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Music Director, NAC Orchestra

Alexander Shelley

Last updated: November 10, 2023

Alexander Shelley succeeded Pinchas Zukerman as Music Director of Canada’s NAC Orchestra in September 2015. The ensemble has since been praised as being “transformed... hungry, bold, and unleashed” (Ottawa Citizen) and Shelley’s programming credited for turning the orchestra into “one of the more audacious in North America” (Maclean’s). 

Shelley is a champion of Canadian creation; recent hallmarks include the multimedia projects Life Reflected and UNDISRUPTED,and three major new ballets in partnership with NAC Dance for Encount3rs. He is passionate about arts education and nurturing the next generation of musicians. He is an Ambassador for Ottawa’s OrKidstra, a charitable social development program that teaches children life skills through making music together. 

Alexander Shelley is also the Principal Associate Conductor of London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and, starting with the 2024–2025 season, Artistic and Music Director of Artis-Naples and the Naples Philharmonic in Florida, USA. In the spring of 2019, he led the NAC Orchestra on its critically acclaimed 50th Anniversary European tour, and in 2017, he led the Orchestra in a tour across Canada, celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary. Most recently, he led the Orchestra in its first performance at New York’s Carnegie Hall in 30 years.

He has made seven recordings with the NAC Orchestra, including the JUNO-nominated New Worlds, Life Reflected, ENCOUNT3RS, The Bounds of Our Dreams, and the acclaimed Clara, Robert, Johannes four-album series, all with Canadian label Analekta. 

 
The Music Director role is supported by Elinor Gill Ratcliffe, C.M., O.N.L., LL.D. (hc) 

Upcoming events

  1. Before the Québec presentation of ''Two Orchestras, One Symphony'', join us for a bilingual pre-concert talk with Alexander Shelley … read more

  2. NACO joins forces with the OSQ, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, and sensational guest pianist Kevin Chen for the final stop on a multi-city tour.   … read more

  3. NACO joins forces with the OSQ, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, and sensational guest pianist Kevin Chen for the final stop on a multi-city tour.   … read more

Projects & initiatives

  • Illustration of 3 composers, Clara and Robert Schumann, and Johannes Brahms. New album

    Romance and Counterpoint

    The NAC Orchestra’s final album in a four-part recording cycle that explores the closely intertwined personal and artistic connections between three musical giants: Clara Schumann, Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms.

  • Naco-mentorship-06-10-22-rite-of-spring credit curtis-perry dscf8735 © Curtis Perry

    NAC Orchestra Mentorship Program

    Play it forward! A bold and innovative professional development initiative for talented emerging and early career professional orchestral creatives from around the world. 

  • Undisrupted-card start streaming

    UNDISRUPTED: A ground-breaking series

    Four Canadian musical visionaries have created episodes with the NAC Orchestra that use the power of music and video to share their stories.

NAC media featuring Alexander Shelley