Orchestra Academy

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 four-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.

Training and performance opportunities may include:

  • Performing in opening night of a COC mainstage production
  • 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.

2017 Orchestra Academy Members

  • Madlen Breckbill, viola (The Glenn Gould School)
  • James Churchill, cello (The Glenn Gould School)
  • Jesse Dietschi, bass (The Glenn Gould School)
  • Heng-Han Hou, violin (University of Toronto)
  • Jung Tsai, violin (Schulich School of Music, McGill University)

2017 Orchestra Academy Mentors

  • Sandra Baron, first violin
  • Elizabeth Johnston, second violin
  • Sheila Jaffé, viola
  • Paul Widner, cello
  • Robert Speer, bass

To be considered for the Orchestra Academy, students are recommended by their school faculty and audition before a panel of COC artistic and administrative staff. Members of the COC Orchestra participate in the COC Orchestra Academy 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

Contact Page

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