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    By Public Relations
    Read the PDF version here.

    – The Canadian Opera Company Orchestra Academy welcomes five student musicians to join its sixth annual training intensive, taking place January 6 – 26, 2019. Led by COC Music Director Johannes Debus, and in collaboration with The Glenn Gould School at the Royal Conservatory of Music, the Schulich School of Music of McGill University and the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music, the program offers its student musicians one-on-one mentorship and practical experience in their pursuit of a career in an opera orchestra.

    The five student players selected to join this year’s Orchestra Academy are: violinists Joella Pinto (GGS) and Gloria Yip (UofT), violist Carolyn Farnand (GGS), and cellists Erin Patterson (Schulich) and Allison Rich (UofT). Participants were selected from a pool of candidates chosen by their respective institutions, following auditions at the COC’s administrative headquarters in Toronto.

    “The COC Orchestra Academy is an intensive training program unlike any other in Canada,” says COC Music Director Johannes Debus. “The COC is known for its holistic training model and this extends to the COC Orchestra Academy; participants not only learn to perform as part of an opera orchestra, but about every aspect of the art form, including singing, drama and the technical aspects of a production. This comprehensive approach is an invaluable learning experience for any young opera professional.”

    Over the course of three weeks, the 2019 Orchestra Academy student musicians experience how a performance comes together, how to prepare their part of a score, and the continuing work of an orchestra over the course of rehearsals and performances. The student musicians’ training and performance opportunities in the 2019 Orchestra Academy include:

    • Performing with the COC Orchestra on opening night of the COC’s production of R. Strauss’ Elektra on January 26, 2019, conducted by COC Music Director Johannes Debus
    • A recital that explores the evolution of the aria with artists of the COC Ensemble Studio on January 22, 2019, as part of the COC’s Free Concert Series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre
    • A commuter-friendly performance as part of the COC’s Opera Express concert series at Union Station on January 24, 2019
    • Coaching sessions, workshops, and masterclasses with COC music staff, including COC Concertmaster Marie Bérard, Head of the COC Ensemble Studio Liz Upchurch, and Head Vocal Consultant Wendy Nielsen
    • An introduction to the physicality of opera through sessions with the COC’s Performance Kinetics Consultant Jennifer Swan and Dramatic Consultant Tom Diamond
    • Ongoing, one-on-one mentorship from a member of the COC Orchestra
    • A behind-the-scenes tour of the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts led by Elektra’s technical director, to introduce players to the technical aspects of a production

    This year’s Orchestra Academy participants will be paired with mentors from the COC Orchestra, learning from them in a one-on-one capacity. The 2019 mentors are: Jayne Maddison, first violin; Principal Second Violin Paul Zevenhuizen, second violin; Sheila Jaffé, viola; and Assistant Principal Cello Paul Widner and Principal Bass Tony Flynt, cellos. The COC Orchestra is the oldest opera orchestra in Canada, and has received worldwide acclaim for its musical versatility and range of expression. Created in 1977, the orchestra has a permanent membership of more than 50 instrumentalists.

    As part of the Orchestra Academy experience, participants will further develop their musicianship by:

    • 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; and
    • studying different styles and levels of expressiveness in musicianship.

    Launched in January 2014 as a pilot program, the COC Orchestra Academy is an extra-curricular program. Members of the COC Orchestra participate in the COC Orchestra Academy voluntarily.

    The COC Orchestra Academy is part of the COC Academy, a pioneering development program to nurture young opera artists, creators and administrators. It aims to foster a vibrant community of Canadian artists and creative professionals and provide its participants with the skills, experiences and resources to thrive in a global opera environment.

    About the 2019 COC Orchestra Academy Members

    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, she 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, Ms. Pinto 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, she performed in Toronto, St. John’s, and Domaine Forget, QC 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 Doctor of Musical Arts under the tutelage of Timothy Ying. She obtained an Artist Diploma from the Glenn Gould School and a Master 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 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.

    The COC Orchestra Academy is generously supported by Keith Ambachtsheer and Virginia Atkin, Margaret Harriett Cameron and the late Gary Smith, and Deborah Moorthy.

    About the Canadian Opera Company
    Based in Toronto, the Canadian Opera Company is the largest producer of opera in Canada and one of the largest in North America. The COC enjoys a loyal audience support-base and one of the highest attendance and subscription rates in North America. Under its leadership team of General Director Alexander Neef and Music Director Johannes Debus, the COC is increasingly capturing the opera world’s attention. The COC maintains its international reputation for artistic excellence and creative innovation by creating new productions within its diverse repertoire, collaborating with leading opera companies and festivals, and attracting the world’s foremost Canadian and international artists. The COC performs in its own opera house, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, hailed internationally as one of the finest in the world. Designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects, the Four Seasons Centre opened in 2006. For more information on the Canadian Opera Company, visit

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    For more information or to request photographs, please contact:
    Kristin McKinnon, Publicist, tel: 416-306-2383, email: [email protected]
    Avril Sequeira, Director of Public Relations, tel: 416-306-2387, email: [email protected]

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