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Orchestras in the COVID-19 crisis — a new paradigm

Who said bad news comes in threes? Though COVID-19 has disrupted many organizations, it quickly became clear to Jean-Philippe Tremblay, artistic director of the OF, conductor and gifted instructor, that the situation presented an opportunity to revitalize his teaching and the entire pedagogical approach of the Academy.

Thus, in full transformation mode since March, the OF has been evolving constructively to pursue its key mission: that of offering concrete training, focused on the practical, to young professional musicians looking for a springboard outside of the walls and corridors of traditional academia. But, how can one offer a substantive and meaningful experience to people who are thousands of kilometres apart and far from the concert hall?

With digital technology becoming ever more prevalent in the everyday lives of classical musicians, it became necessary to create an on-line OF, thus disproving the old saw about bad news, and allowing good news to follow instead. Therefore, since the professional lives of the next generation of musicians will be more virtual, their training must reflect this change as well.

The OF’s 2020 Academy — and those that follow — will include many new on-line elements, including distance education, virtual solos or concerts outside the concert hall, and a number of digital projects developed by the academic staff.

To accomplish this, the OF has invested in high-end technical equipment (e.g. cameras and microphones) for each of its young musicians to ensure they have professional-grade tools. All this new connectivity will also make it possible to broaden the educational mandate to fit in additional time and teaching windows during the year.

It would have taken a much worse situation to keep Jean-Philippe Tremblay and his organization from helping young musicians continue their training. Given today’s challenges, the support of the Academy orchestra is more important than ever.