Canadian Music Class Challenge

Meet the judges for the 2022 Canadian Music Class Challenge

This year we have a MusiCounts teacher of the year, a hip-hop artist, a composer, a gospel choir conductor and an opera singer.

A conductor, a vocal professor, a hip-hop artist, an opera singer and a former Music Class Challenge winner

The judges in the Canadian Music Class Challenge have been announced. (CBC Music)

For our eighth straight year, CBC Music and MusiCounts are searching for greatness, fun and innovation in music classrooms and programs across the country.

From elementary to high school, to community and private music classes, the Canadian Music Class Challenge wants to showcase your take on one of these great Canadian songs from our list for this year. We can't wait to see and hear what you come up with! So gather all your classmates and show our judges your best creative, live-off-the-floor performance.

After the final sign-up and video submission date of Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, our panel of esteemed judges takes over to pick the best performances in our different age categories. Now, it's time for you to meet the judges!

Jennifer Moon

Jennifer Moon is a music educator, conductor and performer who has worked to develop musical talent with students of all ages. She has studied at the University of Western Ontario with a focus in early music performance, at Humber College for vocal jazz studies and at the University of Toronto's Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Moon has conducted ensembles including the 2SLGBTQIA+ vocal jazz choir Oasis, the U of T faculty of music B vocal jazz ensemble and countless student ensembles ranging from kindergarten to Grade 12. 

Moon is an accomplished jazz singer, and has performed for television and film, and done voiceover work. Currently in her 26th year teaching music in the public-school system, she is a vocal and vocal jazz studies specialist in the regional arts program at Mayfield Secondary School in Caledon, Ont., where she is the conductor of four vocal ensembles including the Magnetics, previous winners of the Canadian Music Class Challenge. Moon is also the provincial coordinator of the jazz/contemporary division of the Ontario Vocal Festival.

Jennifer Moon is a highly accomplished music educator, and past winner of the Canadian Music Class Challenge. (Jen Moon)

Darnell Thomas

Canadian-born, with Trinidadian roots, Darnell Thomas is a passionate and versatile vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, music director, educator, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He possesses the versatility to sing and play several genres including but not limited to jazz, R&B, soul, funk, pop, musical theatre, rock, classical, and Latin. Darnell currently holds a master's degree in vocal performance & ethnomusicology from York University. He is also a full-time vocal professor and vocal lead discipline in the music theatre program at Sheridan College. Amidst that, he co-founded and teaches at the Institute for the Performing Arts.

He is a holistic educator who strives to inspire, motivate and teach young, aspiring performers of all disciplines to be their best. As an educator with extensive knowledge of performing arts pedagogy, he has also been involved in mentorship, curriculum, and program development at many schools including York University, Sheridan College and the St. Elizabeth Catholic High School RAP Program (Regional Arts Program). His voice studio comprises students of all levels ranging from hobbyists to award-winning professionals that can be seen in film/TV shows like American Idol and on the radio. He regularly participates in education workshops in New York City, led by established Broadway directors, artists and performers. He has received tutelage from some of the world's renowned voice teachers. Professionally, Darnell has done musical work for hit TV shows like Glee and Disney's Overruled! He has produced, directed, written and performed in numerous musicals and songs featured in films and TV shows.

Darnell Thomas is a judge in the 2022 Canadian Music Class Challenge. (D. Thomas)

David Lum

David Lum is a graduate of the University of Toronto (Bachelor of Music Education and Bachelor of Education) and completed the graduate diploma program in wind conducting at the University of Calgary. He is a past conductor of the Scarborough Schools Ensembles. Lum served as the conductor of the Northern Ontario Music Festival Honour Band from 2008-2011, and is a past conductor of the Toronto Youth Concert Winds, as well as assistant conductor of the Toronto Youth Wind Orchestra (TYWO).

Lum was featured as a guest conductor for TYWO's 25th anniversary tour of New York City, culminating in a performance at Carnegie Hall. In 2009, he received an honorary life membership from the Ontario Band Association, and in May of the same year was awarded the Keith Mann Outstanding Band Director Award at MusicFest Canada's the National. In December 2012, he was inducted as a laureate of the Legion of Honor for the John Philip Sousa Foundation. Lum was awarded an honorary life membership to the Ontario Music Educators' Association in November 2022. In February 2021, Lum retired from the Toronto District School Board after a 30-year career. Currently, he leads the low-brass studio at York University. 

David Lum is a judge in the 2022 Canadian Music Class Challenge. (D. Lum)

Julie Nesrallah

Whether regaling us with stories as the host of Tempo on CBC Music or completely enthralling us with her beautiful mezzo-soprano voice, Julie Nesrallah has earned her spot among Canada's arts and entertainment elite.

In 2014, Nesrallah was awarded the Queen's Diamond Jubilee medal for her cultural contributions to Canada. She has sung on stages all over the world, even performing "God Save the Queen" for Prince William and Kate Middleton. Nesrallah has also performed her solo recording Impressions de France at New York's illustrious Carnegie Hall. Her musical tastes span as far and wide as her vocal range, and she can't wait to hear the variety of arrangements that come from Canada's music programs.

Julie Nesrallah, host of Tempo on CBC Music, is a judge in this year's Canadian Music Class Challenge. (CBC Music)

Odario Williams

Odario Williams is a Guyanese-born entertainer who grew up in Winnipeg. Today, Williams resides in Toronto and is the lead vocalist for the award-winning hip-hop collective Grand Analog. As an entertainer, Williams wears many hats, describing himself mainly as a storyteller. Aside from being an actor, songwriter, producer, teacher, journalist and poet, Williams is no stranger to the CBC airwaves: he is the host of Afterdark on CBC Music.

Odario Williams is a judge in the Canadian Music Class Challenge. (Vanessa Heins)

The top 10s of the Canadian Music Class Challenge will be announced on Dec. 7, while the winners will be announced on Dec. 14. Good luck!

The Canadian Music Class Challenge is back for 2022. (CBC)