CVAI is in residence at the University of Montréal

The Canadian Vocal Arts Institute was established in February 2004 by a group of people who care deeply about the emerging careers of our young opera singers and the standing of Montréal on the international vocal arts scene. The main objective of the Institute is to hold annually in Montréal an international training program for talented young singers eager to perfect their art. The first edition took place in June 2004.

This program is made possible through the cooperation of the International Vocal Arts Institute (IVAI), the Jacqueline Desmarais Foundation for Young Canadian Opera Singers and the Faculty of Music of the Université de Montréal. From June 6-26, 2021, the University will be host to more than twenty renewed teachers and more than forty young singers


The Canadian Vocal Arts Institute has held annually in Montreal since 2004, an international training summer program for young emerging singers. A non-profit organization, CVAI has a double-mission: to offer high-caliber training to the best emerging Canadian and international singers and to present to the public a varied and captivating program of more than 20 brilliantly prepared concerts and recitals presented at the Montréal Vocal Arts Festival.


  • Allow young professional singers at the start of their career or freshly graduated students to build a network in the community.
  • Provide advanced training and concert opportunities that allow young singers to develop to their full potential and help improve their career prospects.
  • Support and accompany the most vulnerable singers faced with situations of change of vocal technique.
  • Encourage and support young singers in a spirit of mutual aid.


  • ICAV listens to the needs and concerns of young singers and responds to them from a support perspective.
  • ICAV is rooted in its community. Accessible, known and recognized as a place of proximity, volunteering, mutual aid and support on a human scale, working in partnership and complementarity with the community.
  • ICAV relies on committed teachers and coaches, with a strong sense of belonging and active volunteers, supported by a permanent, adequate and qualified team.
  • ICAV has adequate space thanks to the Faculty of Music at the University of Montreal, appropriate equipment and financial viability to continue to offer flexible and high-quality services and activities.


The idea of holding this program in Montréal came for Faigie Zimmerman, president of the Israel Vocal Arts Institute, a Montréal native who now lives in Tel Aviv, and Denise Massé, a world-renowned accompanist and coach. The establishment of the Canadian Vocal Arts Institute has been made possible by the vision and resolve of its two founders: Roni Blanshay, a Montréal business woman, and Margot Provencher, director of the Jacqueline Desmarais Foundation for Young Canadian Opera Singers. The Institute would not have seen the light of day if not for their hard work and conviction that Montréal needed to host such a great musical training initiative. To them, joined for a few years Mr. Richard Turp, artistic director of the André-Turp Musical Society.

The project received an enthusiastic endorsement from Jacqueline Desmarais who agreed to be its Honorary President. Sophie Desmarais, Julia Reitman, and businessmen and patrons David B. Sela (COPAP Inc.), Dr. Hans Black and Bernard Stotland, FCA (MNP-WSBG) were also quickly brought on board. With the implication of the Faculty of Music of the Université de Montréal, the project received a further significant contribution since the beginning.


The Canadian Vocal Arts Institute is a three week intensive program providing private voice lessons, private coaching, and training in vocal technique, stage presentation and acting, language and diction, as well as opportunities to sing in masterclasses. This program is open to singers in all stages of development and will be tailored to their individual needs. All young artists selected for CVAI will gain valuable onstage experience, hone their auditioning and performance skills, and increase their knowledge of the business aspects of a singing career. CVAI was founded by Metropolitan Opera coach Joan Dornemann and MET conductor Paul Nadler. CVAI is presented in collaboration with Université de Montréal Music Faculty. Canadian tenor Richard Margison is the new artistic director of CVAI since 2020.

Encounters between singers and teachers are most meaningful in the early stages of a career. Public events bring to light many fascinating aspects of the training of young singers, whose discipline is often compared to that of Olympic athletes. For three weeks, young singers, graduate or postgraduate students at major institutions or young professionals, will receive six hours of daily training through individual and group sessions.

All participants will take part in:

  • Public audition on the first day
  • Private voice lessons
  • Private coaching
  • Operatic repertoire coaching
  • Language coaching
  • Acting lessons, movement, stage craft
  • Recital and opera scenes performances
  • Opportunity to sing in masterclasses
  • Closing gala concert

A typical day in the CVAI Program:

  • 10 AM - Chorus
  • 11 AM - Ensemble rehearsals
  • Noon - Lunch
  • 1 PM - Private voice lesson
  • 2 PM - Operatic repertoire coaching
  • 3 PM - Rehearsal with accompanist
  • 4 PM - Language coaching
  • 7:30 PM -Masterclass, recital or concert


The singers wishing to attend the sessions must demonstrate the vocal, technical and musical excellence that is required to take full advantage of the Canadian Vocal Arts Institute program. The sessions are offered to advanced students and young professionals who have shown genuine potential for a singing career. For these sessions, singers were selected after auditions held in New York City and Montréal. The jury was made up of professionals from the field, all recognized for their vocal expertise.


Scholarships and merit-based grants,based upon the auditions, will be awarded to qualified singers enrolled in the Canadian Vocal Arts Institute summer program. The Joan Dornemann Scholarship is awarded to one participant currently studying at the Faculty of Music of Université de Montréal, who demonstrates outstanding musical artistry during the audition.