News Release Canada's National Arts Centre Orchestra & Music Director Alexander Shelley Receive Juno Nomination for the Bounds or Our Dreams

Yesterday’s JUNO award nominations included the NAC Orchestra’s album the Bounds of our Dreams featuring the world-première recording of Walter Boudreau’s Concerto de l’asile performed by pianist Alain Lefèvre.

January 29, 2020 – OTTAWA (Canada) – The National Arts Centre congratulates Music Director Alexander Shelley, the NAC Orchestra, composer Walter Boudreau and pianist Alain Lefèvre and Yosuke Kawasaki, NAC concertmaster, for their JUNO Award nomination announced yesterday by The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS).

The NAC Orchestra’s Album The Bounds of our Dreams conducted by Alexander Shelley is nominated for Classical Album of the Year: Large Ensemble. One of the works on the album, a world premiere recording, is Le Concerto de l’asile, which was born from a short waltz that Walter Boudreau wrote for a staged production of Claude Gauvreau's L’Asile de la pureté.

JUNO Week 2020 will be hosted in Saskatoon, SK and the 2020 JUNO Awards will be broadcast live on Sunday, March 15, 2020. This is the NAC Orchestra’s fourth nomination in this category, the most recent having been in 2019 for New Worlds, and including Angela Hewitt’s 2015 win. Recordings of its commissions won Classical Composition of the Year in 2018 and 2019 for Jocelyn Morlock and Ana Sokolović.


The Bounds of Our Dreams is a monumental recording which brings together some of Canada's greatest artists: the National Arts Centre Orchestra (NAC Orchestra) and Music Director Alexander Shelley, pianist Alain Lefèvre and composer Walter Boudreau, with brilliant solos from NAC Orchestra Concertmaster Yosuke Kawasaki. The works on this recording, Walter Boudreau’s Concerto de l’asile, Rimski-Korsakov’s Scheherazade and Ravel’s Pavane pour une enfante défunte paint stories in music, vividly evoking the characters, places, and periods that they depict.

“My encounter with Walter Boudreau was one of the most meaningful of my career. Having previously worked with great composers like John Corigliano and Henri Dutilleux, I could tell after only a few bars that Boudreau’s Concerto de l’asile was a masterpiece that would stand tall in the history of contemporary music. A sublime allegorical play about the torment of a lost soul – the concerto’s music achieves dreamlike, Dantean heights”, says piano soloist Alain Lefèvre.

NAC Orchestra Music Director Alexander Shelley adds: “This piece was written for soloist Alain Lefèvre who, through the fiendishly challenging piano part, represents the character of the Québécois poet, ultimately finding redemption and transfiguration in death for this unique literary figure.”

For the composer, this concerto is a tribute to the Montreal playwright and poet Claude Gauvreau (1925–1971), who also contributed to the Refus Global manifesto, published over 70 years ago (from which this release’s title is drawn: “The bounds of our dreams were changed forever”). Walter Boudreau specifies: “This concerto, depicts the bridge between his visionary poetic world [represented by the piano] and the obscurantist society of the time [the orchestra].” In face of this lack of understanding and possibly, according to the poet, the failure of all means of real communication, Gauvreau developed a “sound poetry”, a kind of onomatopoeic language he described as “exploréen” (exploratory).

“The titles of the first (Les oranges sont vertes) and third movements (La charge de l’orignal épormyable) refer to the works Gauvreau wrote for the stage, while the second movement (St-Jean-de-Dieu) induces memories of the asylum for the mentally disturbed in St-Jean-de-Dieu, where Gauvreau was committed on numerous occasions and now a psychiatric hospital in Montreal that has been re-named Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal.”

“The third movement in which not only does the poet return to his senses (preponderance of solo piano here) but forcefully, following a mad waltz (Valse de l’asile), slowly bringing back feverish elements of the first movement, “overwhelming” the orchestra and, despite an early death, (Funeral Procession) triumphing & resurrecting by the end in a posthumous, brilliant tutti.”

Behind this posthumous homage to Claude, there is, according to Walter Boudreau, the much more concrete case of the composer being largely inspired by the genius of this great pianist, Alain Lefèvre, whose virtuosity, sensitivity and musical intelligence has relentlessly steered the different stages of composition of this concerto to its final outcome.


The album features the epic symphonic suite Scheherazade by Russian composer Nikolai Rimski-Korsakov, with exceptional solos from NAC concertmaster Yosuke Kawasaki. The live performance was hailed as “all spice-bazaar colour, tightly choreographed rhythms and doe-eyed romance.” (ARTSFILE, March 2018)

The opening work is Pavane pour une infante défunte by Maurice Ravel, a miniature musical masterpiece, a perfect and enduring vision of a beautiful young princess, whose dance echoes through the ages. Both Ravel and Rimski-Korsakov were consummate musical “painters” whose works showcase the virtuosity, power and intimacy of the symphony orchestra.


Founded in 1987 by François Mario Labbé, Analekta is the largest independent classical music record company in Canada. It has produced more than 500 albums and recorded more than 200 of the country's most prominent musicians, winning multiple awards in the process. In 2019, Analekta achieved the impressive feat of having the works from its catalogue streamed 130 million times on international streaming platforms.


The NAC Orchestra was formed over 50 years ago at the creation of Canada’s National Arts Centre and gives more than 100 performances a year with world-renowned artists. 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. In 2015 Alexander Shelley began his tenure as Music Director, following Pinchas Zukerman’s 16 seasons at the helm. In addition to a full series of subscription concerts at the National Arts Centre each season, the Orchestra tours throughout Canada and around the world, most recently to Europe in May 2019.

The NAC Orchestra has recorded many of the 80+ new works commissioned since its inception, for radio and on over 40 commercial recordings. These include Angela Hewitt’s 2015 JUNO Award-winning album of Mozart Piano Concertos; the groundbreaking Life Reflected, which includes My Name is Amanda Todd by Jocelyn Morlock, winner of the 2018 JUNO for Classical Composition of the Year; and from the 2019 JUNO nominated New Worlds, Ana Sokolović’s Golden Slumbers Kiss Your Eyes, 2019 JUNO Winner for Classical Composition of the Year.


Alexander Shelley became Music Director of the NAC Orchestra in September 2015; he is Principal Associate Conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and was Chief Conductor of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra 2009–2017. Since being awarded first prize at the 2005 Leeds Conducting Competition, Mr. Shelley has been in demand from orchestras around the world, including the Philharmonia, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Mozarteum Orchester Salzburg, DSO Berlin, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Czech Philharmonic, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Orchestra Svizzera Italiana, Stockholm Philharmonic, Oslo Philharmonic, Simón Bolívar, Seattle, and Houston Symphony Orchestras. He is a regular guest with the top Asian and Australasian orchestras. The Bounds Of Our Dreams recording with the NAC Orchestra follows Life Reflected, ENCOUNT3RS and the JUNO-nominated New Worlds.

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