The TCO had its humble beginnings in 1970 as the Timothy Eaton Memorial Orchestra, based at Timothy Eaton Church downtown. In 2009 the orchestra moved to Glenview Presbyterian Church at Yonge & Lawrence. At this time, the orchestra changed its name to the Toronto Community Orchestra and established a website. While Glenview was a lovely venue for rehearsals, the group unfortunately outgrew the space within 2 years. In 2011 the TCO moved again, this time to Eastminster United Church in Riverdale/East York, where it has attracted even more local musicians.
At its present location, the orchestra has in recent years doubled to over 60 members, with a waiting list. General Manager and cellist, Bonnie Sheckter, says of her experience, “I can't believe how far we've come since I joined the orchestra about 16 years ago. I can remember years ago when we had a single person playing in the first violin section, four or five second violins, one viola player, no brass and no timpani. The music we could play was so limited. Louis has brought us so far, in choosing music that challenges us and has allowed us to grow and broaden our horizons. Under his patient and skilled direction, the musicality and technical competence with which the orchestra now plays has increased so dramatically!”
Past conductors with the TCO have included Tony Gomes, Jeremy Legault, Lynn Tucker, Carol Matthews and Eric Leung.
Interim Conductor & Artistic Director
ALEXANDRA BOURQUE Recognized for her energy, musicality and charisma, French Canadian-born conductor, Alexandra Bourque, is the Music Director and Conductor of the Toronto Community Orchestra. She holds a Bachelor of Music and a Bachelor of Education from McGill University with distinction, and a Master in Music Performance (conducting) from the University of Toronto.
Ms. Bourque is the recipient of five scholarships from McGill University, and the Al Mercury Scholarship from the University of Toronto. Most recently, she received the prestigious Women’s Musical Club of Toronto Foundation Graduate Fellowship for the 2016-2017 academic year.
Ms. Bourque worked as the assistant conductor of the University of Toronto Wind Ensemble from 2015-2017 where she also founded and conducted the University of Toronto Brass Ensemble. In 2016, she was also chosen to work with Orchestra Toronto as their assistant conductor for one of their concerts.
Ms. Bourque is known for her versatility in the musical world. As a violinist and trombone player, her experience extends to both wind bands and ensembles, as well as symphonic orchestras. Prior to attending the University of Toronto, Ms. Bourque was the assistant choir director for the DOXA Choir in Terrebonne from 2012-2014, the assistant conductor for the Cercle Philharmonique de St-Jean in 2014-2015, and the student conductor for the 2014 Denis Wick Canadian Wind Orchestra. Ms. Bourque has had the opportunity to conduct the McGill Wind Symphony, the McGill Beethoven Orchestra, the Ensemble ą Vents de Sherbrooke (EVS), the Royal 22e Regiment, the Orchestre ą Vents Non Identifié (OVNI), and the University of Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
She has participated in music symposiums across Canada and has been chosen by the University of Michigan and the New England Conservatory in Boston for their summer conducting programs in 2016. She has studied under Maestros Uri Mayer, Alexis Haüser, Alain Cazes, Dr. Jerry Luckhardt, Dr. Rob Taylor, Dr. Michael Haithcock, Dr. Charles Peltz, and Mr. Frank Battisti.
Ms. Bourque is also recognized as an acclaimed pedagogue in the musical scene. She has been teaching violin at the University of Toronto, the CollŹge Régina Assumpta, Le Jardin des Violons, and in her private studio. She has also been working as a music specialist for many French and English school boards in the province of Quebec. She is now the Senior School Music Teacher at Holy Trinity School in Richmond Hill.
Toronto-based violinist Alessia Disimino is recognized for her thoughtful musicality and instinctive interpretations. She is the co-founder and violinist of the Bedford Trio, concertmaster of the Toronto Community Orchestra and the North York Concert Orchestra, and Director of Strings at the North York String Academy, where she teaches the violin on a private and group class basis and curates the violin program. Alessia is a graduate of the University of Toronto's Bachelor of Music in Performance (Hons.) with a Minor in English, where she studied with Annalee Patipatanakoon of the Gryphon Trio, and also obtained her Master of Music in Performance (Hons.) as a scholarship student of Dr. Timothy Ying.
Alessia has served as concertmaster of the University of Toronto Orchestra and Opera, and as a soloist and chamber musician, has performed in master classes for Jonathan Crow, Erika Raum, Mark Fewer, Jeanne Lamon, Lara St. John, Gryphon Trio, Menahem Pressler, and the Juilliard String Quartet, amongst others. Alessia is also an active freelance violinist in Toronto, and performs with various ensembles in Vaughan and the Greater Toronto Area, including Maestro Kerry Strattonís Toronto Concert Orchestra.
A recipient of numerous awards, Alessia was most recently awarded the Gordon Cressy Leadership Award for her contributions to her community and to the University, and also received an Ontario Graduate Scholarship (2017). Previous awards include the Gerhard Kander Graduating Award for Violin, and the Felix Galimir Award for Excellence in Chamber Music (2015). Alessia holds her Associate of the Royal Conservatory of Toronto (ARCT) in Violin Performance (First Class Hons. with Distinction), is an alumnus of the RCMís Young Artistís Performance Academy and the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra, and has attended summer study programs including the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute, the Orford Academy, and the Domaine Forget Academy. For her pedagogical training, Alessia has also attended the University of Toronto Wind Conducting Symposium and the Indiana University Violin and Viola Teacher Retreat.
Alessia is equally passionate about teaching and community outreach. She provides violin instruction on a private basis for students of all ages and levels, performs regularly in music ministry at her parish, and has performed outreach concerts for numerous senior residences and hospitals throughout Toronto. For more information, please visit alessiaviolin.com.
"I was overwhelmed by the commitment, passion, and dedication of each member in the TCO. Their genuine love for learning and growing as an orchestra was inspirational, and each rehearsal was truly a joyful meeting of persons who were fully committed to performing their best. Tuesday's concert was a testament to what is possible with hard work and a driving passion to excel. I am excited to continue this musical journey with the orchestra next season!" - Alessia
Toronto Community Orchestra