2023 Faculty

Tristan De Borba - Musical Director

Musical Director, Saxophone

Dr. Tristan De Borba is a versatile musician who maintains an active career as a saxophonist, conductor, researcher, and teacher. Tristan is also our Musical Director at Camp.

As a saxophonist, Tristan has appeared as a soloist, chamber musician, orchestral musician and pedagogue across Canada. Tristan’s most recent video recording with pianist Mary Castello of Fernande Decruck’s Sonata and William Grant Still’s Romance is now available on Youtube! Tristan has a strong interest in the music of our time. His recording of Derek Charke’s Wired and Wound alongside pianist Simon Docking can be found on the ECMA nominated recording “Live Wired” (Centrediscs, 2015). Tristan also appears as soprano saxophone soloist on the album “In the Wide Awe of Wisdom” featuring the choral music of Paul Halley (Pelagos, 2017). As an orchestral musician, Tristan has performed with Symphony Nova Scotia presenting works by Bernstein, Gershwin, Mussorgsky, Prokofiev and Ravel under the baton of conductor Bernhard Gueller.

With fellow saxophonist Dr. Nicole Strum, the Strum-De Borba Duo has performed concerts across the Canadian Maritime provinces and at the North American Saxophone Alliance (NASA) Region 10 conference in London, Ontario and Region 9 conference in Calgary, Alberta (see them in performance here). They recently presented video performances of Christian Lauba’s Ars and Tebogo Monnakgotla’s Crossing Borders at the 2021 Scotia Festival of Music.  

Tristan is a passionate music educator. He is Assistant Professor of Music (CLT) at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia where he leads a thriving saxophone class, conducts the Symphonic Band and String Ensemble and teaches courses in musicianship. Tristan has appeared as a saxophone and conducting clinician across the country including visits to the University of Lethbridge, Mount Allison University, University of Prince Edward Island, and Memorial University.

Tristan De Borba has a Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) degree from the University of Toronto. His dissertation entitled “Extended Techniques in Jorge Peixinho’s (1940-1995) Three Late Pieces for Saxophone: Sax-Blue (1982/84), Passage Intérieur (1989), and Fantasia-Impromptu (1990)” establishes Peixinho’s saxophone music as pivotal in the history and development of extended techniques for the instrument. He also earned a Master of Music degree from the University of British Columbia and a Bachelor of Music Performance from the University of Toronto. His principal saxophone teachers were Dr. Wallace Halladay and Dr. Julia Nolan.



Gabe Azzie


A native of Ottawa, Ontario, Gabe Azzie joined Symphony Nova Scotia as Principal Bassoon in January 2019. Equipped with a deep passion for teaching, he has also been on faculty as bassoon instructor at Acadia University’s School of Music since the beginning of the 2020-21 academic year. He is thrilled to have the opportunity to help shape the next generation of musicians.

Gabe completed his Master’s in the Spring of 2019 at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of William Winstead. Prior to moving to Cincinnati, he graduated summa cum laude from the University of Ottawa, where he studied with Christopher Millard. During his time in Ottawa, he performed frequently with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra, and the Orchestre symphonique de Gatineau. He was also called upon as a pit musician for Broadway Across Canada’s Ottawa performances of Roger and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music.

In addition to his university training, Gabe has performed with Boris Brott’s National Academy Orchestra of Canada, and has had the opportunity to tour Canada and Portugal with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, where he worked under the batons of Emmanuel Villaume, Michael Francis, and Perry So. Other teachers include Kathleen McLean, Mathieu Harel, Stéphane Levesque, Richard Hoenich, and Jo Ann Simpson.
Outside of music, Gabe is an avid hockey and football fan, and also enjoys swimming, travelling, and hiking.


Nathan Beeler

Nathan Beeler - Concert Band, Celtic Music

Nathan Beeler is a music educator, conductor and performer from Halifax, Nova Scotia. He is currently the department head of Halifax Regional Arts Music West. He conducts the Halifax Regional Arts Orchestra. Nathan has been resident conductor for several Halifax ensembles including The Scotia Brass and the Dalhousie University Wind Ensemble and has guest conducted both Nova Sinfonia and the Chebucto Symphony Orchestra.

He is a frequent adjudicator and has worked in this capacity in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Ontario, and Manitoba. He is the author of Everything Matters: 50 Essays on Music Education. Nathan enjoys making many types of music including classical, Celtic, bluegrass and pop.

Nathan holds an undergraduate degree in music education from Acadia University, and a Master’s degree in conducting from the University of Manitoba. While in Manitoba, he studied conducting with Earl Stafford, former music director of Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet. In 2010, Nathan was a recipient of the Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence, one of Canada’s highest awards for educators. Nathan is presently a doctoral student in music education at Boston University.


Jack Chen


Bio coming soon!


Holly Hartlen

Band, Trumpet

Holly Hartlen (BMusEd Dalhousie University 1995, MEd Acadia University 2017) is a native and resident of Truro, N.S. and a proud product of the Truro & District Schools Band Program. She was employed by a number of reserve and regular forces military bands, including the Band of the Ceremonial Guard, the Canada Remembers Band- formed in recognition of the 50th Anniversary of D-Day (in Canada, England and France), and the Land Forces Atlantic Area Militia Band. She currently plays trumpet with the Hubtown Big Band, The Glass Winds Ensemble and The Nova Brass Quintet. Holly has been teaching instrumental and classroom music since 1995. She now teaches roughly 400 students at Central Colchester Junior High, in Onslow, NS. She is a firm believer in the fundamental importance of arts education, especially in music, for all humans aged 0 to 125.


Stephen Hartlen

Band, Trombone

Stephen Hartlen studied trombone at Acadia University graduating with a Bachelors degree in Music Education in 1990 and a Masters degree in Curriculum Studies (Music Education Focus) in 2014. He has also studied at the Banff Centre in Banff, Alberta. Steve has been teaching in the Nova Scotia public schools system for the past 33 years directing bands at Parrsboro Regional High, Hants East Rural High & New Glasgow Junior High School and is currently teaching at New Glasgow Academy. Steve is the president of the Nova Scotia Band Association, has served as a member of the Canadian Band Association executive and is the chair of the Nova Scotia Music Education Council. He is a former assistant conductor of the Nova Scotia Youth Wind Ensemble and he has been a longtime member of the Acadia University Summer Music Faculty. As a trombonist and a vocalist Steve has performed with a variety of ensembles including the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra, Symphony Nova Scotia, the Halifax Camerata Singers, Incantatus Chamber Choir and the Helios Vocal Ensemble. Stephen currently performs with the Nova Brass Quintet as well as the Hubtown Big Band. He lives in Truro with his wife Holly and is the proud father of three musicians; Noah, Claire and Owen.


Mark Hopkins

Band, Community Band

Dr. Mark Hopkins is a Professor in the School of Music at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. In addition to leading the Wind Ensemble, Dr. Hopkins teaches undergraduate and graduate Conducting, Instrumental Music Education courses, SoundPainting, and chamber music courses.

Dr. Hopkins is in demand as a guest conductor and music education consultant. Since 2003 he has collaborated with Dr. Gillian MacKay as Artistic Co-Director of the Denis Wick Canadian Wind Orchestra, which selects players through annual national auditions. He is Artistic Director of the Nova Scotia Youth Wind Ensemble (2008-2011, 2013-present), and is Past-President of the Nova Scotia Band Association. In May 2019 Dr Hopkins received the National Band Award from the Canadian Band Association and was awarded an Established Artist Award from Arts Nova Scotia in 2016 for his leadership as a conductor of new music projects, including “Shattering the Silence”, an innovative new music festival.  His work as a conductor has been recorded on LIVE WIRED (2015) and In Sonorous Falling Tones (2017, nominated for a 2018 East Coast Music Award). In Canada, he has guest-conducted bands and orchestras in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, and led the National Youth Band of Canada in 2019. Abroad, he has led collegiate and professional performances in the United States, Bermuda, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Italy, Switzerland, and Romania.

A native of Toronto, Dr. Hopkins graduated from the University of Toronto (B.Mus. Ed.), the University of Western Ontario (B. Ed.), the University of Calgary (M.Mus. Conducting), and the New England Conservatory (D.M.A. Wind Conducting).  While attending New England Conservatory he served as Assistant to Frank L. Battisti and was awarded the Gunther Schuller Medal at graduation. Prior to his appointment at Acadia University Dr. Hopkins led ensembles and taught at the University of Calgary and Hanover College in Indiana (1999-2005). Dr. Hopkins taught music in high schools for twelve years, including seven years of service as Chair of the Music Department at Upper Canada College in Toronto. His professional work as a Conductor spans the full range of ensembles and genres.


Adam Langille

Guitar and Bass Guitar

Adam Langille is a composer and performer based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Adam studied Music composition at Acadia University, and has written for ensembles of varying style including symphony orchestra, jazz big band, gamelan, and indie math rock. Adam plays guitar and bass and currently writes and records electronic music under the moniker ‘embedme,’ and performs in the indie rock group ‘Moonkick,’ and the gamelan ensemble ‘OMBAK’. Adam also has experience with music recording/production, podcast production/editing, and is trained in music software including Ableton, Sibelius, and Max MSP.

Find Adam’s work at https://www.adamlangille.com/audio


James Leblanc


James LeBlanc is an Applied Instructor at the Acadia University School of Music where he teaches trumpet. James studied trumpet with Ed Carroll at McGill University (B.Mus.), and Karen Donnelly at the University of Ottawa (M.Mus). He has performed with groups such as the National Arts Center Orchestra, the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra, and the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra. While in the Army Reserve James performed with the Ceremonial Guard Band, Central Band of the Canadian Armed Forces, La Musique du Royal 22e Régiment, and the Stadacona Band of the Royal Canadian Navy. In addition, James is an educator with the Halifax Regional Center for Education where he teaches music, and band.


Mary Lee


Hornist Mary Lee trained at the University of Toronto, in the city where she was born and raised. She has had many inspirational teachers, and credits the Toronto public school music programs for giving her a strong start. After completing her undergraduate degree, Mary packed up her horn and moved to the Netherlands where she spent a year at the Utrecht Conservatory, furthering her horn and orchestral studies. A winding road led Mary to Banff and Freiburg, Germany, for summer studies, then on to Israel to play with the Israel Sinfonietta, and finally to Halifax, where she has long since resided, playing with Symphony Nova Scotia and teaching the horn at Acadia University and the Maritime Conservatory. Mary greatly enjoys her work with horn students of all ages, which includes coaching the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra and teaching at the Acadia band camp.

Mary is also a founding member of the woodwind quintet Fifth Wind, and playing with this group has led to many wonderful adventures in chamber music, and  connections with young musicians throughout the province of Nova Scotia.


Sarah MacDonald

Band Director


Tyler McDonald

Drums, Percussion

Cape Breton percussionist Tyler McDonald works as a full time musician and teacher based in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia. He has collaborated with many artists across Nova Scotia in both live and recorded settings including Freya Milliken, Avalon & The Pyramids, Sarah McInnis, The Sundries and Mark Riley.

Amidst various freelance projects as a drumset performer, Tyler also engages with music in classical, traditional/folk and contemporary settings playing mallet percussion, timpani, and multi-percussion setups. A graduate of Acadia University’s music program, he recently studied under Barbara Hannigan at the 2023 EQ Seminar at the Lunenburg Academy of Music where he collaborated and performed with musicians and composers from around the world.

As a teacher, Tyler has previously worked in Elementary, Middle, and High Schools, and currently runs a private teaching studio. He also works with local co-op Music in Communities, running after school music programs, youth open mic events, music camps, and concerts throughout the Annapolis Valley.


Nicola Miller

Saxophone, Improvisation

Nicola Miller is an experimental saxophone player and composer based on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. Her strange tender playing stretches toward the avant-garde while maintaining a foot in the lyrical and the mysterious. Nicola has performed alongside Nick Fraser, Charlotte Hüg, Nicole Rampersaud and more. She has studied with saxophonist/composer Frank Gratkowski (a mainstay of the European improvised music scene) New York based experimental composer Kirk Nurock and Grammy Nominated composer and drummer John Hollenbeck. She holds a Master's degree from UdK's Jazz Institüt Berlin and has performed in the Berlin improvised music and jazz scenes.



Lyndsey Mitchell

Beginner Band

Lyndsey Mitchell believes that the music classroom can, and should, be a vehicle for both personal and community development. She studied flute at Acadia University, graduating with both undergraduate (BMus ‘12, BEd ‘14) and graduate (MEd ‘19) degrees in music education.  

Upon graduation in 2014, Lyndsey moved to northern Alberta where she developed the wind and vocal music programs at Charles Spencer High School. During this time, she discovered an unexpected love for choir and musical theatre, routinely bringing ensembles to the Alberta Music Festival Association’s provincial festival, as well as directing full-scale musical theatre productions on an annual basis. While working in Grande Prairie, she was the recipient of Swan City Rotary’s Excellence in Education award, and also served on the Fine Arts Advisory Committee for Grande Prairie Regional College (now Northwestern Polytechnic).

Since returning to Nova Scotia two years ago, Lyndsey has been involved with a number of Acadia University’s music programs, including performing with the Acadia University Wind Ensemble, serving as a mentor teacher through its Bachelor of Education program, and joining the Youth Band as assistant director. She has also provided vocal coaching for Quick As A Wink Theatre Society. She currently teaches music, drama, and computer programming at Horton High School in Greenwich, Nova Scotia.  

When she is not in a rehearsal, you can find her dabbling in various DIY projects around the house or spending time with her beloved rescue animals.  


Bob Nicholson

Winner of 2 East Coast Music Awards with the Jive Kings, Bob Nicholson plays tuba with Maritime Brass Quintet and the PEI Symphony as well as bass trombone with Symphony Nova Scotia, The Back Alley Big Band and Halifax Trombone Summit. Bob performed for five years with The Phantom of the Opera in Toronto, three years as tubaist with Calgary based Foothills Brass Quintet, and for 14 summers in the pit orchestra of "Anne of Green Gables" at the Charlottetown Festival. Other theatre work “in the pit” includes Toronto productions of Beauty and the Beast, Showboat, Crazy for You, Miss Saigon, Les Miserables, A Year with Frog and Toad at Neptune Theatre and numerous productions at the Charlottetown Festival. As an orchestral musician Bob has performed with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Calgary Philharmonic, Hamilton Philharmonic, Quebec Symphony, CBC Toronto Jazz Orchestra and the National Ballet Orchestra among others.

Bob studied at the University of Prince Edward Island, the Orchestral Training Program at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, the University of Toronto, the Banff Centre of the Arts and two beautiful summers at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California.

He is also an avid runner who has qualified for and run the Boston Marathon twice and the PEI Marathon three times.

Besides performing, Bob is a Brass Specialist for the Halifax Regional Centre of Education and previously taught at Acadia University, UPEI, Nova Scotia Community College, and Humber College.


Eileen Walsh


Eileen Walsh has been thrilled to play Second Clarinet and Bass Clarinet with Symphony Nova Scotia since October 2007. Formerly the associate principal and E-flat clarinet with the South Bend Symphony, Eileen earned her master of music degree and performer diploma from Indiana University, and her bachelor's degree at UBC. Currently, Eileen is on faculty as a clarinet instructor at Acadia and Dalhousie Universities, as well as at the Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts. She performs regularly on the Music Room Chamber Music Series and Scotia Festival of Music, the Shattering the Silence new music festival at Acadia, and the Charlottetown Festival.