May 13, 2021 update on live performances and events at the NAC.

Coalition for Music Education in Canada / NAC Orchestra / MusicFest Canada

Music Monday 2021

Facebook Live
Special Events Music Classical music Masterworks Violin Cello Vocal

Facebook Live event

NAC Co-presentation

On Monday, May 3rd, we are celebrating Music Monday!

Music Monday is an opportunity to advocate for equitable access to music education for all Canadian children and youth, and to celebrate the phenomenal music making that is taking place from coast to coast to coast.

This year, the Coalition for Music Education in Canada, the National Arts Centre Orchestra and MusicFest Canada have joined #TogetherInHarmony to produce a one-hour virtual concert featuring Canada’s most outstanding young musicians.

The concert will begin with O Canada, directed by NAC Orchestra Music Director Alexander Shelley, sung by the Ellison Canadian Honour Choir, and accompanied by the NAC Orchestra and 150 young performers from across the country.

The concert will feature several of MusicFest’s National Honour Ensembles, including:

  • the Denis Wick Canadian Wind Orchestra
  • the Thomastik-Infeld Canadian String Orchestradirected by Alexander Shelley
  • the Woodshed Canadian Percussion Ensemble
  • the Conn-Selmer Centerstage Jazz Band
  • the National Youth Jazz Combo
  • the Ellison Canada Honour Choir
  • the Canadian Band Association’s National Youth Band of Canada. 

The concert will be broadcast at 5 p.m. (ET) on Monday May 3 via Facebook where viewers can comment in real time with audiences throughout the country. The video will also be available via Coalition's YouTube channel, starting at 6 a.m. (ET) that same day, making it easy for teachers and students to access.

You also do not want to miss the Coalition for Music Education’s Music Monday Spotlight Celebration, featuring music and messages from some of Canada’s most beloved artists, premiering at 1 p.m. (ET).


(Streamed on the Coalition for Music Education in Canada's Facebook page)
9:00 am to 7:00 pm (ET) (Throughout the day) - Performances and Messages from Across Canada (featuring a brief performance by NAC Orchestra Principal Tuba Chris Lee)

12:30 pm (ET) - Collective Singing of the Music Monday Anthem (conducted by Alexander Shelley)

1:00 pm (ET) - Music Monday 2021 Spotlight Celebration

3:00 pm (ET) - Children’s Corner

5:00 pm (ET) - MusicFest Canada National Honour Concert
(featuring "O Canada" performed by Alexander Shelley, the NAC Orchestra, and MusicFest’s National Honour Ensembles; as well as masterworks performed by MusicFest's National Honour Ensembles, including the Thomastik-Infeld Canadian String Orchestra conducted by Alexander Shelley)
7:00 pm (ET) - After Party



Since its debut in 1969, the National Arts Centre (NAC) Orchestra has been praised for the passion and clarity of its performances, its visionary educational programs, and its prominent role in nurturing Canadian creativity. Under the leadership of Music Director Alexander Shelley, the NAC Orchestra reflects the fabric and values of Canada, reaching and representing the diverse communities we live in with daring programming, powerful storytelling, inspiring artistry, and innovative partnerships.  

The NAC Orchestra has recorded many of the 80+ new works commissioned since its inception, mostly from Canadian composers, for radio and on over 40 commercial recordings. These include Angela Hewitt’s 2015 JUNO Award-winning album of Mozart Piano Concertos; the groundbreaking Life Reflected, which includes My Name is Amanda Todd by Jocelyn Morlock, winner of the 2018 JUNO for Classical Composition of the Year; from the 2019 JUNO-nominated New Worlds, Ana Sokolović’sGolden Slumbers Kiss Your Eyes, 2019 JUNO Winner for Classical Composition of the Year; the 2020 JUNO-nominated The Bounds of Our Dreams featuring pianist Alain Lefèvre, and Clara - Robert - Johannes: Darlings of the Muses, released in 2020.   

The NAC Orchestra reaches a national and international audience through its online streaming, touring, recordings, and leads a significant Music Education and Community Engagement department, whose volume of activities parallels that of its performance and artistic creation activities. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the NAC Orchestra adapted its programming with new digital initiatives including virtual masterclasses and lessons, virtual concert series (NACO Live, NACO at the Fourth), audio and video series (NACO Home Delivery,NACO Lunch Breaks, From NACO with Love), and lively online interviews led by Music Director Alexander Shelley (Musically Speaking).  


Launched in 2005 by The Coalition for Music Education, Music Monday is one of the world’s largest single events dedicated to raising awareness for music education. Each year, hundreds of thousands of students, educators, and music makers celebrate with events from coast to coast to coast, and participate in the collective singing of the Music Monday Anthem, an original song written by a Canadian artist. The 2021 anthem is the iconic “Hymn to Freedom,” by Oscar Peterson and Hariette Hamilton, in a new bilingual translation.

By raising our voices and instruments in support of Music Monday, we make a powerful statement to all Canadians about the importance of equitable access to quality music education for all students.

Music Monday 2021 will take place virtually, to ensure that all Canadians can celebrate safely. We invite you to register online to access music and materials; plan a grassroots celebration* in your school or community; and tune in for our Music Monday webcast on May 3. 


MusicFest Canada is a registered charity. It is the largest educational music festival network in North America. It is the only Canadian music festival that is officially bilingual, and is the umbrella organization for a network of 58 Affiliated Festivals. In May of each year, MusicFest Canada produces “The Nationals” which brings together 6,000-9,000 of the most outstanding young performers with some of the finest professional musicians in the world and the finest adjudicators and clinicians in North America. It features 5-6 days of intense music education and motivation through concerts, adjudicated performances, clinics and workshops. Outstanding students are recognized and benefit through the scholarship and Honour Ensemble programs. MusicFest has influenced music education in Canada for 49 years. MusicFest Canada’s mission statement is: 

  • To provide an opportunity for students and educators from across Canada and elsewhere to meet, share and demonstrate their musical achievements and creativity. 
  • To evaluate and reflect on musical achievement and creativity in a constructive and educationally focused way. 
  • To encourage the study and performance of music written and arranged by Canadian composers. 
  • To complement and enhance the teaching, learning and growing process. 
  • To foster and promote a lifelong interest in music as a basic human experience.  


The National Arts Centre Foundation wishes to acknowledge the leadership support of Mark Motors Group, Official Car of the NAC Orchestra. The NAC Orchestra Music Director role is supported by Elinor Gill Ratcliffe, C.M., O.N.L., LLD (hc). Special thanks to the Janice and Earle O’Born Fund for Excellence in the Performance Arts, The Azrieli Foundation, the Slaight Family Foundation and TD Bank Group, Grant and Alice Burton, A Donor-Advised Fund at the Community Foundation of Ottawa, Friends of the NAC Orchestra, and donors and sponsors from across the country