Dr. Gillian Smith DMA

ARYO Program Director 

Instructor, ARYO Violin/Viola Clinic and Conductor, ARYO Orchestra

A native of Halifax, NS, Gillian Smith serves as instructor of violin and viola at the Acadia University School of Music. She also serves as Head of the Upper Strings department at the Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts, and teaches violin, viola, and chamber music at the Conservatory. She is a a member of the Nova Scotia Registered Music Teachers Association, and has been a member of the summer faculty at the Acadia School of Music.  She has been the program director of the Horton Community Youth Orchestra program, the predecessor of ARYO, since 2015.

Gillian Smith enjoys a varied performance career and has appeared in recital and as a chamber musician across North America.  She has collaborated in chamber music performances with members of the Acadia University School of Music, the Dalhousie Department of Music, the Yale School of Music, the Juilliard School of Music, the Indiana University School of Music, and the University of Minnesota.  She can be heard on a CD recorded with members of the Acadia New Music Society, “Live Wired”, and has also recently recorded another CD with the WIRED! Ensemble, “In Sonorous Falling Tones”, featuring compositions by Acadia University School of Music professor Derek Charke, which was nominated for an ECMA for Classical Recording of the Year for 2018. She has performed as an orchestral musician in numerous concerts, recordings, and broadcasts with Symphony Nova Scotia, the Winnipeg Symphony, and the Minnesota Orchestra.

Gillian Smith received a Bachelor of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music, where she was a student of Peter Salaff and Syoko Aki, a Master of Music degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she was a student of Camillla Wicks, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Minnesota, where she studied with Jorja Fleezanis. She has also worked closely in summer studies with noted performers and pedagogues Kathleen Winkler and Roland and Almita Vamos.


Elizabeth Sircom ARYO photo.jpg

Elizabeth Sircom

Member, Nova Scotia Registered Music Teachers Association 

ARYO Coordinator of Collections and Outreach

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 since 2014 has been the cello instructor for the HCYO strings program at Horton High School. She will be cello instructor and outreach coordinator for this program under its new name of Acadia Regional Youth Orchestra (ARYO), located at Festival Theatre in Wolfville from September 2018, under the direction of Dr. Gillian Smith.

Allison Ernst

Instructor, ARYO Fiddle Group

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 maintains 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.