Toronto Summer Music Academy

Applications to the 2018 Toronto Summer Music Academy are now closed. Get to know the 2018 Academy Fellows here.

The Toronto Summer Music Academy is a one of a kind educational opportunity for chamber musicians and singers 18-35 years old, on the threshold of a professional career.  These exceptionally gifted young musicians study with international faculty of the highest quality and reputation, learning from their experience and musicianship. With limited enrollment, study is intense and enriching and provides students with a chance to interact with the faculty and other emerging professionals.

The TSM Academy Experience

  • Limited enrollment and a full scholarship covering tuition ensures the highest quality applicants
  • Academy Fellows study with international guest artists who perform at the Toronto Summer Music Festival.
  • Academy Fellows perform with these guest artists in reGENERATION concerts as well as in Festival daytime concerts, with an emphasis on the value of performance experience.
  • Academy Fellows are billeted with Toronto Summer Music supporters, eat lunch together daily, and are guests at all Festival concerts.

Academy Programs

Art of Song

Art of Song

July 9-21, 2018

Applications for the 2018 Academy are now closed.

This year’s Art of Song mentors include the great lyric tenor, Christoph Prégardien, as well as Julius Drake, one of the world’s finest collaborative pianists. The Art of Song Program is led by renowned Canadian pianist, Program Director, Steven Philcox.

Designed for a small cohort of eight singers and four pianists, this program is devoted to the study and performance of Art Song. During this two-week session, participants study with all faculty members, voice and piano, thus receiving advice from a variety of musical traditions and perspectives. The session will also offer detailed study of text, and diction. Our goal is to provide the selected Fellows the luxury of total immersion in Art Song in a community of artists from around the world.

Performance opportunities are paramount in the Art of Song Program, and Fellows will have the opportunity to perform in Private and Public Masterclasses as well as at ticketed Art Song reGeneration Concerts on the Toronto Summer Music Festival stage.

All accepted applicants will receive a full fellowship covering tuition. Housing will be provided for participants attending from outside of the Greater Toronto Area if necessary. Note: transportation is not included in the fellowship.

*Returning Participants: Please note that starting in 2018, participation in the Academy is limited to two summers. Applicants who have participated in the Academy prior to 2018 are invited to reapply for one more summer.

Chamber Music Institute
Chamber Music Institute
July 9 – August 4, 2018

Applications for the 2018 Academy are now closed.

The Chamber Music Institute for piano and strings welcomes individuals and pre-formed ensembles for intensive coaching sessions, rehearsals, and performances. The focus is on learning through performance. With limited enrolment, participants work with distinguished international faculty in an intimate, collegial atmosphere and will be placed in chamber groups with at least one artist Mentor per group.

Performance opportunities are paramount to this program and selected Fellows will have the opportunity to perform at outreach concerts in the community as well as at weekly Chamber Music reGENERATION Concerts that are a part of the Toronto Summer Music Festival.

All accepted applicants will receive a full fellowship covering tuition. Housing will be provided for participants attending from outside of the Greater Toronto Area if necessary. Note: transportation is not included in the fellowship

*Returning Participants: Please note that starting in 2018, participation in the Academy is limited to two summers. Applicants who have participated in the Academy prior to 2018 are invited to reapply for one more summer.

Selection Process

Fellows are chosen through a rigorous selection process by an international jury panel of specialists, led by Artistic Director Jonathan Crow. Candidates are selected based on their potential to make a significant contribution in the professional milieu. Candidates are selected by a jury based on their online application including video recordings, biographies, and repertoire lists

Academy Facilities

Rehearsals, classes, and coaching take place in the Edward Johnson Building, home of the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto. Individual practice rooms and several rehearsal spaces with pianos are available to Toronto Summer Music Academy Fellows.

The Edward Johnson Building houses a music library which is the main research music collection in Canada and includes a vast collection of sound recordings in the Sniderman Recording Archives, and Walter Hall, one of the city’s major chamber music halls. It is located on the main campus of the University of Toronto in midtown Toronto, on the subway line, and close to the city’s libraries, concert halls, galleries, museums, and theatres.

Performance Opportunities

Fellows from the Art of Song and Chamber Music Institute come together to perform at the Festival’s reGENERATION concerts. In addition to performing in ensembles with their mentors at the reGENERATION concerts, Chamber Music Fellows also perform in ensembles that receive coachings from mentors at our noon Academy concerts.

Art of Song Mentors

Christoph Prégardien, tenor


“His lyric tenor voice had a youthful glow, yet he sang with plaintive beauty and piercing insight.”
The New York Times

Precise vocal control, clear diction, intelligent musicality and an ability to get to the heart of everything he sings ensures Christoph Prégardien’s place among the world’s foremost lyric tenors. Especially revered as a Lieder singer, he can be heard this season at the Wigmore Hall London, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, in Madrid, Torino, New York, Washington, Chicago and Cleveland. He will also perform at renowned festivals such as the Schubertiade Schwarzenberg Hohenems, the Snape Proms Aldeburgh and the Schwetzingen Festival.

Christoph Prégardien appears regularly with renowned orchestras the world over, including the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics, Bavarian Radio Symphony, Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra, Staatskapelle Dresden, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, London’s Philharmonia Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonic de Radio France, and the Boston and San Francisco Symphonies.  His wide orchestral repertoire includes the great baroque, classical and romantic oratorios and passions, as well as works from the 17th and 20thcenturies. He has collaborated with conductors such as Barenboim, Chailly, Gardiner, Harnoncourt, Herreweghe, Luisi, Metzmacher, Nagano and Thielemann. In opera his roles have included Tamino (The Magic Flute), Almaviva (Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia), Fenton (Verdi’s Falstaff), Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni) and the title roles in Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito and Idomeneo as well as Monteverdi’s Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria.

Teaching remains a very important part of Christoph Prégardien’s musical life. From 2000 to 2004 he taught at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Zurich. Since 2004 he has been a professor at the Academy of Music in Cologne. As part of Schott’s “Master Class” series, he published an innovative multi-media DVD/book addressing vocal technique and musical interpretation

Julius Drake, piano


The pianist Julius Drake lives in London and enjoys an international reputation as one of the finest instrumentalists in his field, collaborating with many of the world’s leading artists, both in recital and on disc.

He appears regularly at all the major music centres: the Aldeburgh, Edinburgh, Munich, Schubertiade, and Salzburg Music Festivals; Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Centre New York; the Concertgebouw Amsterdam and Philarmonie Berlin; the Châtalet and Musée de Louvre Paris; La Scala Milan and Teatro de la Zarzuela Madrid; Musikverein and Konzerthaus Vienna; and Wigmore Hall and BBC Proms London.

Director of the Perth International Chamber Music Festival in Australia from 2000 – 2003, Julius Drake was also musical director of Deborah Warner’s staging of Janáček’s Diary of One Who Vanished, touring to Munich, London, Dublin, Amsterdam and New York. Since 2009 he was been Artistic Director of the Machynlleth Festival in Wales.

Julius Drake’s passionate interest in song has led to invitations to devise song series for the Wigmore Hall, London, the BBC and the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam. A series of song recitals – Julius Drake and Friends – in the historic Middle Temple Hall in London, has featured recitals with many outstanding vocal artists including Sir Thomas Allen, Olaf Bär, Iestyn Davies, Veronique Gens, Sergei Leiferkus, Dame Felicity Lott, Simon Keenlyside and Sir Willard White

Steven Philcox, piano

Steven Philcox

Steven Philcox is regarded as one of Canada’s finest collaborators and is a frequent partner of Canada’s vocal elite performing in concert halls across North America where he continues to garner the reputation as one of this country’s most expressive and colorful interpreters.

From 1999-2010, Philcox was a celebrated member of the music staff of the Canadian Opera Company where he served as répétiteur and assistant conductor on more than 35 productions and was the pianist of choice for the continuo of Handel and Mozart. In 2006, Philcox distinguished himself in an auspicious debut conducting the final performance of Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte in the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.

Increasingly recognized for his teaching, Philcox has given masterclasses throughout Canada and is regularly invited to mentor young artists at many of Canada’s prestigious summer programs. Recent highlights include Opera on the Avalon, Toronto Summer Music, Vancouver International Song Institute, and the Centre for Operatic Studies in Italy.

In 2011, Philcox co-founded the Canadian Art Song Project with tenor Lawrence Wiliford. CASP’s mission is to foster the development of new song through an annual commission and its performance as well as providing opportunities for Canadian artists to program and, in doing so, reinvigorate the existing song literature. Since its inception, CASP has brought together composers, writers, and performing artists in the creation of ten new works for voice and piano. It has released four CDs dedicated to the music of Derek Holman, John Greer, and Norbert Palej, all of which have been received with great critical acclaim. For more information please visit:

Philcox is currently Associate Professor and head of Collaborative Piano studies at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music.

“The Toronto Summer Music Academy is on par with the best song programs in the world, providing nearly unparalleled access to the art form’s leading performers and experts. It is a program that allows the singer to reconnect with their art and fall in love with music and poetry all over again.  The strength of the Art of Song program is the amount of one-on-one time allocated for each singer and pianist with the visiting artists.  Hardly anywhere else do you truly get to work in depth with such high calibre musicians for that length of time.”

Mireille Asselin, soprano (2012 TSM Academy Fellow)

Chamber Music Institute Mentors

Borodin Quartet

New Orford String Quartet

Alexander Kerr, violin


Alexander Kerr’s expressive and charismatic style has made him one of the most accomplished and versatile violinists on the international music scene today. In 1996 at the age of 26, Mr. Kerr was appointed to the prestigious position of Concertmaster of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. After nine successful years at that post, he left in June, 2006 to assume the endowed Linda and Jack Gill Chair in Music as Professor of Violin at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. In addition to his teaching responsibilities in Bloomington, he maintains a busy concert schedule appearing with orchestras and in recital and chamber music performances throughout the U.S., Asia and Europe. In 2008 he began his tenure as Principal Guest Concertmaster of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and in September 2011, he assumed his role as Concertmaster of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.

Regarded by the press as a masterful virtuoso with an elegant, old-world sound, Mr. Kerr has appeared as soloist with major orchestras throughout the United States and Europe, working with such renowned conductors as Mariss Jansons, Riccardo Chailly, Peter Oundjian, Donald Runnicles, Robert Spano, Alan Gilbert, Jaap van Zweden and David Zinman.

An active chamber musician, Mr. Kerr has collaborated with Martha Argerich, Leif Ove Andsnes, Emanuel Ax, Joshua Bell, Yefim Bronfman, Edgar Meyer, Truls Mørk, Menahem Pressler, Vadim Repin, Alisa Weilerstein, Kim Kashkashian and Maxim Vengerov in performances at festivals in Aspen, Santa Fe, Caramoor, La Jolla, Stavanger, and throughout Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Switzerland, Austria and the Netherlands. He has recently launched a collaboration with cellist Eric Kim and the Dorothy Richard Starling Foundation, showcasing the enormous wealth of talent at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. The “Starling Chamber Players,” a mixture of faculty and students will tour chamber music venues throughout the nation.

Mr. Kerr’s CD releases include the Dvorak Piano Quintet with Sarah Chang and Leif Ove Andsnes on the EMI label, music by Dutch composer Julius Röntgen on the NM Classics label, and the Shostakovich Romance on a series of discs including “Violin Adagios” and “Evening Adagios” released by Decca. A live DVD and CD recording of Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben with Mr. Kerr, the RCO and Maestro Mariss Jansons was released in 2005 on the RCO’s own label: RCOLive!

Raised in Alexandria, Virginia, Mr. Kerr began his studies at age seven with members of the National Symphony Orchestra. He went on to study with Sally Thomas at the Juilliard School, and with Aaron Rosand at the Curtis Institute of Music where he received his Bachelor of Music degree in 1992.

Barry Shiffman, violin


Violinist and violist Barry Shiffman has a rich and varied career as a performer, recording artist, teacher, and administrator. Shiffman made his debut with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra at the age of 15. In 1989, he co-founded the St. Lawrence String Quartet (SLSQ). During his 17 years with the quartet he appeared in over 2,000 concerts in venues around the globe (including Rockport Music), and recorded several critically acclaimed discs under an exclusive contract with EMI Classics.

In addition to performing and recording, Shiffman is a sought after violin and viola teacher and chamber music coach. As part of his role in the St. Lawrence, Shiffman served as artist in- residence at Stanford University from 1998 to 2006 and as visiting artist at the University of Toronto from 1995 to 2006.

From 2006-2010, he served as Director of Music Programs at Banff Centre and from 2010-2016 was the Artistic Director of the Centre’s Summer Music Programs and Executive Director of the Banff International String Quartet Competition. During his tenure at The Banff Centre he introduced new programming in classical music performance, composition, popular music and Jazz and oversaw the dramatic growth of The Banff International String Quartet Competition (BISQC), which he continues to direct.

Since the fall of 2010, he has been at The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, as both Associate Dean and Director of Chamber Music at the Glenn Gould School and Dean of the Phil and Eli Taylor Performance Academy for Young Artists. A sought after juror, he has served on the jury of the Tchaikovsky and Montreal Violin Competitions, as well as London’s Wigmore Hall, Geneva, Banff, and Lyon String Quartet Competitions.

In addition to his work at Banff Centre and The Royal Conservatory, Shiffman has served as Executive Artistic Director of Vancouver’s Music in the Morning Concerts since 2009.

He is currently the Artistic Director of Rockport Music in Massachusetts overseeing all classical presentations including a five week summer chamber music festival.

The recipient of the Nadia Boulanger Prize for Excellence in the Art of Teaching awarded by the Longy School of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and received an honorary doctorate from the University of Calgary. His formal studies were at the Royal Conservatory in Toronto, University of Toronto, Utrecht Conservatory, Hartt School of Music, Juilliard School and Yale University.

Scott St. John, violin

Yehonatan Berick, violin/viola

Yehonatan Berick

Steven Dann, viola


Steven Dann’s career has covered a wealth of violistic possibilities. As principal viola of some of the world’s leading orchestras, as a veteran of the string quartet and chamber music world, as soloist and recitalist and as a dedicated teacher.

Mr. Dann was born in Vancouver, Canada. His foremost teacher and mentor was the late Lorand Fenyves. Other influences include William Primrose, Robert Pikler, Bruno Giuranna and five summers spent studying the string quartet repertoire with Zoltan Szekely and members of the Hungarian String Quartet.

Upon graduation from university he was named Principal Viola of the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, Canada, a position he has subsequently held with the Tonhalle Orchestra in Zurich, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam, the Vancouver Symphony and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. He has also served as guest principal of the Luzern Festival Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Seiji Ozawa, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Sir Simon Rattle and, in both performance and recordings, with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe under Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Paavo Berglund and Pierre Boulez and the Canadian Opera Company in performances of Wagner’s Ring Cycle.

Steven Dann has collaborated as a soloist with such Maestri as Sir Andrew Davis, Rudolph Barshai, Jiri Belohlavek, Sir John Elliott Gardiner, Jukka-Pekka Saraste and Vladimir Ashkenazy.

Since 1990 Mr. Dann has been a member of the Smithsonian Chamber Players in Washington D.C. and was a founding member of the Axelrod String Quartet. He is currently violist of both the Zebra Trio (with violinist Ernst Kovacic and cellist Anssi Karttunen) and Toronto’s twice Grammy-nominated ARC Ensemble.

Mr. Dann has recorded for Sony, Naxos, CBC Records, Marquis Classics, Centrediscs, RCA Red Seal, Ondine, Kairos, Chandos and ATMA Classique. The Stereo Record Review described his 2006 recording of the viola works of Brahms (ATMA CLASSIQUE) as “without doubt, one of the most beautiful viola recordings I have ever heard”. A second CD for ATMA of French repertoire was released in March of 2013.

Recent performances include solo works/concerti by Peter Lieberson, Giya Kancheli, W.A. Mozart, Alexina Louie, Christos Hatzis (world premiere), Mark- Anthony Turnage, Jonathan Harvey, Peter Oesterle (world premiere), William Walton and Morton Feldman. Mr. Dann has himself commissioned and premiered many new works from such composers as Alexina Louie, Peter Lieberson, R. Murray Shafer, Frederick Schipitsky, Walter Buczyinski, Christos Hatzis and Michael Oesterle.

As both a performer and teacher, Mr. Dann is a regular guest at many international festivals and arts schools. He teaches viola and chamber music at the Glenn Gould School in Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music and is the Coordinator of the chamber music program at the Domaine Forget in Quebec. Beginning in September of 2015 he will teach viola at McGill University as the Catherine Thornhill Steele Chair in Viola.

Mr. Dann plays a viola of Joseph Gagliano, circa 1780.

Julie Albers, cello

Julie Albers

Ani Aznavoorian, cello


The Strad magazine describes cellist Ani Aznavoorian as having “Scorchingly committed performances that wring every last drop of emotion out of the music. Her technique is well-nigh immaculate, she has a natural sense of theater, and her tone is astonishingly responsive.” Ms. Aznavoorian is in demand as a soloist and chamber musician with some of the most recognized ensembles, and she has appeared with many of the world’s leading orchestras including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Pops, the Tokyo Philharmonic, the Helsinki Philharmonic, the Finnish Radio Symphony, the International Sejong Soloists, the Belgrade Philharmonic, the Juilliard Orchestra, and the Edmonton Symphony. This season marks Ms. Aznavoorian’s eleventh year as principal cellist with Camerata Pacifica.

Ms. Aznavoorian received the prestigious Bunkamura Orchard Hall Award for her outstanding cello playing and artistry. Some of her other awards include first prizes in the Illinois Young Performers Competition (televised live on PBS with the Chicago Symphony), the Chicago Cello Society National Competition, the Julius Stulberg Competition, and the American String Teachers Association Competition. She was a top prizewinner in the 1996 International Paulo Competition, held in Helsinki, Finland. As a recipient of the Level I award in the National Foundation for the Arts Recognition and Talent Search, Ms. Aznavoorian was named a Presidential Scholar in the Arts and performed as soloist at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. where she met former U.S. President Bill Clinton.

As a first-year student at The Juilliard School, Ms. Aznavoorian won first prize in the institution’s concerto competition—the youngest cellist in the history of the school’s cello competitions to do so. As a result, she performed with the Juilliard Orchestra in a concert with conductor Gerard Schwarz at Avery Fisher Hall. With only 12 hours notice, Ms. Aznavoorian stepped in to replace Natalia Gutman in three performances of the Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1 with the San Jose Symphony—concerts that were hailed by the San Jose Press. Other notable appearances include concerts at Weill Hall and Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Ravinia’s Bennett Hall, Aspen’s Harris Hall, the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series, WFMT Live from Studio 1, and NPR’s Performance Today. She has been a member of the renowned string ensemble the International Sejong Soloists, and also performs frequently on the Jupiter Chamber Music series in New York. Ms. Aznavoorian received both her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the Juilliard School where she studied with Aldo Parisot.

In addition to performing, teaching plays an important part in Ms. Aznavoorian’s career. She has been a member of the distinguished music faculty at the University of Illinois in Champaign/Urbana, and in the summers has served on the faculty of the Great Mountains Music Festival in South Korea. Ms. Aznavoorian enjoys performing new music and has made the world premiers of many important pieces in the cello repertoire. Some of these include Ezra Laderman’s Concerto No. 2 with the Colorado Springs Philharmonic under the baton of Lawrence Leighton Smith, Lera Auerbach’s “24 Preludes for Cello and Piano” on stage at the Hamburg Staatsoper with the Hamburg State Ballet—choreographed by John Neumeier, and Lera Auerbach’s “Dreammusik” for Cello and Chamber Orchestra, which was written for her and commissioned by Camerata Pacifica. In addition to return engagements at chamber music festivals around the globe, this season will include a debut concert tour of Armenia, the country of her ancestors. Ms. Aznavoorian records for Cedille Records, and she proudly performs on a cello made by her father Peter Aznavoorian in Chicago.

Jeffrey Beecher, bass

Jeffrey Beecher

Lukas Geniušas, piano

Lukas Geniusas

Pedja Muzijevic, piano

Natasha Paremski, piano

Natasha Paremski