The University of Saskatchewan Jazz Intensive at the SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival

Applications are now open for 2023!

Come participate in a creative and celebratory jazz education experience like no other. This unique and innovative 6-day jazz educational opportunity is open to all high school and undergraduate university aged students.

Under the guidance of highly skilled professional jazz educators/performers, The University of Saskatchewan Jazz Intensive music education jazz camp will explore jazz music in an engaging hands-on way that will include a public performance during the summer 2023 SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival.

The Jazz Intensive dates are July 2-7, 2023 (inclusive). This camp runs daily from 10 AM-4:00 PM. There are no jazz camp scheduled activities in the evenings.

The Jazz Intensive once again will offer an extensive and broad range of valued musical experiences and opportunities that includes:

  • Instruction in jazz history, jazz theory, jazz improvisation, jazz ensemble, jazz composition and arranging
  • Artist career development
  • Meeting like-minded peers from across Western Canada eager to develop their own jazz-specific music skill sets and peer networks
  • Challenging opportunities for students of all music ability levels
  • Significant one on one instruction by our all Canadian faculty
  • Participants will receive a full Festival Pass. Jazz Intensive pass holders will be entitled to attend all 2023 SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival events. Passes must be presented in person with ID for admission to events. 19+ events also require photo ID for proof of age.

What makes this experience particularly exciting and unique is the opportunity for students to interact with touring musicians performing at the festival. In addition to our wonderful Jazz Intensive faculty there may be opportunities for selected touring musicians to drop by the Jazz Intensive to meet the participants and to hold a workshop for these students. For example, a few years ago jazz/commercial drummer Steve Smith dropped by the Jazz Intensive to share some of his vast musical and professional insights with Jazz Intensive participants!

A Message from The University of Saskatchewan Jazz Intensive Program Coordinator:

“It is a pleasure to be again involved in the Jazz Intensive music education project hosting this project within the University of Saskatchewan Department of Music. We have once again assembled an impressive list of all Canadian jazz educators/teachers who are at a variety of stages in their own career development. This faculty will again be working in close quarters with some of Western Canada’s most promising up-and-coming jazz talent through this jazz camp. The University of Saskatchewan’s Jazz Intensive facilitates a special kind of experiential-based learning! A special thank you to the jazz festival and its partners, the UofS and the Saskatchewan Band Association, for their enthusiastic support of this important educational initiative!” — Dean McNeill, Program Coordinator and Head of the Department of Music at the University of Saskatchewan

Important information

The University of Saskatchewan Jazz Intensive Applications are now open!

RegistrantsPlease note that applications will be processed in the order in which they are received. As such, we highly encourage you to consider applying sooner than later.

Every effort will be made to match student age and ability level to similar students to maximize learning and enjoyment for all participants.

All Instrumentalists (all instrument types) and all vocalists are welcome to apply!

All applicants to the program must submit an application. A participation fee of $150 applies for each musician accepted into the program. Students from outside Saskatoon are welcome to participate however all are responsible for their own transportation, accommodations and meals to/from the UofS campus which is where all Jazz Intensive activities are to take place. 

Payment methods for registration: Cash, debit, Visa, MasterCard or cheque (payable to Saskatchewan Jazz Festival, Inc.). Note: Cheques will not be cashed until after the applicant has been informed they have been accepted.


Applications open: Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Application deadline: Tuesday, June 20, 2023


Questions regarding Jazz Intensive educational content may be directed to Coordinator Dean McNeill at

Questions about registration may be directed to Jazz Festival Executive Director Shannon Josdal at

Register now

The University of Saskatchewan Jazz Intensive 2023 Faculty Bios

Shirantha Beddage (Sax/Thoery)

Two-time JUNO-nominee Shirantha Beddage is a baritone saxophonist, composer and educator from Toronto, Canada. He has released three critically-acclaimed albums as a leader, and his compositional skills have won him accolades at the Montreal Jazz Festival and placements in the Emmy-winning TV series “Fargo”. Shirantha teaches in the Humber College Bachelor of Music program, and adjudicates regularly at festivals across Canada. As an advocate for technology in music education, his innovative teaching methods have earned him national recognition as an Apple Distinguished Educator.

Natalie DeJong (Trumpet)

Natalie DeJong holds a Master of Music degree from Rutgers University.  She began studies at the University of Calgary, then pursued further studies at the Vancouver Academy of Music.  She has attended trumpet and brass workshops in Alberta, Quebec, Chicago, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, and Sweden.

After performing and teaching in Saskatoon, Ms. DeJong returned to the Calgary area where she now teaches at the Mount Royal University Conservatory.  She is a regular guest teacher working with junior and senior high students at Calgary schools, and she has performed with a variety of ensembles, including the new Calgary Women’s Jazz Orchestra, Jens Lindemann and his Rhapsody in Blue big band project, Altius Brass, The Calgary Creative Arts Ensemble, the Prime Time Big Band, and the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.  She has performed with the Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass in Pennsylvania and China, and the natural ‘baroque’ trumpet with early music groups Musica Raritana (New Jersey), Concert Royale (New York City), and the Swedish Baroque Orchestra (Stockholm).

In 2012, Ms. DeJong developed a class called Funfare for very young children to learn the trumpet and went on to train as a Suzuki trumpet teacher in Sweden.  She returned to Canada to launch the first Suzuki trumpet program in the Americas at Mount Royal Conservatory.  She has been a member of the International Suzuki Trumpet and Brass Committees and is thrilled to be promoting and sharing the concepts with other trumpet and brass players throughout Canada, the U.S., and beyond.

Mark Dejong (Sax/History)

Mark DeJong is a saxophonist, composer, and bandleader and currently teaches at the Mount Royal University Conservatory. He holds degrees in saxophone performance from the University of Calgary, (BMus) and jazz performance from Rutgers University (MMus)

Active as a performer and clinician throughout North America, Mark has numerous recording credits and appearances at festivals across the country. He is the leader of Redline Trio, and was recently featured as a soloist with Sarah Slean and the Calgary Philharmonic, Laila Biali, the Saskatoon Jazz Orchestra, Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra, the Saskatoon Symphony, as well as with the Shuffle Demons in Panama and Cuba. He appeared as a feature artist at the World Expo in Shanghai China, as well as the  Blue Note (NY. Over the course of his career he has shared the stage with Ray Charles, Lenny Pickett, Kenny Wheeler, Brad Turner, Carol Welsman, Campbell Ryga, Ian Tyson, Wayne Newton, Rob McConnell, Moe Koffman, Ralph Bowen, Sean Jones, Hugh Fraser, Tommy Banks, PJ Perry and many others.

Nick Fanner (Improvisation/Ensemble)

Having retired after 31 years of teaching elementary and secondary band in Saskatoon, Nick Fanner continues to be very active in music education, directing the Saskatoon Youth Jazz Orchestra (formed in 2017), as well as the Saskatoon Community Bands beginner jazz band and intermediate concert band. Mr. Fanner has directed a number of Junior & Intermediate Honour Bands in Saskatchewan. He continues to be a member of the staff at the Prairielands Jazz Camp in Regina, having done so since 2002.  In addition to teaching Jazz Pedagogy and Jazz History as a sessional lecturer at the University of Saskatchewan, Mr. Fanner has team taught courses in Instrumental Music Teaching in Secondary School and Brass Techniques (Trumpet).  He has also served many times as an instructor at the annual U of S High School Select Jazz program. Nick has adjudicated in Saskatchewan, Alberta, and (this spring) Manitoba.  He continues to be a member of the trumpet section of the Saskatoon Jazz Orchestra for many of each season’s performances. Mr. Fanner is honoured to be the recipient of the 2022 SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival Special Recognition Award and the 2019 Saskatchewan Band Association’s Distinguished Band Director Award.

Emmett Fortosky (Bass/Ensemble)

Emmett Fortosky is a professional bassist and educator based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Emmett has received a Bachelor of Music (Mus. Ed) Honours, Bachelor of Education and a Jazz Certificate from the University of Saskatchewan. In addition, he spent time studying at Humber College in Toronto where he learned from prominent Canadian bassists Neil Swainson and Mike Downes. Priding himself on playing a variety of types of music, Emmett has performed with a selection of musicians from across many genres. Notably, he has performed in The Eagles Orchestra, Caity Gyorgy, Larnell Lewis (with the SJO), The Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra (sharing the stage with Tanya Tagaq), David Braid and has opened for Boney M. with Ellen Froese. Groups Emmett plays with regularly include Ellen Froese and The Hot Toddies, Minivandal, Rory Lynch, The Saskatoon Jazz Orchestra, The Prairie Roots Ensemble and Sons of Django. His passion for music is maintained both on and off the stage as he is also heavily involved in instructing music. In his role as a music educator, Emmett teaches elementary school Band, is the host of the Bassment Jazz Jams, and gives private lessons and clinics. Emmett also recently implemented a pilot project called, “Jazz in the Schools” in Saskatoon to continue building the jazz scene.

Mo Lefever (Guitar)

Originally hailing from Medicine Hat Alberta, Mo Lefever is a very active Edmonton-based professional guitarist and music educator. While firmly rooted in her high school jazz mixtapes, she has lead many of her own music projects and has been a band member in among other ensembles, Brett Miles’ Magilla Funk Conduit and GODIVA. Mo has been a sessional guitar instructor at MacEwan University since 2008.

Dean McNeill (Jazz Intensive Coordinator/Ensemble)

An award-winning jazz musician, composer, educator, and arts administrator, Dean McNeill has been contributing to the arts scene provincially and nationally for decades. Dean has been a Professor at the University of Saskatchewan for over 25 years and he holds a Music Diploma from MacEwan University, an undergraduate music degree from McGill University, and a Master’s degree in music from the University of North Texas. Dean been the recipient of the UofS’s Dwaine Nelson Teaching Award, University of Saskatchewan Student’s Union Teaching Excellence Award, Saskatchewan Jazz Festival’s Special Recognition Award, Saskatchewan Choral Federation’s Outstanding Administrator’s Award, and in 2023, Dean was presented with the Queen Elizabeth II  Platinum Jubilee Medal (Saskatchewan).

A few years ago Dean performed as soloist Kalla composed by Dr. Allan Gilliland with the New Edmonton Wind Symphonia. Kalla won a Western Canadian Music Award and since then several other musical projects involving Dean have been nominated for Western Canadian Music Awards in their own right including Jeff Presslaff’s The Complete Rebirth Of The Cool and the Regina Jazz Society’s The Saskatchewan Suite: The Story of Us.

Dean has composed and arranged music for symphony orchestra, wind ensemble, large and small brass ensembles, jazz combo, and large jazz ensemble and his arrangements of the jazz standard All of You won an award from Downbeat Magazine for University Student Arrangement of the Year. Crediting much of his success to diligence, strong musical role models, Dean is honored to have shared the professional concert stage with the likes of Jon Ballantyne, Tommy Banks, David Braid, Phil Dwyer, Hugh Fraser, Mark Fewer, Guy Few, Wycliffe Gordon, Kelly Jefferson, Ingrid Jensen, Michael Kaeshammer, Alastair Kay, Bob Mintzer, PJ Perry, Maria Schneider, Denzal Sinclaire, and Brad Turner among others. Dean is currently serving as Artistic Director of the Saskatoon Jazz Orchestra

Alexis Normand (Voice/Song Writing)

Alexis Normand’s jazz-folk music in French has been recognized across Canada to critical acclaim. Named Francophone Artist of the Year by the Western Canadian Music Awards in 2018, her list of nominations also includes the Canadian Folk Music Awards and the Lieutenant Governor’s Arts Award in her home province of Saskatchewan.

In 2016, she put her solo career on hold to make her side project with Rosie & the Riveters a full-time endeavor. They toured internationally and recorded 3 albums. Their 2018 album, Ms. Behave, peaked at #3 on Canada’s CBC Radio 2 Top 20 and was featured in publications such as Billboard Magazine and Rolling Stone. Before the band dissolved in 2020, their music was used in television shows and commercials, most notably for Full Frontal with Samantha Bee and CBC’s Workin’ Moms. After over a decade of working in the arts as a songwriter, Alexis recently shifted her practice to include documentary filmmaking – a medium that fosters more authenticity and vulnerability in her practice. In addition to preparing a new solo record, she recently released French Enough – her first short film, written and directed for the National Film Board of Canada. This fall, Alexis will release a bilingual and deeply personal record that dives into her francophone experience living in a minority-language context. Produced by James Bunton (Donovan Woods, Caleigh Cardinal), the album marks her long-awaited return as a solo artist, one brimming with warmth and vulnerability. (

Paul Suchan (Piano/Composition)

Raised in North Battleford Saskatchewan, Composer, Performer, and Educator Paul Suchan graduated with a B.Mus/B.Mus Ed (2007) from the University of Saskatchewan and M.Mus in Composition (2012) from the Université de Montréal where he studied with composer Alan Belkin. He is currently based in Saskatoon with his wife Naomi, daughter Evelyn and son Isaac.

Mr. Suchan’s compositions have been performed across Canada, the United States and Europe by leading university ensembles, symphony orchestras, community groups, choirs, small ensembles and others. He is frequently commissioned by groups across Canada of various sizes and abilities.

Notable performances include his piece Wake the Grain performed at the National Arts Center in Ottawa in 2014, led by Duane Wolfe, conductor of the Chicago Symphony Chorus. In 2019 he was commissioned for the Chief Poundmaker exoneration ceremony held at Poundmaker Reserve with many dignitaries present, including the Prime Minister of Canada. In 2011, his first opera, The Beast in the Jungle, based on a short story by Henry James, was premiered in Montreal, QC with full orchestra under the baton of the composer. His piece for band The Colors and Contrasts of Grief has received over 100 performances throughout North America and has been professionally recorded three times. His band music is published with Eighth Note and Alfred Music, and he is a member of SOCAN.

He has had the opportunity to collaborate with some of Canada’s leading performers including the Gyphon Trio, the Proteus Saxophone Quartet, and an album recording project with Julie Nesrallah and the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra.

Mr. Suchan’s teaching experience ranges from secondary, teaching music and band at North Battleford Comprehensive High School; to post secondary as a sessional lecturer at the University of Saskatchewan and University of Montreal in subjects relating to composition.

He has been recognized for his work in music with an Alumni Achievement Award in 2017 from the University of Saskatchewan. He is also the winner the 2014 Canadian Band Association Composition Competition for his piece for band Swiftriver Passage, and winner of the 2022 Best Original Score at the Los Angeles International Film Festival – Indie X Film Fest, for his piece for jazz orchestra, Above the Deluge.

Mr. Suchan is a strong advocate for fellow composers and believes strongly in fostering creative communities. To this end in 2011 he co-founded the Strata Festival of New Music, an annual 3 day festival dedicated to high quality performances of Saskatchewan and Prairie composers. For more information, visit his website at

Ross Ulmer (Trombone)

Ross Ulmer began playing trombone in the North Battleford city Kinsman band. After graduation from high school he received his bachelor of music from the University of Saskatchewan. In the 1970s Saskatoon’s thriving music scene offered Ross numerous opportunities from soloing with the University Wind Orchestra to playing in many professional gig settings. Ross won a National Music Festival in 1973 and he was a semi finalist in the CBC talent competition performing a national radio broadcast with the CBC Winnipeg Orchestra.

One event was pivotal he says. “In the summer of 1972 I attended the stage Band Camp at the Saskatchewan School for the Arts in Fort San Saskatchewan.” Ross later received his Master’s of music in trombone performance with a minor in jazz education from the University of North Texas. After graduation from North Texas he spent two years as a soloist with the RCMP band in Ottawa and then pursued a full-time profession as a businessman. For many years Ross continued with clinics and adjudicating throughout Saskatchewan and leading many music ensembles throughout Western Canada. Ross won the Saskatchewan Jazz Festival’s Special Recognition Award in 2018 and he has been a featured performing within the Saskatchewan Saskatoon Jazz Orchestra on many occastions.

Chris Wallace (Drums)

“…a drummer of supreme musicality.” John Shand – Sydney Morning Herald (AUS)

Chris Wallace has enjoyed a career in music for over 25 years. He has performed and toured in 5 different continents in an extremely diverse range of musical situations. Based in Scotland for 15 years he became a central figure in the Scottish jazz scene, performing with many international jazz names such as Jim Mullen, Ulf Wakenius, Silke Eberhard and Julian Arguelles and Barbara Morrison. While based in Toronto for 7 years, he performed with a who’s who of Canadian jazz including: Ted Quinlan, Kelly Jefferson, Lorne Lofsky, Kirk Macdonald, Kieran Overs, Nancy Walker, Adrean Farrugia, Roberto Occhipinti, Michael Occhipinti, Luis Deniz, David Restivo, Alison Young, vocalists, Gavin Hope (Nylons), Billy Newton Davis, and many others.

An award winning musician, Wallace composed and performed the drums/percussion score for the re-mounting of the legendary Scottish play The Hard Man by Tom McGrath and Jimmy Boyle, which toured Scotland for 6 weeks receiving rave reviews.

As an educator, Wallace was the head drum tutor at Edinburgh’s Stevenson College for 3 years. He has also maintained a robust private teaching practice as well as teaching at Toronto’s Bloor West Music Studio. He has released 3 solo albums and 9 albums as co-leader and has appeared as a sideman on countless other releases over the years. (