News Release

Canada’s National Arts Centre announces Alexander Shelley as its Music Director-designate Renowned conductor to lead NAC Orchestra in 2015-2016

October 30, 2013

Ottawa (Canada) — Canada’s National Arts Centre (NAC) announced today that Alexander Shelley has been appointed Music Director-designate for the National Arts Centre Orchestra. He will assume the role of Music Director as of September 1, 2015.

“Alexander Shelley is one of the leading figures in the new generation of international conductors,” said Peter Herrndorf, President and CEO of the National Arts Centre. “He is an exceptionally gifted musician, with a wide range of experience and a strong emphasis on the creation of new work and community engagement. He represents the dynamic new leadership we were seeking to succeed Maestro Pinchas Zukerman in 2015-2016.”

Over the past decade, Alexander Shelley has established himself as one of the most talented conductors in Europe. He has led the NAC Orchestra in performance five times in the last four years winning enthusiastic response from both musicians and audiences. Born in the United Kingdom, Shelley was unanimously awarded first prize in the 2005 Leeds Conductors Competition and was described in the press as "the most exciting and gifted young conductor to have taken this highly prestigious award. His conducting technique is immaculate, everything crystal clear and a tool to his inborn musicality."

Now in his fifth season as Chief Conductor of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra, his tenure is acknowledged by both the media and audiences as an outstanding success.  He also enjoys a close relationship with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen performing with them regularly both in Germany and abroad and is artistic director of their Zukunftslabor project – an award-winning series which is designed to build a lasting relationship between the orchestra and younger concert-goers through grassroots engagement and through its use of music as a source for social cohesion and integration.

Shelley has guest conducted regularly in Europe's major musical centres and recent press has singled him out as "a musician of considerable gifts and extraordinarily impressive interpretative qualities" (Strauss, Elgar and Sibelius in London), a conductor with "exceptional artistic authority" (Brahms with DSO Berlin, June) and described his Verdi Requiem in Salzburg in February as an "original, intelligent, thoroughly convincing and well crafted interpretation".

The son of professional musicians, Shelley studied cello in London and Dusseldorf.  In 2001 he founded the Schumann Camerata in Germany with which he subsequently created "440Hz", an innovative series of concerts involving prominent German television, stage and musical personalities, and conceived by him as a major initiative to attract young adults to the concert hall.

Maestro Shelley said: “My collaboration with the exceptional musicians of the NAC Orchestra has, from the first moment, been both tremendously exciting and fulfilling. I could not be more delighted to be assuming the Music Directorship of this dynamic institution with which I share so many ambitions: to engage with audiences and communities around the whole of this beautiful country, to promote and support the creation of new Canadian work and, with the help of the extraordinary musical talent in this country, to further cement the highest of artistic standards.”

Maestro Shelley was selected following an extensive and exhaustive Canadian and international search. A search committee, co-chaired by NAC Board of Trustees Chair Julia Foster and NAC Orchestra Principal Bassoon Christopher Millard, was struck in July 2012 to conduct the search. Its members consisted of NAC President and CEO Peter Herrndorf, NAC Orchestra Managing Director Christopher Deacon, former NAC Trustee Larry Fichtner of Calgary, NAC Orchestra Manager of Artistic Planning Daphne Burt, NAC Orchestra Concertmaster Yosuke Kawasaki, Associate Concertmaster Jessica Linnebach, and outside members, Ottawa journalist Paul Wells and Dr. Jean-Jacques Van Vlasselaer.

“Alexander is the ideal choice to lead our orchestra.  He will bring a fresh perspective to our core repertoire and a broad vision for our future,” enthused Christopher Millard. “We are all looking forward to an energetic and imaginative collaboration."

NAC Orchestra Managing Director Christopher Deacon led the team that undertook the search. “Alexander Shelley has a proven track record of engaging in the creation of new work and collaborating with youth, notably at the Future Lab in Bremen. His concert this week at the NAC is another perfect example, combining a major new work in an innovative concert format.”

ABOUT THE NATIONAL ARTS CENTRE AND THE NAC ORCHESTRA
The NAC is Canada’s only bilingual multi-disciplinary performing arts centre and one of the largest in the world. Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra (founded in 1969) has been led since 1999 by renowned conductor/violinist/violist Pinchas Zukerman, gives over 100 performances a year in Ottawa, tours both nationally and internationally, has recorded 40 CDs, and commissions Canadian works (over 90 to date). In 1999 Pinchas Zukerman initiated the NAC Young Artists Program, which is now part of the NAC Summer Music Institute (SMI). The NAC Orchestra is also a leader in long-distance broadband videoconferencing. The NAC Orchestra just returned from a triumphant first-ever Tour to China under Maestro Zukerman’s leadership where it played eight concerts to critical acclaim and enthusiastic audience response, and undertook more than 80 education activities with Chinese artists and students.

Biography

Alexander Shelley, Conductor
Alexander Shelley was appointed Music Director-designate of Canada's National Arts Centre Orchestra in October 2013 and will take up the position of Music Director in September 2015.   In 2013 he completed his fourth year as Chief Conductor of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra where he has transformed the orchestra’s playing, education work and touring activities which have included tours to Italy, Belgium, China and a re-invitation to the Musikverein in Vienna.

Born in the UK in 1979, Alexander first gained widespread attention when he was unanimously awarded first prize at the 2005 Leeds Conductors Competition and was described as "the most exciting and gifted young conductor to have taken this highly prestigious award. His conducting technique is immaculate, everything crystal clear and a tool to his inborn musicality."

Since then he has been in demand from orchestras around the world including the Royal Philharmonic, the Philharmonia, City of Birmingham Symphony, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Stockholm Philharmonic, Gothenburg Symphony, Mozarteum Orchester Salzburg, Konzerthausorchester Berlin, DSO Berlin, Simon Bolivar, Seattle and Houston Symphony Orchestras.  Further afield Alexander is a regular guest with the top Asian and Australasian orchestras.   Recent press has singled him out as "a musician of considerable gifts and extraordinarily impressive interpretative qualities" (Strauss, Elgar and Sibelius in London), a conductor with "exceptional artistic authority" (Brahms with DSO Berlin) and described his Verdi Requiem in Salzburg as an "original, intelligent, thoroughly convincing and well-crafted interpretation".

In Germany he enjoys a close relationship with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, with whom he performs regularly both in subscriptions in Bremen, and around Germany, and in October 2013 he took the orchestra on tour to Italy with a signature programme of Strauss, Wagner and Brahms. He is artistic director of their Zukunftslabor project - an award-winning series which aims to build a lasting relationship between the orchestra and a new generation of concert-goers through grass-roots engagement and which uses music as a source for social cohesion and integration.

This season includes Alexander’s debuts with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Münchener Symphoniker, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Orchestre Symphonique de Quebec and Orchestre de la Suisse Romande.   His first recording for Deutsche Grammophon will be released later in 2014. 

Operatic engagements have included The Merry Widow and Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet  for Royal Danish Opera; La Boheme for Opera Lyra at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa and Iolanta with DKP Bremen. He will shortly conduct Cosi fan tutte in Montpellier and The Marriage of Figaro for Opera North.

The son of professional musicians, inspiring future generations of musicians and audiences has always been central to Alexander’s work. In Spring 2014 he will conduct an extended tour of Germany with the Bundesjugendorchester and Bundesjugendballett which includes a collaborative concert at the Baden-Baden Easter Festival with Sir Simon Rattle and members of the Berliner Philharmoniker. In 2001, during his cello and conducting studies in Dusseldorf, he founded the Schumann Camerata with which he created "440Hz", an innovative concert series involving prominent German television, stage and musical personalities, conceived by him as a major initiative to attract young adults to the concert hall.

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