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, Eric Leung and Alexandra Bourque.
Conductor & Artistic Director
LEONIDAS VARAHIDIS started his musical career at a young age on piano, and eventually began to focus on his skills as a euphonium player. He is a graduate of the University of Toronto's Concurrent Teaching Education Program (B.Mus ’12, B.Ed ’12). Leonidas’ principal instrument during his studies was the euphonium, and was a student of Larry Shields.
Leonidas has been the recipient of numerous scholarships and awards from the University of Toronto for his performance, education, and leadership merit, including the Neil D. Graham Scholarship for the graduate who has attained the highest proficiency in their field of study. He has also been recognized twice by the Ontario Music Educators' Association, where he was awarded the university student leadership award and the George Bishop Pre-Service Scholarship.
As a teacher within the Toronto District School Board, he has had the opportunity to teach to students ranging from junior high, high school, and adult levels. He has taught at Highland Junior High School, Riverdale Collegiate Institute, Yorkdale Secondary School, and Sir John A. Macdonald Collegiate Institute and is currently Curriculum leader of Music at North Toronto Collegiate. During these experiences he has led jazz band, orchestra, men’s choir, and bands of all levels.
Outside of the classroom, Leonidas is a teacher facilitator for the Ontario Educational Leadership Centre's "Intermediate Arts Camp", a program for students to learn leadership skills through a focus in the arts. He is also a faculty member for the National Music Camp of Canada, where he works with both beginning band and choral programs.
Leonidas has a breadth of knowledge in all main fields of conducting. He has worked with Dr. Gillian MacKay and Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds for wind conducting, choral conducting with Dr. Hilary Apfelstadt and Dr. Lori-Anne Dolloff, and orchestral conducting with Ivars Taurins. As a performer, he is the euphonium player for the Toronto Wind Orchestra, and has played with the Weston Silver Band.
Leonidas has served as Conductor/Artistic Director of the Toronto Community Orchestra since 2012. He is very proud of the work and dedication the members of this orchestra have put towards the music, and looks forward in continuing the growth and positive impact the organization has brought to the community.
Rebecca Lane is owner and Director of the successful and growing Upper Beaches Music School in Toronto's east end. Driven by her commitment to music education, Rebecca Lane has acquired both respect and demand for her skills in and around the GTA.
Her extensive training in violin performance began in her hometown of Hampton, New Brunswick, and took her to Memorial University in St. John's, Newfoundland where she completed her Bachelor of Music in violin performance under the tutelage of Nancy Dahn.
In 2007, Rebecca relocated to Toronto where she earned an Artist's Diploma in orchestral training at the Glenn Gould School. In 2010, Ms. Lane founded Upper Beaches Violin Studio with a few private students in her home. Since that time, the school has grown in size and strength in the community with additional teachers, instruments, and group class offerings.
When she is not teaching, Rebecca enjoys reading, baking and spending time with her husband and children.
Toronto Community Orchestra