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 musi-cians. 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. He recently led a tour of Germany and South Africa with the German National Youth Orchestra, and in the spring of 2019, he led the NAC Orchestra on its critically acclaimed 50th Anniversary European tour, with stops including London, Paris, Stockholm and Copenhagen.
The Music Director role is supported by Elinor Gill Ratcliffe, C.M., O.N.L., LL.D. (hc)
Felicia Moore is recognized as a powerful and innovative emerging artist having made music in partnership with Alan Gilbert, Anne Manson, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Speranza Scappucci, Gary Thor Wedow and Brian Zeger, among others.
In the current season, she joins the Metro-politan Opera for First Lady in The Magic Flute led by Lothar Koenings and sings the role of Susan B. Anthony in The Mother of Us All as a part of Project 19, the New York Philharmonic’s celebration of the centenary of the 19th Amendment, which guarantees women the right to vote in the United States. Highlights also include her debut with the NAC Orchestra, the title role of Ariadne auf Naxos at Arizona Opera, and a newly constructed version of Verdi’s Macbeth with Heartbeat Opera.
Moore is a fellowship recipient from Turn the Spotlight, a foundation created to identify, nurture and empower leaders – and in turn, to illuminate the path to a more equitable future in the arts through mentorship by and for exceptional women, people of colour, and other equity-seeking groups in the arts. She is a proud alumna of The Juilliard School, Mannes School of Music and Westminster Choir College.
British-born Canadian mezzo-soprano Susan Platts brings a uniquely rich and wide-ranging voice to a broad spectrum of repertoire, from Bach to Verdi, and is particularly esteemed for her performances of Gustav Mahler’s works. She is a Fellow of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, which established her long-term collaboration with world-renowned soprano Jessye Norman.
Platts has performed on many of the world’s greatest stages including Covent Garden, Royal Albert Hall, Teatro alla Scala, Teatro di San Carlo, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center as well as with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Toronto Symphony, and Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society. Her most recent appearance with the NAC Orchestra was as soloist for Handel’s Messiah in 2017.
Platts has appeared on distinguished art song series in New York, London, Toronto and Montreal, and this season will return to Ann Arbor to appear with UMS (University Musical Society) in a series of Wolf lieder recitals with pianist Martin Katz.
Platts’ recent opera highlights include her Royal Opera House debut in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, John Adams’ Nixon in China with the BBC Proms and Die Walküre with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at Royal Festival Hall.
This season the Samoan tenor Amitai Pati makes his European debut as Bizet’s Nadir in concert performances of Les pêcheurs de perles presented by Les Grandes Voix in Paris and Compiegne, under Arie van Beek. He makes his Canadian debut in Verdi’s Requiem with the NAC Orchestra under Alexander Shelley. He makes his role and company debut as Jupiter/Apollo in Handel’s Semele with New Zealand Opera in a production which will exploit the ecclesiastical architecture of both North and South Islands, and similarly joins the Auckland Philharmonic as the tenor soloist in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Pati reprises this repertoire in China when he makes his Shenzhen debut with the Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra for Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and Choral Fantasy.
A former Adler Fellow, Amitai Pati’s com-mitments in San Francisco last season included Beppe in I pagliacci conducted by Daniele Callegari, Lord Cecil in Roberto Devereux under Riccardo Frizza and Angel Quartet in Jake Heggie’s It’s a Wonderful Life conducted by Patrick Summers. Elsewhere, he has recently recorded La fanciulla del West and Madama Butterfly with the Gulbenkian Orchestra under Lawrence Foster, due for release by Pentatone.
Bass-baritone Dashon Burton has established a vibrant career in opera and recital, as well as with orchestra. In key elements of his repertoire – Bach’s St. John and St. Matthew Passions, Bach’s B-minor Mass, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Brahms’s Requiem, Handel’s Messiah and Mozart’s Requiem – Burton is a frequent guest with the major orchestras of North America.
Dashon Burton’s 2019–2020 season includes the world premiere of Caroline Shaw’s The Listeners, first with the Philharmonia Baroque, led by Nicholas McGegan (frequent partners to Burton), and then with Grant Llewelyn and the North Carolina Symphony, where Burton also sings Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. He sings Michael Tilson Thomas’s Rilke Songs with the Cleveland Orchestra (with whom he appears regularly), led by the composer, and reunites with Tilson Thomas at the San Francisco Symphony in May 2020. He made his debut with the NAC Orchestra last season singing in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.
Burton’s album, Songs of Struggle and Redemption: We Shall Overcome, was singled out by the New York Times as “profoundly moving… a beautiful and lovable disc.” He is a founding member of the groundbreaking vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth, with whom he won a GRAMMY® for their recording of Caroline Shaw’s Pulitzer prize-winning Partita for 8 Voices.
Andrew McAnerney artistic director/directeur artistique
Cantata Singers of Ottawa (CSO) is known across Canada as a versatile and skilled choral ensemble. Now in its 56th season, the choir presents an annual concert series with repertoire ranging from classical to contemporary. CSO is proud to have performed at the NAC every year since the centre’s opening in 1969 and to have been associated with the NAC Orchestra since that time.
Concerts this season are St. Nicolas, Britten’s magical cantata, on November 23, 2019; Minimalism, an exploration of compositions in the minimalist style, on March 21, 2020; and Perfect Purcell, sacred and profane works by the composer, accompanied by the Ottawa Baroque Consort, on May 30, 2020.
Andrew McAnerney, Artistic Director of CSO, is also Director of the Men and Boys Choir at Christ Church Cathedral, Ottawa, and Artistic Director of the Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal. A music graduate of Oxford University, he recently made his conducting debut with the NAC Orchestra in a performance of the Monteverdi Vespers with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. He has conducted many leading Canadian groups including Arion baroque orchestra, Elmer Iseler Singers and the Elora Festival Singers.
Jean-Sébastien Vallée, music director
One of Canada’s premier large choral ensembles, the Ottawa Choral Society draws more than 120 voices from across the National Capital Region. In addition to its annual subscription series, the Society appears regularly with the NAC Orchestra, partners with Chamberfest, and tours internationally.
Led by Jean-Sébastien Vallée, the Society strives to acheive the highest standard of musical excellence. Its programming is diverse and ambitious – from timeless masterworks to adventurous music by today’s leading composers. The OCS fosters the choral and vocal arts through its New Discoveries Auditions, as well as training and performance opportunities for emerging artists, composers and youth, and children’s ensembles.
This season’s OCS concert series con-tinues under the baton of Jean-Sébastien Vallée on November 30 with Hallelujah!, a fascinating 21st-century take on Handel’s immortal Messiah. In March the Society presents Annelies, a poignant setting of the Diary of Anne Frank by British composer James Whitbourn with celebrated soprano Aline Kutan, Andrew Tunis on piano and three musicians from the NAC Orchestra: clarinettist Kimball Sykes, violinist Marjolaine Lambert and cellist Timothy McCoy. The season concludes on June 15 with Martín Palmeri’s Misa a Buenos Aires, featuring well-known CBC radio host mezzo-soprano Julie Nesrallah in an exotic setting of the traditional mass with a tango nuevo accent!
Ottawa Choral Society Music Director Jean-Sébastien Vallée is an internationally recognized scholar and pedagogue. In addition to his activities with the OCS, Maestro Vallée is Director of Choral Studies and Chair of the Conducting Area at McGill University’s Schulich School of Music, and Director of the renowned choirs of Montreal’s Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul.
An advocate for contemporary music, Jean‑Sébastien Vallée commissions and premieres new works, and programs rarely-performed repertoire. As a scholar, he has presented his research at prestigious conferences including the American Choral Directors’ Association, Newfoundland’s Festival 500, Podium (the national conference of Choral Canada), the Hawaii International Conference on the Arts and Humanities, and the World Symposium on Choral Music in Barcelona. His work has been broadcast nationally on CBC and PBS and can be heard on several recordings including LUX (Atma 2017) and REQUIEM (Atma 2018).
Upcoming activities include a return to Carnegie Hall in June 2020 with the music of Howard Goodall, concerts at the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music in Budapest, a tour with the National Youth Choir of Canada in May 2020, and lectures at the World Symposium of Choral Music in New Zealand.
Duain Wolfe is in his 20th season of preparing choral works for the NAC Orchestra and his 26th season as director of the Chicago Symphony Chorus. He is also the founder-director of the Colorado Symphony Chorus, now in its 36th season. He directs choral works at the Aspen Music Festival, the Ravinia Festival and the Bravo!Vail Festival where he works with the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO).
Wolfe prepared the chorus for the NAC Orchestra’s premiere performances of Malcolm Forsyth’s A Ballad of Canada in 2011 and for the NAC Orchestra and Orchestre Métropolitain’s joint performances of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony in 2010, directed by Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
Winner of two GRAMMY® awards in 2010 (Best Choral Performance and Best Classical Album) for the CSO’s recording of Verdi’s Requiem with Riccardo Muti, in 2012 Duain Wolfe received the Michael Korn Founders Award from Chorus America in recognition of his contributions to the professional choral arts. He also prepared the Chicago Symphony Chorus for the GRAMMY® Award–winning recording of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg with Sir Georg Solti, and for the CSO Resound release of Verdi’s Otello conducted by Riccardo Muti.Read full NAC bio ›
Tobi Hunt McCoy is enjoying another year as Season Stage Manager with the National Arts Centre Orchestra. In past seasons, McCoy stage managed the Lord of the Rings Symphony, Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Christopher Plummer in 2001 and Colm Feore in 2014, and much of the Orchestra’s educational and Pops programming. In 2014, she co-produced the Pops show On the Air with Jack Everly for the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, a show they produced in 2007 for the NAC Orchestra.
Additional professional duties have inclu-ded cheering on Luke and Princess Leia with Charlie Ross, Émilie Fournier and Erik Ochsner during the Star Wars Pops concert; dressing up in 1980’s finery for All Night Long – Music of the 80s; bracing the backstage doors against the almighty power of Richard Strauss, Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the air conditioning system at Montreal’s La Maison Symphonique; providing air-guitar support during the Led Zeppelin tribute concert; and duck wrangling for the Mysterioso Pops concert.
She is excited to be back teaching English and Drama at Lisgar Collegiate.Read full NAC bio ›