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THE SCOOP | COC Announce Five Protégés To 2017 COC Orchestra Academy

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2017 COC Orchestra Academy members: Madlen Breckbill, cellist James Churchill and bassist Jesse Dietschi, UofT violinist Heng-Han Hou and Schulich violinist Jung Tsai.
2017 COC Orchestra Academy members: TOP (L-R): Heng-Han Hou, James Churchill. BOTTOM (L-R): Jesse Dietschi, Jung Tsai, and Madlen Breckbill.

The Canadian Opera Company have announced five student string players to the 2017 COC Orchestra Academy – a three-week training program established to provide promising musicians with professional training in an opera orchestra.

Out of a total of thirteen applicants, only five were selected. They include: GGS violist Madlen Breckbill, cellist James Churchill and bassist Jesse Dietschi, UofT violinist Heng-Han Hou and Schulich violinist Jung Tsai.

According to the press release, each of the students will learn rehearsal and performance etiquette, endurance techniques, instrument blending, as well as be exposed to different musicianship styles unique to opera orchestras.

This year is marked a significant increase in applicants due in part to the addition of Schulich School of Music at McGill University as a participating music school. McGill now joins founding participating institutions The Glenn Gould School at the Royal Conservatory of Music and the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music.

“Having the Schulich School of Music come on board marks an exciting evolution in the development of the Orchestra Academy,” says Nina Draganić, Director of the COC’s Ensemble Studio and Orchestra Academy. “It allows the COC to go beyond the borders of Toronto when connecting with student players.”

In a statement, McGill University’s Stéphane Lemelin, called the new relationship with the COC a “precious collaboration” that will provide an ideal opportunity for students to work with a “top-level opera house.”

Each of the participants will be paired with a mentor from the COC Orchestra and receive one-on-one training. Mentors include Sandra Baron, first violin; Elizabeth Johnston, second violin; Sheila Jaffé, viola; Paul Widner, cello; and Robert Speer, bass.

Led by COC Music Director Johannes Debus, students will perform with the COC Orchestra at the company’s 2017/2018 Season Launch event scheduled on January 12. Performances also include a recital in the COC’s Free Concert Series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre on January 26, featuring COC Ensemble Studio alumna soprano Jacqueline Woodley, and the February 2 opening night of the COC’s production of Wagner’s Götterdämmerung.

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Michael Vincent
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Michael Vincent

Editor at Musical Toronto
Michael Vincent has worked as a senior editor for La Scena Musicale and web editor for Norman Lebrecht. On January 21, 2014, he went to lunch and left as the publisher of Musical Toronto. Later that year he found himself as a freelance classical music critic for the Toronto Star, the former employer of his favourite author Ernest Hemingway. Michael holds a Doctorate in Music from the University of Toronto.
Michael Vincent
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