In a word… multifaceted. Juno-nominated Dylan Bell’s affinity for music was discovered early, when his parents realized he could sing in tune at three years of age. They realized he had perfect pitch and soon enrolled him in classical piano and violin lessons. At the age of twelve Dylan moved to the cello; in high school he discovered the guitar, bass, and drums, and began directing and arranging music for the school’s vocal jazz ensemble. He then went to York University where he studied piano, bass, percussion and conducting. He received his BFA in music in 1995, his B.Ed from Western University in 1997, and his Masters in Music (Jazz Performance, Voice/Piano/Bass) from the University of Toronto in 2014.
Since he first discovered his parents’ eclectic Beethoven-to-Bob Dylan record collection, Dylan’s musical curiosity has kept him effortlessly crossing and blurring musical boundaries. Dylan is a mainstay on the Canadian music scene, having sung with many of Canada’s premiere vocal ensembles such as Cadence; Hampton Avenue, the Nathaniel Dett Chorale, The Watch, the eclectic FreePlay Duo, and the 1980s-era vocal pop group Retrocity. When he’s not singing, he freelances as a keyboard player and bassist, working with varied artists from classical violinist Lara St. John, to world-music’s Autorickshaw, to veteran rockers Honeymoon Suite, as well as studio and theatrical work.
Behind the mixing board, Dylan has produced or engineered several award-winning albums, including a Juno co-nomination as Best Engineer for the Cadence album Twenty For One, the album Ferris Wheelswith the world-renowned Swingle Singers from London, England, and the most recent, Juno-nominated album with the a cappella legends The Nylons, Skin Tight.
Dylan’s work as a composer and arranger has garnered international recognition, as winner of the John Lennon International Songwriting Competition (Best Jazz Song, 2005), and a Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award (Best Original Song, 2006). When it comes to vocal arranging, Dylan wrote the book… literally. His major work “A Cappella Arranging” (co-written with Deke Sharon) was published by Hal Leonard Music in 2013 to international acclaim. His choral compositions can be heard in such varying contexts as the Victoria Scholars, the Canadian Chamber Choir, and Cadence, as well as several American and European choral ensembles.
Dylan is also in demand worldwide as an instrumental teacher and vocal/choral clinician. Dylan has given masterclasses at the International Association for Jazz Educators, the Brhaddvani Institute in India, numerous colleges and universities, as well as community choral workshops in Canada, the U.S., and Europe.
Suba Sankaran is a DORA award-winning, JUNO-nominated musician whose career began at an early age while studying South Indian classical singing and percussion with her father, master drummer Trichy Sankaran.
She graduated from York University in 1997, where she studied jazz, early music, world music and contemporary improvisation, and completed her Master of Arts degree in Ethnomusicology in 2002.
Suba is artistic director of the award-winning Indo-jazz fusion ensemble Autorickshaw and regularly performs with other world music groups including Trichy’s Trio and most recently with the Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan and premiere percussion ensemble NEXUS, to name a few. She crosses genres with the FreePlay Duo, and sings the top 40s of the 80s with Retrocity.
She effortlessly combines musical worlds, spanning several centuries and genres, and has performed across Canada, the US, Europe and India. Highlights include performing for Nelson Mandela, Bishop Desmond Tutu and Peter Gabriel.
Suba is in demand as a private teacher, educator, choral director, arranger, adjudicator and composer and has given numerous workshops to choirs around the world.
She has composed, recorded and produced music for theatre, film, radio, and for south Indian and modern dance. Recent highlights include collaborations with Oscar nominee Deepa Mehta.
Suba is currently artist-in-residence at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, co-chair of the JUNO World Music Committee, and she conducts master classes with the Soul Pepper Theatre Academy, Common Thread Community Chorus, Penthelia Singers and Big Voice Studios (with Elaine Overholt). She has adjudicated and conducted choral clinics at OVF (Ontario Vocal Festival) over the last two years.
Recent highlight activities include vocal arranging for the Canadian musical theatre production Noah’s Great Rainbow, teaching at the Yukon Summer Music Camp, CAMMAC, curatorial service/programming for the CanWest Cabaret Festival and LuminaTO at the Distillery, as well as volunteering on the programming committee for the Harbourfront Centre.
Suba has performed on numerous recordings and film soundtracks and has been recorded in many contexts by CBC Radio.