Orchestra Academy

Established in 2014 by COC Music Director Johannes Debus, and developed in collaboration with The Glenn Gould School at the Royal Conservatory of Music, the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music, the Don Wright Faculty of Music at Western University, and the Schulich School of Music at McGill University, the COC Orchestra Academy offers student musicians professional insight and experience in their pursuit of a career in an opera orchestra.

In this intensive three-week program, participants experience how an operatic performance comes together, how to prepare their part of a score, and the development and improvement of an orchestra over the course of rehearsals and performances. Each student musician is paired with a mentor from the COC Orchestra to provide one-on-one guidance.

“The COC Orchestra Academy immerses participants in the complex and collaborative world of opera, offering experiences that can’t be replicated in a standard university or conservatory training program,” says COC Music Director Johannes Debus. “There is more to being part of an opera orchestra than playing an instrument and the participants will benefit from the expertise of some of the most important and respected figures in the industry across a variety of fields, from world-class artists and musicians, to members of the COC’s technical and administrative staff. This holistic training approach is an opportunity aspiring young musicians can’t get anywhere else in this country.”

From January 16- February 8, 2020, five string players will have the unique opportunity to gain insight and understanding of what it means to perform in a professional opera orchestra. Activities include:

  • Performing in the pit for Hansel & Gretel with the COC Orchestra under the baton of Johannes Debus
  • Participating in all orchestra rehearsals and auditing other important musical and technical rehearsals in the preparation process of Hansel & Gretel
  • Group and one-on-one coachings and sessions with mentors from the COC Orchestra
  • Preparing and performing a program of vocal and instrumental chamber music with COC Ensemble Studio artists in the Free Concert Series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre
  • Introduction to lyric diction, dramatic preparation and general stagecraft
  • Roundtables, specialist sessions, backstage tours and lectures with COC artistic and production staff
  • Networking opportunities and career support
Thank you for your interest in auditioning for the Winter 2021 Orchestra Academy. The COC is committed to ensuring a safe work environment for artists. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 health risks, the COC will be postponing auditions originally scheduled for Fall 2020.

If you would like to receive an email when updates on the program and its auditions are available, please sign up here.

Email disclaimer: Your email will only be used for this purpose and you will not receive any other emails from us.

For further questions, please email [email protected].

The program is open to string players under the age of 28 currently enrolled or within 1 year of graduation from The Glenn Gould School at the Royal Conservatory of Music, the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music, the Schulich School of Music at McGill University, or the University of Western Ontario’s Don Wright Faculty of Music.

Applicants must be referred by a member of the COC Orchestra and/or the Head of the string faculty of one of the partner institutions. Applicants will be contacted with more information and to set up an audition time.

For questions or inquiries, please email [email protected] 

- Applicants must be available for the entire duration of the Orchestra Academy which takes place each Winter.
- Applicants must be available for a live audition in Toronto, which take place each Fall
- If selected for the program, applicants will be required to join the TMA if not already members of AFM (joining fee will be covered by the COC)
- Travel and accommodation for out-of-town students selected to participate in the program will be covered by the COC


2020 Orchestra Academy Members

  • Isabel Lago, violin (The Glenn Gould School)
  • Ah Young Kim, violin (The Glenn Gould School)
  • John Sellick, viola (The Glenn Gould School)
  • Mansur Kadirov, cello (The Glenn Gould School)
  • Peter Eratostene, cello (University of Toronto)

2020 Orchestra Academy Mentors

  • Marie Bérard, Concertmaster
  • Dominique Laplante, violin I
  • Aaron Schwebel, Associate Concertmaster
  • Catherine Gray, viola
  • Paul Widner, Assistant Principal cello, Acting Associate Principal cello
  • Tony Flynt, Principal bass

Members of the COC Orchestra and the Orchestra Academy participate in the program voluntarily.

Isabel Lago-- Violin 

Filipino-Canadian violinist Isabel Lago is currently in her third year of undergraduate studies at The Glenn Gould School, where she is a full-tuition recipient of The Michael and Sonja Koerner Scholarships. She has performed as concerto soloist with the Fraser Valley Symphony and the Richmond Symphony Orchestra, as well as played alongside the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in the 21C Music Festival and has served as Concertmaster for the GGS Opera’s orchestra in 2019. Ms. Lago has won numerous competitions, including first prize in the Canadian Repertoire class in the BC Performing Arts Provincials and first place in the Abbotsford, Chilliwack, and Vancouver festivals. She has participated in the National Arts Centre Young Artist Program, San Diego Conservatory’s International Youth Symphony Program, and the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival Orchestral Academy in Germany.

Ah Young Kim – Violin

Born in Daejeon, South Korea, award-winning violinist Ah Young Kim is an active solo, chamber and orchestral musician, currently in the Artist Diploma program at The Glenn Gould School. She is an alumna of the Verbier Orchestra and the Institute for Orchestra Studies of the National Arts Centre Orchestra, where she will return in 2020. She has performed with numerous chamber groups, including the Bloor String Quartet and the Verbier Octet. She also served as section violinist with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in the 21C Music Festival in 2019. Ms. Kim has also performed in international festivals, such as Music Fest Perugia in Italy, Euro Music Festival in Austria and Germany, and the Verbier Festival in Switzerland. Recently, she was selected to join the Quebec Symphony Orchestra.

John Sellick – Viola

Winnipeg-born violist John Sellick received his undergraduate degree from the University of Manitoba and currently studies at The Glenn Gould School. Among his accomplishments, he is the winner of the UoM concerto competition, and has performed in many competitions and festivals with the Chroma Quartet. He has also played with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. A firm believer in the power of music education to empower and develop young students, Mr. Sellick is also heavily involved with the El Sistema music education program, as an educator, administrator, conductor and arranger.

Mansur Kadirov – Cello

Cellist Mansur Kadirov was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan to a musical family. He has performed around the world, including appearances with the National Symphony of Uzbekistan, Gunma Junior Orchestra, Kinnor Philharmonic, Kansas City Chamber Orchestra, and Royal Conservatory Orchestra. He has also appeared at the Folly Theater, Kauffman Center for Performing Arts, Koerner Hall, Flagey Hall, and Alice Tully Hall. He has competed in numerous prestigious international competitions, winning such awards as first prize in the National Competition of Uzbekistan, the Grand Prix at Naftzger Young Artists in Wichita, Kansas, and The Glenn Gould School’s Tom Thomas Award for promising soloist. He’s currently a Koerner Scholarship recipient in the Artist Diploma Program at The Glenn Gould School, and received his master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Park University’s International Center for Music.

Peter Eratostene – Bass

Peter Eratostene, from Toronto, is currently enrolled in the master’s degree program in double bass performance at the University of Toronto. He recently performed with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada for its summer and fall tour and played in the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra for two seasons. He has also played in the Prisma, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and University of British Columbia summer festivals. Mr. Eratostene received his Advanced Certificate of Performance from the University of Toronto and a fine arts degree from York University. In addition to orchestral music, he regularly freelances and plays in musicals, big bands and other ensembles.


Phone: 416-363-8231

Toll Free: 1-800-250-4653

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