Alexander Shelley succeeded Pinchas Zukerman as Music Director of Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra in September 2015. The ensemble has since been praised as “an orchestra transformed … hungry, bold, and unleashed” (Ottawa Citizen) and Alexander’s programming credited for turning the orchestra “almost overnight … into one of the more audacious orchestras in North America.” (Maclean’s magazine).
Born in London in October 1979, Alexander, the son of celebrated concert pianists, studied cello and conducting in Germany and first gained widespread attention when he was unanimously awarded first prize at the 2005 Leeds Conductors' Competition, with the press describing him as "the most exciting and gifted young conductor to have taken this highly prestigious award. His conducting technique is immaculate, everything crystal clear and a tool to his inborn musicality”. In August 2017 Alexander concluded his tenure as Chief Conductor of the Nürnberger Symphoniker, a position he held since September 2009. The partnership was hailed by press and audience alike as a golden era for the orchestra, where he transformed the ensemble’s playing, education work and international touring activities. These have included concerts in Italy, Belgium, China and a re-invitation to the Musikverein in Vienna.
In January 2015 he assumed the role of Principal Associate Conductor of London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with whom he curates an annual series of concerts at Cadogan Hall and tours both nationally and internationally.
Described as “a natural communicator both on and off the podium” (Daily Telegraph) Alexander works regularly with the leading orchestras of Europe, the Americas, Asia and Australasia, including the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester Berlin,, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Gothenburg Symphony, Stockholm Philharmonic, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Sao Paulo Symphony and the Melbourne and New Zealand Symphony Orchestras. This season’s collaborations include debuts with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National de Belgique, Orchestre Metropolitain Montreal, Orquesta Sinfonica de Valencia, and Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra; alongside returns to MDR Sinfonieorchester Leipzig, Orchestre Philharmonique de Luxembourg and the Tasmanian symphony orchestras. He will also embark on an extensive tour of Europe with the National Arts Centre Orchestra performing in cities such as London, Paris, Stockholm and Copenhagen
Highlights of the previous season include debuts with the Helsinki and Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestras and Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, as well as at the Aspen Festival in Colorado. Re-invitations include Konzerthausorchester Berlin, RTE National Symphony Orchestra and a return to the Tivoli Festival with the Copenhagen Philharmonic.
Alexander’s operatic engagements have included The Merry Widow and Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet (Den Kongelige Opera); La Bohème (Opera Lyra/National Arts Centre), Iolanta (Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen), Così fan Tutte (Opéra National de Montpellier), The Marriage of Figaro (Opera North) in 2015 and he led a co-production of Harry Somers’ Louis Riel in 2017 with the NACO and Canadian Opera Company.
Alexander was awarded the ECHO prize in 2016 for his second Deutsche Grammophon recording, “Peter and the Wolf”, and both the ECHO and Deutsche Grunderpreis in his capacity as Artistic Director of the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen’s “Zukunftslabor”, a visionary project of grass-roots engagement, which uses music as a source for social cohesion and integration. Through his work as Founder and Artistic Director of the Schumann Camerata and their ground-breaking “440Hz” series in Dusseldorf, and through his leadership roles in Nuremberg, Bremen and Ottawa, inspiring future generations of classical musicians and listeners has always been central to Alexander’s work. He has led the German National Youth Orchestra on several tours of Germany and works with many thousands of young people a year in outreach projects. He regularly gives informed and passionate pre- and post-concert talks on his programmes, as well as numerous interviews and podcasts on the role of classical music in society. He has a wealth of experience conducting and presenting major open-air events - in Nuremberg alone he has, over the course of nine years, hosted more than half a million people at the annual Klassik Open Air concerts - Europe’s largest classical music event.
The Music Director role is supported by Elinor Gill Ratcliffe, C.M., O.N.L., LL.D. (hc)
Canadian flutist Benjamin Morency has recently completed a Master’s degree in Music under the guidance of internationally renowned flutist Ransom Wilson at the prestigious Yale School of Music. He previously studied for six years with Marie-Andrée Benny at the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal, and also had the opportunity to work with masters of the instrument such as Mathieu Dufour, Emmanuel Pahud, Philippe Bernold, Jeanne Baxtresser, and Robert Langevin. In November 2017, he was awarded Grand Prize winner at the OSM Manuvie Competition.
Benjamin performs as a soloist and chamber musician in Canada and in the United-States. After performing the Jacques Ibert Flute Concerto with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra in January 2018, he also had the opportunity to record Sergei Prokofiev’s Sonata for Flute and Piano op.94, Francis Poulenc’s Flute and Piano Sonata, and Denis Gougeon’s L’Oiseau Blessé with pianist Mariane Patenaude in Radio-Canada studios, subsequently broadcasted on ICI-Musique. He was also a soloist with the Redlands Symphony Orchestra in California, and the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra.
Over the years, he was awarded many scholarships to study and perform in prestigious festivals including the Domaine Forget and the Banff summer Academy, the Orford Music Festival, the Young Artist Program at the National Art Center in Ottawa, and at the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, where he received an Award of Excellence for the 2016 summer tour.
Benjamin is now the flute teacher at the Conservatoire de Musique de Val-d’Or, and is really proud to be a Wm. S. Haynes Young Artist.
A native of Montreal, Vincent Parizeau began his music studies at the St. Joseph’s Oratory with the celebrated Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal. He studied bassoon at the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal with Rodolpho Masella and Gerald Corey (the NAC Orchestra’s former principal bassoon) graduating with “Premier Prix” (First Place Honours) at the age of 21. He went on to study with Franck Morelli and in 2001 earned a Master of Music degree at Yale University.
On his return from the United States, Vincent founded the Ensemble Synapse, a group of 14 musicians performing a repertoire of original works with no conductor. An ardent advocate of contemporary music, he has appeared regularly in performance with various contemporary music ensembles, including the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec and l’Ensemble contemporain de Montréal with which he has recorded two albums.
Vincent has played in a number of orchestras including the Orchestre symphonique de Laval, the Orchestre des Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal and the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal where he played for a season before joining the National Arts Centre Orchestra at the beginning of the 2004-05 season.
Actor and film and stage director Maxime Genois is a graduate of the Conservatoire d’art dramatique de Montréal. For theatre, he has worked with such leading directors as Denis Marleau, Catherine Vidal, Philippe Cyr, Marc Beaupré, Sébastien David and Philippe Boutin. He directed the operas Nero and the Fall of Lehman Brothers, which will be revived in New York in the fall of 2020 by Montreal’s BOP | Ballet-Opéra-Pantomime, and The Turn of the Screw, in association with the Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal and the Agora Orchestra. He also directed Quasar’s Cathédrale-Métal, which won the Opus Prize for Concert of the Year. His short film Le Clown was selected for competition at Angoulême.
Hugo Dalphond questions synergy between body, space and light through elaborating and building scenographic devices aimed to initiate meetings. It is principally by making viewers and performers coexist within a same space, and by modulating their perception of that very space that he creates alternative sensorial experiences. This becomes a reason to engage in different co-presence qualities, and thus, gain consciousness of our interactions and rapport with others.
Since 2015, he tackles these questions in a PhD which has as per subject light installation and the spatial opportunity it offers to rethink our collective states.
As well, he collaborates as light designer and director of scenography on various projects in theatre and dance.
Camille Barrantes is a designer of spaces whose creative practice focuses on the narrative experience of place. Her portfolio includes art direction projects for multiplatform media, scenographic installations and environmental design. She is a graduate in set design of the École supérieure de théâtre de Montréal and the Hochschule für Design in Hanover. She lives and works in Montreal.
Mélanie Dumont has worked with Brigitte Haentjens since 2007. In her capacity as a dramaturg, she has been part of the creative team of several productions directed by Brigitte, notably Woyzeck (2009), Le 20 novembre (2011) and Molly Bloom (2014). Mélanie has also collaborated with other dance and theatre artists and companies (Bouge de là, Système Kangourou). Since 2012, she has been Associate Artistic Director, Youth Programming of the National Arts Centre French Theatre in Ottawa, and co‑editor in chief of the Cahiers du Théâtre français.
Director, artistic director of theatre company Zonzo and the BIG BANG Festival, present in a dozen European cities, the Belgian Wouter Van Looy has made a huge contribution to making music accessible to a wide and diverse audience. Why do musicians wear such formal outfits? Why are they traditionally so far from the audience? How can we approach the repertoire to make it more current and engaging? By asking questions like these, he has created unique stage experiences that shed a whole new light on such mega-composers as John Cage (Listen to the Silence), Bach (3ACH), and Miles Davis (Mile(s)tones).
Laurie is delighted to return to the Family Adventures series with the National Arts Centre Orchestra. Past shows with the NAC Orchestra have included The Hockey Sweater, The Magic Horn, A Paintbrush for Piccolo, La Diva Malbouffa, Humour and Music, 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.