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.
Alexander Shelley began his tenure as Music Director in 2015, following Pinchas Zukerman’s 16 seasons at the helm. Principal Associate Conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and former Chief Conductor of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra (2009 - 2017), he has been in demand around the world, conducting the Rotterdam Philharmonic, DSO Berlin, Leipzig Gewandhaus, and Stockholm Philharmonic, among others, and maintains a regular relationship with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie and the German National Youth Orchestra.
Each season, the NAC Orchestra features world-class artists such as the newly appointed Artist-in-Residence James Ehnes, Angela Hewitt, Joshua Bell, Xian Zhang, Gabriela Montero, Stewart Goodyear, Jan Lisiecki, and Principal Guest Conductor John Storgårds. As one of the most accessible, inclusive and collaborative orchestras in the world, the NAC Orchestra uses music as a universal language to communicate the deepest of human emotions and connect people through shared experiences.
Born in Montréal, Mélanie Léonard is the Music Director of the Sudbury Symphony Orchestra. She was also Resident Conductor (2009-2012) and then Associate Conductor (2012-2013) with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.
Mélanie has appeared as guest conductor at the Montreal International Jazz Festival and with a number of Canadian orchestras, including the Toronto, Edmonton and Winnipeg Symphony Orchestras, and the Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal. In 2014, she founded the Wild West New Music Ensemble in Calgary, and served as Music Director and Conductor of the group until 2016. In 2019–2020, she will be making her debut with the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, Les Violons du Roy and the Prince Edward Island Symphony Orchestra. She also has return engagements with the NAC Orchestra, Symphony Nova Scotia and Thunder Bay Symphony.
Mélanie is a sought-after conductor for varied recording projects, including movie soundtracks, multimedia projects and, more recently, Wonderbox at Paradise City – an immersive environment in a South Korean hotel complex. In the summer of 2019, she participated in the recording of the music for Cirque du Soleil’s show in Hanghzou, China.
Mélanie Léonard completed her Doctorate in Orchestral Conducting at the Université de Montréal under Maestri Paolo Bellomia and Jean-François Rivest. In 2012, she received the Jean-Marie Beaudet prize in orchestral conducting, awarded by the Canada Council for the Arts.Read full NAC bio ›
During a career that has spanned more than 25 years, Susan Aglukark’s journey as a singer-songwriter has led her to reflect on who she is, where she comes from and the importance of discovery – discovery of history, culture and self.
The first Inuk artist to win a JUNO, Susan has won three, as well as a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for lifetime artistic achievement. She is an officer of the Order of Canada, holds several Honorary Doctorate degrees and has held command performances; but Susan also acknowledges the path has not been easy.
During the past 25 years of reflection and songwriting, Susan kept coming back to one area of profound knowing – the Inuit are an extraordinary people deeply grounded in a culture forged by their Ancestors, their journey is what shaped them.
Through her music, Susan continues to share her experiences as an Inuk growing up in Nunavut, as well as the challenges faced by northern communities and Indigenous youth. She is actively involved in various projects to bring food and support to northern communities and in 2016 the Arctic Rose Foundation gained charitable status with a focus on helping youth in the North through art and other engaging creative projects.Read full NAC bio ›
Jaaji & Chelsey June
Join Twin Flames, Canadian Folk Music Awards Winners for Aboriginal Songwriters of the year. Together they create a sonic landscape that spans Canada’s vast country; they transcend cultural boundaries and inspire unity. Building bridges across cultures, continents, and styles, Twin Flames brings a richness of personal history and musical experience. Honouring their ancestor’s and Indigenous backgrounds (Jaaji: Inuit, Mohawk; and Chelsey: Métis, Algonquin Cree), they sing songs in English, Inuktitut and French. Together they represent all three Indigenous groups in Canada. Twin Flames push the boundaries of contemporary folk, with songs that incorporate both Western and traditional instruments. Their songs tell stories of courage and survival. Prepare to dive into the hearts and minds of the beloved couple; they guarantee a musical journey like no other.Read full NAC bio ›
David was in born on the northern part of Nueltin Lake, Nunavut southwest of Arviat, Nunavut. He lived through hardships from birth into the 1960s as a result of his family, along with other Ahiarmiut, being moved numerous times by the federal government.
David has worked in many levels in education as a teacher (primary/high schools), vice-principal, principal, instructor at Nunavut Arctic College, and as a curator at the British Museum of Mankind in England. He was language and cultural instructor at Nunavut Sivuniksavut (NS), a college preparation program for young Inuit in Ottawa. David helped to develop Inuktitut (language) teaching materials at all levels local, regional and territorial.
David is much in demand at regional, national and international events. He regularly gives workshops in drum dancing and drum making across Canada and at conferences around the world. He was a member of the Winter Olympic Symposium Committee in Vancouver and took part in the opening and closing ceremonies and in launching the Aboriginal Pavilion at the games in 2010. David spends much of his time making Inuit drums and teaching youth about the art of drum dancing.Read full NAC bio ›
Charlotte Qamaniq & Cynthia Pitsiulak
Traditional and contemporary Inuit throat singers Charlotte Qamaniq from Iglulik, Nunavut, and Cynthia Pitsiulak from Kimmirut, Nunavut, have been performing nationally and internationally for 15 years, singing songs that have been passed down by Inuit women through generations. Together they comprise the performing duo Silla.Read full NAC bio ›
Nunavut Sivuniksavut is a post-secondary institution located in Ottawa, Ontario. It is dedicated to providing Inuit youth with unique cultural and academic learning experiences. Students attending Nunavut Sivuniksavut develop knowledge, skills and positive attitudes needed to contribute to the building of Nunavut. Students are filled with joy and pride when they perform and share Inuit culture with audience members.Read full NAC bio ›
Laurie is delighted to return to the Family Adventures series with the NAC Orchestra. Past shows with the NAC Orchestra have included The Hockey Sweater, The Magic Horn, A Paintbrush for Piccolo, La Diva Malbouffa, Vivaldi and the Four Seasons and Britten War Requiem. When not enjoying the music of the NAC Orchestra, Laurie stage manages for the NAC English Theatre, (most recently, carried away on the crest of a wave and Up to Low), as well as for the Great Canadian Theatre Company, the Shaw Festival, the Stratford Festival and other theatres across Canada.Read full NAC bio ›