Parlando: The COC Blog


Welcoming in the Newest Members of the COC Orchestra Academy!

The Canadian Opera Company Orchestra Academy returns for a second year on January 12, 2015, this time welcoming five student musicians into the acclaimed COC Orchestra for an intense three-week period that offers them professional insight and experience in their pursuit of a career in an opera orchestra.

Led by COC Music Director Johannes Debus, the COC Orchestra Academy has been developed in collaboration with The Glenn Gould School at the Royal Conservatory of Music and the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music. The five student players who join the Academy this year were selected from a pool of 14 musicians, from GGS and UofT, who auditioned for Debus and members of the COC Orchestra in November 2014: GGS double bassist Malcolm Armstrong, GGS cellist Tess Crowther, UofT violinist Eric Fujita, GGS violinist Brenna Hardy-Kavanagh and GGS violist Laurence Schaufele.

In joining the COC Orchestra Academy, these five student musicians will be mentored by players from the orchestra as well as gain valuable orchestral rehearsal and performance experience. This year’s Academy participants join rehearsals for the COC’s winter production of Wagner’s Die Walküre, an opera that features some of the most powerful music ever conceived. Their Academy experience culminates in two unique performance opportunities: on January 29, as part of the COC’s Free Concert Series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, members of the Academy perform a program of gems from the chamber music repertoire; and on January 31, Academy musicians perform with the COC Orchestra for opening night of Die Walküre

“With the Orchestra Academy, we want to help bridge the gap between educational and professional life. It’s one thing to sit in a rehearsal room alone in a conservatory or school and practice your concerti, but sitting in the orchestra pit or on a concert stage is different,” says COC Music Director Johannes Debus. “This year, they will rehearse Die Walküre with us and perform on opening night. It might be a bit overwhelming at first, but this is good, and they will learn quickly. I’m incredibly thankful to our COC Orchestra members, who will work alongside these talented young players, sharing their expertise with Canada’s next generation of professional orchestra musicians.”

The COC Orchestra Academy is an extra-curricular program that launched in January 2014 as a pilot program with the intention of growing the initiative to include more students and members of the COC Orchestra. There is no official credit attached to the students’ participation. Members of the COC Orchestra participate in the COC Orchestra Academy voluntarily. The inaugural year of the program took in three students who joined rehearsals for the COC’s 2014 productions of Così fan tutte and A Masked Ball. The three musicians also played with the COC Orchestra for the Ensemble Studio performance of Così fan tutte, a special presentation of the mainstage production that featured the singers of the company’s training program for young opera professionals.

Double bassist Malcolm Armstrong, from Ottawa, is a first-year artist diploma student at GGS. He’s been the assistant principal bass of the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra and a guest soloist with the Parkdale United Church Orchestra as well as played with the world-renowned National Youth Orchestra of Canada.



Cellist Tess Crowther, from Edmonton, is in her fourth year of the performance diploma program at GGS. She’s been principal cellist of the Edmonton Youth Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra and the National Youth Orchestra of Canada. In 2013, Crowther was invited to go to Bangalore, India to play with the Canada-India National Youth Orchestra.



Violinist Eric Fujita, from Toronto, is currently pursuing a doctor of musical arts at UofT. He was concertmaster of the University of Western Ontario and McGill Symphony orchestras, a violinist in the UWO Early Music Ensemble and concertmaster for opera productions at both institutions. 




Violinist Brenna Hardy-Kavanagh, from Ottawa, is currently in her second year of the artist diploma program at GGS and is a member of the Royal Conservatory Orchestra, the Cadenza Chamber Duo, and the New Generation Chamber Orchestra. She’s also performed with the Art of Time Ensemble, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Belle & Sebastian, and ABBAMANIA. 



Violist Laurence Schaufele, from Bow Island, Alta., is a second-year artist diploma student at GGS. He’s acted as principal violist of the Royal Conservatory Orchestra and played with many other orchestras in the Greater Toronto Area. Schaufele has played with the Afiara Quartet as part of the Discovery Series at Toronto’s Mazzoleni Hall, and performed in BACHanlia, which kicked off Koerner Hall’s 2012/2013 concert series.



On January 29, 2015, from 12 to 1 p.m., the COC’s Free Concert Series presents “Introducing the Academy.” The performance is free and takes place at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts (145 Queen St. W.). Admission is on a first-come, first-served basis, and concertgoers are encouraged to arrive early as late seating is not available.  

Richard Wagner’s Die Walküre is opera at its most epic and returns to the COC for seven performances at the Four Seasons Centre, from January 31 – February 22, 2015.

Top Image: Music Director Johannes Debus and the COC Orchestra. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2009

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Free Concert Series Highlights for January

Canadian Art Song Project in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre

Happy New Year! We're ringing in 2015 with concerts that celebrate the fresh, the new and the exciting this January. Whether it's the world premiere of a new work, exciting young artists or an emerging genre that you're hearing about for the first time, there is something for everyone this month in the Free Concert Series. But don't worry, there's still room for old favourites!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015
5:30 - 6:30 p.m.
Easy to Love: The Cole Porter Song Book
Amy McConnell & William Sperandei Quartet

Juno Award-nominated duo, vocalist Amy McConnell and trumpeter William Sperandei, are joined by pianist Brian Dickinson and bassist Ross MacIntyre in a heartwarming hour dedicated to some of the best-loved songs from master composer and lyricist Cole Porter. Don't miss out on Amy's rendition of perennial favourites like “Night and Day,” “I've Got You Under My Skin” and "Easy to Love." Hear Ella Fitzgerald's version of "Easy to Love" below:

Thursday, January 8, 2015
12 - 1 p.m.
Ritmo Flamenco Dance and Music Ensemble

It's a family affair for Ritmo Flamenco. Award-winning dancer/choreographer Anjelica Scannura (recently featured in the COC’s production of Don Quichotte) moves beyond geographical and stylistic boundaries searching for the obscure Arabic roots of flamenco. Joined by her parents, Ritmo Flamenco’s music director and master composer/flamenco guitarist Roger Scannura and dancer/teacher/artistic director Valerie Scannura, Canada’s pre-eminent flamenco family seamlessly works together, as only a family can, to create a beautiful, heart-felt piece.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015
12 - 1 p.m.
Cross Cultural Journey
Justin Gray's Indo-Jazz Collective

Never heard of Indo-Jazz? Then you'll want to check out this concert! Indo-Jazz is an emerging genre that explores the synthesis of two musical worlds. Humber alumnus, professor and bassist Justin Gray leads the audience and the talented young artists of the Indo-Jazz Collective on a cross-cultural journey through his unique compositions that blend elements of traditional Indian classical raga music and contemporary jazz. Get a taste of the genre in the video below, featuring Justin.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015
12 - 1 p.m.
A Celebration of Canadian Art Song
Canadian Art Song Project

Don't miss the world premiere of Enchantments of Gwendolyn, presented by the Canadian Art Song Project. It's a new song cycle by Marjan Mozetich based on texts by Gwendolyn MacEwen, performed by mezzo-soprano Allyson McHardy and pianist Adam Sherkin. The program also includes sopranos Joni Henson and Nathalie Paulin performing works by some of Canada’s finest composers of song.

Thursday, January 29, 2015
12 - 1 p.m.
Introducing the Academy
COC Orchestra Academy

Discover a new generation of orchestra musicians in this special presentation. Now in its second year, the COC Orchestra Academy is a unique opera-focused mentorship program offering talented young artists from The Glenn Gould School and the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music the opportunity to experience playing as part of a world-class orchestra in an operatic production, under the mentorship of professional musicians in the COC Orchestra. This concert sees members of the Academy perform alongside their mentors in a program of gems from the chamber music repertoire.

Ballet Jorgen in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre

Is there a concert you're most looking forward to? Share it with us in the comments!

Banner photo credit (top to bottom): Canadian Art Song Project performs in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, photo: Tracy Kay; Artists of the COC Orchestra, photo: Chris Hutcheson

Posted by Kristin McKinnon / in Free Concert Series / comments (0) / permalink


Artist Basics: Jennifer Holloway

With the new year comes new talent to the COC, including American mezzo-soprano Jennifer Holloway's company debut! Jennifer is known across the globe for her “nuanced dramatic impulses” and a “voice that is liquid, lambent, and lit from within.”

What she’s doing with us: Jennifer will be making her company debut as woman scorned Elvira in our upcoming production of Don Giovanni.

Where you might have seen her: Jennifer's recent performances have met with wide critical acclaim, including her English National Opera debut as Prince Orlofsky in Christopher Alden’s striking production of Die Fledermaus (a co-production with the Canadian Opera Company); her breakthrough performance at Argentina’s Teatro Colón as Temple Drake in the world premiere of Oscar Strasnoy’s new opera, Requiem; and her return to the Metropolitan Opera for Tebaldo in Don Carlo, conducted by the late Lorin Maazel. Jennifer has previously sung the role of Donna Elvira for both Pittsburgh Opera (2012) and Tulsa Opera (2011).

Jennifer Holloway as Irene in Teatro Real's Tamerlano, 2008 [first seen riding the elephant at 59:00]


Jennifer also has a wide variety of concert work under her belt, with highlights including her first appearances with the Marseille Philharmonic and Maestro Lawrence Foster in a concert tour of China, and with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra in a program including the world premiere of Frédéric Chaslin’s Love and a Question, a series of songs based on poetry by Robert Frost, which Chaslin composed for her.

Jennifer Holloway singing Frédéric Chaslin’s Love and a Question


Acclaim for Jennifer Holloway as Donna Elvira in Mozart's Don Giovanni:

“Jennifer Holloway as Donna Elvira was the most impressive of the women, singing with fine line, intensity and ample intelligence.”
Mark Kanny, Pittsburgh Tribune Review, 2012

“Ms. Holloway had... an expressiveness that came to the fore in "Mi tradi," in which Elvira lays bare her conflicted soul.”
Andrew Druckenbrod, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2012

"Holloway's [mezzo] soprano captures the high-strung intensity of Donna Elvira, a woman driven madin every sense of the wordby love for the wrong sort of man. Holloway almost spits out "Ah! chi mi dice mai" with a bitter vengefulness, only later to wrestle with inexplicable yet inescapable feelings of love in "Mi tradi quell' alma."
–James D. Watts Jr., Tulsa World, 2011

Photo Credit (top image): Jennifer Holloway. Photo: Arielle Doneson, 2014.

Find out the latest news on Jennifer by following her on Twitter @jennhollowaaay

Catch Jennifer Holloway in the COC's production of Don Giovanni, opening in January 2015. For more information and to buy tickets, visit here.

Posted by Kiersten Hay / in Don Giovanni / comments (0) / permalink

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Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001



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