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50 Years of Music with the NAC Orchestra

Conducted by Alexander Shelley

Reflection

I first heard the National Arts Centre Orchestra perform in the early 1970’s when my father, who moonlighted as a music critic, took me along to see a concert he was reviewing. On that night, and many subsequent nights, I remember seeing the greats of classical music, artists like Itzhak Perlman and Christoph Eschenbach, perform here. However, it was the NAC Orchestra and its charismatic founding conductor Mario Bernardi who captivated me most. Their way of playing was so refined, so polished.

Years later, I was thrilled to be offered a job working on the staff of the Orchestra, and a life-long adventure began. I have been fortunate to see this Orchestra triumph in New York, Vienna, Paris, and London. I have seen them perform with that same polish and excellence in Duncan, British Columbia, Cornerbrook, Newfoundland, and many points in between. The brilliant new compositions that have been created for this orchestra by so many remarkable Canadians represent a particularly noteworthy achievement. I know that music lovers across Canada join me in congratulating the NAC Orchestra on the occasion of their 50th anniversary and in wishing them continuing great success in the next 50 years!

Reflection

I have fallen in love with the NAC Orchestra, their energy, incredible artistry and magnificent ensemble playing. This admiration led me to move with my whole family from Iceland to Canada in order to work with them. It feels very special to join the Orchestra and the NAC as they celebrate 50 years. I hear and reflect on stories from the past, giving me a better idea of how to move forward. I feel a great responsibility to carry on my predecessor’s good work, and I’m excited that I will play some part in shaping its future. There is an extraordinarily fine and dedicated team behind the NAC Orchestra which I’m truly honoured to lead.

As an Orchestra, we have a powerful message to share with our audience and the world at large, of how different voices can create harmony; and through shared experiences, we can connect. Symphonic music opens a pathway back in time that gives us the active experience of humanity’s greatest artistic creations, fresh and live, here today. That’s the magic and power of music. I look forward to seeing you at our concerts and to sharing these moments with you.

Reflection

The National Arts Centre Orchestra has enriched the cultural life of the city, the region and the nation for the last 50 years. This week we celebrate all that this great orchestra stands for today: for the performance of bold symphonic repertoire played with passion and brilliance; as partners for and supporters of exciting and inspiring Canadian creative artists; as an ensemble made up of some of the finest instrumentalists in the world.

I am proud and privileged to lead this unique, world-class ensemble and would like to join you all in wishing them a very happy 50th birthday!


This is the second time the NAC Orchestra has played Salieri’s Concerto for Flute and Oboe in C major. The first time was in 1982 with Robert Cram on flute, Rowland Floyd on oboe and Claudio Scimone on the podium.

In 1971, Karel Ančerl was on the podium for the NAC Orchestra’s first performance of Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra. Their most recent interpretation of this concerto was presented in 2006 under the baton of Franz-Paul Decker.

The National Arts Centre Orchestra at 50

Winston Webber, Assistant Principal Second Violin
 

“The Centre must have a heart that beats.”
– Jean Gascon, C.C. (1921–1988)

“A good orchestra is called for. A superb one would be more to the point.”
– Louis Applebaum, C.C., O.Ont. (1918–2000)
 

On October 7, 1969, from the first dramatic notes of Haydn’s “Drumroll” Symphony (No. 103), played by 23-year-old Montreal-trained timpanist Ian Bernard, a superb orchestra is what the National Arts Centre got, and then some. From day one, the fondest vision of the NAC’s founders was to have performing artists in residence – Jean Gascon’s “beating heart” that gave life and credibility to the whole enterprise. From this very first concert, the orchestra’s stellar success has proved the truth of that vision.

This writer has had the good fortune to sit right in the middle of this wonderful orchestra for 34 of its 50 years. My long legs and less than ideal posture are familiar to almost two generations of Ottawa concert goers. And that friendly audience is familiar to me – I look straight out at them. Lift my eyes from the music and, wow, there are 2,000 people, right there. I truly have the best seat in the house.

To talk about especially meaningful performances, after 50 years of concerts in Southam Hall, where does one start? Mention one amazing performance, loyal subscribers will say, probably rightly, that I forgot the TRULY greatest concert – that one 40 years ago with the Beethoven… Just in my own memory, there have been countless performances of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, a specialty of the NAC Orchestra, each one raising the roof higher than the last. And truly hair-raising, almost dangerous performances of Beethoven’s Fifth with Gustavo Dudamel, Hannu Lintu and John Storgårds. It’s a thrilling experience to witness a performance so hot there’s a real danger of breaking something.

But the very first concert in 1969 has to have pride of place among all others – a young Mario Bernardi and an even younger orchestra showing, in one night, that the pantheon of great orchestras had to move over and make room for one more. And the new young personalities… at the risk of mentioning one at the cost of others, the first oboe, Rowland Floyd, walking on stage for the very first rehearsal dressed to the nines, carrying a Gucci briefcase and a Burberry umbrella, looking like a matinee idol and playing like a poet. Years later, after a decade's absence, Mario Bernardi returned to conduct the orchestra. Rowland had long since retired, and the first oboe then, as now, was the brilliant Charles "Chip" Hamann.  Mario was rehearsing Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with its famous oboe solo and Chip played it as well as it could possibly be played – the most compelling sound, exquisite phrasing, peerless musicality. Then Mario stopped the orchestra, looked at Chip and said, “That reminds me… did you know that Rowland Floyd has taken up painting?”

How many other concerts that made life worth living, again to miss others equally deserving – a luminous, in-concert Pelléas et Mélisande in 1988 with Gabriel Chmura, a thrilling in-concert Madama Butterfly in 1989 with Franco Mannino – better than any commercial recording. A heartrendingly beautiful Eugene Onegin in 1983 – the final production of Festival Ottawa, with the great Lois Marshall in her last (only?) appearance in a fully-staged opera. The visits of the great German choral conductor Helmuth Rilling in 1987, bringing his magnificent choir, the Gächinger Kantorei, for performances of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, Haydn’s Nelson Mass and Mozart’s Requiem in Ottawa, Montreal, Washington’s Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall. In 2002, an astonishing evening of Astor Piazzolla with Franz-Paul Decker and the superlative bandoneon player Daniel Binelli – the greatest in Argentina – who took the CBC broadcast tape home to friends saying it was the best Piazzolla he had ever heard. And two performances of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with Trevor Pinnock in 1997 – to this day remembered as life-changing experiences – and entertaining for the participants, when Trevor began the first rehearsal of the huge double choir and double orchestra, set up on stage left and right, saying, in the best of humour, “You on the left… if I point to you but it’s really the turn of you on the right, just remember, I’m dyslexic.”

Away from home, I’ve seen an audience in a converted basketball court in Kirkland Lake literally jump out of their folding chairs at the first chord of Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture, so impressive was the sound in that small space. And 3,000 critical, music-loving Germans in Leipzig refuse to stop applauding after a stunning performance of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with Pinchas Zukerman – after many bows, we had all left the stage, the lights had come up, but they just wouldn’t go home. Or the impeccably attired Japanese businessman in Fukoka, who came up to me as I was having breakfast in our hotel, to ask with the greatest respect, what the wonderful encore was that we played the previous night (it was the utterly charming Intermezzo from I Quattro Rusteghi by Wolf-Ferrari, conducted by the inimitable Franco Mannino). Or the time the same inimitable Franco Mannino, during Claudio Arrau’s lengthy cadenza in the Beethoven Emperor Concerto, discretely pulled out his pocket watch.

Based in the national capital, the Orchestra can find itself with special responsibilities when performing out of town. At the start of the Orchestra’s 2014 tour of the U.K. in commemoration of the centenary of WW I, as we waited for our luggage in Edinburgh airport, we were shocked to see all the airport televisions showing scenes of chaos here at home. A horror – while we were in the air, a Canadian soldier standing guard at the War Memorial, Corporal Nathan Cirillo, had been shot to death by a terrorist. We all used a month’s worth of data on our phones overnight, trying desperately to reach family. The next evening in Usher Hall it was our solemn honour as fellow Canadians to dedicate the first commemorative tour concert to Cpl. Cirillo, and to all those who lost their lives protecting our wonderful country – the point of the whole tour, suddenly up close and personal. As we played Elgar’s Nimrod in their honour, we – and the equally respectful audience – couldn’t see for our tears.

A few years later, most memorably, we performed John Estacio’s new work I Lost My Talk in the Eskasoni First Nation on Cape Breton Island, the home of Rita Joe. Based on her powerful words, it was breathtaking – the weight of unspeakable history and hopes for reconciliation that concert carried on its shoulders, and brilliantly, thanks to the artistry and diplomacy of our excellent music director Alexander Shelley, who was the driving force behind it. And, in another galaxy far, far away, performing the great (and long…) John Williams score to a screening of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – 10,000 cheering Potter fans packed into the Canadian Tire Centre over two nights. Other than the paralyzingly cold walk from the parking lot, great fun. And perhaps the first orchestra performance many of those 10,000 had ever seen.

Why does music mean so much? I don’t know, but it does. At its best, the music we play touches the sublime – we see into the hearts of great minds and great souls across centuries of history, and in those moments, fear and mortality disappear. Experiences for a lifetime. And the great thing is, as musicians and audience, we experience it together. That brilliant first concert 50 years ago still lives in the memories of some who are present with us in this beautiful hall tonight. No other great orchestra in the world can say that. Isn’t that something?


Kevin Lau

Dark Angels Suite

Born in Hong Kong, November 22, 1982
Now living in Toronto

Kevin Lau was born in Hong Kong but has lived in Canada since the age of seven. Both his undergraduate and graduate studies in music took place at the University of Toronto, where he received his Doctorate in Composition in 2010 under the guidance of Christos Hatzis. His music has been played by many of Canada’s leading orchestras and ensembles, including the National Arts Centre Orchestra, Toronto Symphony, Toronto Philharmonia, Hamilton Philharmonic, Vancouver Symphony, Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, Niagara Symphony, Hannaford Street Silver Band and Ensemble Made in Canada.

Lau’s extensive catalogue includes 25 orchestral works composed between 2002 and 2019 (his next premiere, Between the Earth and Forever, is scheduled for February in Houston by the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra), 15 works for large ensembles of various descriptions, and 30 pieces of chamber music. Lau’s first opera, Bound, was premiered in Toronto by Against the Grain Theatre. The fascinating hour-long score, which received numerous rave reviews, was described by one writer as “Kevin Lau meets Handel in a dark alley.”

Beyond composing concert music, Lau has written music for over a dozen feature and short films, performs as a pianist, teaches at the University of Toronto, and creates arrangements for musicians like Sarah Slean, Suzie McNeil, Christos Hatzis, and the Art of Time Ensemble.

As composer-in-residence Lau has held posts with the Mississauga Symphony Orchestra (2010–2012), the Banff Centre (2010), and the Niagara Symphony (2018–2019). He was the RBC Affiliate Composer with the Toronto Symphony, from 2012 to 2015. He also served as artistic director (with conductor and co-founder Victor Cheng) of the Sneak Peek Orchestra from 2007 to 2014.

Lau’s awards include the 2017 Victor Martyn Lynn-Staunton Award by the Canada Council for Outstanding Achievement and the 2010 Karen Kieser Prize in Canadian Music for his composition Starsail.

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When the NAC Orchestra, under Alexander Shelley, premiered Lau’s 27-minute ballet Dark Angels in April 2017 as part of its Encount3rs project, it was described by the Ottawa Citizen as “riveting” and by Artsfile as “extraordinarily accomplished.” Reviewing the Analekta recording that soon followed, critic Paul Robinson wrote on the website Ludwig van Toronto that the score might well have “a successful afterlife as a concert piece.” Lau obviously took Robinson at his word and created a fifteen-minute Suite, which receives its world premiere tonight.

Dark Angels, a NAC Orchestra commission, is Lau’s second ballet score (the first was the full-length Le Petit Prince in 2016) and his second collaboration with National Ballet of Canada’s Principal Dancer and Choreographic Associate Guillaume Côté. As Dark Angels constituted part of Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations, and as the country has a long-celebrated prediliction for assimilating peoples from all over the world into a new environment, Côté noted that “we wanted to develop a work that would reflect the resistance and struggle that one can experience living in new territory and the acclimatization to new places and people. As the music and the dancers started interacting they seemed to become beautiful creatures struggling to find their place in this new world.”

Lau sets the tone in similar terms: “Our desire to explore completely different terrain, both musically and in movement, led to the creation of a score independent of any particular narrative or subject, with little to constrain its discourse apart from certain sensibilities which we were both drawn to – tension, struggle, resistance, energy. The title Dark Angels is, to me, a metaphor for human nature: its capacity for love and its impulse toward violence, both entwined within the same fragile frame.”

Lau further describes the layout of the Suite as follows: “A stormy Allegro is followed by a moment of respite in the form of an elegiac cello solo. The moment is short-lived; a nightmarish vista engulfs the increasingly desperate strains of the cello, paving the way for a finale steeped in savage, ritualistic gestures and propelled by a battery of explosive percussion. A six-note rhythmic ‘hammer' weaves its way through the score like an iron thread.”

“Taut, severe, at times brimming with explosive rage,” are the terms in which Lau characterizes his Dark Angels Suite. Although he intended the score to be non-programmatic, he realized afterward that “its pages bear the scars” of the transformation of the priestess Medusa from a suffering woman raped by the sea god Poseidon into the hideous creature with a head of serpents that turns to stone any mortal who sees her.

– Program notes by Robert Markow

SALIERI

Concerto for Flute and Oboe in C major

Born in Legnago (near Verona), August 18, 1750
Died in Vienna, May 7, 1825

Most concertgoers know one thing about Salieri: that he was supposed to have poisoned Mozart. This little piece of fiction was promoted by Pushkin in his drama Mozart and Salieri, which was in turn made into an opera by Rimsky-Korsakov, and further propagated by later playwrights, novelists and screenwriters. There was still a good deal of credibility to the story early in the past century, but it has been disproven by modern scholarship. Nevertheless, as anyone involved with productions of the play or the film Amadeus well knows, this falsehood helped make some people very rich. It is unfortunate that posterity remembers Salieri more for a supposed crime than for his actual music, for he was in fact an excellent composer, if not quite in the genius class (how many are?).

Born six years before Mozart in a town near Verona, Salieri studied music first with local instructors, then went to Venice to continue his training. There he met the then-prominent composer Florian Gassmann, who took him under his wing and brought him to Vienna. Salieri wrote his first opera at 18 and his first stage hit at 20. At 24, he succeeded Gassmann as court composer and conductor of the court opera. Before he was 40 he was the most powerful musical figure in Vienna. Among his illustrious students were Haydn, Beethoven, Liszt, Schubert, Hummel and Czerny, as well as Mozart’s son Franz Xaver. If for nothing else, we owe Salieri an inestimable debt of gratitude for what he did to encourage the teenage Schubert in his first compositional efforts at the Stadtkonvikt. Similarly, we must credit him with bringing Mozart and his librettist Lorenzo da Ponte together to create The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni and Così fan tutte. True, Salieri had some conflicts with Mozart, but then Mozart himself was not the most tactful or even-tempered individual to deal with. Salieri died a highly honoured man, but was soon forgotten, at least as a composer.

Salieri made his name primarily in the field of opera (over 40 of them, including a Falstaff a century before Verdi), but he wrote much purely instrumental music as well, most of which has remained on the fringes of the repertoire. The concerto we hear tonight was written in 1774 but not published until 1962 – nearly two centuries later. Salieri was just 24, by which time he had already composed a dozen operas.

Concertos for this pair of instruments are rare, though others exist by Carl Stamitz, Domenico Cimarosa, Ignaz Moscheles, Franz Krommer and, in more recent times, György Ligeti. Salieri uses his soloists in constantly changing patterns – at times as a single unit, at others sharing a musical line, imitating each other’s lines, or engaging in lively dialogue. The second movement, marked cantabile, is imbued with gracious melody, while the finale, a rondo as are most concertos of the period, has a sprightly character enhanced by rhythmic quirks and virtuosic flourishes for the soloists.

– Program notes by Robert Markow

Bartók

Concerto for Orchestra

Born in Nagyszentmiklós, Transylvania, Hungary (today Sânnicolau Mare, Romania), March 25, 1881
Died in New York City, September 26, 1945

Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra remains, three-quarters of a century after its triumphant premiere (Boston, December 1, 1944), one of his best-known works, one of the most popular compositions of the entire twentieth century, and one of the great showpieces of the orchestral repertoire. It was written in 1943, after Bartók had emigrated to New York City, at the instigation of the conductor of the Boston Symphony, Serge Koussevitzky, who in turn had been persuaded to approach Bartók by two of the composer’s fellow Hungarians, conductor Fritz Reiner and violinist Joseph Szigeti.

Bartók described his work as having “a tendency to treat single orchestral instruments in a concertante or soloistic manner.” Virtually every instrument is spotlighted against the full orchestra at one point or another, as a soloist and/or as a section. There are also a number of overtly virtuosic passages, as in the fugato section for brass in the first movement, the perpetuum mobile passages for strings in the Finale, and the brilliant high trumpet writing in the same movement.

The overall plan of the work is a five-part symmetrical arrangement, with the central slow Elegia flanked by two rather lightweight, short movements of moderate tempo, which in turn are framed by the longer, more vigorous, extroverted and structurally complex (sonata form) outer movements.

The work opens quietly with a slow introduction which sets forth the essential motivic idea: an extended theme with prominent use of the interval of the fourth. The main Allegro section begins with an energetic, bounding theme in the strings, distinctly Bartókian in its use of inversions and the many intervals of the fourth. The solo trombone soon presents a fanfare-like figure (again emphasizing fourths), and in the oboe we hear the second principal theme.

The second movement, Giuoco delle coppie (Game of Pairs), has an unusual and original design – a chain-like sequence of folk-inspired melodies heard successively in five different pairs of wind instruments. Each pair plays at a different interval in parallel motion. Bassoons begin at the interval of the sixth. Then come successively oboes in thirds, clarinets in sevenths, flutes in fifths, muted trumpets in seconds. A solemn brass chorale forms the central portion of the movement. The sequence of paired winds then returns in slightly more elaborate fashion, retaining their characteristic intervals except for the flutes, now in sevenths.

“An effusion of melismatic arabesques and canonic imitations” is Nicolas Slonimsky’s apt description of the central slow movement, music saturated with wisps and tendrils of great delicacy in its opening and closing passages.

The fourth movement again shows Bartók’s love of symmetry. It is basically in ABACBA form, with A representing the perky oboe tune, B the nostalgic popular art-song “Hungary gracious and fair,” (violas) and C the “interruption” referred to in the movement’s title, a vulgar and raucous treatment of a tune from Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony.

The Finale taxes the technical abilities of the string players to the hilt in a perpetuum mobile, while the brass are featured in a fugue that culminates in a splendorous climax.

– Program notes by Robert Markow

50 Years of the NAC Orchestra: Conductors and Music Directors

Jean-Marie Beaudet (1908–1971)
Music Director 1964–1970
Original visionary who persuaded the NAC founders to create a small, virtuoso orchestra of the highest possible quality. His knowledge and experience were essential to founding conductor Mario Bernardi. Having to resign for health reasons shortly after the Orchestra got off the ground, his importance was far greater than is generally remembered today.

Mario Bernardi (1930–2013)
Founding Conductor 1968–1971, Music Director 1971–1982
Originator of the NAC Orchestra’s brilliance and precision. “Ottawa, where the winters are long and the notes are short,” as the joke went. At the very first rehearsal, just before starting, he turned to a friend in the hall and said, “I feel like I’m in the cockpit of a new airliner and I’m not sure it will get off the ground.” He needn’t have worried. Had a well-earned reputation as a taskmaster but was a superb musician, especially supporting voices. Brilliant and collegial leading from the keyboard in Ravel’s G-major Piano Concerto at Carnegie Hall and Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro for Festival Ottawa. Along with Walter Prystawski, creator of the Orchestra’s unique identity – a surpassingly rare accomplishment.

Franz-Paul Decker (1923–2014)
Principal Guest Conductor 1991–1999
Deeply cultured, gently eccentric old-school European, trained at the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne, making his opera debut in Cologne in 1945 (!), knew Richard Strauss (who he met in 1948 over a card game) and so gave a direct connection to the great, pre-war European musical tradition. Conducted 85 operas during his career, and world premieres of dozens of Canadian works. With the NAC Orchestra, conducted unforgettable performances of Richard Strauss and Piazzolla. One of those rarest of conductors who achieve their unique sound from the first rehearsal, so compelling is the personality.

Trevor Pinnock
Artistic Director and Principal Conductor 1991–1996, Artistic Advisor 1996–1998
A world-famous baroque specialist and top-selling artist for Deutsche Grammophon branching out during his tenure in Ottawa, not hesitant to push his limits. In the right repertoire, including premieres and recordings of his chosen composer-in-residence Linda Bouchard, he created performances of penetrating sincerity and unforced brilliance. His 1997 performance of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion is remembered with awe and gratitude to this day.

Franco Mannino (1924–2005)
Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor 1982–1986
Charismatic, irresistible “personaggio vivo e straordinario.” Second to none in Italian opera – memorably La Cenerentola and Madama Butterfly – his in-concert NAC Orchestra CBC recordings of these operas equal or surpass any commercial release. His NAC Orchestra CD of Italian opera overtures was everyone’s favourite Christmas present for years. During his time, the NAC Orchestra was literally the most exciting Italian orchestra in the world.

Gabriel Chmura
Music Director 1987–1990
A serious musician, seriously talented – 1971 winner of the Herbert von Karajan Competition in Berlin and gold medalist of the Cantelli Competition at La Scala. Respected and loved for his meticulous preparation and gentleness. In his short tenure with the NAC Orchestra, achieved a stylish CBC recording of early Haydn symphonies, a luminous in-concert performance of Debussy’s only opera, Pelléas et Mélisande, and extensive tours in North America, including Carnegie Hall.

Pinchas Zukerman
Music Director 1999–2015
Quite simply, one of the greatest violinists and violists of our time. Brought confidence and a world-wide perspective, leading the orchestra in performances to be remembered for a lifetime: the 1990 European tour – a never-to-be-equalled performance of the Beethoven Violin Concerto in the Leipzig Gewandhaus on the day after German reunification, and the 2000 Middle-East tour during the Second Intifada – including an immense diplomatic effort for the Orchestra to perform in Palestine that only at the last minute fell victim to one of the world’s most intractable conflicts. A larger-than-life personality who gave the orchestra larger-than-life experiences.

Alexander Shelley  
Music Director 2015–present
A musician of wide talents and even wider interests – conducts Stravinsky and plays jazz piano during rehearsal breaks. The best of the new generation of conductors – collegial, urbane, multilingual, with a driving ambition for new creation, cross-cultural connections and reconciliation. Over the past few years, has led the Orchestra brilliantly in its first performances of major works of Richard Strauss. Inspired and led the Life Reflected project completed in 2015, performed to acclaim in cities across Canada and Europe – an immense artistic and cultural achievement.

John Storgårds
Principal Guest Conductor 2015–present
A hearty, athletic Finn having a unique chemistry with the Orchestra that generates performances of effortless depth of sound and primal intensity. Has been equally brilliant in Beethoven, Schumann, Sibelius, Vaughan Williams and new works. Maintains the friendliest of collegial relationships with NAC Orchestra Music Director Alexander Shelley, who returns the favour. As a senior manager said, “A dream for any orchestra is to have a conductor who is popular with the audience, popular with the musicians and popular with management. And we have two of them!”

Alain Trudel    
Principal Youth and Family Conductor 2012–2019
Really a big kid himself, an excellent solo performer on a “cool” instrument – trombone – as well as a conductor, consistently engaged young audiences with his effortless bilingualism and enthusiasm.

Mario Duschenes (1923-2009)     
Primary Conductor of Educational Concerts (untitled) 1973–1988
A dedicated, life-long educator with a distinguished background – born in Germany, later studying flute, composition and conducting in Switzerland during the war. Author of the famous series of Duschenes method books for the recorder. His gentle, intelligent approach to concerts for young people endeared him to generations of children and their parents.

Boris Brott     
Primary Conductor of Educational Concerts (untitled) 1989–2004 | Principal Youth and Family
Conductor 2004–2012
Energetic and ambitious, brought an attention-getting style to a wide variety of educational programs.

Jack Everly   
Principal Pops Conductor 2004–present
Widely popular with audiences and the Orchestra musicians, Jack is an amazing “pops musicologist” who entertainingly shares his love of the great golden-era Broadway shows and Hollywood movie scores by researching and recreating the original music for great classics such as West Wide Story, An American in Paris, The Wizard of Oz and Casablanca. Some of these priceless original scores were lost or quite literally buried in landfills by Hollywood execs who had no idea what they were doing. Fortunately, Jack does.

50 Years of the NAC Orchestra: Concertmasters

Walter Prystawski, 1969–2006
Along with Mario Bernardi, creator of the orchestra’s famous discipline and unique identity  – a surpassingly rare accomplishment. A peerless musical leader and originator of the orchestra’s team-spirited culture – an esprit de corps that exists to this day.

Yosuke Kawasaki, 2007 to present
Among the very best of the new generation of concert-masters. A superb violinist, also setting a personal example of the highest level of preparation, an energetic and committed performance style and a wide knowledge of historical performance practice. More than any other single musician, responsible for the continuing development of the orchestra that all acknowledge.


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