COC Announces 2019 Orchestra Academy
The Canadian Opera Company Orchestra Academy welcomes five student musicians to join its sixth annual training intensive, taking place January 6 - 26, 2019. Led by COC Music Director Johannes Debus, and in collaboration with The Glenn Gould School at the Royal Conservatory of Music, the Schulich School of Music of McGill University and the University of Toronto's Faculty of Music, the program offers its student musicians one-on-one mentorship and practical experience in their pursuit of a career in an opera orchestra.
The five student players selected to join this year's Orchestra Academy are: violinists Joella Pinto (GGS) and Gloria Yip (UofT), violist Carolyn Farnand (GGS), and cellists Erin Patterson (Schulich) and Allison Rich (UofT). Participants were selected from a pool of candidates chosen by their respective institutions, following auditions at the COC's administrative headquarters in Toronto.
"The COC Orchestra Academy is an intensive training program unlike any other in Canada," says COC Music Director Johannes Debus. "The COC is known for its holistic training model and this extends to the COC Orchestra Academy; participants not only learn to perform as part of an opera orchestra, but about every aspect of the art form, including singing, drama and the technical aspects of a production. This comprehensive approach is an invaluable learning experience for any young opera professional."
Over the course of three weeks, the 2019 Orchestra Academy student musicians experience how a performance comes together, how to prepare their part of a score, and the continuing work of an orchestra over the course of rehearsals and performances. The student musicians' training and performance opportunities in the 2019 Orchestra Academy include:
• Performing with the COC Orchestra on opening night of the COC's production of R. Strauss' Elektra on January 26, 2019, conducted by COC Music Director Johannes Debus
• A recital that explores the evolution of the aria with artists of the COC Ensemble Studio on January 22, 2019, as part of the COC's Free Concert Series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre
• A commuter-friendly performance as part of the COC's Opera Express concert series at Union Station on January 24, 2019
• Coaching sessions, workshops, and masterclasses with COC music staff, including COC Concertmaster Marie Bérard, Head of the COC Ensemble Studio Liz Upchurch, and Head Vocal Consultant Wendy Nielsen
• An introduction to the physicality of opera through sessions with the COC's Performance Kinetics Consultant Jennifer Swan and Dramatic Consultant Tom Diamond
• Ongoing, one-on-one mentorship from a member of the COC Orchestra
• A behind-the-scenes tour of the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts led by Elektra's technical director, to introduce players to the technical aspects of a production
This year's Orchestra Academy participants will be paired with mentors from the COC Orchestra, learning from them in a one-on-one capacity. The 2019 mentors are: Jayne Maddison, first violin; Principal Second Violin Paul Zevenhuizen, second violin; Sheila Jaffé, viola; and Assistant Principal Cello Paul Widner and Principal Bass Tony Flynt, cellos. The COC Orchestra is the oldest opera orchestra in Canada, and has received worldwide acclaim for its musical versatility and range of expression. Created in 1977, the orchestra has a permanent membership of more than 50 instrumentalists.
As part of the Orchestra Academy experience, participants will further develop their musicianship by:
• studying rehearsal and performance etiquette, as well as developing the awareness, co-ordination, reaction, flexibility and listening skills required to play in an opera orchestra;
• learning endurance techniques and how to focus for long periods of time;
• gaining an understanding of sound production, articulation and blending as well as tuning within the orchestra, the section and with the singers, and the subtleties of balancing sound intensity; and
• studying different styles and levels of expressiveness in musicianship.
Launched in January 2014 as a pilot program, the COC Orchestra Academy is an extra-curricular program. Members of the COC Orchestra participate in the COC Orchestra Academy voluntarily.
The COC Orchestra Academy is part of the COC Academy, a pioneering development program to nurture young opera artists, creators and administrators. It aims to foster a vibrant community of Canadian artists and creative professionals and provide its participants with the skills, experiences and resources to thrive in a global opera environment.