Elizabeth Sircom

Member, Nova Scotia Registered Music Teachers Association 

ARYO Program Director

Instructor, ARYO Cello Clinic, Introductory Orchestra

Growing up in Hantsport N.S., Elizabeth Sircom pursued studies in both cello and piano through the Royal Conservatory and engaged in choral singing whenever the opportunity arose (school and church choirs, musicals, and the University of King’s College chapel choir under David and Helen Buley). She was a cellist in the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra under Robert Raines. Her studies of languages and Fine Arts took her to Paris and then to Le Havre, Normandy, where she married and spent 20 years working as a professional artist and art teacher.

In 2012 she decided to make more time for music in her life and spent a year at the Le Havre Conservatory of Music and Dance (Conservatoire Arthur Honegger), studying cello and playing in a chamber orchestra. She returned to live in Nova Scotia in 2013 and, while continuing to work in the visual arts, took up studies in cello and cello pedagogy, string methods and chamber music, with Dr. Christoph Both at the Acadia University School of Music. She plays regularly with the Acadia University Orchestra and from 2016 to 2018 was the cello instructor for the HCYO strings program at Horton High School. She was cello instructor and outreach coordinator for this program under its new name of Acadia Regional Youth Orchestra (ARYO), located at Festival Theatre in Wolfville durng the 2018/19 season and is the Program Director for the 2019/20 season.

2019 Nov. 29 concert Allison 2

Allison Ernst

Conductor, ARYO Orchestra

Instructor, ARYO violin and viola clinic

Allison Ernst has been actively pursuing her love for music from a young age. Starting with piano lessons at the age of 5, she later began playing the fiddle. Upon discovering a love for classical string music, she decided to complete a BMus in Violin Performance at Acadia University (’17) under Jennifer Jones, while simultaneously studying the viola under Dr. Gillian Smith and earning a BTh from the Acadia Divinity College (’19). Allison enjoys playing in small chamber groups as well as orchestral settings, and in the past has been an active member of the Acadia University String Quartet, the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra, and the Acadia University Orchestra, as well as various other ensembles. She has maintained her love of traditional fiddle music by performing and teaching traditional styles both privately and through the Acadia Regional Youth Orchestra, while continuing to cultivate her own interests in choral music and Renaissance counterpoint. Allison enjoys playing and singing together with her husband John, and together they welcomed a new addition to their family in early March 2019.

2019 Nov. 29 concert Shawnee

Shawnee Paul

Instructor, ARYO Fiddle Group

Coming from a musical family, Shawnee always knew that she would be a musician from a very young age. Her grandfather was a well-known fiddler in Cape Breton and encouraged his family members to take on music lessons. At the age of 5, Shawnee began taking  piano lessons and when her grandfather gave her a fiddle at the age of 7, she soon began fiddle lessons. Shawnee comes from a Mi’kmaq community that is very close to a Gaelic community. Because of this and the strong Gaelic culture in Cape Breton, Shawnee has been exposed to Gaelic culture and music her entire life and loves to share this music with others.

Because of the lack of music educators in her area, Shawnee decided to pursue a career as a music educator. She began her music degree at Acadia in 2015, studying the violin under Gillian Smith. Shawnee has completed her Bachelor of Music degree at Acadia in May of 2019 and is currently in the first year of her Bachelor of Education program.


Clayton Dawson

Instructor, ARYO Double Bass Clinic

Clayton is a fourth year Music (Education) student at Acadia University and has been teaching private lessons for five years.  He is planning on continuing his education path at Acadia with a two year Education degree which will allow him to begin his career teaching music at a high school level.   He plays Bass, Piano, Vocals, Trumpet, and Flute, and joined ARYO as an instructor of double bass in September of 2019.


Keigan Richard

Instructor, ARYO Beginner Violin/Viola Clinic