Institute for Orchestral Studies: Pinchas Zukerman’s “brainchild” an investment in young musicians

Sean-hawthorn cello-ios
Sean Hawthorne © Fred Cattroll

Sean Hawthorne, cellist and apprentice with the NAC’s Institute for Orchestral Studies (IOS), feels his anticipation grow. He knows that in a moment, NAC Orchestra Music Director Pinchas Zukerman will play Max Bruch’s First Violin Concerto.

 “Hearing him play the Bruch Concerto every night of the UK Tour is my favourite memory of Pinchas,” Sean explains. “Every night, he brought a different energy to it.”    

The Bruch Concerto may be Sean’s favourite memory, but it was the Tour itself that was the biggest highlight of his apprenticeship with the NAC Orchestra. “It was an amazing experience to spend time with the musicians and get to know Pinchas and his work better,” Sean says. “I really felt like I was part of the Orchestra.”

That’s the purpose of the IOS. Designed to prepare highly talented young musicians for successful orchestral careers, the IOS was established under the guidance of Pinchas Zukerman.

“The IOS was Pinchas’ brainchild,” says Douglas Sturdevant, Manager of Artist Training and Outreach at the NAC. “As a conductor, Pinchas knows what it takes to play at the highest level.  He wanted to bring young, talented musicians to the NAC and help them develop their musical sensibility and skills as full members of the orchestra.  It’s the only program of its kind in North America.”

Sean says being part of the IOS was a life-changing experience. “I quickly learned that you have to be aware of everything that’s going on in every moment or you’ll fall behind,” says Sean. “Those skills are essential for orchestral musicians and you can only acquire them by involving yourself in such a process.”

Douglas agrees. “The IOS gives apprentices the opportunity to put everything they’ve learned into practice and then learning beyond that. Pinchas would say it’s an investment in the future of music. With your contributions, you are supporting and sustaining the health and quality of the art form.”

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