Carissa Neufeld

Performers: Carissa Neufeld (piano), Paul Metacalfe (sax), Kurt Nielsen (bass), Jeff Halischuk (drums)

Carissa Neufeld is a musician of many dimensions whose musicality is rooted in classical training and steeped in jazz. This diverse musical background has fuelled a colorful professional career that includes composing, performing, teaching and adjudicating across Canada. Carissa s own jazz compositions and arrangements have been showcased at Toronto venues such as The Rex Hotel and Jazz Bar, Gate 403, Arts and Letters Club, McMichael Gallery and  Jazz on the Ridge  at Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery. Carissa was recently commissioned by Alicier Arts Chamber Music Series to compose a jazz suite which she performed with Jonathan Kay on saxophones and Kurt Nielson on bass. Her many varied performance engagements include pianist with the Toronto Jazz Orchestra and Composers Collective Big Band, harpsichordist with the Fraser Valley Symphony and percussionist for internationally acclaimed tenor Ben Heppner.
For over 14 years, Carissa has been teaching classical and jazz piano, successfully preparing students for specialized university programs and RCM accreditations. In addition to her teaching role at the British Columbia Conservatory of Music in Burnaby, Carissa also designed and implemented the conservatory s new curriculum for jazz studies. In 2009 she helped in developing the jazz piano program at the Kingsway Conservatory of Music in Toronto. She has also been an adjudicator and clinician across Canada including the Yukon, British Columbia and Ontario and currently owns and manages an ensemble based music school in Leslieville called  On the Off Beat  together with her husband Michael Skinner. She currently sits on the executive of the Ontario Registered Music Teachers  Association where she has organized master classes with internationally renowned clinicians such as David Braid as well as developed a jazz curriculum for their student scholarship auditions.
Carissa has been a collaborative pianist for many vocalists and instrumentalists across a broad range of musical genres. She has accompanied for undergraduate and graduate auditions at the University of Toronto and the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory of Music as well as competitions such as the Provincial Festival of Performing Arts BC and the 2010 Susan Slaughter International Solo Brass Competition. She has worked with Marisa McIntyre, lead singer from Toronto s productions of  Mamma Mia  and jazz vocalist Maureen Kennedy. Carissa also recently performed in the Dartmouth Community Concert Series with mezzo soprano Pamela MacDonald who was a main role in Toronto s productions of  Phantom of the Opera .
Carissa completed her Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies at Humber College studying with Don Thompson, Dave Restivo and Hilario Duran. Early piano studies include completion of her ARCT in piano performance under the tutelage of Dr. Betty Suderman and extensive classical piano studies at the University of Victoria with Dr. Robin Wood.