July 12, 2022 – OTTAWA – From September 22-25, the NAC Orchestra presents
SPHERE: Listening to the Earth. Co-curated by NACO Music Director Alexander Shelley and Canadian-Icelandic interdisciplinary artist Dr. Angela Rawlings, this festival focuses on a positive way forward on an ever-changing planet. 


In SPHERE’s concerts, NACO will bring Earth and the climate crisis to centre stage, reflecting on the symphony orchestra as an ecosystem in perpetual flux. Audiences at the National Arts Centre and Club SAW will enjoy works by Canadian, Indigenous, American and Nordic composers and guest artists.


“The orchestra is a human eco-system. In our SPHERE festival, we will explore listening to the Earth through the experience of deep time and a meditation of sound with music by iconic living composers like John Luther Adams, Max Richter, Alexina Louie, Anna Clyne, and Outi Tarkiainen, performed by exciting artists like Indigenous mezzo -soprano Marion Newman, and Norwegian violinist, Mari Samuelsen. I am thrilled to invite you to join us on this journey.”

- Alexander Shelley, Music Director, NAC Orchestra


The four-day festival will present a wide variety of writers, scientists, musicians, performers, visual artists, and activists participating in public conversations around the climate and sustainability as the world adapts to a new environmental reality. NACO is delighted to partner with the Canadian Museum of Nature and feature events in both buildings, including pieces from the Museum’s collections at the NAC. NACO is also thrilled to partner with the Royal Danish Library to present Arctic Imagination, a series of conversations around the transformation of a warming North with prominent scientists and artists.


Soundwalks, visual art exhibitions, and an audio installation will also be presented throughout the festival, including a unique beekeeper procession.


SPHERE is presented in collaboration with Nordic Bridges, a year-long cultural initiative led by Harbourfront Centre in Toronto and supported by the Nordic Council of Ministers. Visit to learn more.  



Audiences are invited to consider the crucial skill of listening to the Earth, through the collective experiences of symphonic concerts, conversations, and art installations. The four days are themed around planet Earth’s interconnected spheres: Lithosphere, Biosphere, Hydrosphere, and Atmosphere.


The Eternal Earth

In the festival opening concert, Indigenous mezzo-soprano Marion Newman makes her return to Southam Hall to perform selections from Outi Tarkiainen’s The Earth, Spring’s Daughter, a song cycle for mezzo and orchestra based on Sami poetry, and Norwegian violinist Mari Samuelsen makes her Canadian debut performing Max Richter’s widely popular and hypnotic Four Seasons: Recomposed. Alexander Shelley and the NAC Orchestra will also perform The Eternal Earth, by JUNO Award-winning composer Alexina Louie, which embraces the pure sounds of nature, from the lion’s roar to the seagull’s cry. “Part of the job of the artist,” Louie says, “is to be a dreamer. …My music reflects who I am as a person on this Earth.”


September 22, 2022



Become Ocean

Alexander Shelley and the NAC Orchestra will perform John Luther Adams’s Pulitzer Prize-winning large-scale work Become Ocean, a sonic journey through “roiling waves of sound, curling up and out…not so much ebbing as subsuming everything else” ( If the ocean of our planet has a song, then Become Ocean is it.  Also on the program are Restless Oceans by Anna Clyne, and Songs of the Ice by Finnish composer Outi Tarkiainen, evoking the slow and silent breathing of the Earth’s ice as it swells in winter and contracts in summer in an age-old rhythm that is gradually being lost.


September 24, 2022


Tune into Nature!

In this SPHERE family concert, Principal Youth Conductor and Creative Partner Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, the NAC Orchestra, and influential leaders and artists from across Canada will celebrate the art and importance of listening with empathy – to our environment, our elders, and to each other – in a concert featuring music inspired by nature and creative responses to our world, the climate crisis, and the times we live in. 


September 25, 2022


Arctic Imagination  

Co-presented with the Royal Danish Library, Arctic Imagination will present public conversations with leading Nordic, Indigenous and Canadian writers, artists, and scientists throughout the entirety of the festival. Themes surrounding a warming North, biodiversity, sustainability, and “response-ability” will be explored. From moss and mycelia to humans and whales, a warming climate impacts all species. Learn how you can create impactful change and share your thoughts throughout these crucial conversations.


September 22-25, 2022


Your Temper, My Weather

In this major collective performance, Toronto artist Diane Borsato will lead a slow, silent procession of approximately one-hundred regional beekeepers (and other pollinator-loving allies) in a city walk from the Canadian Museum of Nature to the National Art Centre’s rooftop Rose Garden and apiary. Members of the public are invited to watch and/or join the beekeepers in their silent procession at any point during the 1.5-hour performance.


September 24, 2022


Audio Installation: a shimmering ornament of silt

During this four-day installation, Icelandic composer-performer Halla Steinunn Stefánsdóttir and Western Canadian composer-performer rebecca bruton explore deep time connection through soil degradation and reclamation. Explore how past, future, and present moments reveal themselves in soil at the NAC in this immersive musical experience.


September 22-25, 2022



Concert tickets are already available to purchase online on Ticketmaster or by phone 1-888-991-2787 (ARTS). 

Bookings for the rest of the programming, free or accessible with a CMN ticket, will be available in August.



SPHERE at Canada’s National Arts Centre is made possible through the support of many generous individuals and organizations from across the country and abroad. Thank you to the Canadian Museum of Nature​, the Royal Danish Library​, Nordic Bridges/Harbourfront Centre​, the Ottawa Art Gallery, SAW Gallery​, and Queen Margrethe & Vigdís Finnbogadóttir's ​Research Centre on Ocean, Climate, and Society for their collaboration and support to make SPHERE possible.


The National Arts Centre Foundation would like to thank SPHERE Festival Lead Donor, the Janice & Earle O’Born Fund for Artistic Excellence, and Canada’s Forest Trust. Thank you also to Mark Motors Group, Official Car of the NAC Orchestra, and Official Rail Partner Via Rail. The NAC Orchestra Music Director role is supported by Elinor Gill Ratcliffe, C.M., O.N.L., LL.D. (hc). 



A Rawlings is a mineral, plant, animal, person, place, or thing. Also known as Dr. Angela Rawlings, they are a Canadian-Icelandic interdisciplinary artist-researcher who works with languages as dominant exploratory material. Their practice seeks and interrogates relationality between bodies—be they human, more-than-human, other-than, non. Meditating on languages as inescapable lenses of human engagement, Rawlings’ methods over the past twenty years have included sensorial poetries, vocal and contact improvisation, theatre of the rural, and conversations with landscapes. 



Nordic Bridges is a year-long exchange of art, culture, and ideas between the Nordic Region and Canada, led by Harbourfront in Toronto and supported by the Nordic Council of Ministers. Built on shared values of creativity, innovation, inclusivity, Indigenous perspectives, resilience, and sustainability, Nordic Bridges will inspire Canadian artists and audiences from coast to coast to coast.

Programming across over 18 Canadian partner organizations includes performing arts (dance, theatre, circus and music), visual and digital arts, craft and design, literature, film, and the culinary arts. Nordic artists will collaborate with and perform alongside Canadian artists at both established and new festivals and events across the country.

Explore events happening across Canada, at



“Saving the world through evidence, knowledge, and inspiration.” The Canadian Museum of Nature is Canada's national museum of natural history and natural sciences, with roots dating to the mid 19th-century. The museum provides evidence-based insights, inspiring experiences and meaningful engagement with nature's past, present and future. It achieves this through scientific research, a 14.6 million specimen collection, education programs, signature and travelling exhibitions.

“We’re delighted to partner with the NAC Orchestra for this unique festival, which will celebrate nature and underscore some critical environmental challenges facing the planet,” says John Swettenham, interim co-CEO of the Canadian Museum of Nature. “As Canada’s national museum of natural history, we look forward to sharing our knowledge about nature and to listening and learning from Sphere’s creative programs that blend music with art and science.”

Learn more about the Canadian Museum of Nature at



The Royal Danish Library is the Danish National Library and University Library. King Frederik the Third founded the Library in 1648. The collection was initially part of the King’s private collection, later, under King Christian the Seventh, the Library was made open to the public. Today the Library has buildings and departments at several other locations in Denmark. Combined, they house a considerable part of Denmark’s national cultural heritage, and a great many historical collections that provide insight into European cultural traditions dating back to early history and prehistory. The Black Diamond is a modern waterfront extension to the Royal Danish Library's old building, which apart from its function as a library, houses a number of other public facilities and activities, including the Queen’s Hall, a 600-seat chamber music hall used for concerts, literary events, theatrical performances and conferences. The Royal Library has turned into Scandinavia’s principal scene for live conversations between leading international intellectuals, top politicians and artists. Known for its famous International Authors' Stage that was founded in 2008 and takes place in The Black Diamond, former guests include amongst other writers and thinkers such as Herta Müller, Dario Fo, Günter Grass, Chimamanda Ngozi Adizhie, Haruki Murakami, Abdualrazak Gurnah, Mario Vargos Llosa, Marina Abramović and Salman Rushdie as well as leading international personalities such as Hillary Clinton, Kofi Annan and Emmanuel Macron.



Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra is a world-class ensemble of outstanding classical musicians from across Canada and around the world, under the inspiring leadership of Music Director, Alexander Shelley.  Since its debut in 1969, the NAC Orchestra has been praised for the passion and clarity of its performances, its visionary educational programs, and its prominent role in nurturing Canadian creativity, as well as reaching national and international audiences through touring and recordings.

The Orchestra has a rich touring history and has toured 95 times since its inauguration in 1969, visiting 120 cities in Canada, as well as 20 countries and 138 cities internationally. In recent years, the Orchestra has travelled across Canada, the United Kingdom and China. In 2019, the Orchestra marked its 50th anniversary by showcasing the work of six Canadian composers in a seven-city European tour that included performances and education events in England, France, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden; and in April 2022, it made its long-awaited return to Carnegie Hall.  The Orchestra breaks boundaries with its regular commissions of new creations, including the critically acclaimed Life Reflected (2016) and UNDISRUPTED (2021).   Its commissions and recordings have won JUNO Awards for Best New Classical Composition in 2018 and 2019.


The National Arts Centre is Canada’s bilingual, multi-disciplinary home for the performing arts. The NAC presents, creates, produces, and co-produces performing arts programming in various streams — the NAC Orchestra, Dance, English Theatre in collaboration with Black Theatre Workshop, French Theatre, Indigenous Theatre, and Popular Music and Variety — and nurtures the next generation of audiences and artists from across Canada. The NAC is located in the National Capital Region on the unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabe.  


For more information, please contact:

Julia Bacic
Communications Strategist, NAC Orchestra


Mireille Allaire
Senior Manager, Communications
National Arts Centre

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