Shelley Conducts Strauss

& Felix Klieser Plays Mozart

Wed, November 22, 2023
10:00 AM
Alexander Shelley © Curtis Perry
Felix Klieser © MJ Kim
Music Classical music Masterworks
  • Kelly-Marie Murphy Dark Nights, Bright Stars, Vast Universe (NACO commission)
  • RICHARD STRAUSS Don Juan, Op. 20
  • WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART Horn Concerto No. 4 in E-flat major, K. 495
  • Kevin Lau The Infinite Reaches (World premiere, NACO commission)
  • RICHARD STRAUSS Tod und Verklärung (Death and Transfiguration), Op. 24
  • In-person event

In recognition and thanks for invaluable donor support, NAC English Theatre and NAC Indigenous Theatre reserve a limited number of complimentary seats for designated preview performances. Often, before the evening’s preview, a member of the production’s artistic team gives insights into the creative process and invites questions from donors.

Richard Strauss’s tone poems (one-movement symphonic works that tell a story) depict epic tales and ask life’s big questions. Contemporary Canadian composers Kelly-Marie Murphy and Kevin Lau reply with fresh companion pieces to two of Strauss’s best-known tone poems.

Concert-level mastery of a work like Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 4 takes patience, talent, and determination, and guest guest horn player Felix Klieser, a musical prodigy who was born with no arms, has worked since childhood to reach that pinnacle, learning to play the horn with his left foot. 

Richard Strauss’s tone poem Don Juan follows the legendary and heartless womanizer through days and nights of wicked promiscuity and debauchery, through romance after ardent romance, until the infamous philanderer succumbs to a fiery and mournful end. Canadian composer Kelly-Marie Murphy took inspiration for her first NAC commission, which premieres tonight, from the other events taking place when Strauss wrote Don Juan, including Van Gogh’s painting Starry Night, and the extraordinary life of Scottish astronomer, Williamina Fleming, one of the founding members of the “Harvard Computers”.

Strauss was 25 years old when he composed another of his tone poems, Tod und Verklärung (Death and Transfiguration), a “cosmic musical drama, concerned with the twilight of life,” ( The piece asks lofty questions: What is the nature of life and what lies on the other side? Canadian composer Kevin Lau answers with his transcendent NACO commission entitled The Infinite Reaches, also making its world premiere in Southam Hall.


  • dscf9130-curtis-perry-2-cropped
    Conductor Alexander Shelley
  • 02-felixklieseryymaikehelbig-kopie-cropped
    Horn Felix Klieser
    Composer Kelly-Marie Murphy
  • kevin-lau
    Composer Kevin Lau
  • bio-orchestra
    Featuring NAC Orchestra
  • Stage Manager Laurie Champagne