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.”

Training and performance opportunities for 2019 may include:

  • 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

Watch the COC Orchestra in action!





Want to apply for the 2019 Orchestra Academy?

The 2019 Orchestra Academy session runs from January 6 – 26, 2019. See poster.

To be considered for the Orchestra Academy, you must be a current student at 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 Western University.

All Orchestra Academy members are recommended by their school faculty, so for more information, please contact the head of your respective faculty. Candidates are then selected to audition before a panel of COC artistic and administrative staff. Auditions for 2019 take place on October 22, 2018.

2018 Orchestra Academy Members

  • Felipe Muñoz Garcia, violin (The Glenn Gould School)
  • Kimberly Durflinger, violin (Schulich School of Music, McGill University)
  • Lucas Alan Blekeberg, viola (The Glenn Gould School)
  • Kimberly Miyoung Jeong, cello (University of Toronto)
  • Freddy Speer, bass (Schulich School of Music, McGill University)

2018 Orchestra Academy Mentors

  • Jayne Maddison, first violin
  • Elizabeth Johnston, second violin
  • Catherine Gray, viola
  • Bryan Epperson, cello
  • Tom Hazlitt, bass

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


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

Phone: 416-363-8231

Toll Free: 1-800-250-4653

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