NAC GALA : Celebrating Arts Education in Canada Over the Past 25 years

The NAC Gala in support of the National Youth and Education Trust has raised over $15 million through the years.

November 1, 2023 – OTTAWA, Canada — This evening, on the occasion of its 2023 Gala featuring world-renowned soprano Renée Fleming, the National Arts Centre (NAC) and its orchestra, led by Music Director Alexander Shelley, celebrated the 25th anniversary of the NAC Gala. Since 2001, the NAC Gala has raised over 15 million dollars for the National Youth and Education Trust to support the NAC’s artistic and educational programs across the country.

The NAC Orchestra and Maestro Alexander Shelley opened the concert with a lush performance of Georges Bizet’s Toreadors before being joined by the celebrated Renée Fleming. Sharing the spotlight with the NAC Orchestra for the first time since 2013, the soprano brought her inimitable voice to the stage with selections from Handel, including “Calm thou my soul ... Convey me to some peaceful shore” from his oratorio Alexander Balus, followed by French classics, including Gabriel Fauré’s Mandoline, Op. 58, No. 1, and Jules Massenet’s “Allons! ... Adieu, notre petite table” from his opera Manon. This was Ms. Fleming’s second appearance at the NAC Gala, her first being in 2002.

In the second half, Renée Fleming, Maestro Shelley and the NAC Orchestra returned to the stage, changing registers to treat the audience to a spellbinding rendition of “I Want Magic” from André Previn’s opera A Streetcar Named Desire. The soprano then gave riveting performances of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from the musical Carousel and “I Could Have Danced All Night” from My Fair Lady.

Renée Fleming worked magic with Music Director Alexander Shelley and the NAC Orchestra in this spectacular evening in honour of patrons Earle and Janice O’Born, C.M., O.Ont.. Over the past 15 years, the Toronto couple have become passionate champions of the NAC through their support of Canada’s performing artists, new works, touring, and orchestral compositions.

For a selection of photos of this evening’s performance click here.

Since its first Gala in 1997, headlined by singer Jessye Norman, the NAC has welcomed a constellation of renowned Canadian and international artists to the Southam Hall stage for this fundraising event. They include Israeli violinist Itzhak Perlman, New Zealand soprano Kiri Te Kanawa, Chinese pianist Lang Lang, Canadian tenor Ben Heppner, and Canadian-American soprano Erin Wall, as well as Tony Bennett, Diana Ross, Paul Anka, Sarah McLachlan, k.d. lang and Jann Arden. For its 10th anniversary edition in 2007, the NAC Gala welcomed American pianist Emanuel Ax, Canadian folk violinist Natalie MacMaster, Israeli-American violinist Gil Shaham, and Franco-American cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

This glamorous fundraising event benefits the National Youth and Education Trust by providing much-needed resources for the National Arts Centre’s youth and education programming all across the country. Established by the NAC Foundation in 2001, the Trust is the primary resource for youth and education funding at the NAC. It gives Canada’s next generation of artists the chance to grow, master their art, and take their rightful place in the spotlight. It also helps us introduce young people across Canada to the wonder of the performing arts and the incredible difference it can make throughout their lives.


The NAC Gala is made possible thanks to the generous support of our donors and sponsors. We are grateful to Earle O’Born and Janice O’Born, C.M., O.Ont., for their longstanding leadership and transformational support. Thank you to the Gail Asper Family Foundation & Asper Foundation, Adrian Burns, LL.D., & Gregory Kane, K.C., Susan Glass, C.M., & Arni Thorsteinson, O.M., Gail O’Brien, LL.D., & David O’Brien, O.C., Alexander Shelley & Zoe Shelley, and Dasha Shenkman, OBE. Thank you also to our corporate sponsors: Aria Partners, Azrieli Foundation, CGI, Emond Harnden LLP, and RBC Royal Bank; our Dinner Sponsor, A&E Television Networks; and our Soprano Patrons, Air Canada, Mark Motors Group, and Trinity Development Group Inc.; as well as the NAC’s Forest Planting Partner, Canada’s Forest Trust. Proceeds from the Gala support the NAC’s National Youth and Education Trust.


The National Arts Centre Foundation raises funds to support the National Arts Centre’s work in performance, creation and learning across Canada. Since its founding in 2000, the National Arts Centre Foundation has raised more than $170 million to enrich the lives of Canadians through the performing arts and champion our country’s artists, students and educators.


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, 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 Anishinabe Algonquin Nation.





Anicée Lejeune

Communications Strategist
Programs and Special Projects
National Arts Centre

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