Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was an English composer, conductor and political activist who fought against race prejudice with his incredible compositions.
Born in Holborn in 1875 to an English mother and a father originally from Sierra Leone, he liked to be identified as Anglo-African – and was later referred to by white New York musicians as ‘Black Mahler’, owing to his musical success.
His name was given to him after the famous poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge who, interestingly, became a great source of inspiration during his career.
Raised in a family of keen musicians, Taylor’s father taught him to play the violin at a young age.
Taylor’s classical compositions were heavily influenced by traditional African music and this made him one of the most progressive writers of his time.
He also became well-known for his use of poetry – particularly in his cantata trilogy, The Song of Hiawatha, which included the epic Hiawatha Overture and was based on a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
His work across music and politics was so well received that in 1904, he was even invited by President Theodore Roosevelt to visit the White House – a bold statement and a positive step forward for African Americans.
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor died of pneumonia on 1 September 1912 in Croydon, at the age of 37. Throughout his short life, he faced financial struggles and personal tragedy, which are both often linked to his early demise.
François Dompierre was born on July 1, 1943, in Ottawa.
As a young man, he studied at the University of Ottawa, the Orford Music and Conservatoire de musique in Montreal. While learning the technical theory of music, his true passion at this time was improvising and playing jazz.
After his studies, he wrote more than 200 songs, including the successes L’âme à la tendresse and Demain matin Montréal m’attend, and released an instrumental album.
He worked with Pauline Julien, Claude Gauthier, Monique Leyrac, Pierre Calvé and Renée Claude, amongst others, as orchestrator and music director. He also produced albums for Félix Leclerc’s including Le tour de l’île.
In collaboration with Michel Tremblay, he wrote the musical Demain matin Montréal m’attend. He also worked with Jacques Godbout on the movie IXE-13. After that, writing sound trakcs became his first mean of expression. Throughout his career, he wrote more than sixty sound tracks.
More recently, he worked on an opera inspired by Is Paris Burning (by Lapierre and Collins) with the American librettist Leonard H. Orr.
His orchestra compositions are played on a regular basis in Canada and abroad.
As a conductor, he had the opportunity to work at the Opéra de Paris and the Bulgarian Radio. He also conducted Vancouver, Montreal and Quebec symphony orchestras. In 2014, he chaired the panel for the Richard Lupien Improvisation Prize at the Montreal International Musical Competition.
Intrigued by the violin, Elizabeth Skinner began studying music at the age of nine in her hometown of Victoria, Canada. Since then, she has become an engaging and versatile performer and a dedicated educator, sharing music across America, Europe and Asia. An active chamber musician, she is a founding member of Trio Émerillon and a member of Montreal’s cutting-edge classical string band, collectif9. A recognized leader, Elizabeth has enjoyed the role of concertmaster with the McDuffie Center String Ensemble, the McGill Symphony Orchestra, and the McGill Contemporary Music Ensemble. She currently performs regularly with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra and is a substitute violinist with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. In 2015, Elizabeth was the winner of the Canadian Music Competition (19-30 years strings category) and the Jeunesses Musicales du Canada’s Peter Mendell Award. She won first prize in the Prix d’Europe competition strings category in 2016, as well as third prize in the overall competition, and the Guy Soucie prize for her interpretation of a Québécois work. The same year, Elizabeth won the McGill Chamber Music Competition with Trio Armonioso and they performed at the Salzburg Mozarteum. In 2017 she was a recipient of the Sylva Gelber Music Foundation award, and in 2018 she was a finalist in the Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition. Most recently she was named one of CBC’s “30 hot Classical musicians under 30”. Elizabeth graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance from the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer University in Georgia, USA. She also holds a Master of Music in Violin Performance and recently completed her Doctor of Music in Performance Studies at McGill University’s Schulich School of Music where she studied with Axel Strauss.
With music described as “breathtaking” (Kitchener-Waterloo Record), “imaginative and expressive” (The National Post), “a pulse-pounding barrage on the senses” (The Globe and Mail), and “Bartok on steroids” (Birmingham News), Kelly-Marie Murphy’s voice is well known on the Canadian music scene. She has created a number of memorable works for some of Canada’s leading performers and ensembles, including the Toronto, Winnipeg, and Vancouver Symphony Orchestras, The Gryphon Trio, James Campbell, Shauna Rolston, the Cecilia and Afiara String Quartets, and Judy Loman.
Kelly-Marie Murphy was born on a NATO base in Sardegna, Italy, and grew up on Canadian Armed Forces bases all across Canada. She began her studies in composition at the University of Calgary with William Jordan and Allan Bell, and later received a Ph.D. in composition from the University of Leeds, England, where she studied with Philip Wilby. After living and working for many years in the Washington D.C. area where she was designated "an alien of extraordinary ability" by the US Immigration and Naturalization Service, she is now based in Ottawa, quietly pursuing a career as a freelance composer.
Seventeen-year-old Jessica Yuma began her piano lessons at the age of 3, and completed both the Associateship (ARCT) and Licentiate (LRCM) Performance Diplomas from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto by the age of 11. Jessica has won numerous prizes in competitions at the provincial, national and international level. Recent accomplishments include: 1st prize at the Canadian Music Competition National Final, the Steinway Young Artists Competition, the CFMTA National Final (Canadian Federation of Music Teachers Association); 3rd prize at the Orford Music Awards Competition as well as the Canadian Chopin Competition (and as a result she will be participating at the 18th International Chopin Competition in 2021, in Warsaw, Poland). Jessica has given numerous solo recitals since the age of 9 and has worked with orchestras, such as the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, Edmonton Philharmonic Orchestra, Calgary Civic Symphony Orchestra and the Brunesis Virtuosi Orchestra in Italy since the age of 11. The venues in which she has appeared include: the Winspear Centre in Edmonton, Jack Singer Hall in Calgary, Steinway Hall and Carnegie Hall in New York. Jessica has participated in several music festivals including the Morningside Music Bridge in Boston, Orford Music Academy in Quebec, the Young Artists Program in Ottawa, Music fest Perugia in Italy and Coimbra World Piano Meeting in Portugal. Recently, she was selected as one of the top “30 Under 30” Classical Musicians in Canada by CBC Radio and had a live radio debut at CBC Edmonton. Jessica studies piano with Prof. Krzysztof Jablonski. She is currently studying at the New England Conservatory in Boston, in the studio of Proffessor Wha Kyung Byun.
Since its debut in 1969, the National Arts Centre 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 Orchestra performs a full series of subscription concerts at the National Arts Centre each season, featuring world-class artists such as James Ehnes, Angela Hewitt, Joshua Bell, Xian Zhang, Gabriela Montero, Stewart Goodyear, Jan Lisiecki, and Principal Guest Conductor John Storgårds.
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.
National and international tours have been a hallmark of the National Arts Centre Orchestra from the very beginning. The Orchestra has toured 95 times since its inauguration in 1969, visiting 120 cities in Canada, as well as 20 countries and 138 cities internationally. In recent years, the orchestra has undertaken performance and education tours across Canada, as well as the U.K. and China. In 2019, the Orchestra marked its 50th anniversary with a seven-city European tour that included performances and education events in England, France, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden, and that showcased the work of six Canadian composers.
The NAC Orchestra has recorded many of the more than 80 new works commissioned since its inception, for radio and on over 40 commercial recordings. These include Angela Hewitt’s 2015 JUNO Award-winning album of Mozart Piano Concertos; the groundbreaking Life Reflected, which includes My Name is Amanda Todd by Jocelyn Morlock, winner of the 2018 JUNO for Classical Composition of the Year; and from the 2019 JUNO nominated New Worlds, Ana Sokolović’s Golden Slumbers Kiss Your Eyes, 2019 JUNO Winner for Classical Composition of the Year.
The NAC Orchestra reaches a national and international audience through touring, recordings, and extensive educational outreach. The Orchestra performed on Parliament Hill for the 2019 Canada Day noon concert in a live broadcast for CBC Television.
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)