consecutively from 2014 – 2019. Leah is an active advocate for autism awareness promoting inclusion in both the school classroom and her own music studio where she taught several neuro-diverse students.
Elizabeth Johnson is a third year student at Memorial University. She studies voice under the direction of Jane Leibel, and is simultaneously completing a minor in Mathematics. Elizabeth has been playing piano and singing since she was 4 years old, and was heavily involved in Shallaway Youth Choir from the years 2013-2019. She took part in the Kiwanis Music Festival from the years 2011-2019, and was awarded numerous times for her performances. Graduating from St. Kevin’s High School in 2019, Elizabeth was valedictorian and received the most prestigious music award, which is given to the student who shows the most promise, dedication and talent in music. Elizabeth has always had a passion for teaching and has brought her passion to both music and TaeKwon-Do, where she helps run the Little Dragons Program at the school she has been practicing at since she was 5 years old. She is very excited to start teaching at Jennifer Benson’s Studio in the fall, and looks forward to meeting her new students!
Anna Mercer is a 20-year old soprano from Coley’s Point, NL. She is currently studying voice at MUN School of Music under the tutelage of Jane Leibel. As part of her studies, she is very active in the choral community. In 2019 Anna accepted the position of Choral Scholar with the Shallaway Youth Choir. In this role Anna is mentored in the art of choral conducting by Artistic Director Kellie Walsh. Anna has had the honour of being awarded the Ivan Palmer Award in Choral Music in 2021. In 2018 Anna founded and was the conductor of the Storm Jib choir for ages 3 to 10, which is focused solely on authentic NL folk music and the music of Indigenous Peoples. Anna was awarded a grant by the Bruneau Centre for Excellence in Choral Music for her outstanding educational work with Storm Jib.
Alongside her work in choral music, Anna is an accomplished soprano with countless performances under her belt. In 2019 Anna was awarded Debut Atlantic’s prestigious Award for Music Excellence and as part of this honour, she travelled to PEI and performed at the Indian River Music Festival. In the summer of 2020, Anna was invited to perform at the Barachois Festival. She performed four pieces as part of their online festival. In both 2017 and 2018, Anna attended the Vocal Technique Workshop in St. Andrews, NB where she studied with Wendy Nielsen. Along with other awards and scholarships, she won the Kiwanis Jr. Rose Bowl in 2015 and 2017. In 2018 she won the Senior Bowl, the Provincial Music Festival and competed in the National Music Festival in Sackville.