Gregory Mercer, Music Director & Conductor

About Gregory Mercer, Music Director & Conductor of Bel Canto:

The 2016/2017 season of Bel Canto marks Mr. Mercer’s eleventh season as the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Bel Canto Chorale, and we are honored to have him as our director! In the midst of a very busy teaching and performance schedule he has taken the time to help evolve Bel Canto into a group that can perform music both technically accurate and from the heart. His leadership has been critical in helping the group to grow. Mr. Mercer’s love for amateur musicians and uncovering their gifts encompasses not only our group, but a number of church groups including St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan. With experience from an extensive international career as a solo opera singer, and a retired soloist of the Metropolitan and NYC Opera houses, he brings understanding of voice and performance to Bel Canto that few conductors can offer.

Having studied conducting in college, where he was student conductor for three years, Mr. Mercer was encouraged by Leonard Bernstein, while a fellow at the Tanglewood Festival, to pursue a career in choral conducting. Later that summer he was awarded the coveted Jackson Prize for outstanding musicianship; the first and only time it was awarded to a fellow. He took post graduate studies in conducting at Westminster Choir College and Eastman School of Music and in 2000 was asked by the well known choral conductor Johannes Somary to be assistant conductor at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan. Mr. Mercer holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Rollins College in Florida and a Master of Music degree from Manhattan School of Music.

In addition to conducting, Mr. Mercer still has a very active performance schedule as a soloist in multiple churches and choral groups around the NY area. He is also on the voice faculty at Hofstra University and teaches a full-time schedule of students there, as well as additional students in his private studio. In his spare time he is involved with animal rescue and recently added a new member to his home- Leontyne, a rescue cat from Cairo, Egypt!

Being the Music Director of Bel Canto and helping them grow every season is an honor for Mr. Mercer and a position he is very proud of. He encourages everyone on Long Island with a love of music and singing, amateur or otherwise, to embrace that and join us at Bel Canto!

Kamelija Galijan, Accompanyist

About Kamelija Galijan:

Rehearsal accompanist Kamelija Galijan hails from Belgrade, Serbia. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Piano Performance from the University of Novi Sad in Serbia, and a Master of Music in Piano Performance and Ensemble Arts from the Setnor School of Music at Syracuse University. During her studies, she accompanied many soloists through a wide repertoire of classical music.

Ms. Galijan has accompanied various ensembles and soloists throughout Europe and was the official accompanist for the Petar Kongovic International Flute Competition.  She has continued her accompanying career here on Long Island, working with choral ensembles and student soloists.

Ms. Galijan presents a deep and sensitive style to her playing, interpreting each piece in the context of its musical style and period. She is valued as an accompanist because of her ability to complement her partner’s interpretation. Ms. Galijan maintains an active teaching schedule, working with students from elementary through adulthood.