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 project Life Reflected, and three major new ballets in partnership with NAC Dance for Encount3rs. He and the NAC Orchestra have made three recordings with label Analekta: Life Reflected, Encount3rs, and New Worlds. A fourth, The Bounds of Our Dreams, was released in fall 2018.
He is passionate about arts education and nurturing the next generation of musicians. He led 1,300 youth in a concert for Ottawa’s Ignite 150, and worked closely with Eskasoni First Nation in Nova Scotia during the NAC Orchestra’s Canada 150 Tour.
Alexander Shelley is also Principal Associate Conductor of London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and was Chief Conductor of the Nuremburg Symphony from 2009 to 2017. He has conducted the Rotterdam Philharmonic, DSO Berlin, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Stockholm Philharmonic, and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, among others. In May 2019, he will lead the Orchestra on its 50th anniversary European tour.Read full NAC bio ›
Albina Shagimuratova, the “Coloratura Wonder Woman” (die Welt) has been hailed by Bachtrack as “a rare and exceptional talent; one that only occurs once a decade.” Since first coming to international attention as the Gold Medal winner in the 2007 Tchaikovsky Competition, she has performed at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Teatro alla Scala and Metropolitan Opera, plus the Mariinsky and Bolshoi theatres.
During the 2018–2019 season, she returns to Bayerische Staatsoper as Konstanze in Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail, as well as Wiener Staatsoper and Lyric Opera Chicago as Violetta in La traviata. Shagimuratova performs Britten’s War Requiem with the Orchestre de Paris, conducted by Daniel Harding, and makes her NAC debut with this evening’s concert.
Recent highlights include Die Zauberflöte (Queen of the Night) at the Salzburg Festival and at Sommerfestspiele Baden-Baden conducted by Yannick Nézet‑Séguin (for a recording by Deutsche Grammophon). Albina Shagimuratova was invited to perform at the prestigious 2018 FIFA World Cup Opening Gala Concert on the Red Square in Moscow with the Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra under Valery Gergiev.
The Russian coloratura soprano is a graduate of the prestigious Houston Grand Opera Studio, and has collaborated with distinguished conductors such as Riccardo Muti, Zubin Mehta and Daniel Harding.
Canadian-American tenor Isaiah Bell’s work is characterized by his “beautiful tenor, command of style, and natural stage presence” (Broadway World) and performances of “haunting beauty... and glowing vocal skill” (New York Times). In October 2018, he created the role of Antinous, lover of the Roman emperor Hadrian, in the world premiere of Rufus Wainwright’s Hadrian at the Canadian Opera Company. He last appeared with the NAC Orchestra in 2017, as tenor soloist in Messiah.
Other engagements this season include solo debuts at Carnegie Hall (Creation, Messiah), the Caramoor Festival (Handel’s Atalanta with Philharmonia Baroque), the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra (Acis and Galatea) and the Innsbruck Festival of Early Music.
Last season, Bell revisited Mark Morris’s production of Britten’s Curlew River at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, giving “a performance of exquisite poignancy” (New York Times) as the Madwoman. He also made debuts with the Canadian Opera Company (Arabella) and the Seattle Symphony (Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9).
Isaiah Bell has recorded as a soloist with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, Daniel Taylor’s Theatre of Early Music and CBC Radio. He is also a composer and librettist. His original solo show, The Book of My Shames, will be produced through Tapestry Opera and Victoria’s Intrepid Theatre in 2019–2020.
Whether performing song, opera or in concert throughout the world, baritone James Westman’s passion and musicianship bring an extra dimension to his performances. His current season includes Britten’s War Requiem for the NAC Orchestra and the Colorado Symphony, Rigoletto for Opéra de Montréal, Germont in La traviata for Edmonton Opera and Pacific Opera Victoria, Elijah for the Calgary Philharmonic, the title role in Nabucco for Opéra de Québec and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 for the Vancouver Symphony.
Westman’s 2017–2018 season was notable for Carmina Burana for the St. Louis and Vancouver symphonies, Brahms’s Requiem with Orchestre symphonique de Québec, and L’assedio di Calais with Odyssey Opera in Boston. Recent highlights include the role of Sir John A. MacDonald in the Canadian Opera Company’s production of Somers’ Louis Riel presented in Toronto and Quebec City, and in Ottawa where the opera was co-produced with the NAC Orchestra. He also recently appeared in Martin’s In terra pax for the Grant Park Music Festival and Vanessa at the Wexford Festival.
Nominated for two GRAMMY® awards and three JUNO awards, James Westman has recorded for Decca, Opera Rara, CBC and BBC. Of special note is his recording of Britten’s War Requiem conducted by Seiji Ozawa.
The Bundesjugendorchester is Germany’s youngest major orchestra, founded by the German Music Council in 1969 and made up of the country’s finest young musicians between the ages of 14 and 19. Distinguished conductors such as Herbert von Karajan and Kirill Petrenko have led the orchestra, and Sir Simon Rattle was named Conductor Laureate this year. Guest soloists have included violinist Christian Tetzlaff and rock musician Sting.
During intensive work phases, the young musicians prepare significant orchestral works from all periods. Tours have taken the group throughout Europe, as well as to North and South America, Asia and Africa.
The Orchestra’s work is generously supported by the German Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, DekaBank, Evonik Foundation, Daimler AG, the City of Bonn, GVL (German Collecting Society for Performing Rights), DOV (Union of German Orchestral Musicians), the German National Youth Orchestra Foundation, and numerous private donors.
In November, the Orchestra makes their first visit to the National Arts Centre, playing Britten’s War Requiem with the NAC Orchestra and presenting a Remembrance Day concert with members of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada and local youth choirs. They also perform chamber music in Ottawa at Southminster United Church.