NAC shutting down Young Artists Program

The Young Artists Program has brought talented young musicians to Ottawa every summer for the past two decades. Photo: Fred Cattroll

The National Arts Centre is ending the Young Artists Program (YAP) which has brought talented young musicians to Ottawa for the past 20 years, ARTSFILE has learned.

The final YAP will take place this month.

The program was started by former NAC Orchestra music director Pinchas Zukerman. Many of the students who have visited Ottawa over the past two decades have gone on to professional careers with the NAC Orchestra and other ensembles around the world.

The NAC has sent a notice that the YAP is ending to partners and stakeholders. The last day of the final edition is June 22.

In the message the centre says:

“For 21 years, the Young Artist Program has trained incredible soloists in the areas of solo and chamber music repertoire, some of whom have gone on to play in the NAC Orchestra as part of the IOS (Institute for Orchestral Studies) program. We welcome once again this year very talented young musicians from around the world, and we are grateful to Pinchas Zukerman, Patinka Kopec and to all the musicians who devote themselves by sharing their valuable expertise to train the next generation of musicians.

“Starting next year, the NAC Orchestra and its Music Education department will be changing the focus of its summer training program, and the current Young Artist Program will be sunsetting.”

The decision to end the program comes as the NAC is undergoing the development of a strategic plan that will chart a course for the next five years.

“We have decided to re-orient our artist training programs in music to be more focused on orchestral training and have come to the difficult decision to draw the Young Artist Program to a close,” Geneviève Cimon, the NAC’s director of Music Education and Community Engagement is quoted as saying in the statement.

“We remain committed to artist training at the highest level and will take the next year to develop a unique orchestral training program that draws on the strengths the musicians of the NAC Orchestra have to offer,” she added.

The NAC says it “looks forward” to an ongoing relationship with Zukerman, who is NACO’s conductor emeritus. The former maestro is back in Ottawa in the coming weeks to take part in the final YAP. He is giving an open masterclass on June 13 at uOttawa. And he will be on stage in Southam Hall conducting NACO with pianist Jonathan Biss in November.

The students who come to Ottawa for the YAP work with talented professionals including Zukerman, Kopec, NACO’s star principal double bass Joel Quarrington, pianist Angela Cheng, Carp, Ontario native Bryan Wagorn, soprano Arianna Zukerman and cellist Hans Jørgen Jensen.

Wagorn, in an interview with ARTSFILE a year ago called the YAP:

“This amazing little thing that happens every summer. The experience of community is really important because the life of a soloist can be very isolated.”

And he credited it with helping him to a job at the Metropolitan Opera in New York as an assistant conductor.

The Young Artists Program does have events that the public can attend. For more please see

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Peter Robb began his connection with the arts community in Ottawa in the mid-1980s when he was the administrator and public relations director of the Great Canadian Theatre Company. After a long career in journalism with the Ottawa Citizen where he served in a number of different posts he returned to the arts when he became the Citizen's arts editor.