Dr. Peter Simon, President, The Royal Conservatory of Music
Mr. David Batchelor, Chief Marketing Officer
Ms. Angela Elster, Vice President, Academic
Mr. Tony Flynn, Chief Administrative Officer
Ms. Karen Leiter, Vice President, Marketing and Communications
Mr. Mervon Mehta, Executive Director, Performing Arts
Ms. Krista O’Donnell, Chief Development Officer
Dr. Peter Simon has served as President of The Royal Conservatory since 1991, and during this period has overseen a dynamic transformation and dramatic expansion of the venerable Canadian institution founded in 1886.
The most recent milestone in Dr. Simon’s tenure is the completion of The Royal Conservatory’s national headquarters, the TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning, culminating in the Grand Opening of the 1,135-seat Koerner Hall in September 2009. The completion of these facilities fulfills the objective of President Simon to provide facilities befitting an international centre for performance and arts-based education.
When first appointed President, Dr. Simon sought to create a climate in Canada in which the arts were broadly recognized as an important means of furthering the personal, intellectual, and social development of all people. He firmly believed that arts activities were the best means available to foster creativity and innovative thinking in all areas of endeavour and that this made them an indispensable element in the future social and fiscal success of our nation. Ultimately he sought to promote a society in Canada in which the arts were a central part of the daily lives of all people and viewed as an integral element of a fulfilled life. As a consequence the mission of The Royal Conservatory became to develop human potential through the arts.
With this expanded mission in mind, Dr. Simon founded Learning Through the Arts®, a new division of The Royal Conservatory, in 1994. This landmark educational initiative sought to put the arts at the centre of public education and created a systematic means by which teachers could use arts-based techniques to instruct the core curriculum. This groundbreaking integrated arts program has reached over 375,000 students in the last decade and is used on an ongoing basis in more than 300 schools across Canada, as well as several international locations.
Dr. Simon launched The Glenn Gould School (formerly called the RCM’s Professional School) in 1997. It is now Canada’s leading training centre for highly gifted young musicians. Named in honour of one of The Conservatory’s most acclaimed alumni, The Glenn Gould School has become known as one of the most forward-looking and innovative music schools in the world today.
Dr. Simon transformed The Royal Conservatory Examinations from an internal department of The Conservatory into a separate division, resulting in a substantial increase in the quality of its examinations and the number of candidates served. Through innovative use of technology, the examinations division has achieved greater efficiencies and far higher levels of customer service and financial performance. Beginning in 2003, a focused expansion of the Conservatory curriculum was launched into the United States, resulting in over 100 new examination centres.
The Frederick Harris Music Co., Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Royal Conservatory, also grew substantially during Dr. Simon’s tenure. Today it is Canada’s largest print music company and publishes works by over 100 Canadian composers. Since 1991 annual sales have grown by 150 per cent.
The programs of The Royal Conservatory School were also expanded significantly and today include unique Early Childhood Education certification programs. These programs have made The Royal Conservatory more relevant as an organization and have connected the institution to new set of communities in Toronto.
In 2009, with the opening of the acclaimed Koerner Hall, Dr. Simon opened a new Performing Arts division of The Royal Conservatory, allowing the greatest international artists to perform there and interact with students and audiences.
In 1992 Dr. Simon established The Royal Conservatory’s first Development Department. More than $200 million has been raised since then and these funds were instrumental in ensuring the programmatic and capital growth of The Conservatory
Other achievements during Dr. Simon's presidency include:
- annual investments in information technology as a means to increase operational efficiencies and to extend Conservatory programs, services, and products into the digital realm;
- a capital investment policy which led to the expenditure of more than $140 million in buildings and equipment since 1992;
- a 500 per cent increase in the scholarship endowment fund; and
- the restoration of historic Ihnatowycz Hall and Mazzoleni Hall
As a result of the changes implemented and the new initiatives launched over the past decade, the number of people across Canada and around the world who learn through Royal Conservatory programs has increased dramatically, reaching over 500,000 individuals annually.
Although Dr. Simon has served as President since 1991, his relationship with The Royal Conservatory is several decades old. It was here that Dr. Simon began his musical education as a student of Boris Berlin. He then went on to study at New York's Juilliard School and in London with Louis Kentner.
Dr. Simon received a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in 1983 from the University of Michigan while working with the legendary pianist and conductor Leon Fleisher. He subsequently divided his time between performing, teaching at the University of Western Ontario, and overseeing the Artistic Direction of Preview Concerts in Toronto.
In 1986, Dr. Simon joined The Royal Conservatory as Director of Academic Studies where he was instrumental in the planning and implementation of a series of post-secondary programs, which led to the rebirth of the RCM Professional School. He also instituted regular classes by internationally acclaimed artists including Leon Fleisher and Jaime Laredo and supervised the compilation, editing, and recording of the Celebration Series of piano publications which were subsequently used by hundreds of thousands of Canadians.
In 1989, Dr. Simon was appointed President of the Manhattan School of Music in New York City, where he initiated several key projects. In the area of programming, he introduced the first Master of Music Degree Program in Orchestral Performance in the United States and appointed the concertmaster and principal players from the New York Philharmonic as members of the faculty. Dr. Simon’s contribution to the school also extended to the area of fundraising, where he persuaded internationally acclaimed artists such as Victoria de Los Angeles and Shura Cherkassky to give benefit concerts for the school. Under his leadership, the Manhattan School of Music began a physical plant renovation program and introduced new promotional materials and activities that led to a significant increase in the number of annual applicants.
Dr. Simon chairs the Arts Education sub-committee of the Minister’s Advisory Council for Arts and Culture, an agency of the Ontario Ministry of Culture.
In 2002, Dr. Simon was honoured by the Salute to the City awards for his contributions to education in Toronto.
In 2006, he received an Urban Leadership Award from the Canadian Urban Institute.
In 2006 as part of a series of special events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Hungarian Uprising Dr. Simon was acknowledged as one of 50 prominent Hungarian-Canadians whose contributions to creativity and innovation in Canada were celebrated.
Dr. Simon is married to the Canadian pianist Dianne Werner. They have two children, Nicole and Justin.
David Batchelor joined The Royal Conservatory in June 2012. He is responsible for all sales and marketing functions.
Prior to joining The Royal Conservatory, David held senior management roles in sales and operations with Maritz, Drake International, and the Canadian Securities Institute. He has also spent over 15 years as a senior consultant and trainer to organizations such as Ford, Johnson & Johnson, General Mills, GSK, Manulife, Telus, Bell Canada, Reader’s Digest, Dell Computers, CIBC, Direct Energy, Sunoco, Janssen, Canada Bread, Pitney Bowes, Pfizer, Cadillac Fairview, Kraft, Scott Paper, Roche, Sun Life Financial, Bacardi, Allstream, Kellogs, Sears, Wajax, Levi’s, Bell Actimedia (Yellow Pages), Akzo-Nobel, Thomson, Molson Breweries, Rogers, and many more.
David holds a Master's Degree in Distributed Learning, with a focus in Organizational Leadership and Learning. His undergraduate studies in Management Science are complemented by studies in the Certified Management Accounting (CMA) program. He also holds a Certified Sales Professional (CSP) designation from the Canadian Professional Sales Association.
He has served as a Program Director and Adjunct Faculty for Schulich Executive Education Centre at York University, the Graduate School at Royal Roads University, and various community colleges. He has authored numerous articles, training programs, and books, including Skills for Sales Success, Skills for Sales Management, and Strategic Account Management and Negotiation—some of which are texts at colleges and universities across Canada.
David is an active member and guest speaker for a number of professional associations, including the Canadian Marketing Association (CMA), Canadian Society for Training and Development (CSTD), the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI), the Strategic Account Management Association (SAMA), and the Canadian Professional Sales Association (CPSA).
David is a vocal advocate on the importance of music education in our society. He studied the cello for six years as a youth and continues his amateur studies today.
Angela Elster is Vice President, Academics at The Royal Conservatory, where she is responsible for new program development throughout the organization and in setting academic standards for all divisions of The RCM. An accomplished and popular educator, Ms. Elster brings more than more than 20 years classroom teaching experience in Ontario public schools to The Royal Conservatory.
Angela held the position of Executive Director of Learning Through the Arts for thirteen years, during which time she created and successfully implemented LTTA to bring it to the current position as a full division of The RCM. Angela will continue to lead LTTA during the current transition period.
Ms. Elster first joined The Royal Conservatory of Music as a teacher in 1982 and since this time has excelled as faculty member, and Course Director of teacher pedagogy. She was involved in virtually every aspect of the Conservatory, including The Community School’s Children’s Department, teacher education programs, and The Glenn Gould School, before founding Learning Through the Arts.
She started her career in music studying voice at the University of Toronto and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education before undertaking graduate work at The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto, receiving her Master's Degree in Curriculum, Teaching and Learning. Most recently Ms. Elster graduated with a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies, Research, Leadership and Training in Expressive Arts: Therapy, Education and Consulting at the European Graduate School.
A certified Early Childhood Educator and a certified Orff specialist with advanced training at the Orff Institute in Salzburg, Austria, Angela worked in the public school system for more than 20 years. Concurrent with her career at the Conservatory, Angela Elster has served as a Course Director at McMaster and York Universities in Teacher Education, and has been presenting at Education and Academic Conferences throughout Canada, the United States and Europe for decades. She is currently a PhD. candidate at the European Graduate School, Switzerland.
Tony Flynn joined the Royal Conservatory in September 2008. He is responsible for several administrative functions including Information Technology, Human Resources, Facilities and Real Estate Operations and, as Chief Financial Officer, for all facets of financial management including accounting, reporting, treasury and internal control.
Over his thirty year career, Mr. Flynn has held chief operating and senior financial management roles, both in Canada and internationally, principally in the communications and financial services industries. He previously held the positions of Executive Vice-President Overseas Operations at Harlequin Enterprises Limited and Chief Financial Officer at Royal Trust.
Mr. Flynn is a Chartered Accountant and holds an MBA from the University of Toronto.
Karen Leiter joined The Royal Conservatory in March 2008. Karen leads the Marketing and Communications Department, overseeing all advertising, promotion, new media, website, publicity, media planning/buying and research at The Royal Conservatory. Karen is an accomplished, dynamic executive with an exceptional track record of experience and success in all marketing and communications disciplines. For over 25 years, she has developed and implemented effective strategic marketing communications solutions in the corporate, not-for-profit, and government sectors, including consumer packaged goods, financial services, pharmaceutical, health sciences, arts and academia.
Karen began her marketing career at Procter & Gamble where she rose through the ranks of Procter & Gamble's renowned marketing department as she led the marketing activities of major brands, including Crest and Pampers. Karen was recruited to be the Director of Marketing at American Express. At American Express, Karen successfully developed overall strategy, advertising, promotion and direct mail programs for the Green Card, representing 80% of American Express card volume. Karen joined Cossette, Canada's largest advertising agency, where, over the course of 12 years, she worked on a wide range of key accounts including Nike, Dairy Bureau of Canada, Eli Lilly, Smirnoff, Lysol and the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation, was a key participant in Cossette's extraordinary new business acquisition and rose to the rank of Vice President, Client Service Director and member of the Cossette management committee. Karen was named Executive Vice President/Director of Strategic Planning at Scott Thornley + Company, a prominent branding and marketing company, where she developed and managed branding and communications programs for many prominent not-for-profit organizations in both Canada and the U.S., including the National Arts Centre, Shaw Festival, Gardiner Museum, Department of Canadian Heritage, Salk Institute in California, as well as Columbia University, Disney, the Christopher Reeve Foundation and the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation in New York.
Karen is a graduate of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where she majored in English and History.
Mervon Mehta’s career in the arts has seen him on both sides of the curtain. A student of the late Sanford Meisner, Mehta has performed as an actor in over 100 theatrical productions, including residencies at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, The Citadel Theatre in Edmonton, and two seasons at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. He was a founding member of the Neighborhood Group Theatre in New York City, and has appeared on the stages of the Court, Steppenwolf, and Apple Tree theatres in Chicago. He has made several appearances on television and in films.
In 1994, Mehta put his theatrical career on ‘temporary’ hold and joined the Ravinia Festival in Chicago as programmer for their pop concert series. In 1998, he became Director of Programming and added the title of Director of Production in 2001. Ravinia hosts the Chicago Symphony Orchestra each summer for 20 concerts and presents an international roster of artists in recital and chamber music concerts; a four-day jazz festival led by Ramsey Lewis; some of the biggest names in pop, blues, country, and cabaret; as well as a children’s series, master classes, workshops, and the innovative Musica Viva world music series.
In February of 2002, Mehta was named the first Vice President of Programming and Education at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. Under his leadership, the Kimmel Center brought an array of talent across many genres of music to Philadelphia. Highlights include the Philadelphia debuts of world music artists Caetano Veloso, Mariza, and Ravi Shankar; the return to Philadelphia of great orchestras from Berlin, Vienna, Boston, Chicago, and New York; recitals by Lang Lang, Yo-Yo Ma, and Renée Fleming; the Alvin Ailey, Garth Fagan, and Urban Tap dance companies; and a focus on jazz that has featured the biggest and brightest stars, including Oscar Peterson, Ornette Coleman, Wynton Marsalis, and a six-year, 30-concert relationship with Panamanian jazz pianist, Danilo Pérez.
Mehta still appears on stage frequently as a narrator of orchestral works. He has performed with the Munich and LA Philharmonics, the National Arts Center Orchestra, the Chicago and Houston Symphonies, the Hungarian National Orchestra, the Gulbenkian Orchestra (Lisbon, Portugal), at the Festival de Radio France, and the Maggio Fiorentino (Florence, Italy), under the batons of Christoph Eschenbach, Lawrence Foster, and Zubin Mehta
Since April of 2009, Mehta has been the Executive Director of Performing Arts for The Royal Conservatory. He oversaw the successful launch of Koerner Hall, The Conservatory’s stunning 1,135-seat concert venue. He is responsible for programming Koerner Hall’s successful series of classical, jazz, world music, and pop concerts, as well as overseeing all of the other performances and events throughout The Conservatory’s home at the TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning.
He was born in Vienna, Austria, and grew up in Montreal. He is the son of singer Carmen Mehta (a Royal Conservatory alumna) and conductor Zubin Mehta, and is married to Carey Suleiman, Senior Director of Marketing for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. They have a son named Zed.
Krista O’Donnell joined The Royal Conservatory in March 2008. She heads the Development Department, overseeing all fundraising campaigns, programs, and initiatives for the organization.
Ms. O’Donnell is an accomplished fundraiser with an exceptional track record of experience and success in development. For over 15 years, she has focused primarily on campaigns, major gifts, and planned gift fundraising for some of the most leading and successful charitable organizations in Canada for health, education, and the arts.
Before joining the Conservatory, Ms. O'Donnell worked at the Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation for more than eight years during the Together We Make Life Better Campaign. There she held the position of Director, Major & Planned Gifts, and managed a large staff responsible for providing $27-$30 million in revenue on average each year. Prior to this position, she worked for two years at the University of Toronto on its Great Minds for a Great Future Campaign, and previously to this position for three and a half years at the Mount Sinai Hospital Foundation on The Best Medicine Campaign.
Ms. O'Donnell holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Toronto. In addition, she is a Certified Fundraising Executive and holds the CFRE designation, which is the only internationally recognized professional credential for philanthropic fundraising executives. She is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.