Timothy McCoy

Last updated: November 30, 2018

Timothy McCoy started playing the cello at the age of six in Sudbury, Ontario, where he enrolled as a Suzuki student at Cambrian College, under the tutelage of Sylvia Thelen and Metro Kozak. Timothy’s family moved to Ottawa on Canada Day the year he turned eight; he remembers being enormously impressed with the parliamentary fireworks display his first night in a new city – so he stayed. Since that time, he has spent a great deal of his life at the National Arts Centre. His first Ottawa teacher was NACO Assistant Principal Cellist Marian Heller. When Ms. Heller relocated to New York City to accept a position in the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Timothy continued his studies with NAC Orchestra cellist Rosalind Sartori.

As a youngster, Timothy McCoy received intensive vocal training as a member of the Men and Boys’ Choir at St. Matthew’s Anglican Church in the Glebe (Ottawa). Appointed Head Chorister under Brian Law, he was a frequent treble soloist and sang the Pie Jesu in a performance of the FauréRequiem. As a boy, he also appeared at the National Arts Centre in performances of Britten’s War Requiem, Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius, and sang from the pit in the ballet score for Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He managed to squeak in an appearance as a somewhat tall and hairy opera fairy in the NAC production of Britten’s rendering of A Midsummer Night’s Dream before his treble career abruptly came to an end.

A graduate of Indiana University, Mr. McCoy studied cello with Gary Hoffman and Janos Starker, and chamber repertoire with Menahem Pressler, James Buswell and George Janzer. He has studied the orchestral repertoire with the principal cellists of several of America’s leading orchestras, including Stephen Geber, Desmond Hoebig and Ron Leonard. He has also performed in masterclasses held by Aldo Parisot, Tsyoshi Tsutsumi, Raya Garbousova and Yehuda Hanani and has audited classes with Josef Gingold, Gyorgy Sebok, Frank Miller and Lynn Harrell.

Mr. McCoy has studied and performed at numerous summer programmes, including several seasons at the Banff Centre (where he began as a student in the Gifted Youth Programme), the National Music Camp (Interlochen, Michigan), the Brott Summer Festival (Hamilton, ON) and Festival of the Sound (Parry Sound, ON). He has held titled chairs with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, the National Repertory Orchestra (Colorado) and the National Orchestral Institute (Maryland). He was a finalist at the Stulberg International String Competition and participated in the Third American Cello Congress convened in Bloomington, Indiana. During college, Mr. McCoy was under contract for two seasons to the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra (Kentucky) and performed with regional orchestras throughout Indiana.

Mr. McCoy spent his early professional years in Toronto as an active freelance cellist. They were formative times… He landed his first gig the second day after he arrived in town when he was asked to perform solo Bach Suites for John Steinberg’s 10th Anniversary Tea Party at the Rainbow Room, a tony Rosedale hair salon – he gained a free haircut and a pocketful of cash from the deal. After that, it was a stint with the Emperor Quartet, including a frosty autumn backyard wedding in Oakville for the filming of a CBS television pilot, Almost Grown. He claims to have performed string quartets atop every decent skyscraper in Toronto’s downtown core. He has played chamber music for Mila Mulroney and Nancy Reagan at a G7 Economic Summit as well as for prominent Canadian politicians and many of Europe’s heads-of-state. He was there for the rainy opening of SkyDome with Oscar Peterson and the Toronto Symphony. Mr. McCoy has performed with the Roy Thomson Hall Orchestra as well as with the celebrated Elmer Iseler Singers at the St. Lawrence Centre, and participated in a Krzysztof Penderecki world premiere with the composer at the helm. He has shared coffee and donuts with studio musicians at taping sessions for the legendary Tommy Hunter Show and, fresh out of college, he was a regular performer in the pit orchestra for Les Misérables at the Royal Alexandra Theatre. He also enjoyed performing with Toronto contemporary ensembles such as Robert Aitken’s New Music Concerts and the Esprit Orchestra, led by Alex Pauk.

As a musician on the Quebec scene, Mr. McCoy’s activities have included touring Spain and Morocco with Bernard Labadie and Les Violons du Roy and a five-season tenure as cellist with l’Orchestre symphonique de Québec. He has performed for live radio broadcasts from the Palais Montcalm with l’Orchestre de chambre de Radio-Canada à Québec; toured traditional Quebecois folksongs in the environs of Quebec City with his friend, the late violinist, Marc Gagnon and the Ensemble Arabesque; and collaborated as principal cellist on many choral events in Quebec, including the Festival des Musiques Sacrées de Québec. He has recorded with French chansonnier, Serge Lama and as a solo artist with the folk singer-songwriter, Connie Kaldor.

Timothy McCoy became a member of the National Arts Centre Orchestra at the beginning of the 2003-2004 season, after playing regularly in the orchestra for the previous three seasons.

In Ottawa, Mr. McCoy has been a member of Thirteen Strings and has performed at the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival and on the NAC Music for a Sunday Afternoon series at the National Gallery of Canada. He has collaborated with pianists Angela Hewitt and Anton Kuerti. He has workshopped new compositions in the Canadian Music Centre’s New Music Reading Sessions at the NAC’s Fourth Stage and performed with the NACO New Music Ensemble, conducted by Oliver Knussen. His chamber performances have been broadcast on the national networks of CBC Radio and the Societé Radio-Canada. Mr. McCoy has served on the jury for the NACO Bursary and has been invited to adjudicate music festivals in Ottawa and Hamilton.

A versatile freelance artist, Mr. McCoy has performed at Bluesfest with Smokey Robinson; at the NAC with Diana Krall and Holly Cole; at the Corel Centre with Sarah Brightman; and at the Casino du Lac Leamy with Frank Sinatra Jr. He has appeared on the Canada Day stage for the midday CBC-TV show from Parliament Hill and has performed chamber music for numerous official ceremonies at Rideau Hall. He is Company Manager for Ottawa Music Company, a collective of local musicians that has collaborated in choral concerts with ensembles such as the Ottawa Choral Society, the Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys at Christ Church Cathedral, and the Ottawa Bach Choir.

Mr. McCoy has coached school and community youth orchestras both in Ottawa and while on tour with the NACO in Calgary, AB and the Saguenay, QC. He has been invited by Prof. Paul Marleyn to coach his cello students at the University of Ottawa and enjoys teaching a few regular students of his own.

Mr. McCoy performs on a rare copy (c. 1984) of a Carlo Giuseppe Testore cello; a gorgeous instrument made in New York for George Ricci by celebrated Argentinian luthier, Horacio Piñeiro.

Upcoming events

NAC media featuring Timothy McCoy