Meet La Jeunesse Youth Orchestra

It takes a village…

Laurie Mitchell

Music Director

photo courtesy Laurie Mitchell

 Laurie received her undergraduate music degree from the University of Western Ontario and her Masters degree and Ontario College of Teachers certificate from the University of Toronto. As well, she received Suzuki training at Ithaca, New York, Stevens Point, Wisconsin and Matsumoto, Japan. She has taught Suzuki violin for 35+ years at the former Seneca Suzuki School in Toronto, in her home studio, at workshops and many institutes, and she is a former Director for the Suzuki Association of Ontario. Through her many years of violin teaching, Laurie’s students have gone on to study at universities throughout Canada, as well as the Glenn Gould School, Guild Hall (UK) and the London Academy (UK). She also taught strings at Scarborough Board of Education (now TDSB) and during that time, she conducted the Scarborough Concert Orchestra and taught at their music camp. After moving east, Laurie worked for the Kawartha Pine Ridge DSB, where she taught instrumental music and special education. During that leg of her career, she served on the committee that initiated an integrated arts camp. Whether a violin student, an orchestra member or a school student, Laurie’s goal has always been to bring the best out of her students.

Laurie has been String Director for LJYO since its inception and is honoured to take on the role of Music Director. She is also Principal Second Violinist for the Northumberland Orchestra and Choir, founder and Director of Durham Music Camp, and an active freelance violinist and clinician.  Laurie’s three grown children – Tamara, Matthew and Darcy – were all members of LJYO in the early days.

 In her “free” time, Laurie loves playing racquet sports, practising yoga, swimming and spending time at the family cottage.  She is proud to be grandmother, mother and mother-in-law to a beautiful family.  Laurie and her husband of 40 years, Jeff, live on the shore of Lake Ontario in the beautiful Port Darlington community.

 Kevin Chocorlan

Assistant Music Director

I obtained my Bachelor’s of Music and Education from Queen’s University with Classical Guitar as my major. It was at Queen’s where I discovered my love of choral singing and sang in many choirs as well as the St. Mary’s Cathedral Choir in Kingston. I am currently a Music Teacher at Bowmanville High School and have been there since 1997. In my time at BHS I have seen my job evolve from teaching primarily Guitar, Vocal, and Choral music into now mainly teaching Instrumental Music. I love the challenges of my evolving job and look forward to every new day!

While at BHS I have directed many ensembles such as Concert Bands, Choirs, and Small Chamber Ensembles. I also have had the opportunity to be the Music Director and/or Vocal Director for many musicals such as Grease, Footloose, West Side Story, Chicago, Cabaret, Damn Yankees, Fame, and Bye Bye Birdie.
I am a passionate advocate for contemporary and Canadian Music and, as such, I was a voting member of the Canadian Music Centre for many years only stepping away because of time commitments. I strive to 3nd and perform repertoire composed by Canadian composers. I strongly feel students need to see, play, and connect with music that isn’t just composed by people from far away or long ago.
As a member of the Ontario Vocal Festival, I was the festival coordinator of a major MusicFest Canada Regional Festival for 10 years. In addition to my teaching duties, I am now also active as a clinician in both the Instrumental and Choral Music communities.
As well as my music commitments I was also an active volunteer as a coach for 12 years in both hockey and lacrosse. Through all of my experiences I have come to determine that I immensely enjoy introducing young minds to new and exciting opportunitie


Virginia Dakers, President

Virginia is currently the President of LJYO. She is a retired Process Control, Manufacturing Engineer, and Quality Assurance Specialist, and parent of 6 musicians with 4 of them being LJYO alumni. She has spent over 15 years in Northumberland community with extracurricular activities for her children during which she sat on
various Boards within the community.
Virginia is particularly proud of many of the fundraising activities she initiated and led
on behalf of LJYO, from the “Buy a Key” campaign to fund a replacement keyboard, to the 20th
Anniversary celebrations and donation-matching that raised over $20,000.
Her vision of success for the orchestra has also led her to develop enrichment activities
such as trips to play at the Peterborough Film Festival, collaboration with the
Northumberland Orchestra and Choir, and master classes with professional musicians.
Under her leadership, the orchestra has performed free concerts for hundreds of high
school and elementary students in Northumberland, particularly to encourage students to continue to participate in extra-curricular activities and keep music in their lives.
Even throughout the pandemic, she has ensured that the LJYO members participate in
activities such as yoga and mindfulness workshops, recognizing that body, mind, and
creativity must work together to achieve balance.

Frank Gallimore, Orchestra Manager & Librarian, saxophone

Frank has been playing clarinet since the age of 10 and has played in various bands throughout high school. Frank first met Michael Lyons in 1981 at the Interprovincial Music Camp, where Michael was an instructor.

In the summer of 1982, Frank played in the Band of the Ceremonial Guard marching on Parliament Hill every day for a summer job. He remembers the great time as one of the youngest musicians playing with nearly 100 music majors from universities across Canada.

After high school, Frank put music mostly aside to serve 6 years in the Navy. He got back into playing clarinet when he moved to Port Hope. He joined the Concert Band of Cobourg. Frank plays in many musical groups in the area. Frank has been a coach for 9 years with LJYO playing clarinet, saxophone, and French Horn.

Frank states, “It has been great playing with this terrific group of young musicians – listening to them continually improve as musicians over their years in the orchestra.”

Frank is retired but working part-time from home as a software consultant and homeschooling Sidney who is a member of LJYO.

Jeff Mitchell, trumpet

photo © Bart Hawkins Kreps

LJYO is responsible for getting Jeff to dust off the trumpet that he hadn't played since high school in order to join the orchestra as a coach back in 2010.  Since then, he has been thrilled to witness the development of many young trumpeters, not to mention all of the young players whose lives have been profoundly affected by their LJYO experiences.

Jeff has been an active member of the LJYO Board for many years and is the current Past President.  As a recent retiree, Jeff enjoys playing in numerous other bands, including the Clarington Concert Band, Lakeshore New Horizons Band, New Horizons Swing Easy Band and the Big Wind Band of Durham.  As a pianist, Jeff enjoys playing light jazz, as well as accompanying the many students in Laurie's violin studio.


Gregory Ward, oboe

Gregory Ward is longtime principal oboe with the Northumberland Orchestra, and is a regular guest principal in Oshawa and Lindsay. A Royal Conservatory Gold Medal winner, Gregory is an active chamber musician on both oboe and recorders, and has been first call oboe for theatrical shows in the Northumberland and Durham region. In a quite different vein, drawing on his early years touring behind the drum set, Gregory continues to perform locally as a professional jazz drummer. Aside from music, he has enjoyed a writer’s life, as an ad man and a published author.

Anthony Mancktelow, oboe & english horn

This Spring we are recognizing our longest running LJYO coach and oboe player Tony Mancktelow. Tony has been described by LJYO musicians as ‘funny’, ‘friendly’, ‘classic’, ‘talkative’, and ‘kind’. Perhaps one group of enthusiastic members said it best when they declared, “this group wouldn’t be the same without Tony!”.

Music director Michael Lyons readily agrees: “Tony has been there from the very first rehearsal in September 1999. He has become somewhat of a mascot for the orchestra. The other coaches and kids love him.” Laurie Mitchell, Director of Strings, describes the depth of Tony’s commitment to LJYO: “Tony has been with LJYO since our first year. What would we have done without an oboe! In addition to filling that gap in the orchestra, Tony has coached other students and, together with his family, participated on the LJYO Board. He brings with him a good sense of humour, integrity, amazing dedication and a willingness to take direction from the conductor. We owe him heaps of gratitude!”

Tom Box

Tom Box is born and raised in Port Hope. He played tuba in high school, but dropped it after three years and left music behind him. In mid-life he began taking piano lessons and continued for several years. Though he enjoyed the process and learned a lot about music, he eventually concluded that he was never going to be a very good pianist. So at age 50, he switched to the clarinet. With this he finally found a musical outlet that truly suited him, both for the instrument itself and for the social experience of performing in ensembles with like-minded people. Tom plays clarinet in the Concert Band of Cobourg and the Clarington Concert Band, and bass clarinet and saxophone in the Lakeshore New Horizons Bands. LJYO is his first experience playing in an orchestra with strings. He enjoys the challenge of keeping up with the talented young members of the orchestra and the joy of sharing their passion for music. Besides music, Tom’s other hobby is train travel. He has voyaged over 500,000 km by train — more than the distance from the Earth to the Moon.


Kathy Coltof

Kathy was born in Budapest, Hungary, and emigrated to Canada in 1957.  Growing up in Toronto, she studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music on piano, violin, viola, theory/composition, and ARCT Teachers Written. She played with the Toronto Youth Symphony and achieved her Bachelor of Arts in Music Education from Williamston University.

Kathy has played with numerous orchestras over the years on violin, viola, and cello.  While living in Germany for 5 years, she supply-taught the string program at the Frankfurt International School in Oberursel and was invited as guest clinician for 3 years and Suzuki Music Schools in Muenster and in Freiburg. 

She is currently music librarian for the Ontario Philharmonic (Oshawa Symphony) and Durham Chamber Orchestra (DCO) as well as La Jeunesse Youth Orchestra.  Kathy continues to teach privately, and her students perform regularly at music festivals, workshops, and RCM examinations.  Many of her students have gone on to study music in university.  Her husband Ronald plays violin in DCO, Northumberland Orchestra and Choir, and Concordia Pops Orchestra, and their two sons studied violin and cello.

Taryn Chesson

Taryn is a music educator in Bowmanville, Ontario, and is currently the director of the Duke of Cambridge drum lines and band. A graduate of Western University’s music education program in 2017, Taryn has shared her passion for music, wind ensemble, and music education in London Ontario, Bowmanville Ontario, Tyler Texas, and Guatemala. She has conducted the Western University Young Winds ensemble, and guest conducted the Tyler Legacy wind ensemble in Texas.

 As a clarinet coach, Taryn has worked with young musicians at the Western University Band Camp, National Music Camp, and La Jeunesse Youth Orchestra. When Taryn is not making music, she enjoys spending time with her nieces and nephew, and her rescue dog, Frankie.

Ray Moore

Ray began studying flute in at the age of 11 and joined LJYO in 2016 and has been an active member of the orchestra since then. During his years with LJYO, he played solos and duets with full orchestra. He attended O’Neill CVI and was a part of their performing arts program. While in high school, he co-founded and directed the O’Neill CVI Flute Choir.

 In 2018, he studied music at the University of Western Ontario under Anne Thompson. He currently works as a law clerk for a Toronto based corporate law firm after graduating from Durham College as a law clerk in the spring of 2022.

In addition to playing in LJYO, he plays in the Northumberland Orchestra and Choir and has played in pit bands for local theatre productions.  Outside of music, Ray enjoys playing video games, reading, and engaging in any type of horror he can get his hands on.


Lawrence (Lorne) Horwood

Lawrence received his B.A.Sc. from the University of Waterloo in Systems Design Engineering and became a Professional Engineer two years later. He went on to also become a professional accountant and spent most of his career in the telecommunications business, as an employee of Bell Canada, Moffatt Communications (now part of Shaw Communications), and as a consultant in his own business.


Lorne (the nickname his friends gave him in public school), has always had music in his life. Everyone in the family played the piano, and he has at one time or another played the Violin, Cello (in the Ottawa Youth Orchestra), Trumpet, French Horn (in the high school band), and then took a break for about twenty years while raising a family and working. After retiring, he took up the tenor saxophone and played bass guitar in a country band. Other the past 10 years he has played with the Big Wind Band, the Clarington Concert Band, Lakeshore New Horizons Band, and the Concordia Pops Orchestra.


Besides his love for music, Lawrence loves to hike, swim, cycle, kayak, play tennis, and travel. He has two daughters, one who is an Occupational Therapist living in Bowmanville, and the other who is a professional ballet dancer who lives in Amsterdam.

Mark Vining

Mark is the head of music at Crestwood Secondary School and has been teaching and directing ensembles for just over thirty years. Mark began his professional music career as a singer at St. James Cathedral Choir at the age of eleven.


In high school, he fell in love with woodwind instruments and continued his study of saxophone at Humber College with Mark Promane and Eddie Sossin. After two years he transferred to the University of Toronto music department as a classical clarinetist studying with Joe Orlowski and David Bourque, and played sax in the jazz bands with Phil Nimmons. Before moving to KPRDSB, Mark was a music teacher for many years in the Peel District School Board.


Mark has two musically inclined children, Chelsea (violin, LJYO alumnus) and Cameron (trumpet).  In addition to his skills on clarinet, Mark has helped arrange and transcribe several pieces for LJYO to suit the mix of instruments in the orchestra.

Luc Arsenault

Luc started playing guitar at age 12. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Music from the University of Ottawa, and a Master’s degree in composition from Western University. He has also worked as a film and TV and concert music composer since 2000, and has scored two animated series on CBC television. In addition, he has scored six feature length films. In 2004, he received a Gemini award nomination for best original music score for a dramatic series.


Luc’s two sons, Caleb and Zach, are members of LJYO. In addition to Luc’s support to the bass parts from his seat in the orchestra, in 2021 he turned his talents to editing a compilation of video recordings, from each musician’s homes, into a virtual concert so that we could present our Sonic Bloom concert despite the pandemic lockdown.  He then accepted a 2022 commission from LJYO to create “The King’s Burden”, a musical telling of the tale of Beowulf, which was premiered at the Sonic Bloom concert. 


Nathan Miller, percussion

 Nathan Miller is in his 5th year as an alumni and percussion coach. He studied Music at Winfred Laurier University and holds a Bachelor of Music in Percussion and an Ontario College Teachers Certificate. Nathan conducted a piece called Chant and Joyous dance composed by Elliot Del Borgo at the 2010 “In the Spotlight” concert and again in 2019 with the same piece.




Deborah Henderson

 Deborah Henderson lives in Port Hope.  She is a registered Suzuki method instructor but also uses the RCM syllabus for students who have examinations as a goal. Deborah has a genuine interest in the profound and lasting influence of music education on students of all ages. Her current studio ranges from age 6-75, with a broad range of musical interests.

Deborah has played both violin and viola in a variety of ensembles, including pit orchestras, string quartets and community orchestras. In recent years, she has had the tremendous joy of playing music with her mother, pianist and composer Ruth Watson Henderson, at her retirement home in Etobicoke.

From 2015 – 2020, Deborah founded and served as co-ordinator of the string program for SONG (Sounds of the Next Generation), an after-school music program for under-served youth in the Cobourg/Port Hope area. The program enrolment expanded to include cellos as well as violins, and so began Deborah’s foray into playing cello!

 Deborah holds degrees in Fine Arts and Education from Queen’s University. In addition to being a string player, she enjoys singing, playing tennis, gardening, and sharing good food and wine (preferably prepared by someone else… but usually she’s in the kitchen!).

La Jeunesse Youth Orchestra is a registered charity. Our Revenue Canada Charitable Registration Number is:

86555 9124 RR0001