Peter Deeb, Ensemble Studio member Claire de Sévigné and General Director Alexander Neef during intermission at the opera.
Peter Deeb is a success story by any measure. As the founder and Chairman of Hampton Securities, one of Canada’s leading investment firms, he has been an active member of Canada’s financial services community for over 20 years, having built a long career on Bay Street. A merchant banker by profession, Peter became well known for proprietary investments in energy, finance, shipping, and mining that over the years grew to become a major industrial portfolio. Peter also became a key figure in the regulatory development of Canada’s investment industry, serving as a past Chairman of the Ontario District Counsel and National Advisory Board of the Investment Industry Regulatory Association of Canada (IIROC).
As successful as Peter Deeb is professionally, it’s his interest in the future of music that really endears him to us. When the music lover and Royal Conservatory alumnus wanted to assist as many young artists as possible, he turned his attention to the Canadian Opera Company, because, as he says, “the COC has become the cultural epicentre of the city.”
Peter has been a generous supporter of the COC since 2008 but last year, he wanted to express his commitment more personally. In 2012/2013 Peter committed a remarkable $1 million for the express purpose of helping to fund the COC’s training program for young opera professionals, the Ensemble Studio.
The 2012/2013 Ensemble Studio members.
As Peter says, “It’s a great honour to participate in a program that offers the chance for aspiring singers to understudy and perform roles, gain intensive vocal, language and acting training, and the chance to be part of master classes taught by famed opera professionals from around the world.”
Each year, the COC accepts only a handful of young artists into the program, starting with a nationwide search every October. Approximately 150 hopefuls participate from across the country. The audition process ends in late November at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts when about 10 finalists perform in front of a public audience and panel of judges at the Ensemble Studio Vocal Competition. Up for grabs are prizes of $1500, $3000 and $5000, as well as coveted invitations to join the Ensemble Studio, a first step toward an international career in opera. Those chosen to join the program begin their journey the following fall.
Winners of the 2012 Ensemble Studio Vocal Competition.
In addition to the extensive individual training available to each participant, each season the company devotes one performance of a mainstage production to Ensemble members who take on the lead roles. Coached by the same director and conductor as the mainstage cast, this mainstage opportunity is vital to their onstage experience and professional development.
In the 2012/2013 season, Ensemble members performed Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito, (see left) and will perform the composer’s Così fan tutte in the 2013/2014 season. Not only do they learn these roles, but they also serve as understudies for the mainstage cast, and are even occasionally called on to step onstage in place of ailing singers. Masterpieces like these are a musical feast for young opera singers to sink their teeth into!
“I hope the efforts of the COC in providing this outstanding opportunity to young singers here in our home city will be recognized as an empowering vote of confidence for Canadian artists. The COC has gone above and beyond its mandate with the Ensemble Studio and probably does more than any other company today to ensure the art form has a future,” says Peter, who makes a point of regularly attending all of the company’s performances and often rehearsals as well.
More than 150 young singers, directors, conductors and coaches have passed through the COC’s Ensemble Studio since its establishment in 1980. Beyond the training and practical experience, these young professionals become ambassadors for the COC, and more globally, ambassadors of Canadian talent around the world. Graduates of the Ensemble Studio commend the program for helping them dream bigger than they imagined possible. Many have gone on to successful careers and credit the training they received at the Ensemble Studio for making that happen.
“Every time I attend a performance, it makes me wish I had taken my piano lessons more seriously as a boy. I hope my mother reads this!” says Peter.
The Canadian Opera Company is grateful for the support of underwriter and Major Supporter Peter Deeb. His generous gift directly supports the country’s next generation of Canadian belle voci!
Follow Peter Deeb’s example and explore all the ways there are to support the Canadian Opera Company. Every gift counts.
Photo Credits: (top) (l – r): Peter Deeb, Ensemble Studio member Claire de Sévigné and COC General Director Alexander Neef; (middle) Back row (l – r): Neil Craighead, Jenna Douglas, Mireille Asselin, Claire de Sévigné, Owen McCausland. Front row (l – r): Rihab Chaieb, Timothy Cheung, Ambur Braid, Cameron McPhail, Sasha Djihanian (absent: Christopher Enns). Photo: Chris Hutcheson; (middle) (l – r) Gordon Bintner, Charlotte Burrage, COC General Director Alexander Neef and Andrew Haji at the COC's Ensemble Studio Competition on November 29, 2012 in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. Photo: Chris Hutcheson; (bottom) Owen McCausland (front) as Tito and Neil Craighead as Publio in the Ensemble Studio Performance of the COC’s production of La clemenza di Tito, 2013. Photo: Michael Cooper
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Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001