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The National Youth Orchestra Of Canada Launches Comprehensive Virtual Season

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The National Youth Orchestra Of Canada Launches Comprehensive Virtual Season

Last spring, the National Youth Orchestra of Canada (NYO Canada) joined the rest of the nation - and the world - in struggling to meet the new realities of the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the many challenges, NYO Canada was determined not to let down the deserving and gifted young musicians who had worked so hard to earn a place for its 60th anniversary season and international tour.

In just a few short weeks, NYO launched a successful 45-day online musical training and professional development session, providing a much-needed lifeline for these newly-isolated young musicians. Now, for its 61st season, NYO Canada is poised to launch a comprehensive "cancel-proof" training institute, with expanded programs, scholarships for all, and masterclasses with international marquee artists - while preparing musicians to be performance-ready, as soon as it is possible to reunite in person.

"With uncertainty around the virus set to continue well into 2021, we have been hard at work reimagining the future," comments Barbara Smith, President and CEO of the National Youth Orchestra Canada, "Rather than taking a step back, we are innovating and growing forward, developing an unsurpassed online program to become a core element of our training long into the future. Our goal is to galvanize our young musicians to be better prepared than ever to 'shoot out of the gate' as Canada's next-generation of orchestral music leaders, when the pandemic is behind us."

NYO's 2021 virtual training institute will be comprised of workshops, masterclasses with international luminaries, a vastly expanded mental performance and mindfulness skills program, online performances, business skills development, recordings, and more. And, for this exceptional year, NYO is expanding membership from 92 up to 140 musicians, offering more opportunities to more talented young performers.

In addition to free tuition, each NYO Canada musician receives a $1,000 scholarship, and each has the chance to compete for 10 new Awards of Excellence of $5,000 each. These awards are in addition to the annual Michael Measures Prizes ($25,000 and $15,000 for First and Second Prizes), in partnership with the Canada Council for the Arts. Microphones for use during the session will be provided free to all musicians who need them, with faculty also receiving training and support to create an optimal online teaching environment.

With online instruction now opening unlimited geographical possibilities, NYO has assembled an extraordinary international faculty for 2021, joining our illustrious core faculty in Canada. These musical luminaries from prestigious schools and orchestras around the world include: Andrew Wan, violinist and Concertmaster of Orchestre symphonique de Montréal; Stephen Rose, head of the violin department at the Cleveland Institute of Music and principal second violin of the Cleveland Orchestra; Atar Arad, viola faculty at the Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University; Violist Harmut Rohde, founding member of the Mozart Piano Quartet and faculty at the Universität der Künste Berlin; Peter Wiley, cello faculty at the Curtis Institute of Music; Timothy Pitts, professor of double bass at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music; Hans Jørgen Jensen, professor of cello at Northwestern University; Elaine Douvas, principal oboe of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and instructor at The Juilliard School; Yehuda Gilad, clarinet faculty at the Colburn School in Los Angeles; Benjamin Kamins, bassoon faculty at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music; Sarah Willis, the first-ever female horn player with the Berlin Philharmonic; Roger Bobo, tuba and low brass instructor at the Musashino School of Music in Tokyo; Mariko Anraku, Associate Principal Harp of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; Jauvon Gilliam, principal timpanist of the National Symphony Orchestra; and Anneleen Lenearts, solo harpist of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

Additional faculty to be announced; artists are subject to change.

Since launching the three-year J & W Murphy Initiative in Mental Health pilot-project (2018-2020), NYO Canada has already become a world leader in musician mental health, among both training and professional orchestras. The onset of the pandemic has reinforced the need for ongoing mental health and wellness support, which has been endorsed unanimously by NYO musicians. NYO is thrilled to have secured support from the J & W Murphy Foundation for an expanded program, including custom-designed one-on-one high-performance focus training, and mindfulness and meditation support. NYO faculty for these initiatives include Matt Eldridge, social worker and former Cirque du Soleil performer; Dr. Sommer Christie, a consultant to Olympic athletes, surgeons, and performers in mental skills training; Carolyn Christie, former flautist with Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and a specialist in teaching mental skills to musicians; and Dr. John McMillan, Associate Physician at Musicians' Clinics of Canada.

Musicians will benefit from triple the number of individual lessons. Additional workshops will include audio capture, video production, online marketing, earning royalties, and how to use social media as an artistic medium. The work of the training institute will flow into a series of online public performances, which will be accessible not only to Canadian audiences, but to orchestral music lovers around the world.

While ramping-up its online capacity in 2021, NYO Canada is remaining at the ready, guarding the possibility of in-person study and performance when public health allows. As soon as we are able meet again in person to experience the magic of live performance, NYO Canada's musicians will be ready to tour in small groups, possibly as one or two small orchestras, regionally or nationally. Post Covid-19, the NYO experience will extend over a longer period, blending its online training institute with the in-person session and tour, creating a more robust, hybrid NYO Canada in the years ahead.

NYO Canada is grateful to the RBC Foundation, stepping forward as the Digital Innovation and Development partner, the J & W Murphy Foundation, for supporting the mental health and performance focus components, our generous government supporters from the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Ontario Arts Council, and the many individuals, foundations and corporations who have continued and even advanced their support during these uncertain times.

Applications for NYO 2021, are open starting November 1st through to January 1st. Visit nyoc.org/auditions for more information.


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