Building Community Through Music: National Arts Centre Orchestra Atlantic Canada Tour a Triumphant Success

OTTAWA—Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra has returned home after a triumphant Atlantic Canadian Tour that featured sellout concerts, rave reviews, standing ovations and meaningful education events that touched 10,000 audience members, students, teachers and young artists in nine cities and 15 communities across Atlantic Canada.

The tour, which included nine concerts in all four Atlantic provinces, shone the spotlight on many Canadian artists, most significantly its Guest Conductor Julian Kuerti, one of the most exciting young conductors on the international scene, Jan Lisiecki, a 16-year-old piano phenomenon, and composer John Estacio, who wrote a brand new piece “Brio: Toccata and Fantasy for Orchestra” that was premiered during the tour.  Together with the Orchestra, these three incredible artists dazzled audiences in St. John’s, Charlottetown, Fredericton, Moncton and Saint John.

In Halifax, the Music Director of the NAC Orchestra, Pinchas Zukerman worked with the combined forces of both the National Arts Centre Orchestra and Symphony Nova Scotia on stage playing together in an unforgettable concert at the Rebecca Cohn Theatre at Dalhousie University.

“The personal warmth of such a friendly atmosphere showed most of all in the way the players skillfully adjusted to each other,” said Stephen Pedersen from the Halifax Chronicle Herald. “Zukerman’s rich, sonorous sound on viola, projected with unforced and masterly skill.”

“The Atlantic audiences were very warm and welcoming. Canadian audiences generally feel that way, but in the Atlantic, the feeling was multiplied at least by two,” said Jan Lisiecki the 16 year old piano soloist during NAC’s Atlantic Tour.

“Singing with a big group, you’re all so connected doing something you love. It’s very powerful,” said Karen Clement a 15 year old member of the Ottawa Children’s Choir who sang with Newfoundland’s award-winning Shallaway Choir at a kick-off education event on November 16, 2011.

Highlights of the Atlantic Tour included: 

  • An interactive event hosted by internationally renowned children’s rights activist Craig Kielburger to 400 young people from choirs in St. John’s, NL and Ottawa, ON about building community through music;


  • A sold-out concert in St. John’s, NL featuring award-winning youth choir Shallaway;


  • The proud return of  NAC Second Clarinet Sean Rice who performed a student matinee at his alma mater, Holy Heart of Mary High School in St. John’s, NL;


  • An Orchestra performing with borrowed instruments and street clothes in Charlottetown, PEI after a ferry carrying instruments, concert dress and equipment broke down in Port-aux-Basques, NL. The concert, perhaps the most memorable in the Orchestra’s history, began with a rousing standing ovation;


  • The stellar, sold-out double performance of Symphony Nova Scotia and the NAC Orchestra under the baton of NAC Music Director Pinchas Zukerman;


  • Manhattan on the Atlantic, a broadband videoconference masterclass which linked jazz students at St. Francis Xavier University to Rodney Jones, a guitarist on the faculty of Manhattan School of Music in New York City.


  • NAC Principal Flute Joanna G’Froerer’s beautiful performance of Mozart’s  Flute Concerto no. 1 in G major in Moncton, NB;


  • NAC Orchestra musicians and apprentices of the NAC’s Institute for Orchestral Studies working with and performing for El Sistema New Brunswick, a program that provides after-school orchestral music lessons to underprivileged children and that is based on the belief that music helps create better communities;


  • The student matinee for an audience of 700 at CFB Gagetown to give thanks on behalf of all Canadians to the military and their families for their service to the country. The Let’s Go Mozart! matinee featured Acadian fiddler Samantha Robichaud, actor John Doucet, and CFB Gagetown’s 3 Area Support Group Pipes & Drums.

The tour also featured Atlantic Canadian musicians, including Acadian fiddler Samantha Robichaud, Newfoundland fiddler Danielle Green and the award-winning Shallaway choir, and stopped in 15 cities and communities with concerts in St. John’s (Nov. 15), Charlottetown (Nov. 17), Moncton, (Nov. 20), Fredericton (Nov. 22) and Saint John (Nov. 23), all preceded by performances from local choirs. The Orchestra also played a student matinee in St. John’s (Nov. 15) a bilingual student matinee in Moncton (Nov. 22), and another bilingual matinee at CFB Gagetown in honour of the Canadian military and their families that featured the 3 Area Support Pipes & Drums (Nov. 24).

Always at the forefront of technology and arts education, the award-winning NAC New Media department made the NAC Orchestra’s Atlantic Canada Tour accessible to all Canadians, who could follow the tour online at for blogs, videos, podcasts, photos and more. Updates were posted on twitter at #CanadasNAC, and on the NAC’s Facebook page.


The tour included nearly two dozen tour teaching sessions led by some of the most formidable musicians of the NAC Orchestra, including Concertmaster Yosuke Kawasaki, Principal Bass Joel Quarrington and Principal Flute Joanna G’froerer. Other instructors included Kenneth Kiesler, Director of the NAC Summer Music Institute’s Conductors Program, renowned Canadian composer John Estacio and Grammy Award-winning choral conductor Duain Wolfe.

These top-level professionals worked in collaboration with schools, universities, community orchestras, choirs, bands and other local music organizations to work with and inspire young Atlantic Canadian artists and audiences, building on the excellent foundation of the region’s music educators.

In addition to three student matinees and 20 masterclasses, the tour’s 80 education events included workshops, sectional rehearsals, lectures, private coaching, musicians-in-the-schools performances, question-and-answer sessions, broadband masterclasses and more. All provided outstanding opportunities, not only for the young audiences and artists of Atlantic Canada, but also for the NAC Orchestra to forge connections and build relationships.


Reaching out to Canadian communities through touring is a central pillar of the NAC Orchestra. Over its 41-year history, the Orchestra has performed for audiences in hundreds of venues around the world, including 118 cities and communities in Canada (including Atlantic Canada in 2002), and 122 cities internationally.


The National Arts Centre Foundation gratefully acknowledges support for the Atlantic Canada Tour from The Government of Canada, Regional Partners CN (Nova Scotia), Suncor Energy (Newfoundland) and Tim Hortons (CFB Gagetown, New Brunswick) and Supporting Partners Diane and Wesley Campbell, Zita Cobb and Ian and Jan Craig. Thank you also to NAC Friends Crosbie Group of Companies, Long & McQuade Musical Instruments, McInnes Cooper, the Gill Radcliffe Foundation and RBC Royal Bank.

The Atlantic Canada Tour is also made possible thanks to the CEO National Fund which supports the NAC’s programs across the country.  The NAC Foundation extends a warm thank you to the Atlantic Canada donors to the CEO National Fund; the Craig Foundation, Fred and Elizabeth Fountain, Dale Godsoe, C.M., Frederick and Joanne MacGillivray, Frank and Debbie Sobey as well as NAC Foundation Director Gary Zed who has made a gift in memory Leesha & Amelia Zed.

The Atlantic Canada Tour Travel Partner is Air Canada and the Hotel Partner is Delta Hotels and Resorts.  National Media Partners are CBC – Radio Canada and the National Post and the Media Partner is Atlantic Business Magazine.


For more information:


Rosemary Thompson

Director of Communications

National Arts Centre

Tel. (613) 947-7000, ext. 260

Cell: (613) 762-4118

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