Karl Schwonik - President and Artistic Director
Alberta born, award-winning drummer Karl Schwonik grew up on a farm near Gwynne where he was exposed to countless musical situations ranging from polka to jazz. Fresh out of high school, Schwonik embarked on a tour with 2-time Canadian Country Music Award Nominee Heather-Dawn. This was followed by an invitation to study at the Banff Centre where Schwonik was the youngest artist ever to be a part of the long-term career residency program.
In 2009 alone, Schwonik was featured nationally on CBC Radio 2 as a part of a the series ‘NEXT: Canada’s Music Future’, was featured nationally on CBC’s ‘Canada Live!’ and was the winner of the VSA Arts International Young Soloist Award, where the prize was a cash award and a performance at the famed Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. Schwonik was also named one of Calgary’s ‘Top 40 Under 40’ for 2009 by Avenue magazine. He is the youngest person ever to be given this honour.
Schwonik is the founder of the WJS and has been the President and Artistic Director since its inception in 2008. He is currently based out of Calgary, AB.
Andrea Case - Vice-President
Cellist Andrea Case has a Master’s Degree in cello performance from McGill University where she studied on scholarship with Antonio Lysy. She spent her childhood in Calgary where she studied with John Kadz at the Mount Royal Conservatory. She made her solo debut in 1997 after winning the Calgary Concerto Competition. Andrea is co-founder and principal cellist of Players Ensemble. This ensemble, now in its sixth season in Calgary, explores new venues and genres for classical instruments. Andrea is the cellist of the Lily String Quartet, a group that is often heard live on CBC and has performed concerts for The Instrumental Society of Calgary, New Works Calgary, One Yellow Rabbit Performance Theatre’s High Performance Rodeo, The Banff Centre and the Lake Louise Ice Magic Festival. Lily String Quartet toured Western Canada in 2009, presenting a total of 31 concerts and outreach programs throughout Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. As well as being an avid chamber musician, Andrea is sought after as an orchestral musician, coach and teacher. She is currently the Cello Coordinator for the Amici strings program, has adjudicated at festivals throughout Alberta and British Columbia, and teaches at the CASS-Amici summer program as well as the Wetaskiwin Jazz Camp. Andrea currently resides in Calgary with her husband, jazz drummer Karl Schwonik.
John Schwonik - Treasurer and CFO
Schwonik Started playing violin at age 8 and soon after also started on the alto sax in school. Upon graduation from Wetaskiwin Composite, he received a B.Ed from the UofAlberta with a major in music and minor in math. While at UofA, Schwonik performed in the University Orchestra, Marching Band, Concert Band and sang in the Richard Eaton Choir.
He then went on to teach in the Wetaskiwin School Division for 42 years. He founded and taught the Gwynne and Rosebrier School music programs for 36 and 41 years respectively. He also taught at Griffiths Scott School for 12 years and Clear Vista School for 1 year. In 1969, Schwonik joined the German polka band: the Bavarian Band and later became its director.
Schwonik is or has served as treasurer for the Alberta Teachers Association, Wetaskiwin Elks Lodge, Malmo Covenant Church, the Wetaskiwin Music Festival and the Wetaskiwin Jazz Society. Schwonik drives school bus and resides south of Gwynne with his wife and has two children involved in the music business and one grandchild.
Carol Anderson - Director of Fundraising
Carol Anderson is not a musician, but she has great admiration and respect for those people who are! Carol and her husband, Dave, moved from Yellowknife to Wetaskiwin in 1999. She first met Karl Schwonik at church and appreciated his musical talents but also the way he included and promoted others. Because he remembers his “roots” in the midst of his many accomplishments, she became a member of the Wetaskiwin Jazz Society (WJS) Board to help support the WJS; specifically with fund raising.
Carol is a Registered Nurse who holds both BN and MBA degrees as well as a diploma in Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit Nursing. She has lived and worked in four provinces and the Northwest Territories; having held front line to senior health care management positions in four of these locations (NB, NS, AB, NT). Since moving to Alberta she formed a consulting company and consulted in Telehealth initiatives provincially, nationally, and internationally. In 2003 she moved to Seniors care; first being CEO of The Good Shepherd Lutheran Home and then managing Peace Hills Lodge in Wetaskiwin. She also teaches in the Master of Health Studies program with Athabasca University and holds a federal government appointment as a Medical Representative on Canada Pension Plan/Old Age Security Tribunals. Carol is an active member of Malmo Mission Covenant Church and just completed a three year term on the City of Wetaskiwin Library Board.
Hailing originally from Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Zach Ripka is an Edmonton-based pianist, composer and music educator. He graduated in the spring of 2015 from MacEwan University with a Music Diploma in Piano Performance, where he studied privately under Chris Andrew. Ripka is the founding director of MacEwan-based vocal ensemble The Assorted Singers, and has been a member of several choral ensembles, including Kokopelli Youth Choir, the Alberta Youth Choir, and the Ellison Canadian Honour Choir.
Ripka teaches actively in Edmonton. He is an alumnus of the Wetaskiwin Jazz Camp, having participated in 2009 and 2010.