Henry Kennedy appointed first Resident Conductor of NAC Orchestra

Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra (NACO) is delighted to announce that Nova Scotian conductor Henry Kennedy has been selected as its new Resident Conductor. Kennedy will commence his two-year term at the beginning of the 2024-2025 season.

Henry Kennedy hails from New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, and has spent his educational and professional life mostly based in the United Kingdom. His comprehensive experience and passion for music make him an invaluable addition to the National Arts Centre Orchestra.

27-year-old Kennedy is already a distinguished young conductor with a background in both opera and orchestral music, having recently completed his tenure as Conductor of Wroclaw Opera, in Poland, where he led numerous productions during the 2022-2023 season. Last summer, he was the Assistant Conductor to Sir John Eliot Gardiner for Berlioz’s monumental opera Les Troyens, touring prestigious venues such as the Berlioz Festival, Salzburg Festival, The Royal Opera of Versailles, Berliner Philharmonie, and BBC Proms. His forthcoming engagements include performances of Tosca in Italy with Orchestra Cherubini, marking the 100th anniversary of Puccini’s death.

As the founder of the London, UK-based Resonate Symphony Orchestra and its music director since 2017, Kennedy has curated and conducted diverse programs across London’s prominent concert halls. His training includes studying under Riccardo Muti and assisting several esteemed conductors with leading symphony and opera orchestras worldwide.

Kennedy will visit Ottawa this summer to attend the NAC Orchestra’s summer concert series and officially starts his tenure in September 2024.

Reflecting on this new role, Henry Kennedy said, “I feel greatly honoured to be joining the National Arts Centre Orchestra as their Resident Conductor. I will never forget the lightning bolt response I received from the Orchestra in the audition when I gave the downbeat for the first movement of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. From the beginning to the end of the audition, I felt a musical electricity that I have never experienced before. This position offers a unique opportunity to work alongside some of the world’s finest musicians and contribute to the vibrant cultural landscape of Canada. I look forward to a period of immense growth and artistic collaboration in the beautiful city of Ottawa.”

Alexander Shelley, NACO Music Director, expressed his enthusiasm for Kennedy’s appointment: “I am delighted to be welcoming Henry to our artistic team. During his audition he demonstrated wonderful technique and poise in front of the orchestra and spoke eloquently about the role of the conductor in the community and about the importance of music to us all. He joins us at an exciting moment in his career as his work across the pond in the UK and Europe continues to blossom. I am confident that our audiences in Ottawa and across Canada will benefit greatly from his artistry. Welcome, Henry!”

The selection process, open to Canadians and Permanent Residents, involved reviewing over 50 applications, auditioning five finalists, and obtaining feedback from orchestra members and the Artistic Advisory Committee. The final decision was made by Alexander Shelley.

“This appointment marks an exciting new chapter for the National Arts Centre, as we expand our suite of professional development opportunities for Canadian artists,” says Nelson McDougall, NACO Managing Director. “The number of applicants for this position shows the need for increased collaboration from orchestras across Canada to support the next generation of Canadian conductors, and we are already moving on plans to achieve this for the many talented young conductors we discovered through this process. By adding this new role to existing programs, like our NACO Mentorship Program, and programs we support such as Tapestry Opera’s Women in Musical Leadership Program, the international Maestra and Malko competitions, and OAcademy, we are maximizing efforts towards the development of young conductors. There is nothing more important than top-flight, hands-on work for a conductor in the early stages of their career.”

The new two-year Resident Conductor position, starting in September 2024, offers an immersive professional development opportunity under the mentorship of Music Director Alexander Shelley. Responsibilities include serving as assistant conductor for the Orchestra’s guest conductors, working closely with Principal Guest Conductor John Storgårds and Principal Youth Conductor Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, and collaborating with NACO’s administrative team. The role includes a competitive salary and participation in a conductor exchange program with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.


British-Canadian conductor Henry Kennedy recently completed a one-year tenure as Conductor of Wroclaw Opera. He is the founder and Music Director of the Resonate Symphony Orchestra, leading diverse programs in London’s prominent concert halls. Kennedy has assisted renowned conductors such as Marin Alsop, Sir John Eliot Gardiner and Sir Simon Rattle. Upcoming engagements include debuts with the Warsaw Radio Orchestra and performances of Tosca with Orchestra Cherubini at various Italian opera houses. He holds a Master of Arts in conducting and a Bachelor of Music in clarinet from the Royal Academy of Music, London, and has been mentored by distinguished conductors including Richard Bonynge, Christopher Seaman, Christian Thielemann, Colin Metters, Riccardo Muti and David Zinman.


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.



Noah Richardson
Communications Strategist
National Arts Centre Orchestra


Greggory Clark
Communications Strategist
National Arts Centre Orchestra

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