Our mission : Use music as a tool for sustainable social change while presenting innovative and audacious concerts.

The Agora Orchestra (OA), led by Nicolas Ellis, uses music as a tool for sustainable social change while presenting innovative and daring concerts. Its musicians actively participate in its social actions through music.

Since its founding in 2013, the Orchestra has distinguished itself through numerous initiatives, including winning a first prize JUNO for the album Viola Borealis, featuring violist Marina Thibeault, as well as the Opus Award for “Musical Event of the Year” for its 2022 Gala de la Terre, which also raised $255,000 for environmental and humanitarian organizations. On February 5, 2023, the Orchestra was awarded the Opus Prize for “Musical Event of the Year” by the Quebec Music Council for this Earth Gala for children on June 22, 2022, which featured Gustav Mahler’s 3rd Symphony. Moreover, the Orchestra began a partnership with the Montreal Detention Centre in 2021-2022, presenting concert-workshops to incarcerated individuals. Since 2013, the Orchestra’s musicians have been providing music lessons and mentorship to hundreds of children from disadvantaged backgrounds, in partnership with Share the Warmth. The Agora also closely collaborates with L’Espace Transition, a social innovation project at the heart of CHU Sainte-Justine, exploring the power of art and creation on the well-being of troubled youth.

Artistic projects have given the Orchestra the opportunity to join forces with such writer-composer-performers as Philippe Brach, as well as with established classical musicians like Andrew Wan (concertmaster, OSM) and Yukari Cousineau (concertmaster, OM). Some of Canada’s greatest soloists — including Kerson Leong, Charles Richard-Hamelin and Marie-Nicole Lemieux — have performed with the OA. The Orchestra won the classical album of the year Juno Award for Viola Borealis with violist Marina Thibeault, recorded on the ATMA Classique label. As part of its regular collaborations with Opéra de Montréal, the OA has had the opportunity to work with talented stage directors such as Sylvain Scott, François Racine and Isabeau Proulx-Lemire on innovative operatic projects, including the baroque operatic arias concert Enfers des Lumières in 2022 and Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges in 2023. In recent years, the OA has presented several high quality online concerts, including a holiday concert with soprano Karina Gauvin, Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn, and Concert Solidaire in support of health care workers, broadcasted on ICI Radio-Canada Première.


“These tears, which prison chaplain Stéphane Roy observes while following up with inmates after the concerts, show that culture, far beyond mere “entertainment”, acts as a powerful revealer of our humanity.”

Caroline Montpetit, Le Devoir


“Equally remarkable were the radiant strings, colourful woodwind, mobile brass and the general high calibre of a squad of musicians drawn from around the province.”

– Arthur Kaptainis, Gramophone


“An overwhelming musical evening in more ways than one. […] An almost indescribable shock. […] The talent of [Nicolas Ellis] is a blessing. An extremely moving concert, because it was fair and human.”

Christophe Huss, Le Devoir

Fast Facts about the Orchestre

Nicolas Ellis, Artistic Director, is also an Artistic collaborator of the Orchestre Métropolitain and Principal Guest Conductor of Les Violons du Roy. He regularly conducts several ensembles in Canada and Europe;

Since its founding in 2013, the OA has donated more than $430,000 to Canadian environmental and humanitarian organizations.

Since 2019, the Orchestra has presented more than twenty concerts in string orchestra format throughout Quebec, to public and critical acclaim;

Each month, our musicians present concert-workshops to sixty incarcerated individuals at the Montreal Detention Centre, as well as to patients in the gerontopsychiatry department of the Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal;