National Arts Centre Orchestra's Canada 150 music and education tour comes to Iqaluit December 4 to 6

Members of Canada’s National Arts Centre (NAC) Orchestra, along with Music Director Alexander Shelley, will visit Iqaluit December 4 to 6, and Yellowknife on December 9, for concerts and music education activities as part of the final segment of its Canada 150 Tour.

One of the week’s highlights is a unique and intimate concert at St. Jude’s Cathedral in Iqaluit at 7:30 p.m. on December 5. The concert includes the world premiere of a new work by singer-songwriter Leela Gilday and throat singer Sylvia Cloutier. In addition, during their 2-day visit, NAC Orchestra musicians working with local students, educators, community leaders and artists, will take part in a dozen music education activities such as master classes, coaching sessions and in-school chamber concerts (see full list below).

The Canada 150 Tour began in Atlantic Canada in April and May this year, resuming in October in the Western provinces. The final Northern leg of the Tour had its first stop on November 5 in Whitehorse, Yukon, and now heads to its final two stops in Iqaluit and Yellowknife.

“I am truly excited to be rounding off the historic Canada 150 tour with our forthcoming visit to Nunavut and the Northwest Territories,” said Alexander Shelley. “The greatest privilege of the journey so far has been the opportunity to meet with communities—their artists, teachers, children— and to explore the many ways in which we can partner, share our passions, celebrate their talents and build lasting bridges for the future. I look forward greatly to continuing this adventure as we head North, and to learning from and about the rich culture that we encounter.”


The St. Jude’s Cathedral event is a fundraiser for “Let’s Build a Qaggiq”, a major initiative by the Qaggiavuut Society to build Nunavut’s first-ever performing arts centre. Nine NAC Orchestra musicians will perform a chamber music concert, co-presented by the Alianait Arts Festival and the Qaggiavuut Society. The concert will also feature local artists Colleen Nakashuk and Jerry Laisa, as well as the Inuksuk Drum Dancers. The program includes award-winning Yellowknife composer Carmen Braden’s string quartet, The Raven Conspiracy, and Trio for Brass by the great Canadian trombonist/composer Ian McDougall.


One of the highlights of the Iqaluit event will be the world premiere of an NAC-commissioned work by singer-songwriter Leela Gilday and throat singer Sylvia Cloutier, commissioned by the NAC. The work explores the theme of motherhood and is a reflection of the female energy in nature and the natural cycle of giving life, nurturing growth, love and letting go.

A passionate singer-songwriter and soulful performer, Leela Gilday has a voice that comes straight from the heart. Confessing her stories to her audiences with a gutsy voice and open stage presence, Gilday weaves her experiences as a Northerner, a member of the Dene nation and a traveller into a beautiful world that transports the listener.

Sylvia Cloutier, originally from Kuujjuaq, Nunavik (Northern Quebec) but now living in Iqaluit, is well-known for performing Inuit throat-singing and drum dancing. She has collaborated with many artists all over the world and joined then-Governor General Michaëlle Jean on a state visit to Norway and Ukraine in 2009.


During their visit to Nunavut, NAC Orchestra musicians will take part in a dozen educational activities.  These activities – master classes, coaching sessions and in school chamber concerts – are part of the ambitious Canada 150 Tour line-up of some 250 education and community events. Arts education is a cornerstone of all NAC Orchestra tours as musicians and guest artists engage with students, educators, community leaders and local artists.

Iqaluit music education highlights include:

  • Monday, December 4, 1:35-2:15 p.m. Performance of Elders’ Qammaq. Elders’ Qammaq, Iqaluit.
  • Monday, December 4, 2:30-3:30 p.m. Music Circle Workshop for Adults with Special Needs with NACO Horn Player Elizabeth Simpson and NACO Principal Trumpet Karen Donnelly.  Isaccie Group Home.  House #496, Iqaluit. 
  • Tuesday, December 5, 9:00-10:00 a.m. Interactive performance with Leela Gilday and highschool music students. Inuksuk High school, Iqaluit.
  • Tuesday, December 5, 10:15-11:00 a.m. Bilingual duo performance on Music and Emotions with NACO violinist Marjolaine Lambert and Flutist Kaili Maimets. École Trois Soleil (Aqsarniit Students attending as well), Iqaluit.
  • Tuesday, December 5, 2:35-3:15 p.m. Elementary school children’s choir coaching with NACO Music Director Alexander Shelley. Joamie Elementary School, Iqaluit. 
  • Wednesday, December 6, 9:30-10:00 a.m.  Duo performance on Music and Emotions with NACO violinist Marjolaine Lambert and Flutist Kaili Maimets and throat singer Sylvia Cloutier.  Tumikuluit Saipaaqivik (Inuktitut Daycare), Iqaluit.
  • Wednesday, December 6, 11:00-12:00 p.m. Side-by-side workshop with Inuksuk High school Band and Principal Trumpet Karen Donnelly, Flutist Kaili Maimets, and Principal Clarinet Kimball Sykes.  Inuksuk Highschool, Iqaluit.
  • Wednesday, December 6, 2:00-2:45 p.m.  NAC Brass Trio performance. Nanook School, Apex.
  • Wednesday, December 6, 2:00-3:00 p.m. Iqaluit Fiddle Club Coaching Session with Frederic Moison. Aqsarniit Middle School, Iqaluit.


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.


Alexander Shelley is Music Director of the National Arts Centre Orchestra, Principal Associate Conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and was Chief Conductor of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra from 2009 to 2017. He is also Artistic Director of the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen’s ECHO and Deutsche Gründerpreis winning “Zukunftslabor”.  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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Allison Caverly
Communications Officer, NAC Orchestra
(613) 947-7000, ext. 335
Cell: 613 286-5346



Ellen Hamilton
Executive Director
Qaggiavuut/Nunavut Performing Arts Centre
Cell: 867-222-5270


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