NAC Orchestra presents stellar lineup at free Canada Day Concert

The spectacular Canada Day celebration takes place at Southam Hall on July 1st at 2:30pm

June 6, 2024 – OTTAWA – Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra is thrilled to announce the program of Canadian musical talent and composers for its annual Canada Day Concert. Admission is free.

On July 1st, Music Director Alexander Shelley will lead the NAC Orchestra alongside JUNO Award-winning vocalist Kellylee Evans, Ottawa-born violinist Kerson Leong, and the bilingual slam poet and songwriter YAO, showcasing an extraordinary repertoire by Canadian composers. 

The NAC Orchestra will be joined by hundreds of singers from the Unisong Choral Festival; a special ensemble made up of choirs from all ages and from all parts of Canada.

The 75-minute performance, presented without intermission, will captivate audiences with a diverse selection of music from renowned Canadian composers François Dompierre, Andrew Balfour, Keiko Devaux, and the legendary Oscar Peterson. Additional repertoire will be announced from the stage.

The NAC Orchestra has a proud tradition of presenting free concerts on Canada Day, and this year’s event continues that legacy with a stellar lineup of artists. The immensely talented jazz and soul vocalist Kellylee Evans first performed with the NAC Orchestra at the Canada Day Concert in 2014; bilingual songwriter and slam poet YAO also hosted the Canada Day Concert in 2022 and 2023; and the Ottawa-born international violin sensation Kerson Leong will perform in upcoming concerts with the NAC Orchestra on both July 1st (Canada Day Concert 2024) and July 4th (A Summer Odyssey) at Southam Hall. These collaborations bring an extraordinary dimension to the performance, showcasing Canadian music across diverse styles and languages.

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

This free event provides a wonderful opportunity for fans of all ages to hear live music in the National Arts Centre’s Southam Hall. “It’s a wonderful occasion where families, friends, and communities can come together,” says Alexander Shelley, Music Director of the NAC Orchestra. “Each year we feature the incredible talent of Canadian artists, our National Arts Centre Orchestra, and composers who represent the vast and varied Canadian music scene. Our program features work spanning over 100 years of Canadian music-making. It’s a powerful reminder of the vibrant and evolving nature of Canadian music.”

“What I love most about this concert is how it brings people together. Whether you’re performing on stage or singing along in the audience, you can feel the sense of togetherness in the room. Concerts like this are a beautiful reminder of the power of music,” says guest artist Kellylee Evans. “I’m looking forward to sharing in those magical moments of a live performance where we can all feel the energy and joy of the music together.”

“Personally, what I’m most looking forward to is seeing the audience’s reaction. Those are the moments that really stand out for me! There’s an energy in the air at these free concerts, a palpable sense of community and connection,” says YAO. “As a bilingual artist, it’s an incredible opportunity to be able to share my words and music with such a diverse audience and in the company of the superb NAC Orchestra. It’s truly an honour to be a part of this celebration, and to see how music can touch people’s hearts and minds.”

The 2024 Canada Day Concert by the NAC Orchestra will take place on July 1st at 2:30pm. Admission is free on a first-come, first-served basis. Outside of Southam Hall, television screens will broadcast the Canada Day Concert live inside the National Arts Centre public spaces. 

Doors to Southam Hall will open 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.


Since its debut in 1969, Canada’s National Arts Centre 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:

  • The 2024 album Truth in Our Time, including the premiere recording of Philip Glass’s Symphony No. 13, commissioned by the National Arts Centre Orchestra.  
  • Clara - Robert - Johannes: A multi-year, multi-album exploration of the music of Clara Schumann, Robert Schumann, and Johannes Brahms, featuring pianists Angela Hewitt, Stewart Goodyear, and Gabriela Montero.  
  • 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).  
  • Angela Hewitt’s 2015 JUNO Award-winning album of Mozart Piano Concertos.     
  • The 2020 JUNO-nominated The Bounds of Our Dreams, featuring pianist Alain Lefèvre.


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. 


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  
Communications Strategist 
National Arts Centre Orchestra

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