The Summer Music Institute: Shaping the artists of tomorrow

Pinchas Zukerman and students from the Summer Music Institute © Fred Cattroll

Every summer, more than 70 young people from across Canada and around the globe make their way to the National Arts Centre because of their remarkable talent, their countless hours of incredibly hard work, and their steadfast dream of making music.

Welcome to the NAC’s Summer Music Institute.

Founded in 1999 by NAC Music Director Pinchas Zukerman to train the next generation of classical artists, right here in Canada, the Institute has now trained more than 1,000 students from every province in Canada and from 38 countries.  

Led by Pinchas and Co-Artistic Director Patty Kopec of the Manhattan School of Music, students are instructed by a world-class international faculty. The students also receive chamber music coaching, career-related sessions and mentoring, watch or take part in masterclasses, and perform in chamber music concerts and recitals.

Shaping the artists of tomorrow

Since its founding, the Institute has had a profound impact on the development of young performing artists in Canada and around the world. 

“Coming from a very small and isolated town called Armstrong in British Columbia, I felt extremely privileged to be able to participate in this amazing program,” said violin student Alicia Venables.  “I have learned so many valuable lessons on the violin here, and took home many memorable experiences.”

Travis Harrison, a double bass student from Toronto, said he learned more at the Institute in three weeks about playing his instrument than he did in three years of study at university.

“Making music with the students and faculty of the Summer Music Institute has easily been the most incredible and advantageous experience of my life,” he said, adding that the opportunity to learn from NAC Orchestra Principal Bass Joel Quarrington was “life changing.”

Summer Music Institute 2014

This summer the Canadian students come from Newfoundland, Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. International students will travel from Armenia, Australia, China, South Korea, Uzbekistan, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Israel, USA, Iceland, Russia and Taiwan.

Diana Adamyan of Armenia is one of those students. She met Pinchas Zukerman while he was touring Europe last year.  At age 14, she would normally be at the Institute’s “pre-college” level, but Pinchas was so impressed with her talent that she will take part in the more senior Young Artists Program.

Also noteworthy are violinists Timmy Chooi of Ottawa and Boson Mo of Montreal, who are recipients of extremely fine, historically significant violins from the Canada Council Instrument Foundation.

Institute alumni are now emerging as soloists and in the ranks of orchestras around the world, including the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Metropolitan Opera and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, as well as the NAC Orchestra. In fact, the Orchestra’s 2011 Atlantic Canada Tour featured two Institute alumni who are fast-rising stars in classical music – Julian Kuerti was guest conductor, and Calgary pianist Jan Lisiecki, then just 16 years old, was the soloist. (Lisiecki’s performs on the NAC’s Orchestra’s main series June 11-12.)

Other alumni are taking to the podium to conduct their own ensembles, and Institute-trained composers are creating the music that orchestras will play for decades to come. And the Institute is now seeing the “next generation” emerge, with former participants sending their own students to the program.

The Summer Music Institute is a donor-funded program and the Honorary Patron is Sara Vered. Tuition, travel and accommodation for Canadian students in the Institute’s senior Young Artists Program is completely covered. International students pay a subsidized tuition fee.


Menu