NAC Orchestra presents free Canada Day Concert with Alexander Shelley, Iskwē, Alex Hetherington, and YAO.

The Canada Day Concert will take place at Southam Hall on July 1st at 2:30pm. Admission is free.

Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra is thrilled to announce its highly anticipated Canada Day Concert, a showcase of exceptional musical talent by Canadian artists and composers. On July 1st, music director Alexander Shelley will lead the Orchestra in concert with singer-songwriter Iskwē, mezzo-soprano Alex Hetherington, and the bilingual slam poet and songwriter YAO, featuring extraordinary repertoire by Canadian composers.

This free concert promises an immersive and memorable music experience. The 75-minute performance, presented without an intermission, will captivate audiences with a diverse range of music from Canadian composers Iman Habibi, Rita Ueda, and Ana Sokolović, to the late, great Oscar Peterson. More exciting repertoire will be announced from the stage.

The NAC Orchestra has a long-standing tradition of presenting free concerts on July 1st and this year’s concert continues that legacy with a stellar lineup of artists. The immensely talented mezzo-soprano Alex Hetherington performed Mozart’s Requiem with the NAC Orchestra in November 2022; the bilingual songwriter and slam poet YAO also hosted the Canada Day Concert in 2022; and the sensational Cree singer-songwriter Iskwē’s original music has been specially arranged for the orchestra. These collaborations bring an extraordinary dimension to the performance, showcasing the rich artistic tapestry of Canadian music in diverse styles.

To conclude the free concert, the NAC Orchestra will perform a moving rendition of “Hymn to Freedom”, a soul-stirring masterpiece by the late Canadian jazz pianist and composer, Oscar Peterson.

Expect the Canada Day Concert to be an inspiring celebration of Canadian artistry and showcase of musical excellence. This free event provides an opportunity for families, friends, and communities to come together on July 1st, commemorating Canada’s cultural richness through the power of music.

“Music has the remarkable ability to connect us, inspire us, and evoke a deep sense of pride in our communities,” said Alexander Shelley, Music Director of the NAC Orchestra. “Our Canada Day Concert is a platform to celebrate the immense talent of Canadian artists, our National Arts Centre Orchestra, and to pay tribute to the exceptional works of this country’s living composers. We invite everyone to join us for a special musical celebration of our collective spirit.”

The Canada Day Concert 2023 by the NAC Orchestra will take place on July 1st at 2:30pm. Admission is free on a first-come, first-served basis. The doors to Southam Hall will be opened at 2:00pm, half an hour before the concert begins. The National Arts Centre and 1 Elgin Restaurant will be open before and after the show.


The National Arts Centre (NAC) 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. 


Since its debut in 1969, the National Arts Centre (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. Under the leadership of Music Director Alexander Shelley, the NAC Orchestra reflects the fabric and values of Canada, reaching and representing the diverse communities we live in with daring programming, powerful storytelling, inspiring artistry, and innovative partnerships.

Since its inception, the NAC Orchestra has recorded for radio and more than 40 commercial recordings many of the 80+ new works it has commissioned, primarily from Canadian composers. These include:

  • Angela Hewitt’s 2015 JUNO Award-winning album of Mozart Piano Concertos;
  • The ground-breaking Life Reflected, which includes My Name is Amanda Todd by the late Jocelyn Morlock (winner of the 2018 JUNO for Classical Composition of the Year);
  • Ana Sokolović’s Golden Slumbers Kiss Your Eyes, 2019 JUNO Winner for Classical Composition of the Year (from the 2019 JUNO-nominated New Worlds);
  • The 2020 JUNO-nominated The Bounds of Our Dreams, featuring pianist Alain Lefèvre, and;
  • Clara - Robert - Johannes: Lyrical Echoes, nominated for Classical Album of the Year at the 2023 JUNO Awards.


The National Arts Centre Foundation wishes to acknowledge the leadership support of Mark Motors Group, Official Car of the NAC Orchestra. The NAC Orchestra Music Director role is supported by Elinor Ratcliffe, C.M., O.N.L., LLD (hc). Special thanks to the Janice & Earle O’Born Fund for Artistic Excellence.



Greggory Clark
Communication Strategist
National Arts Centre Orchestra

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