What's Involved?

Program elements

Orchestral experience: You will rehearse and perform in the NAC Orchestra during four select Main Series weeks in the 2018-2019 season.

Individual coaching: You will receive individual instruction and coaching on orchestral repertoire from NAC Orchestra musicians, and may have the opportunity to perform in mock auditions and public masterclasses.

Other: You will be coached in concert preparation, orchestral deportment, as well as career development.

We encourage accepted applicants to become members in good standing with the American Federation of Musicians.

IOS for Credit

Does your university or conservatory encourage exchanges or practicums in the professional world to prepare for your orchestral career?  If so, the IOS is an ideal program for you. In addition to having all expenses paid, the four-week Institute for Orchestral Studies can complement your studies as a practicum or placement opportunity. The IOS offers a challenging opportunity to play at an international professional level by apprenticing in Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra. Following a full four weeks as outlined below, apprentices will receive a certificate for presentation to your educational institution.


Apprentices accepted to the Institute for Orchestral Studies will play in section with the NAC Orchestra in 10 performances and an average of 5 x 2.5 hour rehearsals per week for 4 weeks. In addition to the rehearsals and concerts, the apprentices will be mentored by NACO Musicians both on stage and off. Orchestral deportment and etiquette, score marking skills, several private lessons, sectionals and mock auditions provide a rounded program of training. The first and most important priority for the apprentices throughout the program is to always be prepared for our conductors and the challenging variety of repertoire. 


An application fee of $50 CDN is the only fee, payable in the application process.  Apprentices accepted to the IOS have tuition, travel, room and board provided.

Audition Requirements

  1. Submit an unedited recording of your audition (see Application Process).
  2. Prepare each of the following:
    1. one movement of solo Bach
    2. one movement of a concerto of your choice, AND
    3. five contrasting orchestral excerpts of your choice, including at least two from the NAC list of excerpts that are available for download below.

Please note:

  • We do not require that you perform the concerto with accompaniment.
  • The five orchestral excerpts must be recorded IN ONE TAKE.
  • NAC Orchestra musicians comprise the selection committee.

list of excerpts

Violin (1.07 MB)
Viola (1.17 MB)
Cello (830.51 KB)
Bass (766.38 KB)

Considerations Before You Apply

1. If you are invited to apprentice in the IOS you must be available for the duration of the Institute. To that end, we ask Apprentices to sign an agreement of commitment upon acceptance.

2. If you are a Non-Canadian accepted to the IOS, you will require a valid passport and all other necessary documents as required, including Visas. It is your responsibility to obtain all necessary papers. If you do not have a valid passport, we urge you to apply for one IMMEDIATELY.

3. Regarding School Studies: Apprentices in the IOS who are enrolled in undergraduate or graduate degree programs must make arrangements with their schools and teachers to obtain leaves of absence allowing them to participate for ALL WEEKS of the Institute as listed in the schedule.

4. The main form of communication for this program will be by email. It is your responsibility as an applicant/participant to check email on a regular basis for communications including audition results.

Rehearsal and Performance schedule

NACO Week 22 – January 28 – February 3, 2019
National Ballet of Canada January 31, February 1 and 2
David Briskin, conductor
Program: MENDELSSOHN Midsummer Night’sDream, and STRAVINSKY Apollon musagète

NACO Week 23 – February 4 – 10, 2019
Main 8
Bronfman’s Beethoven February 7 and 8
John Storgårds, conductor
Yefim Bronfman, piano
Program: PÄRT, BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4 and VAUGHAN WILLIAMS Symphony No. 5

NACO Week 24 – February 11 – 17, 2019
Main 9
Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 February 13 and 14
Alexander Shelley, conductor
David Fray, piano
Program: MORLOCK, CHOPIN Piano Concerto No. 2 and SCHUMANN Symphony No. 2

NACO Week 25 – February 18 – 24, 2019
Main 10
Zukerman Plays Bruch February 20 and 21
Pinchas Zukerman, conductor
Program: WEBER, BRUCH Violin Concerto No. 1 and DVORAK Symphony No. 8

Toronto February 23, 2019
Main 9 Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2
Alexander Shelley, conductor
David Fray, piano
Program: MORLOCK, CHOPIN Piano Concerto No. 2 and SCHUMANN Symphony No. 2