National Arts Centre Orchestra

Last updated

National Arts Centre Orchestra
Concert hallNational Arts Centre Southam Hall
Music director Alexander Shelley

The National Arts Centre Orchestra (NAC Orchestra) is a Canadian orchestra based in Ottawa, Ontario led by music director Alexander Shelley. The NAC Orchestra's primary concert venue is Southam Hall at the National Arts Centre. Since its inception, the Orchestra has commissioned more than 90 works, mostly from Canadian composers. The NAC Orchestra has made over 50 commercially released recordings. The Orchestra has visited more than 125 cities in Canada and more than 130 cities internationally in its 51-year history, including a coast-to-coast Canadian tour in 1999 and again in 2017. In May 2019, the NAC Orchestra completed a major European tour, performing and delivering education events in five countries.



The NAC Orchestra was founded in 1969 as the resident orchestra of the newly opened National Arts Centre, with Jean-Marie Beaudet as music director and Mario Bernardi as founding conductor. Bernardi became music director in 1971 and held the post until 1982. The NAC Orchestra undertook first international tour in 1973 to Europe, travelling as far as Leningrad. [1] The NAC Orchestra has remained committed to touring internationally, averaging approximately one tour per every two years. Previous tours have taken them to the UK, China, the United-States of America, and all over Europe.

Beaudet and Bernardi are the only Canadian conductors to be appointed music director of the NAC Orchestra. Bernardi was named Conductor Laureate in 1997. Subsequent NAC Orchestra music directors have included Franco Mannino (1982 to 1987), Gabriel Chmura (1987 to 1990), and Trevor Pinnock (1991-1997). From 1999 to 2015, Pinchas Zukerman was the NAC Orchestra's music director. [2] The orchestra expanded to 61 players during Zukerman's tenure. [3] In October 2013, the NAC Orchestra announced the appointment of Alexander Shelley as its next music director, as of the 2015–2016 season, with an initial contract of 4 years. [4] [5] In 2018, the NAC announced that his contract was renewed through to 2022.

Franz-Paul Decker was Principal Guest Conductor from 1991 to 1999. In 2001, Jean-Philippe Tremblay became the NAC Orchestra's Apprentice Conductor, a then newly created post, for a two-year term. John Storgards is the current Principal Guest conductor of the NAC Orchestra while Jack Everly is the Principal Pops Conductor.


Music Directors

See also

Related Research Articles

Itzhak Perlman Israeli-American violinist

Itzhak Perlman is an Israeli-American violinist, conductor, and music teacher. Perlman has performed worldwide, and throughout the United States, in venues that have included a State Dinner at the White House honoring Queen Elizabeth II, and at President Barack Obama's inauguration. He has conducted the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Westchester Philharmonic. In 2015, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He has received 16 Grammy Awards, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and four Emmy Awards.

Trevor Pinnock English harpsichordist and conductor

Trevor David Pinnock is a British harpsichordist and conductor.

Pinchas Zukerman Israeli-American violinist, violist and conductor

Pinchas Zukerman is an Israeli-American violinist, violist and conductor.

The National Arts Centre (NAC) is a performing arts organisation in Ottawa, Ontario, along the Rideau Canal. It is based in the eponymous National Arts Centre building.

Mario Bernardi Canadian conductor and pianist

Mario Bernardi, was a Canadian conductor and pianist. He conducted 75 different operas and over 450 other works with the National Arts Centre Orchestra.

Canadian classical music

In Canada, classical music includes a range of musical styles rooted in the traditions of Western or European classical music that European settlers brought to the country from the 17th century and onwards. As well, it includes musical styles brought by other ethnic communities from the 19th century and onwards, such as Indian classical music and Chinese classical music. Since Canada's emergence as a nation in 1867, the country has produced its own composers, musicians and ensembles. As well, it has developed a music infrastructure that includes training institutions, conservatories, performance halls, and a public radio broadcaster, CBC, which programs a moderate amount of Classical music. There is a high level of public interest in classical music and education.

Walter Prystawski, CM is a Canadian classical violinist, conductor and teacher. For many years he was the concertmaster of the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa.

Yip Wing-sie

Yip Wing-sie is a Hong Kong musician.

Adelaide Symphony Orchestra

The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra (ASO) is a South Australian performing arts organisation comprising 75 full-time musicians, established in 1936.

The Ottawa Symphony Orchestra (OSO) is a full size orchestra in Ottawa, Canada, including professional, student and amateur musicians. With around 100 musicians, the OSO is Ottawa's largest orchestra, which allows it to perform large symphonic repertoire of the 19th and 20th centuries, including works by Canadian composers.

Amanda Forsyth Canadian musician

Amanda Forsyth is a Canadian cellist, and is the former principal cellist of the National Arts Centre Orchestra.

Denys Bouliane is a Canadian composer and conductor. He is a Professor of Composition at McGill University.

Jethro Marks is a Canadian/American classical violist. He is the founding violist of the Zukerman Chamber Players and the Principal Violist of the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa.

Eduard Topchjan

Eduard Topchjan is an Armenian conductor, the principal conductor and artistic director of the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra.

Alexander Shelley British conductor (born 1979)

Alexander Gordon Shelley is an Echo Music Prize-winning English conductor. He is currently music director of the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, as well as principal associate conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Shelley was the unanimous winner of the 2005 Leeds Conductors Competition. From 2009 to 2017 he was chief conductor of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra. He is also artistic director of the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen's Echo and Deutsche Gründerpreis winning "Zukunftslabor".

Jonathan Estabrooks Canadian opera singer

Jonathan Estabrooks is a Canadian baritone, record producer, executive producer and graduate of the Juilliard School. He is active in the Canadian and American Opera, Concert and Musical Theatre worlds and on YouTube. He was executive producer and creator of Artists for the Arts, a charity single and music video in support of Americans for the Arts in their efforts to save the National Endowment for the Arts

The Macao Orchestra also known as the Macau Orchestra is a professional orchestra based in the Chinese special administrative region of Macao. Consisting of approximately 60 members from Asia, Europe, North America and Australia, the orchestra performs symphonic, chamber, and educational concerts around Macau. The orchestra also tours mainland China two or three times per year and in 2007 performed in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Jean-Marie Beaudet was a Canadian conductor, organist, pianist, radio producer, and music educator. He had a long career with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, serving variously as a music producer, programing director, conductor, and administrator. With the CBC Symphony Orchestra he conducted the premiere recordings of works by many Canadian composers, including pieces by Maurice Blackburn, Claude Champagne, J.-J. Gagnier, Clermont Pépin, and Healey Willan.

A. Duain Wolfe is an American choral conductor, conductor of the Colorado Symphony Chorus and the Colorado Children's Chorale. He is the former chorus director and conductor of the Chicago Symphony Chorus (1994-2022) and a past president of Chorus America.

<i>Italian Opera Arias</i> 1979 studio album by Frederica von Stade

Italian Opera Arias is a 51-minute studio album of music performed by Frederica von Stade, Janice Taylor and the National Arts Centre Orchestra under the direction of Mario Bernardi. It was released in 1979.


  1. "Canadian orchestra a big hit in Leningrad". Lethbridge Herald, via Newspaper Archives. May 19, 1973 - Page 7
  2. Mark Brownlee (2012-03-06). "The maestro steps down". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 2012-03-07.
  3. Michael Vincent (2015-06-22). "Pinchas Zukerman says heartfelt farewell to National Arts Centre Orchestra". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2015-09-20.
  4. "Canada's National Arts Centre announces Alexander Shelley as its Music Director-designate Renowned conductor to lead NAC Orchestra in 2015-2016". NAC. October 30, 2013. Retrieved October 30, 2013.
  5. Martin Knelman (2015-09-16). "Meet Alexander Shelley, Ottawa's charismatic new conductor". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2015-09-20.