Canada 150 Tour features line-up of concerts and events featuring local musicians

This spring and fall Canada’s National Arts Centre (NAC) Orchestra, led by Music Director Alexander Shelley, is touring across the country to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation, and its first stop is St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.

“We have an ambitious line-up of concerts and community events in St. John’s, and I’m thrilled to lead the Orchestra in celebrating Canada’s milestone year,” says Alexander Shelley.

The NAC Orchestra is touring Atlantic Canada from April 25 to May 7, beginning in St. John’s, then travelling to Moncton, Charlottetown, Eskasoni, Saint John and Halifax. Over 80 education and community engagement activities will unite the musicians of the Orchestra with 6,000 local students, educators, community leaders and artists across the four Atlantic provinces. The tour will also include a series of meaningful events that will focus on reconciliation through the arts.

In St. John’s, the ambitious line-up of concerts and community events includes: a special concert on Thursday, April 27 presented by the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra featuring the Shallaway Youth Choir ; a student matinee presented by the Rotary Music Festival, led by Alexander Shelley and featuring the Newfoundland Symphony Youth Orchestra, members of the NAC Orchestra and James Ehnes on Wednesday April 26; a late night performance  of Duane Andrews’s music at the beloved Rocket Room on Wednesday, April 26; and a special “Reconciliation Through the Arts” performance and discussion at the St. John’s Native Friendship Centre.

“We are partnering with dozens of organizations and have the opportunity to celebrate the artists, educators, and youth who are shaping our future,” says Geneviève Cimon, Director of Music Education and Community Engagement. “We look forward to connecting with music lovers of all ages and exploring with them how music is a part of our country’s DNA, and how it can inspire creativity, collaboration and reconciliation.”

The Canada 150 Tour is made possible with leadership support from Tour Patrons Gail and David O’Brien, Presenting Supporters Alice and Grant Burton, Supporting Partners Peng Lin & Yu Gu, Education Partner Dasha Shenkman, and Digital Partner Facebook.



NAC Presents Duane Andrews

and Members of the NAC Orchestra

Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 8:00 pm 

ROCKET BAKERY  | St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador

On Wednesday, April 26 at the St. John’s Rocket Room, and in partnership with NAC Presents, acclaimed Newfoundland guitarist, composer, and producer Duane Andrews will team up with members of the National Arts Centre Orchestra on a musical adventure where guitar and chamber ensemble music will meet jazz and traditional music from Newfoundland and Labrador.

The concert features an intimate night of music for celebrating the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation at St. John’s beloved local hangout, the Rocket Bakery. Music arranged by local artist Duane Andrews.



During the tour the Orchestra will perform Life Reflected, a stunningly original new work created by the National Arts Centre. Alexander Shelley brought together four remarkable Canadian composers to collaborate with Producer and Director Donna Feore to create an immersive symphonic experience celebrating youth, promise and courage, revealed in the compelling and diverse portraits of four women. Life Reflected is a multisensory, engulfing visual and sonic experience, using video, art, film, spoken word, poetry, dance and projected visual imagery, tightly conceived around the NAC Orchestra.

One of the works composed for Life Reflected is I Lost My Talk by critically acclaimed Canadian composer John Estacio. Each performance in Atlantic Canada will culminate with this powerful new work based on the titular poem by Mi'kmaw Elder and poet Rita Joe C.M. In her poem ‘I Lost My Talk,’ Rita Joe wrote about her childhood pain of being forbidden to speak her own language in a residential school. She hoped that her poem would inspire Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians to listen and learn about each other. This lush musical score will be performed with film presentation and live narration by Guna and Rappahannock actor Monique Mojica. With its bursts of birdsong from the flute, the rustling of percussion and sounds of wind emanating from the string sections, Christophe Huss of Le Devoir called it one of “Estacio’s very best compositions for orchestra…a truly powerful and overwhelming creation.” I Lost My Talk was commissioned for the NAC Orchestra to commemorate the 75th birthday of The Right Honourable Joe Clark, P.C., C.C., A.O.E. by his family.



On Thursday April 27 at 8:00 p.m. the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra presents Canada’s NAC Orchestra at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre

The Shallaway Youth Choir will join the NAC Orchestra for the opening of the concert that includes Heirloom, a new orchestration of Brahms’s Intermezzo, Op. 118, No. 2 by Toronto-based composer and pianist Larysa Kuzmenko, with commissioned text by St. John’s-born playwright Robert Chafe;

Soloist James Ehnes will dazzle audiences with Korngold’s Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 45. followed by Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, “From the New World” – a beloved favourite. The evening culminates with Alberta composer John Estacio’s work I Lost My Talk, inspired by Mi'kmaw Elder and poet Rita Joe, C.M and her experience at Shubenacadie Residential School in Nova Scotia. Performed with film and live narration, this lush musical score is a truly “powerful, overwhelming creation” (Christophe Huss, Le Devoir). 

The concert will also feature a pre-concert choral performance in the lobby by Eastern Owl and Jubilate Choir from 19:15 to 19:45. Eastern Owl is a local indigenous ensemble that performs traditional Indigenous music with a blend of folk music. Jubilate Choir is a youth choir affiliated with Shallaway Choir.



In addition to master classes, private coaching and conducting sessions and musician-in-schools performances, education and community engagement highlights include:

Tuesday, April 25 from 2:30-4:30 p.m. Carrisa Klopoushak of the NAC Orchestra will work with local teachers and students who are part of “Project Grace,” an afterschool music program modelled after the renowned Venezuelan program “El Sistema.” Project Grace takes place at St. James United Church and serves families of St. Andrew’s Elementary School, offering free lessons in flute, trumpet, violin and piano. It is the first program of its kind in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Wednesday, April 26, 8:45 a.m. District Conference Centre. - A day of professional development for Newfoundland teachers with Alexander Shelley and members of the NAC Orchestra (not open to the media)

Wednesday, April 26, 1:00 p.m. Holy Heart School, St. John’s – A student matinee presented by the Rotary Music Festival and led by Alexander Shelley at Holy Heart School featuring the Newfoundland Symphony Youth Orchestra, James Ehnes, Sean Rice, Duane Andrews and members of the NAC Orchestra.

Wednesday, April 26, 6:00 p.m.St. John’s Native Friendship Centre – members of St. John’s indigenous and non-indigenous communities are invited to participate in a discussion and performance on the topic of Reconciliation Through the Arts.  Featured artists will include members of Eastern Owl and the Shallaway Youth Choir.


People from across Canada and around the world can follow this extraordinary tour by visiting  Daily reports will also be posted on Facebook and Twitter @NACOrchestra.


The Canada 150 Tour is made possible with leadership support from Tour Patrons Gail and David O’Brien, Presenting Supporters Alice and Grant Burton, Supporting Partners Peng Lin & Yu Gu, Education Partner Dasha Shenkman, and Digital Partner Facebook.



In September 2015 Alexander Shelley took up the mantle as Music Director, leading a new era for the National Arts Centre’s Orchestra. Shelley has an unwavering reputation as one of Europe’s leading young conductors, notably as Chief Conductor of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra and most recently as the Principal Associate Conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Formed in 1969 at the opening of Canada's National Arts Centre, the NAC Orchestra gives over 100 performances a year with renowned artists including Itzhak Perlman, Renée Fleming, James Ehnes, Emanuel Ax and Yo-Yo Ma. It is noted for the passion and clarity of its performances and recordings, its ground-breaking teaching and outreach programs, and nurturing of Canadian creativity. Since its inception the Orchestra has commissioned 80 works, mostly from Canadian composers. In 2001 it inaugurated the National Arts Centre Awards for Canadian Composers and the recipients thus far have been Denys Bouliane, John Estacio, Peter Paul Koprowski, Gary Kulesha, Alexina Louie and Ana Sokolović.

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Andrea Ruttan

Communications Officer, NAC Orchestra
(613) 947-7000, ext. 335