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, 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.”


  • Performing opening night of the COC’s mainstage production of R. Strauss’ Elektra, under the baton of COC Music Director Johannes Debus
  • Public performances featuring members of the COC Orchestra and COC opera singers
  • Masterclasses and private sessions with singers, members of the COC artistic administration and visiting music staff
  • 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
  • Studying different styles and levels of expressiveness in musicianship

2019 Orchestra Academy Members

  • Joella Pinto, violin (The Glenn Gould School)
  • Gloria Yip, violin (University of Toronto)
  • Carolyn Farnand, viola (University of Toronto)
  • Erin Patterson, cello (Schulich School of Music, McGill University)
  • Allison Rich, cello (University of Toronto)

2019 Orchestra Academy Mentors

  • Jayne Maddison, first violin
  • Paul Zevenhuizen, second violin
  • Sheila Jaffé, viola
  • Paul Widner, assistant principal cello
  • Tony Flynt, principal bass

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

2019 Orchestra Academy

Joella Pinto – Violin

Indian-Kiwi violinist, Joella Pinto, is currently studying towards an Artist Diploma at the Glenn Gould School under the tutelage of Barry Shiffman and Erika Raum.

Before moving to Canada in 2017, Joella had performed across her homeland, New Zealand, as a soloist, chamber musician and orchestral musician. She has appeared as a soloist with the Auckland Symphony Orchestra, the Aorangi Symphony Orchestra, St Matthew’s Chamber Orchestra and the St Mary’s Symphony, among others.  As an orchestral musician, Joella has been the concertmaster of the NZ National Youth Orchestra and has held a Fellowship with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

Recently, during her first Canadian summer, Joella performed in Toronto, St John’s, Newfoundland, and Domaine Forget, Québec, as part of the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute, Tuckamore Chamber Music Festival and Domaine Forget International Academy.

Gloria Yip – Violin

Canadian violinist Gloria Yip is currently a full scholarship student at the University of Toronto, pursuing a Doctorate of Musical Arts degree under the tutelage of Timothy Ying. She obtained an Artist Diploma from the Glenn Gould School and a Masters of Music from Indiana University. She also holds an Honours Bachelor of Science from the University of Toronto. She has performed at the Bowdoin Music Festival, Orford Music Academy and the Conservatoire Américain in Fontainebleau. As a teaching assistant, she has worked with Mauricio Fuks, Stefano Pagliani, Paul Widner, and Lydia Wong. She is the grateful recipient of first prize at the Prix Ravel Competition, the Ihnatowycz Emerging Artist Scholarships, and a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts.

Carolyn Farnand – Viola

Toronto-based violist Carolyn Farnand holds a Bachelor of Music from the University of Toronto, where she studied with Eric Nowlin and Teng Li. She is currently pursuing an Artist Diploma at The Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory of Music with Steven Dann. She has performed with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, Niagara Symphony, sitting principal with the Royal Conservatory Orchestra, Schleswig Holstein Festival Orchestra, National Youth Orchestra of Canada and Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra. Also passionate about chamber music, Ms. Farnand has been invited to perform at the Canadian Opera Company, Arts & Letters Club of Toronto, Ottawa Chamberfest and Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Music Society. She is a grateful recipient of the Temerty Family Foundations Scholarships.

Erin Patterson – Cello

Currently based in Montreal, Erin Patterson is pursuing her Master’s Degree in cello performance at McGill University’s Schulich School of Music under the tutelage of Matt Haimovitz. She began playing cello at the age of three in the Suzuki Program in her hometown of Huntsville, Alabama and was later accepted into the Alabama School of Fine Arts. She made her solo debut with the Huntsville Symphony performing Elgar’s Cello Concerto at age 17. Ms. Patterson is a prize winner of the 2014, 2015 and 2016 Bauer Memorial Scholarship Award and was the recipient of the Vaughan Hedrick Award in 2017. She also held a substitute cello position with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra between 2014 and 2017. Most recently, she performed Elgar’s Cello Concerto with the University of British Columbia’s Chamber Orchestra in July 2018. Ms. Patterson is a member of the Grammy-nominated all-cello ensemble Uccello, and will be joining the Altius Quartet in June 2019. She holds a bachelor’s degree in cello performance from the University of Cincinnati College - Conservatory of Music, where she studied with Alan Rafferty.

Allison Rich – Cello

Allison Rich is currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts at the University of Toronto where she studies Cello Performance with Joseph Johnson. Prior to moving to Toronto, she was a member of Jackson Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Rich received her Master of Music degree from the University of Michigan where she studied with Professor Richard Aaron, performed with the University Symphony Orchestra as principal cellist, and was a member of the Contemporary Directions Ensemble. She completed her Bachelor of Music degree at the Eastman School of Music, studying with Steven Doane, David Ying, and members of the Ying Quartet. She is the recipient of the Peter Salaff Prize and the Messinger Ambassadors Fellowship, awarded by Eastman’s Chamber Music Department. 

Members of the Orchestra Academy and COC Orchestra perform in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, photo: Lara Hintelmann. Carolyn Farnand, photo: Kristen Toczko.

Phone: 416-363-8231

Toll Free: 1-800-250-4653

Contact Page

Facebook Twitter Instagram Youtube