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 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)
“One of the major highlights of the current London orchestral season”
– Classical Source, U.K., 2019
The NAC Orchestra is a world-class ensemble of outstanding musicians from across Canada and around the world, under the inspiring leadership of Music Director Alexander Shelley. The Orchestra has been praised for the passion and clarity of its performances, its visionary education and community outreach programs and its prominent role in nurturing Canadian creativity.
"The NAC Orchestra’s current European tour has achieved the highest degree of cultural diplomacy."
– Le Devoir (Montreal), 2019
The Orchestra has toured regularly across Canada and internationally and in May 2019, it presented five Canadian artists and six Canadian composers across Europe.
“…uplifting, unsettling, mischievous and deeply poignant…”
– BBC Music Magazine on Life Reflected, 2017
The NAC Orchestra has recorded many of its 80+ commissioned works for radio and on over 40 commercial releases, including Life Reflected, which includes 2018 Classical Composition JUNO winner My Name is Amanda Todd by Jocelyn Morlock; and New Worlds, featuring Ana Sokolović’s Golden slumbers kiss your eyes…, 2019 Classical Composition JUNO winner.
“Life Reflected reminds us that when we try new things, art regains its primal power.”
– The Globe and Mail, 2017
In 2019, the Orchestra played on Parliament Hill for the Canada Day noon concert, a live broadcast for CBC television.Read full NAC bio ›