Meet Candesca

Candesca is an award-winning singing ensemble of young women, based in Kelowna, British Columbia.

Selected by audition, each member has a solid musical foundation with backgrounds that vary from high-level instrumentalists and composers to musical theatre performers and actors. They excel in competitions both vocally and instrumentally as well as being honor roll students and cultural ambassadors in their community. Combining attention to detail with the beauty of angelic voices, Candesca inspires audiences with a beautiful interpretation of the traditional classics. Their repertoire includes Gregorian chant, classical art song from a variety of cultures and medieval arrangements of contemporary music, much of which is sung a Capella.

Candesca has already risen to acclaim, performing annually with the Canadian School of Ballet’s Nutcracker Suite and a beautiful collaboration of dance and music composed by Arnold Draper called “In Arden Woods”. They have also had the honor of performing with The Okanagan Symphony and Canadian composer, Imant Ramisch as well as many fundraising concerts throughout the Okanagan. In 2008, a concert tour to Europe took them to 5 cities, including a performance in Veendam, Kelowna’s sister city, bringing European audiences to their feet. Most recently, they traveled to New York City to perform at St. John the Divine, the largest gothic cathedral in the world and Trinity Wall Street Church, a historical classical music venue opposite Ground Zero.

These experiences help prepare these young ladies to become ambassadors of culture and classical music within Canada and the Canadian school system.

Their message is one of hope and joy in the Arts.


Kosachukova Babbel

Alexandra Kosachukova Babbel, Conductor of CANDESCA, brings to the organization years of proven artistic vision. Ms. Babbel has demonstrated a keen eye for identifying new talent and providing a sound educational environment for musicians to fully develop their craft.

Not only has Ms. Babbel enjoyed an operatic career with multiple leading roles as an operatic and concert solo performer, she holds a BA in Choral Music  Education, University of Michigan, a MA in Opera Performance, University of Alberta and Post-Masters Certificate of Performance, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois including doctoral studies.

Before relocating to Canada, she held position of Voice Department Head at Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois.

As the founding artistic director of CANDESCA,  Ms. Babbel has trained and developed young singers who have gone on to succeed in performing. Encouraging young voices to embrace personal discipline and training at the collegiate levels has culminated in numerous successful careers, not only in music, but in medicine, law, finances, and home economics.

Ms. Babbel has a keen ability to create an environment in which others succeed and continues to train at the highest level of classical arts.

Associate Conductor


BSc Bio Science and Music, MSc, BEd Fine Arts

Laura spent her formative years in Edmonton studying voice with Maurice Mireau and Kim Matice Wanat (Opera Nuovo).  Her undergraduate studies at the UofA combined Biological Science with Music, earning a double major. During her graduate training she worked with conductors Dr. Robert De Frece and Dr. Leonard Ratlaff, acquired an MSc, a BEd in Fine Arts, and Orff levels I – III.  She continues to work towards a graduate degree combining vocal performance, choral conducting and elementary music.  Since 2007, she has worked as the Music Specialist at Casorso Elementary, and as Artistic Director of the Kelowna Youth Choir (KCMS).  She has also served as the Associate Children’s Chorus Master for Opera Kelowna’s productions of la Boheme, Carmen and Amahl and the Night Visitors.

She has lead several workshops on vocal technique and Orff methods, locally and  at the provincial music-specialists’ conference.  She recently completed her grade 10 through the Royal Conservatory of Music, and is currently working on her ARCT in Vocal performance with Alexandra Babbel.

Assistant Conductor

Alexa Hildebrandt

Soprano, Alexa Hildebrandt had her classical music start in Candesca in 2009. A veteran of the ensemble, Alexa is honoured to be back as associate conductor working with such incredible young women! Since her time as a Candesca singer, Alexa has studied vocal performance at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and the University of Manitoba, studying with teachers such as Monica Huisman and Tracy Dahl.  Since returning to the Okanagan is honoured to continue to work with Alexandra Babbel and sing locally. Aside from singing, Alexa is working towards getting her Masters in Professional Communications from Royal Roads University and loves getting outside to enjoy the Okanagan Valley



Talented Vocalists – Chosen through audition, each member of Candesca excels in different musical genres, from high-level instrumentalists and composers, to musical theatre performers, dancers, and actors.


Chantel bennett

Chantel Bennett, although relatively new to the world of Classical Singing, has decided that it is going to be her future. She started singing classically, under the tutelage of Alexandra Babbel in June of 2019,  is attending  Brandon University School of Music’s voice program, in her first year. Chantel has an inexorable love for music, and alongside singing, she plays the violin, the piano, and the ukulele. Chantel is not only active in the music community, but in her school community as well. When she was in high school, she was heavily involved in student council and the theatre programs, helping on and off stage.  Chantel has thoroughly enjoyed her time in Candesca, and although excited for university next year, is deeply saddened to be leaving such an amazing group of girls, with tremendous directors. She would like to thank everyone who has helped her on her musical journey, and especially her parents for their constant support.


Tova Galvagno

Tova is a grade 11 French immersion student at KSS who is always busy, most often with music and performances. She loves music and has always loved to sing and preform. She’s involved in choirs outside of school and is a part of the KSS music program. When she has time, she likes to ride her bike, write and draw or work on one of her hundreds of unfinished compositions. Tova started taking ballet lessons when she was 6 and adored preforming. She then moved to singing in her elementary school choir and was finally introduced to opera. It immediately stole her heart and lead her to Candesca. In the future, Tova wants to either preform or teach music, continuing to inspire kids to follow their artistic aspirations like the people in her life.


Hailey Lewis


nika louw

Nika Louw is a Grade 12 Student at Kelowna Christian School. She moved to Kelowna at age 12 and started lessons with Alexandra Babbel that summer, falling in love with the Opera scene in Kelowna. Since then, she has been involved in 3 operas alongside Candesca alumni and was thrilled to join the group this year!
Performing is Nika’s biggest passion, especially singing and acting. When not on stage with Candesca, she is involved in a school production or show at Kelowna Actors’ Studio.
When she graduates, Nika plans to move to Vancouver and pursue film acting (plan A) or win a Rhodes Scholarship and study something difficult at Oxford University (plan B). She loves to learn! Nika is excited for her future, but will sorely miss the women of Candesca, Opera Kelowna and Alexandra when she leaves.

Grace Nyce


katie orriss

Katie has had a passion for singing and performing for as long as she can remember.This passion has been nurtured through being a member of the Kelowna Community Youth Choir for nearly 10 years as well as productions with Kelowna Actors Studio and Opera Kelowna. She has now found her musical home in Candesca. When she is not singing, Katie can be found studying Political Science and Sociology at UBC Okanagan.


Allie sieben

Allie is a Grade 12 student at Okanagan Mission Secondary where she is highly involved in the theatre program. She choreographs dances, manages marketing, advertisements and social media in addition to performing. For ten years, Allie has trained in Ballet and Jazz and was elected student council president by her peers. She feels so grateful for all the opportunities Candesca has given her. In the future, Allie hopes to attend post secondary, to study musical theatre.



Past Candesca members have continued to shine in many fields, practicing  law, medicine, or are chartered accountants and mothers. They express that high level training and discipline is merely a part of the experience.  The bond in friendships developed remain the constant of the group.  

Amina Bajramović


Amina’s experience with Candesca was amazing and she created lasting bonds with the other girls. Under the leadership of Alexandra and Alexa, she learnt so much both vocal technique and how to be confident. Currently, Amina is working as a server studying to become a teacher. Looking back, she remembers Candesca being an overall fun, exciting and a great team to be a part of.

Julia Chambers

Student at NYU Tisch School of the Arts’ New Studio studying Musical Theatre

Julia travelled to New York City for the first time with Candesca to sing when she was 15, and it changed her life forever. Now she is pursuing her dreams in the performing arts capital of the world. Candesca made that dream feel possible. Being a part of this group of amazing women fuelled Julia’s love for beautiful harmonies and elegance. Candesca taught her the impact of female empowerment and gave her friendships that will last a lifetime.

Carmen Harris

Professional Opera and Musical Theatre Singer

Candesca was an amazing creative outlet, a profound teaching experience in musicianship and touring, and a place to form wonderful connections with fellow musicians and friends. Some of the most gratifying performance experiences of Carmen’s life were had with Candesca, and she is still so proud of its continuing legacy!

Haley Porter


When Haley looks back on her time in Candesca she has so many great memories. Many of her performances with Candesca are some of her most impactful experiences on stage. Haley believes that’s the magic of singing beautiful repertoire with a group of people you’ve created a bond with. It stays with you somehow.

Skye Miller

Student at UNBC, studying Nursing

Skye has been singing for around 5 years, and sang in Candesca in the 2015-16-17 season as well as the 2019-20 season. She was born in Scotland, where she originally started music lessons. She is a nursing student at UNBC and hopes to continue to be involved in music throughout the rest of her life.

Clara Swan


Clara Swan is a vocalist, previously under the tutelage of Alexandra Babbel. She is a veteran member of Candesca and was a part of the group from 2015-2019. The experience of being in Candesca has greatly enriched and benefited Clara’s musical ability. Her favourite part of being in the group was the life-long friendships she has made from it. Clara is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Social work as part of her post-secondary education, as well as writing and releasing her own alternative-pop musi



Candesca prioritizes community engagement through leadership in the arts and academia, both personally and as an ensemble. With a special focus on Canadian works and arrangements, Candesca’s cultural initiative is to bring music to audiences through a variety of concerts, staged performances, lectures, and community outreach events.



World-travelled- Candesca has toured through 11 countries, and performed for audiences around the world, including several countries in Europe, culminating in a special visit to Kelowna’s sister city, Veendam (Netherlands), and moving performances at Trinity Wall Street Church, and St. Paul’s Chapel, both at Ground Zero in New York City.

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CANDESCA has been and continues to be a beacon of Classical Arts in our region. These talented young women who are  “beginning to shine”  are the light of my life!

Alexandra Babbel, Conductor
Assoc. Mus, BMus, MMus, Doctoral studies.