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.
Bernard Labadie, conductor
Bernard Labadie has established himself worldwide as one of the preeminent conductors of the Baroque and Classical repertoire, a reputation closely tied to his work with Les Violons du Roy (for which he served as Music Director from its inception until 2014) and La Chapelle de Québec. With these two ensembles he has regularly toured Canada, the US, and Europe, in major venues and festivals such as Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Kennedy Center, The Barbican, The Concertgebouw, and the Salzburg Festival, among others. He began a four-year term as Principal Conductor of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s in the 2018–2019 season.
Mr. Labadie has become a regular presence on the podiums of the major North American orchestras, including the Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Toronto, Boston, Colorado, Houston, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco symphony orchestras; the Cleveland and Philadelphia orchestras; the Los Angeles and New York philharmonics; the Handel & Haydn Society; and Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. International audiences in past seasons have seen and heard Maestro Labadie conduct the Bayerischen Rundfunks Symphony Orchestra, Academy of Ancient Music, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, BBC Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of the Collegium Vocale Ghent, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Royal Northern Sinfonia, Swedish Chamber Orchestra, WDR Sinfonieorchester (Cologne), and Zurich Chamber Orchestra.
His extensive discography includes many critically acclaimed recordings on Dorian, ATMA, and Virgin Classics labels, including Handel’s Apollo e Dafne and a collaborative recording of Mozart’s Requiem with Les Violons du Roy and La Chapelle de Québec, both of which received Canada’s JUNO Award. Other recordings include C.P.E. Bach’s complete cello concertos with Truls Mørk and Les Violons du Roy; J.S. Bach’s complete piano concertos with Alexandre Tharaud, both on Virgin Classics; and Haydn’s piano concertos with Marc-Andre Hamelin as soloist, released by Hyperion. He has received Paris’s Samuel de Champlain award, the Canadian government’s Officer of the Order of Canada, and his home province has named him Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Québec.
La Chappelle de Québec
La Chapelle de Québec, founded by Bernard Labadie in 1985, is a nationally based chamber choir of professional singers recruited mainly in Québec City, but also throughout Québec and Canada. It assembles for two or three concerts each season to join Les Violons du Roy in major works from the repertory for choir and orchestra, especially from the 18th century. Its performances of cantatas, oratorios, and masses by J.S. Bach, Handel, Mozart, and Haydn have been acclaimed throughout Canada and the United States, thanks to many broadcasts by Radio-Canada, the CBC, and NPR in the United States.
La Chapelle de Québec has performed regularly on tour with Les Violons du Roy, notably in Handel’s Messiah and J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion in Toronto, in an all-Vivaldi program in France, and in Mozart’s Requiem in Toronto and the United States. The choir is often asked to appear with Bernard Labadie in the concerts he conducts with US orchestras, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, with which it performed Handel’s Messiah in 2004 and J.S. Bach’s Magnificat in 2006.
La Chapelle de Québec won a JUNO Award for its recording of Mozart’s Requiem, released by Dorian in 2002.
Magali Simard-Galdès is a Canadian soprano renowned for her shimmering tone, her refined musicality and her magnetic stage presence.
Her operatic repertoire includes the roles of Agnes (Written on Skin – Benjamin), Roxane (Cyrano – DiChiera), Gilda (Rigoletto – Verdi), Sophie (Werther – Massenet), Constance (Dialogue des carmélites – Poulenc), Mad Chorus (The Overcoat – Rolfe) and Nicette (Le pré aux clercs).
In recital, Magali has appeared at the Société d’art vocal de Montréal, the Festival d’Opéra de Québec, Mexico LiederFest, Ravinia Steans Music Institute, Wexford Festival Opera and Jeunesses Musicales Canada.
On the orchestral stage, Magali Simard-Galdès has performed with l’Orchestre symphonique de Québec, Arion Orchestre Baroque, L’Harmonie des saisons, I Musici de Montréal, Atelier lyrique de Tourcoing, Opéra Grand Avignon, at the Festival Classica, and at the Festival de Lanaudière.
Under the ATMA Classique label, Magali has recorded Berlioz’s 25 romances pour voix et guitare and Ana Sokolovic’s Sirens. Also with ATMA, she is part of the ongoing project of Massenet’s complete songs. In December 2020, Magali sang the lead role in the first studio recording of George Benjamin’s Written on Skin with the Gürzenich Orchester and François-Xavier Roth conducting (to be released in 2022).
She has received First-prize at the Festival Classica Récital-concours de mélodie française in 2018. She is very thankful to the Canadian Arts Council, Fondation Jeunesses Musicales Canada, Fondation Jacqueline Desmarais and Vancouver Opera Guild for their precious support.
Allyson McHardy, mezzo-soprano
A unique vocal colour and commanding stage presence are the hallmarks of performances by mezzo-soprano Allyson McHardy. Hailed by Joshua Kosman of the San Francisco Chronicle as “a singer of enormous imagination and versatility,” she has appeared with the Canadian Opera Company, Paris Opera, San Francisco Opera, Théâtre capitole du Toulouse, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Glyndebourne Festival, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Les Violons du Roy, and Warsaw Philharmonic.
Allyson’s career is a carefully curated balance of opera and concert repertoire that moves easily from Donizetti to Handel, from Heggie to Mahler. Of particular note were her performances as Julie Riel in Harry Somers’s Louis Riel, a Canadian Opera Company production also seen in Ottawa and Québec City as part of the nation’s Sesquicentennial Celebrations. She is also a Prix Opus Winner for Opéra de Montréal’s Dead Man Walking and Opéra de Québec’s Der fliegende Holländer. She has appeared with major orchestras across the globe for performances of such works as Ligeti’s Requiem with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Mozart’s Requiem with Ottawa’s National Arts Centre Orchestra, Handel’s Messiah in St. Louis, Madrid, and Chicago, and a staged production of Mozart’s Mass in D Minor for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
Allyson’s discography includes the JUNO-nominated recordings Healey Willan: Summer Night with the Canadian Art Song Project (Centrediscs), Handel’s Orlando with the Pacific Baroque Orchestra (ATMA), and Caldara’s La conversione di Clodoveo, Re di Francia (ATMA), which is also ADISQ-nominated. Other recordings include Bellini’s Norma with the Warsaw Philharmonic (Philharmonia Narodowa), two works by Harry Somers—Serinette and A Midwinter Night’s Dream (Centrediscs), and Ukrainian art song by Mykola Lysenko in a six-disc collection (Musica Leopolis).
Canadian tenor Andrew Haji is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after voices on both the operatic and concert stages. Winner of the Grand Prix at the 50th International Vocal Competition in ‘s-Hertogenbosch and the Montreal International Music Competition’s Oratorio Prize, Haji recently performed J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with the National Arts Centre Orchestra and Handel’s Messiah with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Selected recent and upcoming concert engagements include performances of Haydn’s The Creation, Verdi’s Requiem, Puccini’s Messa di Gloria, Orff’s Carmina Burana, Rossini’s Petite messe solennelle, and Mozart’s Requiem, Mass in C Minor, and Coronation Mass.
Haji is an alumnus of the Canadian Opera Company’s Ensemble Studio and has also been heard at the Four Seasons Centre as Alfredo in La traviata and Tamino in Die Zauberflöte. During his time as a member of the Ensemble Studio, his leading roles included Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia and Ferrando in Così fan tutte. The Salzburg Festival featured Haji in Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia, his festival debut. He has also starred as Hélios in Félicien David’s Herculanum at the Wexford Festival and Rodolfo in Puccini’s La bohème for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.
Andrew Haji holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music. By invitation, he has participated in young artist programs at the Salzburg Festival Young Singers Project, Centre for Opera Studies in Italy, Music Academy of the West, and Accademia Europea dell’Opera. He has received awards from the Marilyn Horne Song Competition in Santa Barbara and the COC’s annual Ensemble Studio Competition.
British baritone Dominic Sedgwick was a member of the Royal Opera’s Jette Parker Young Artists Programme 2017–2019 where his roles included Kuligin in a new production of Káťa Kabanová, Novice’s Friend in a new production of Billy Budd, Moralès in a new production of Carmen, and Third Ghost Child in the world premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Coraline.
Recent roles include Melot in a new production of Tristan und Isolde for the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, and English Clerk in David McVicar’s new production of Death in Venice for the Royal Opera.
His 2021/22 season sees a return to the Royal Opera House as Marullo in a new production of Rigoletto, his debut at Teatro dell’Opera di Roma as Anthony in the world premiere of Giorgio Battistelli's Julius Caesar, and his debut for the Opéra National de Bordeaux as Belcore in L'elisir d'amore.
Dominic’s recent concert engagements include his debut at the BBC Proms as Pilate in J.S. Bach's St. Matthew Passion with Arcangelo/Jonathan Cophen, Messiah with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE), and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as a number of concerts with the OAE featuring Bach Cantatas as part of their Bach, the Universe and Everything series at Kings Place.
Dominic studied at Clare College, Cambridge and is a graduate of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama’s Opera School. He was awarded the Audience Prize in the inaugural 2017 Grange Festival International Singing Competition.
George Frideric Handel (1685–1759)
George Frideric Handel was a German-born English composer. Active in multiple cities in Europe, he composed in every musical genre of his time, including operas, oratorios, keyboard pieces (such as dance suites), solo and trio sonatas, orchestral music (suites, concertos, and overtures, sinfonias, and dances within his operas and oratorios), and vocal works both sacred and secular. Handel originally established his reputation as a composer of opera, a role that dominated his career for over three decades. He later invented the genre of the English oratorio—large-scale vocal dramas that incorporate the elements of opera, including chorus, but without staging and scenery—of which Messiah remains the most famous and frequently performed. Handel’s musical style is regarded as an eclectic combination of various aspects of European music of his day: beautiful, inventive melodies á là the Italians, the stately qualities of French overtures and dances, and a Germanic foundation in harmony and counterpoint. This cosmopolitan blend, plus his gift for amassing vocal and orchestral forces for dramatic effect are among the reasons why his music continues to appeal to performers and audiences today.
Born in Halle on February 23, 1685, Handel was initially prevented by his father from studying music. Eventually, with the persuasion of the Duke of Saxe-Weissenfels, the elder Handel (who was under his employ) allowed his son to study organ, harpsichord, and composition with Friedrich Zachow. In 1703, Handel left Halle to pursue opportunities as an opera composer in key European cities in which the genre was flourishing—first, in Hamburg, then in Rome, where the sensational success of his second all-Italian opera, Agrippina, in 1709, cemented his name across the continent. Two years later, he completed Rinaldo, the first all-Italian opera written for London audiences (who had a taste for the art form) and another huge success. Over the next two decades, Handel gradually settled in London, continuing to compose Italian operas while also taking on the duties of an impresario (notably, for London’s Royal Academy of Music, 1719–1728), as well as writing choral music (in 1723, he was made honorary composer of music for His Majesty’s Chapel Royal). He became a naturalized British subject in 1727.
The 1730s saw the peak of Handel’s career as an opera composer in London, with the premieres of Ariodante and Alcina in 1735 at a new theatre in Covent Garden. However, after years of dealing with the politics and the volatile nature of the business plus the fickle tastes of the public, he decided to turn his attention to creating oratorios as well as organ concertos, another genre of his own invention. (He included these concertos in oratorio concerts, performing the solo part himself.) Taking the successful premiere of Messiah in Dublin in April 1742 as a sign to move forward, he eventually established regular seasons in London for the performance of his oratorios, during Lent when opera was not presented. In the 1750s, his declining eyesight considerably slowed down his ability to compose, revise, and read scores, but he continued to play organ concertos by improvising the solo part, and, with aid, supervise the oratorio seasons until March 1759. On April 14, 1759, Handel died in London, and was buried at Westminster Abbey.
By Dr. Hannah Chan-Hartley
Yosuke Kawasaki (concertmaster)
Jessica Linnebach (associate concertmaster)
Noémi Racine Gaudreault (assistant concertmaster)
Mintje van Lier (principal)
Winston Webber (assistant principal)
Jethro Marks (principal)
David Marks (associate principal)
David Goldblatt (assistant principal)**
Rachel Mercer (principal)
Julia MacLaine (assistant principal)
Hilda Cowie (acting assistant principal)
Joanna G'froerer (principal)
Charles Hamann (principal)
Kimball Sykes (principal)
Christopher Millard (principal)
Lawrence Vine (principal)
Julie Fauteux (associate principal)
Karen Donnelly (principal)
Steven van Gulik
Donald Renshaw (principal)
Chris Lee (principal)
Feza Zweifel (principal)**
Non-titled members of the Orchestra are listed alphabetically
Kristen de Marchi
Heather Lynn Smith
Marcel de Hêtre