Music Director, NAC Orchestra

Alexander Shelley

Last updated: May 3, 2024

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 eight 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. Free In-person

    Join us for a pre-show talk hosted by Caroline Ohrt, Executive Producer of NAC Dance, featuring choreographer Andre Peña, photographer Edward Burtynsky, and NAC Orchestra's music director Alexander Shelley.

  2. In-person Video
     © Une photo prise par Jeanne Tétreault. Interprètes  (gauche à droite) Rebecca Margolick, Gabrielle Kachan, Jontae McCrory, Frédérique Rodier, François Richard
qui posent devant les images d'Edward Burtynsky.

    Juxtaposed with the breathtaking images of Edward Burtynsky, a multidisciplinary, multisensory NAC Dance and NACO commission.  

  3. In-person Video
     © Jeremy Dutcher

    As part of our Sessions series, NAC Popular Music & Variety is honoured to welcome Jeremy Dutcher live in Southam Hall with the NAC Orchestra! This performance is also part of SPHERE. The NAC festival will explore rivers and waterways, engaging…

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… The NAC Orchestra’s final album in a four-part recording… 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

    NAC Orchestra Mentorship Program

    Play it forward! A bold and innovative professional development initiative for talented emerging and early career professional orchestral… Play it forward! A bold and innovative professional… 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. … Four Canadian musical visionaries have created episodes with… 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