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 four recordings with Montreal label Analekta: Life Reflected, Encount3rs, the JUNO-nominated New Worlds, and The Bounds of Our Dreams.
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.
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The Music Director role is supported by Elinor Gill Ratcliffe, C.M., O.N.L. (hc)
Donna Feore is one of Canada’s most versatile creative talents and has been highly praised for her work with the Stratford Festival. This season, she will direct and choreograph Little Shop of Horrors and a completely reimagined production of Billy Elliot the Musical. Last season, she received accolades for her direction/choreography of both The Music Man and The Rocky Horror Show (now the longest running show in the Festival’s history).
Other Festival productions include Guys and Dolls, The Madwoman of Chaillot, A Chorus Line, The Sound of Music, Crazy for You, Fiddler on the Roof, Cyrano de Bergerac, Oklahoma! and Oliver!. For the NAC, Feore is the Creative Producer & Director for the multimedia collaborative production Life Reflected and Director for Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. For the NAC English Theatre, she directed and choreographed The Hockey Sweater: A Musical (world premiere, Segal Centre).
Other directing credits include Rock & Roll and It’s a Wonderful Life (CanStage), Lecture on the Weather and A Soldier’s Tale with F. Murray Abraham (Detroit Symphony). Selected opera credits (staging and choreography) include Canadian Opera Company’s Siegfried (remounted, Opéra National de Lyon), and also Tosca, Red Emma and Oedipus Rex with the COC (Dora Mavor Moore Award, Best Choreography). Selected film/television credits inlclude Mean Girls, Eloise, Treading Water, Politics is Cruel, Martin and Lewis, and Stormy Weather.Read full NAC bio ›
Tanya Tagaq is an improvisational singer, avant-garde composer and bestselling novelist. A Member of the Order of Canada, a winner of the Polaris Music Prize and a JUNO, a Giller Prize Long Listed author and a recipient of multiple honorary doctorates, Tagaq is one of the country’s most original and celebrated artists.
Tagaq’s improvisational approach lends itself to collaboration across genres and forms. Her work includes numerous guest vocal appearances (Buffy Sainte-Marie, Weaves, A Tribe Called Red, Fucked Up), original avant-garde classical compositions (Kronos Quartet, The Toronto Symphony Orchestra), commissions (National Maritime Museum in London, U.K.) and more. In its many forms, from her novel Split Tooth to her most recent album Retribution, Tanya Tagaq’s art challenges static ideas of genre and culture, and contends with themes of environmentalism, human rights and post-colonial issues.
Tanya Tagaq is releasing a new EP, Toothsayer, in March 2019 via Six Shooter Records.
A musical chameleon, Christine Duncan uses her voice as an instrument, in a wide range of diverse musical styles. She is involved in everything from jazz, R&B, gospel, improvised music, and sound poetry, to new music, opera and musique actuelle. She performs with many musical groups and projects, notably with Hugh Fraser’s VEJI (Vancouver Ensemble of Jazz Improvisation) since the mid 1990s, and Barnyard Drama with drummer/electronic artist Jean Martin since 2002. She directs the Element Choir, and with Martin leads the Element Choir Project (a touring, improvising choir project). Duncan and the Element Choir have also been performing with Tanya Tagaq since 2014, and she performs with Tagaq on voice and theremin as well. An active educator, she has been teaching in the jazz programs at Humber College and the University of Toronto since 2003.
Jean Martin is a drummer, multi-instrumentalist, producer, and a key member of the field of creative music in Canada. Martin is based in Toronto but his network of collaborators extends throughout Canada and internationally. As a performer, some of his principal associations are with Christine Duncan, Barnyard Drama, Element Choir, Jesse Zubot and Tanya Tagaq, among others. In 2004, he received the Freddy Stone Award for excellence in contemporary music in Canada.
As a producer, Martin is best known as the Artistic Director of Barnyard Records, one of the most vital labels for contemporary music in North America. Barnyard’s 40‑plus-title catalogue is dedicated primarily to Canada’s diverse field of creative musicians and reflects both the eclecticism and excellence of its best artists, along with his deft touch as a producer and recording engineer. In addition to his work with Barnyard, Jean Martin has produced and/or engineered over 100 other recording projects in countless musical styles.
Zosha Di Castri is a Canadian composer/pianist living in Paris. Her work (which has been performed in Canada, the U.S., South America and Europe) extends beyond purely concert music, including projects with electronics, sound arts, and collaborations with video and dance.
Di Castri’s orchestral compositions have been commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony, New World Symphony and Esprit Orchestra, and have been featured by the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, NAC Orchestra, Amazonas Philharmonic and the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, among others. She has also worked with many leading new music groups including Talea Ensemble, Wet Ink and the NEM.
Zosha Di Castri was the recipient of the Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music for her work Cortège in 2012. She completed a Bachelor of Music at McGill University, and in 2009, participated in the NAC Composer Program as part of the Summer Music Institute. She has a doctorate from Columbia University in composition. She is Assistant Professor of Music at Columbia.Read full NAC bio ›
Soprano Nathalie Paulin has established herself worldwide as an interpretive artist of the very first rank. Winner of both the Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Opera Performance and the Montreal’s Prix Opus – Concert of the Year for Medieval, Renaissance or Baroque Music, she has collaborated with internationally renowned conductors including Harry Christophers, Jane Glover, Kent Nagano, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Bernard Labadie, Andrew Parrott, and Jacques Lacombe.
The New Brunswick native’s current season includes Messiah for the Vancouver Chamber Choir, a European tour of Dear Life with the NAC Orchestra with Alexander Shelley, Vivier’s Lonely Child for the Vancouver Symphony and his opera Koperikus for Against the Grain. Recent engagements include Blow’s Venus and Adonis for Clavecin en Concert, and Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3 for the Winnipeg Symphony. Her discography includes Sacchini’s Oedipe a Colone, David’s Lalla Roukh, Caldara’s Clodoveo, Re di Francia and Faure’s Requiem. Nathalie Paulin is currently a member of the Vocal Department at the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto.
Alice Munro was born on July 10, 1931 and raised on a farm outside of Wingham, Ontario. She attended the University of Western Ontario where she studied English and published her first short story in the university’s literary magazine. She married James Munro in 1951 and moved to Victoria, British Columbia where she had three children and co-owned a bookshop with her husband.
Her first book of short stories was published in 1968 and since then she has published 15 more. Her work frequently appears in magazines including The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly and The Paris Review. She divorced in 1972 and moved back to Ontario to take up a post as writer-in-residence at the University of Western Ontario, a position she later held at the University of British Columbia and at the University of Queensland.
She married Gerald Fremlin in 1976 and moved to his hometown of Clinton, Ontario, not far from Wingham. Gerald died in April 2013. On December 10, 2013, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Alice Munro has recently announced her retirement from writing and continues to live in Clinton.Read full NAC bio ›
Martha Henry is perhaps best known for her work with the Stratford Festival, where she played Prospero in Antoni Cimolino’s production of The Tempest in 2018. Director of the Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre from 2007 to 2015, she now heads the Michael Langham Directors’ Workshop at the Stratford Festival and will be directing Henry VIII for the coming 2019 season.
At the Stratford Festival, Martha Henry has also directed Brief Lives (Douglas Rain), Richard II (Geordie Johnson), Of Mice and Men (Graham Green), An Enemy of the People (David Fox), Three Sisters (Lucy Peacock), Timothy Findley’s Elizabeth Rex (Diane D’Aquila, Brent Carver), All My Sons (Joseph Ziegler) and Twelfth Night (Sarah Afful). Her credits at the Shaw Festival include The Royal Family (Goldie Semple, Patricia Hamilton), Autumn Garden (Sharry Flett) and Hedda Gabler (Moya O’Connell, Jim Mezon). She was Artistic Director of London’s Grand Theatre from 1988 through 1994 and has directed across Canada, including RED (Randy Hughson) for the Segal Centre in Montreal.
She has been honoured with a Governor General’s Lifetime Achievement Award and Stratford’s Legacy Award, as well as seven honorary doctorates. Martha Henry is a Companion of the Order of Canada and a member of the Order of Ontario.
Larry Towell’s business card reads “Human Being.” Experience as a poet and folk musician has done much to shape his personal style. He is the first Canadian to become a member of the prestigious Magnum Photo agency and is Canada’s most decorated photo journalist. His work focuses on the dispossessed, the exile, and peasant rebellion. Towell is the author of 14 photography books including El Salvador, The Mennonites, No Man’s Land – a project on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict – and The World From My Front Porch, a highly-acclaimed monograph on his own family in rural Ontario. His most recent book, Afghanistan, which is on the conflict in that country, was included in The New Yorker’s list of fourteen best photo books of 2014. His next book, Ukraine: The History War, will be published by Gost (England).
Larry Towell’s work has been collected and exhibited in many international institutions including the Getty Museum, the George Eastman House, the National Museum of Qatar and Library and Archives Canada.
Merilyn Simonds is the author of 18 books of long and short fiction and creative nonfiction, including The Convict Lover – a Governor General's Literary Award finalist –and the novel The Holding, a New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice. Her work is anthologized and published internationally. Her most recent works are the novel Refuge (2018) and Gutenberg’s Fingerprint (2017), a literary memoir that explores the past, present and future of books. She is a past chair of The Writers’ Union of Canada and the founding Artistic Director of Kingston WritersFest. In 2016, Simonds’ essay “Where Do You Think You Are?” was published in The Cambridge Companion to Alice Munro.
“With its shimmering sheets of harmonics” (Georgia Straight) and an approach that is “deftly idiomatic” (Vancouver Sun), Jocelyn Morlock’s music has received numerous national and international accolades, including Top 10 at the 2002 International Rostrum of Composers, the Mayor’s Arts Award for Music in Vancouver (2016) and the JUNO Award for Classical Composition of the Year (My Name is Amanda Todd, 2018).
Most of Morlock’s compositions are for small ensembles, many of them for unusual combinations like piano and percussion (Quoi?), cello and vibraphone (Shade), bassoon and harp (Nightsong), and an ensemble consisting of clarinet/bass clarinet, trumpet, violin and double bass (Velcro Lizards). Cobalt, a concerto for two violins and orchestra, was her first commission for the National Arts Centre Orchestra, in 2009, which was recently performed by the NAC concertmasters Yosuke Kawasaki and Jessica Linnebach with the NAC Orchestra in February 2019. Her first full-length CD, also titled Cobalt, was released on the Centrediscs label in 2014. Morlock has been the Vancouver Symphony’s Composer in Residence since 2014.Read full NAC bio ›
A snowflake is like a unique girl that no one else can duplicate because she is one of a kind.
Amanda was a child full of sparkle and spirit that became a memory too soon. She filled her life with people, music and art. She loved animals and, mostly, she was passionate about helping others.
We can and have learned from Amanda and the stories about what happened to her in the short years of her life. Her YouTube video has sparked discussions all over the world on topics related to bullying, cyberbullying, mental health and online safety.
Amanda wanted her voice heard. She would have wanted everyone to know how much she hurt emotionally and how the same thing also hurt thousands of other children and youth each day.
A close friend wrote these words: “As you go forward in the days and months ahead, consider carefully what and how much can be done. Amanda’s legacy should be one that teaches awareness and that our society will only succeed via tolerance, compassion, community and forgiveness.”
When you see a snowflake falling gently from the sky, think of Amanda, our Princess Snowflake.
Called “a brilliant musical scientist” (CBC) and “breathtakingly inventive” (Sydney Times Herald), award-winning composer and video artist Nicole Lizée creates new music and video from an eclectic mix of influences including the earliest MTV videos, turntablism, rave culture, glitch, Hitchcock, Kubrick, Alexander McQueen, thrash metal and 1960s psychedelia. Her commission list of over 50 works includes the Kronos Quartet, BBC Proms, the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, NAC Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, Carnegie Hall, Bang on a Can, stargaze, Sō Percussion, and the Banff Centre.
Lizée’s works are regularly performed worldwide to international acclaim. Awards include the 2019 Prix Opus for Composer of the Year, the Canada Council for the Arts Jules Léger Prize, the SOCAN Jan V. Matejcek Award, the Images Festival Award, and the Canada Council Robert Fleming Prize for achievements in composition. She received a JUNO nomination for Classical Composition of the Year (2019).
Nicole Lizée is a Lucas Artists Fellow (California) and a Civitella Ranieri Foundation Fellow (Italy). In 2016, she was selected by composer Howard Shore to be his protégée as part of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards. She is a Korg and Arturia artist.Read full NAC bio ›
Dr. Roberta Bondar is unique, and not just for being the world’s first neurologist in space or for her pioneering space medicine research. Academically one of the most distinguished astronauts to have flown in space, Dr. Bondar is also the only astronaut to use fine art photography to explore and reveal Earth’s natural environment from the surface.
Seeing the world through the lenses of a medical doctor, scientist, photographer, astronaut and author, Dr. Roberta Bondar follows in her family’s tradition of excellence in teaching. Trained as a member of NASA’s Earth Observation Team, Dr. Bondar expanded her professional photographic expertise. As a landscape photographer, her work is represented by galleries in London, England, Vancouver, Toronto, Winnipeg and Calgary.
Dr. Bondar’s distinctions are many: Officer of the Order of Canada, the NASA Space Medal, induction into the International Women’s Forum’s Hall of Fame, and 26 honorary doctorates from Canadian and American Universities. Additionally, she co-founded The Roberta Bondar Foundation which helps cultivate in all ages a sense of awe, respect and appreciation for other life forms that share our planet.
Dr. Roberta Bondar is a true Renaissance woman and a great Canadian icon who exhibits a human curiosity and unending drive to reach, and help others reach, higher capabilities.
John Estacio ranks as one of Canada’s most frequently performed composers. His works, both symphonic and operatic, have been praised for their assured command of lyricism, depth of expression, and brilliant dynamism. His residencies with the Edmonton Symphony and the Calgary Philharmonic yielded numerous orchestral compositions that have gone on to receive multiple performances including Borealis, Wondrous Light, A Farmer’s Symphony, and his most performed composition Frenergy, which has been transcribed for concert band and published by Boosey & Hawkes.
In 2003, Calgary Opera gave the world premiere of his first opera, Filumena, to a libretto by John Murrell, and the Cincinnati Ballet commissioned him to write his first full-length ballet score for King Arthur’s Camelot in 2014. He has received four JUNO nominations for his recorded music, most recently in 2015 for his Triple Concerto. He is currently at work on his fifth opera.
In 2009, Estacio was one of three composers to receive the National Arts Centre Award for Canadian Composers. The award involved three commissioned works to be written for the Orchestra, beginning with Brio (2011), continuing with the Sinfonietta for Woodwind Quintet (2014), and concluding with the work we hear tonight, I Lost My Talk.Read full NAC bio ›
Monique Mojica, from the Guna and Rappahannock nations, is passionately dedicated to theatrical practice as an act of healing, of reclaiming historical/cultural memory and of resistance. Spun directly from the family-web of New York’s Spiderwoman Theater, her first play Princess Pocahontas and the Blue Spots was produced in 1990.
Ms. Mojica founded Chocolate Woman Collective in 2007 to develop the play Chocolate Woman Dreams the Milky Way, a performance created by devising a dramaturgy specific to Guna cultural aesthetics, story narrative and literary structure. She has taught Indigenous Theatre – theory, process and practice – at the University of Illinois, the Institute of American Indian Arts and McMaster University.
Current projects include Side Show Freaks & Circus Injuns, with an illustrious team of Indigenous artists from diverse disciplines, co-written with Choctaw playwright LeAnne Howe, and recently, the premiere of Kaha:wi Dance Theatre’s Re-Quickening, a new work by Santee Smith.Read full NAC bio ›
Rita Joe was a famous Mi’kmaw poet who celebrated her language, culture and way of life. Rita Bernard was born in 1932 in Whycocomagh, Nova Scotia. Orphaned at the age of ten, she soon found herself at the Shubenacadie Residential School. Forbidden to speak her language, she endured mental and physical abuse and left at age 16. She soon met Frank Joe and they married and started a family.
Rita Joe began writing in the mid-1970s. She wrote seven books, including Poems of Rita Joe (1978), Song of Eskasoni (1988) and The Blind Man’s Eyes (published posthumously in 2015).
In 1989, Rita Joe was inducted into the Order of Canada and in 1992 she became a member of the Queen’s Privy Council. She received an Aboriginal Achievement Award in 1997 and doctorates from several East Coast universities. Her husband, Frank, died in 1989 and a year later she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. She kept writing until her death in 2009, five days after her 75th birthday.
Upon her death, the Globe and Mail named her the Poet Laureate of the Mi’kmaq people.
“I was only a housewife with a dream to bring laughter to the sad eyes of my people.”Read full NAC bio ›
A founding partner of Rhombus Media, award-winning director and producer Barbara Willis Sweete now heads up a dynamic new team at Willis Sweete Productions, a boutique media company specializing in cultural documentaries, arthouse films and cross-media projects.
Willis Sweete has produced and directed more than 50 films which have been seen around the world. She has also directed 30 live-to-cinema transmissions from the Metropolitan Opera of New York. These are broadcast live to more than 2,000 cinemas in 70 countries. In 2017 and 2018, she directed three more MetOpera transmissions: Rossini’s Semiramide, Mozart’s Idomeneo and Verdi’s Nabucco.
Within the last year, Barbara Willis Sweete has completed a number of film and television projects: Sketches of Dvořák, a feature-length documentary for Czech Television; Songs of Freedom, a multiplatform project, starring Measha Brueggergosman, encompassing a feature-length documentary, a series of half-hour television episodes, and a comprehensive digital media component; and, most recently, a one-hour special about Chinese New Year featuring Yo-Yo Ma and Lang Lang.
Santee Smith is a multidisciplinary artist, award-winning producer and Managing Artistic Director of Kaha:wi Dance Theatre. She is from the Kahnyen’kehàka Nation, Six Nations of the Grand River, Ontario. Exploring the intersection of Indigenous and new performance through resurgent Indigenous process and practice, her work speaks about identity and Indigenous narratives. Her works are interdisciplinary, multi-voiced, intergenerational and intercultural; connected to land, story and spirit of place.
Smith trained at Canada’s National Ballet School and completed Physical Education and Psychology degrees from McMaster University and a Master of Arts in Dance from York University. Her independent commissions include collaborations with the Canadian Opera Company, North American Indigenous Games – Opening Ceremonies, Stratford Festival and National Film Board of Canada, among others. Her life and works have been the topic of TV series and documentary films such as All Our Relations and Kaha:wi – Cycle of Life. Her most recent performance The Mush Hole, based on the Mohawk Institute Residential School legacy, is set to tour extensively in 2019–2021. Santee Smith is a sought-after speaker on the performing arts, Indigenous performance and culture.
Based in Montreal, Normal Studio specializes in scenography and visual design that creates unique multimedia environments. Since 2009, the company has worked in the performing arts, in entertainment and with public installations. Known as projection and modelling experts, Normal Studio’s team is also recognized for the pre-visualization tools they use to facilitate the creative process with renowned artists and organizations such as Cirque du Soleil, Lemieux-Pilon 4D Art, CBC/Radio-Canada, HBO, Ubisoft, the NAC Orchestra and Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. Their team of 30 transdisciplinary creative talents develop agile multimedia environments that are intertwined with content creation. In every moment of the day, they generate meaningful moments and seek compelling human connections. The studio is constantly looking to exceed what’s possible, from the personal and professional, and from the artistic and technological points of view.
For the past 20 years, Peter McBoyle has designed sound at most of the major theatres in Canada and many in the U.S. He has designed over 60 productions for the Stratford Festival and was their resident sound designer for 13 seasons. His credits for the NAC English Theatre include An Enemy of the People, Mary’s Wedding, Arms and the Man, Trying, After the Orchard, The Real Thing, The Wrong Son, Oliver! and The Sound of Music. He holds a Bachelor of Music and a master’s degree in Sound Recording from McGill University.
Sound designer (selected): House of Martin Guerre, On The Town, Crazy For You, Trap Door (Theatre Sheridan); Mary Poppins (YPT); ONCE (The Grand/RMTC); You Are Here (Thousand Islands/Musical Stage Co); Into The Woods (Thousand Islands); The Immigrant (Harold Green); IMPRINTS (Theatre Gargantua); As You Like It (Repercussion Theatre). Associate/assistant sound designer (selected): Orphée+ (Against The Grain/Opera Columbus); Guys & Dolls, HMS Pinafore, A Chorus Line, A Little Night Music, The Sound of Music, Carousel, Crazy for You, Man of La Mancha (Stratford); Peter Pan, Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, Snow White (Ross Petty Productions); Nìagara – A Pan-American Story (Panamania); Alice Through the Looking-Glass (Charlottetown Festival); Aladdin (Disney); HAIR (The Grand).
Kimberly Purtell is a Toronto-based lighting designer for theatre, opera and dance. Recently she designed Sextet (Tarragon Theatre); Concord Floral (Suburban Beast); Alice Through The Looking-Glass, Man of La Mancha, and Christina The Girl King (Stratford Festival). She is the recipient of the Pauline McGibbon Award and three Dora Mavor Moore Awards.
Ann Baggley has been the Assistant Director to Donna Feore on seven productions at the Stratford Festival: The Music Man, The Madwoman of Chaillot, Guys and Dolls, A Chorus Line, Fiddler on the Roof, Crazy For You and The Sound of Music. She also assisted Ms. Feore on the world premiere of The Hockey Sweater: A Musical at the Segal Centre and at the NAC’s English Theatre. She was an actor for 15 years, performing at the Stratford and Shaw Festivals, the NAC’s English Theatre and several regional theatres. When not involved in theatre, she is also a photographer.
Susan Monis Brett has extensive experience in both opera and theatre. She was principal stage manager at Opera Hamilton for 16 years. She has worked with the Canadian Opera Company, Vancouver Opera, and the Opera Division at the University of Toronto. Her theatre work includes the Stratford and Shaw Festivals, to name a few. Her most recent work at the NAC was on the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards.