Meet our performers
The Voice Behind The Music
Paula DeWit is a well known musician and conductor with a great interest in the artistic direction of both choirs and orchestras. She has excelled with the support and encouragement of her friends, family and fellow musicians. After studying music at Queens University and the Canadian Forces School of Music, Paula played trumpet for the Canadian Forces for 11 years. During her tenure she was featured regularly as a vocal soloist. She performed extensively throughout Canada, the USA, Belgium, France and Germany.
A lifelong musician, Paula DeWit presently lends her talents toward conducting the Chilliwack Symphony Orchestra & Chorus, The Starlets, Belle Voci a cappella ensemble, The Chilliwack Children’s and Youth Choir and the White Rock Community Orchestra. She also arranges music and plays the trumpet.
Throughout her musical career, Paula has been committed to the pursuit of fine detail in the making of great music, and is dedicated to inspire each of her singers and instrumentalists to a high standard of excellence.
In addition to being a Rotarian, she is the founder of Belle Voci a cappella ensemble. After obtaining her conducting credentials at Capilano University, Paula has continued her conducting studies at international workshops in Canada and the United States.
Paula was recently nominated for the prestigious Canadian Heinz Unger conductor award as well as the betty Webster award. Ms DeWit is the recipient of a honorary Paul Harris Fellow.
Jim Banman was born and raised in Vanderhoof, BC. He started playing piano at the age of 8 and began giving piano lessons at the age of 16. At 17 he spent a summer at the Banff School of Fine Arts for gifted youth.
After high school he attended Trinity Western University majoring in piano and voice and touring throughout BC with singing groups to perform in churches of various denominations.
After receiving a teacher’s certificate and teaching briefly, he returned to school to study Piano Technology for two years at George Brown College in Toronto.
Jim sang with A Cappella Plus and the Island Consort Chamber Choir in Nanaimo for several years before moving to Chilliwack in 2010.
Presently, Jim is a teacher at Cascade Christian School. He also keeps busy with volunteer work at church and as the conductor of the Chilliwack Songs of Praise, as well as a board member and a sound/media technician. He sings bass in Belle Voci.
Sylwia Karwowska comes from Poland. She obtained her Master of Arts degree in choral conducting from Academy of Music in Wrocław. She also holds Associate of Royal Conservatory of Music diploma in voice performance. Her diverse repertoire includes opera, oratorio-cantata and choral music.
Currently she performs with Opera Pro Cantanti in Vancouver, including the title role in “Norma” by Vincenzo Bellini and Abigaille in G.Verdi’s Nabucco. She is also active pianist and cellist performing string chamber music.
In addition to performing she teaches voice, piano, cello and ear-training at Tri-City School of Music and Bergthorson Academy of Musical Arts.
Meghan C. Kotai
Meghan Kotai was born and raised in Abbotsford, BC. She began formal piano lessons at age 4. By age 16, she had completed the Grade 8 Royal Conservatory of Music Exam with Honors. During her youth she sang with her church choir and accompanied the youth choir on the piano at her highschool.
Meghan studied Nursing at college and worked in the healthcare field for 10 years as a nursing aide, doula and breastfeeding counselor. Five years ago she again took up her love for music and sang with a local women’s choir, the Serenata Singers, in Mission, BC.
Meghan is thrilled to be a part of the Belle Vocci a cappella Ensemble and singing some of the favorite classical pieces she grew up listening to.
Bass- baritone Jonathan Leung started learning piano and music theory at a young age, his love of music didn’t get ignited until he was asked to join the Felsted Senior School Choir in Essex, England. This English public school choir was directed by Michael Kibblewhite, one of UK’s best known choral directors. Jonathan went on tour with them to the Channel Islands and the Isle of Wight singing various works, including the African Sanctus by David Fanshawe.
After moving to Vancouver, he yearned for the same kind of choral music experience but family life and engineering work in general got the better of him. This is until he found out about Gregorian chants in Latin Mass, and subsequently directed the church choir and schola locally.
Since 2009, Jonathan has been singing with the Handel Society of Music in South Surrey, under Johan Louwersheimer. During the years he expanded his repertoire to include pieces such as St. John’s Passion, Mass in B minor by J.S. Bach, Requiems by Mozart, Duruflé and Haydn, and Masses by Haydn, Schubert, Dvořák and Puccini.
Daniel Ma’s life of music began when he started learning classical piano at the age of 4. He joined his elementary school choir when he was 8 years old and sang his first solo at the Kiwanis Music Festival when he was 9. At the humble request of the festival adjudicator, he promised to continue singing for the rest of his life. Besides classical music, he grew to enjoy contemporary styles, particularly Ragtime and Jazz. He joined the high school jazz band in grade 10. This led to teaching himself jazz harmony and improvisation, and falling in love with tunes from the Great American Songbook. At age 18, he received his ARCT piano performance diploma.
Daniel is extremely passionate about Sacred Music. His devotion to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass coupled with his profound love for Gregorian Chant and Renaissance Polyphony led him to start singing for the Traditional Latin Mass. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he co-founded Sacred Music Sundays, an initiative that seeks to revive the beauty of Sacred Music in the Archdiocese of Vancouver.
Daniel currently studies Civil Engineering at UBC and is a cantor and altar server at St. Helen’s Parish. He is thrilled to be singing as a tenor with Belle Voci!
Michael Molnar is the organist at St. Helen’s Parish in Burnaby, is Past-President of the Vancouver Centre of the Royal Canadian College of Organists, has played organ for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and performed in Holy Rosary Cathedral recital series. He is a graduate of the UBC School of Music, a founding member of the MOTET Chamber Choir, and has worked as singer and accompanist for numerous choirs across the GVRD and in Victoria. Familiar with Gregorian Chant, through Baroque Continuo, all the way to Jazz and Pop, he also composes and teaches.
Michael is excited to sing and play organ for Belle Voci for regular Traditional Latin Mass at the Cathedral as well as concerts in the community.
Anabella Nootebos comes from a large musical family and began singing at a young age in school and parish choirs. At the age of 7, she began piano lessons and transitioned to organ 3 years later, and with the support of many musical mentors, began playing organ for Mass at Precious Blood Parish in Surrey at age 12. During her high school years, she directed the parish Youth Choir. She occasionally serves as organist for funerals and weddings in the Archdiocese of Vancouver, and recently had the wonderful opportunity to further her skills through taking organ lessons with renowned organist Edward Norman.
Currently, Anabella studies at Trinity Western University where she is pursuing a degree in Education, with two minors in Music Education and Catholic Studies, and she is a member of TWU’s Chamber Choir. While she has been involved in various church-based ensembles throughout her life, a highlight for her was being a member of the choir which served for Friday Latin Masses at Holy Rosary Cathedral in Vancouver. During the covid-19 pandemic lockdown, she started the Sacred Music Sundays project to gather church musicians around the Vancouver Archdiocese and share the beauty of Sacred Music.
Anabella sings Alto and loves Gregorian chant and the vast treasury of sacred music in the Catholic tradition.
Music has been a part of Jaime’s life for as long as she can remember. She grew up in a musical family, the daughter and granddaughter of accomplished musicians. Jaime began her own musical studies with the violin, piano and later flute. She began singing duets and trios with her parents in church by grade five.
In her teens, she sang with the chorus of the Everett Opera, and toured the country with her high school jazz choir and band. Later, she attended Trinity Western University, where she completed a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in history and music, studying under Janet Kirkley and Ingrid Suderman.
At TWU, she was actively involved with the Chamber Choir, travelling to China and Korea to perform. Under the leadership of Dr. Wes Janzen, she performed the Canadian premiere of Penderecki’s Requiem with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.
In the early 2000s, Jaime accompanied her husband to St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, where she continue to enrich her musical skills, studying composition with Dr. Mark Bailey and directing the seminary choir.
Since then, she has continued to lead church choirs in Calgary, Cranbrook, and Chilliwack, while she teaches full-time at Traditional Learning Academy, supports her husband in his ministry, and raises her three children, Lily, Gabriel and John. Her involvement with Belle Voci is just the latest adventure in a lifelong journey of musical joy.
An enthusiastic singer since childhood, Sonja started with voice lessons and choir in elementary school. She went on to sing with her high school choir, and also joined the choir at a private girls’ school in Tokyo, Japan, where she studied on exchange. Sonja continued to pursue voice, piano and theory lessons with music teachers all over the Lower Mainland. She graduated from UBC in 2010 with a BA (Hons.) in German and English Language.
Since moving to the Fraser Valley, Sonja has sung with Evensong Chamber Singers for several seasons. While enrolled at the Chilliwack Academy of Music, she was awarded scholarships for Senior Voice Performance in 2015 and 2016. She has also participated in local music festivals, including the Chilliwack Lions Club Music and Dance Festival, where she won awards for Senior Vocal Champion in 2015 and Open Masters Vocal Champion in 2016 and 2017. Recently, Sonja received the Dr. Jeanette Gallant Award for a Promising Senior Classical Voice Student at the 2018 Kiwanis Fraser Valley International Music Festival.
Sonja is a soprano and has a strong interest in early, renaissance and baroque music performance.
Christopher Suen is the Director of Music at Holy Family Parish in Vancouver, served by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter. A Benedictine oblate, an alumnus of Capilano U (Music Conducting) and UBC (Religious Studies, Latin & Greek, Sustainable Agriculture), Chris has long nurtured his love of Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony through his choral work for the Traditional Latin Mass community of Vancouver, also singing in chamber ensemble MOTET, and directing pilgrimages to the Holy Land to sing in the churches of Israel, Palestine and Jordan.
Apart from sacred music, Chris is an avid folk musician as well, touring internationally with Canadian folk bands The Fugitives and Viper Central, and singing and playing old-time banjo and fiddle for local community dances and workshops. He is excited to sing with Belle Voci as a bass-baritone on call.
Bevin van Liempt
Bevin van Liempt was born into a musical family and has developed his own niche in the music industry. Bevin is the rehearsal pianist for the Chilliwack Symphony Chorus and the Handel Society of Music. He is one of the assistant music directors and the rehearsal pianist for the Chilliwack Children’s and Youth Choirs. Additionally, Bevin is on staff at the Bakerview Music Academy and assists with the choir direction there. He plays the organ for the Holy Rosary Cathedral Traditional Latin Mass as well as leads their schola. Bevin has a deep love for the pre Vatican II catholic liturgy and is an advocate for preserving the heritage of sung liturgy in Latin mass. He was very instrumental in initiating the 2018 BC Sacred Music Symposium and sits on the committee for the BC Sacred Music Symposium.
Bevin has sung in various groups such as Valley Festival Singers, Chilliwack Symphony Chorus, Chilliwack Opera Troupe, but has a special place for Belle Voci.
Bevin is the president of the Chilliwack Symphony Orchestra & Chorus. When not sharing his musical prowess, Bevin is studying at University to achieve his goals of becoming a crown council.
Rachel Vroege is an experienced musician who studied flute and piano performance at Kings University in Edmonton, AB. Rachel also studied Music Therapy at Capilano College in North Vancouver and at Taylor Seminary (Edmonton, AB) and Regent College (Vancouver, BC) in the Master of Divinity program.
Rachel Vroege is a talented and inviting worship leader who draws worshippers into a respectful and thoughtful interactive worship experience. She receives regular invitations to lead worship at conferences and churches.
Rachel works for Diaconal Ministries Canada in overseeing and implementing programs to engage churches in community and outreach ministry, equip leaders in benevolence and visitation, and mobilize churches in responding to injustices.
Rachel Vroege lives in Chilliwack, BC with her husband Russ and four children.
Cathy Enns Merkel
Cathy Enns Merkel is a veteran of the music/performing arts scene in Greater Vancouver and beyond. Her repertoire includes a variety of genres, including jazz, classical, musical theatre, and black gospel. Having a vocal range surpassing three octaves provides versatility in musical styles and choral assignments.horal work is one of Cathy’s life-long passions. She has sung with Vancouver Cantata Singers, participated in several recordings and performances with West Coast Mennonite Chamber Choir, with Vancouver’s Jubilate Vocal Ensemble, and Frontline Voices.
Recent oratorio performances as a mezzo soprano include Haydn’s Nelson Mass, the Durufle Requiem and Forrest’s Jubilate Deo with Vancouver’s Jubilate Vocal Ensemble, and portions of Handel’s Messiah.
Cathy toured Germany as the soloist with a multinational choir and orchestra presenting Dr. Larry Nickel’s highly acclaimed Requiem for Peace. The following year, she participated in a Carnegie Hall concert, presenting excerpts of this oratorio. Cathy also sang the role of the Principessa in Puccini’s Suor Angelica under the auspices of the Centre for Opera Studies in Italy. While in Europe, she participated in the debut presentation of Dean Burry’s new opera, The Judgement of Pygmalion.
At the invitation of the Vancouver Academy of Music, Cathy took on major roles in two Puccini operas, Gianni Schicchi (Zita) and Suor Angelica (Principessa). This followed her operatic debut as The Old Woman in Leonard Bernstein’s Candide, and The OperaProject’s presentation of La Traviata.
Cathy counts it a privilege to sing for charitable organizations, such as Compassion International, the Mennonite Central Committee (Refugee Relief), Abbotsford Hospice, and Cyrus House. She also is honoured to be invited to participate at civic events, and at gatherings of the International Diplomatic Service.
In her spare time, Cathy volunteers with the worship and arts program at her home church, walks on the jazzy side with Vintage – “Everything from Baptist to Broadway!” – and teaches for Langley Public Schools.
She is happy to join forces with Belle Voci this season!
Tickets & Concerts
Find Out When We Perform Next and How To Get Tickets
Audition for Belle Voci
Celebrated a Capella Singers
Are you interested in singing with us? Admission to the Belle Voci a cappella ensemble is by audition/invitation, and we’re always interested in meeting new singers. who we’re looking for Prospective choristers are invited to contact the Artistic Director at any time during the year for an audition. In addition to filling permanent vacancies, we sometimes need substitutes for singers who are unable to perform certain concerts, or want to augment our roster for certain repertoire.
interested candidates are expected to:
• have an innate sense of musicality
understand polyphonic and medieval singing
accurate and disciplined
• experienced ensemble singer with soloist ability
have a solid understanding of music theory fundamentals;
be a good sight reader;
• have a voice that blends easily in a small ensemble;
• be committed to the rehearsal and concert schedule; and
be an ambassador for the group and be respectful to the director and members.
What we offer:
• next level singing in tight circle.
• singing in cathedral.
Profile of the musician(s) we are after:
This person will have been around a while and will be experienced. They will be semi professional standard and perhaps thinking of a solocareeror had a solo career in singing. Their mind set will be one of a strong work ethic and commitment to the highest levels of musicianship.