The Folks Behind it All – Musical Toronto profile, November 2014

Published on, November 11, 2014, Michael Vincent, editor
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Ann Summers Dossena

Ann Summers Dossena | Founder/Director
Eleanor Friedland | President
Clarice Carson | Vice-President
John Lopes | Treasurer
Sheila Rose | Secretary
Linda Litwack | Communications
Steven J. Gray | Legal Counsel
Charles Osborne | Member at Large


For the jazz trio or string quartet that feels stuck in its development and is keen to reach new audiences, the singer who has completed his or her training but isn’t clear on the next steps to take, the pianist looking to move beyond winning competitions – for all of these situations and more, the International Resource Centre for Performing Artists aims to help turn their potential into accomplishment and employment.

The IRCPA ( is emerging as a dedicated service organization for Canada’s musical artists, including instrumentalists, vocalists, conductors, collaborative pianists and composers in the fields of opera, classical, jazz, world and new music.

Under the direction of founder Ann Summers Dossena and a knowledgeable board of directors, since 1983 the IRCPA has been actively presenting Workshops and Encounters with Canadian and international employers, coaches and established experts to help artists gain confidence, find their place in the world’s markets, and become successful performers in their chosen fields.

These proven programs are now being updated and expanded. The board of directors is devoted to helping freelance emerging performers hone their skills and gain more knowledge of the industry in which they wish to develop their careers. The IRCPA is also pursuing a centre, where musicians can come together as a community, at various stages of their careers, to exchange ideas and challenges, and know they are not alone in their journey.

Summers Dossena observes, “It is the nature of the business that there is usually a gap between an artist’s graduation and first job. This happens not only because a newly graduated artist may not be prepared for the real world of auditions, performing and management, but also because orchestras, opera companies and concert presenters book two or even three years in advance. Keeping focused by exploring repertoire, learning languages, and gaining a basic knowledge of who’s who in the industry – how and why decisions are made – is vital during this period.

“The transition from student to professional can be daunting. Making one’s own decisions means solid information is needed. Encounters With Employers prepares the artist for auditions or performances, explores appropriate repertoire, answers questions or offers advice in a supportive, collegial environment.”

Artists participating in focus groups or round table discussions often suggest the hot topics they want to explore in workshops besides contracts or negotiation, representation, and professional wardrobe consultation. The IRCPA programs address these issues and more.

Such services can be available year-round, as requested, along with brainstorming, mentoring of soloists or groups, long-range and strategic planning, and “platform sharing” for promotional presentations by artists.

Spring and fall events feature Workshops on current hot topics, a Who’s Who in the Industry panel, and discussion on the state of the arts, as well as Encounters with international employers and coaches.

Collaborations with universities, music schools or study programs will allow the sharing of guest experts, for the benefit of both students and professionals.

Summers Dossena, who was honoured by the international arts industry in 2012 and again in 2014, retired from arts management in October 2013 after a distinguished, 55-year career in New York, Rome and Toronto. Among the current IRCPA board members are three performers who enjoyed important international careers – sopranos Clarice Carson and Lois McDonall, and tenor and composer Charles Osborne. All are making their expertise available to newer generations.

2015 FORUM

The first forum presented by the newly expanded IRCPA will take place March 27-29, 2015 with an Encounter with Joan Dornemann from the Metropolitan Opera, along with a Who’s Who in the Industry Panel. Hot topic workshops suggested by focus groups and round-table discussions are planned for April 10-12. These programs are made possible, in part, by support from the Ontario Arts Council. Details will be announced in January.


The IRCPA is also seeking benefactors to create a permanent home for Canada’s musical artists. Plans include meeting rooms, a much needed audition and performance space and a reference library, similar to the National Opera Center in New York, but intended for a broader musical base in Toronto. Named in memory of one of Canada’s most famous international musical stars, it is hoped to be opened in time for Canada’s 150th anniversary, in 2017.


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