Ideas of North Festival

Choose a 5-concert or 7-concert series starting at $107

Morning to night, explore perspectives on the North through music, architecture, digital installations and the culinary arts. Enjoy both free and paid events in this immersive festival in celebration of Canada’s 150th and Finland’s 100th birthdays. Make yourself at home in Canada’s living room.

  1. Exhibit: The World of Jean Sibelius

    Ideas of North Festival

    Canal Foyer

    Scandinavia’s most famous composer, Jean Sibelius, reached into ancient Finnish sagas to write the dramatic orchestral music that expressed his people’s longing for independence and freedom. On the 100th anniversary of Finland’s declaration of independence from Russia, discover the life and music of Jean Sibelius through this display of bright, reader-friendly banners and documentary videos.

  2. Sibelius’s First Symphony

    Ideas of North Festival

    NAC Southam Hall

    • Sibelius Tapiola
    • Alexina Louie Concerto for three violins*
    • Sibelius Symphony No. 1

    The Symphony that Inspired a Nation

    As the Russian Empire tightened its colonial grip on Finland, Jean Sibelius wrote the music that expressed his people's desire for freedom.  Touring Europe to rave reviews in 1900, Sibelius’ First Symphony brought worldwide attention to the composer -- and to the cause of Finnish independence.  Hear the symphony that inspired a nation in the opening concert of our Ideas of North festival.

    *Sesquicentennial co-commission for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, NAC Orchestra, and Orchestre symphonique de Montréal.

  3. Post-Concert Parties

    Ideas of North Festival

    Atrium O’Brien

    Live music sets the mood to party to the backdrop of the city lights in the NAC’s spectacular new glass Atrium. With the bustle of Elgin Street and the grandeur of the Parliament buildings in the background, you’ll want to linger long into the night. Free admission and a cash bar featuring Nordic spirits.

  4. Noon Hour Concerts

    Ideas of North Festival

    Atrium O’Brien

    The enchantment of the North rings in the clear tones of young voices, in this series of free noon-hour concerts. Melodies resonate through the glass Atrium as singers perform repertoire from Nordic countries. Featuring students from Nunavut Sivuniksavut and the Cantiamo Girls Choir of Ottawa.

  5. Lintu and Hewitt

    Ideas of North Festival

    NAC Southam Hall

    • Sibelius The Océanides
    • Matthew Whittall Nameless Seas*
    • Sibelius Symphony No. 2

    Waves of Sound and Sea

    Surrender to the siren-song of the sea in this evening of music inspired by the ocean. Special guest Hannu Lintu, Chief Conductor of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, summons naiads with every note of Sibelius’ symphonic poem The Oceanides. Juno-award winning pianist Angela Hewitt carries us across Nameless Seas* in a new composition written especially for her.  Close your eyes and let the soundwaves sweep you away.

    *NAC co-commission with PianoEspoo; world premiere

    Thursday Bravo series subscribers attend this concert.

  6. Finland’s Rajaton In Concert

    Ideas of North Festival

    NAC Southam Hall

    Boundless and Breathtaking

    Feel the power of the human voice with Finland’s double-platinum a capella sensation Rajaton. With close harmonies honed by razor-fine pitch, this genre-defying sextet flaunts its vocal chops in an eclectic performance of pop, jazz, classical and folk tunes. Energetic, creative and inspiring, these singers truly live up to their moniker: ‘Rajaton’ — Finnish for ‘Boundless.’

    Included in the 7-concert Ideas of North series

  7. Family Days

    Ideas of North Festival

    Free activities! Share the music of the North with visiting artists from the High Arctic on this weekend of fun family workshops and performances. Discover fascinating vocal traditions, step along to Inuit and Sami dances, and watch the artists perform in Saturday and Sunday noon-hour concerts. 

  8. Winners of the Folk Music Award for Aboriginal Songwriters of the Year, the captivating ensemble Twin Flames will take you on a musical journey across Canada and the Arctic. Audiences will discover the beauty of Indigenous and Inuit cultures in this fun and interactive show featuring traditional hand drumming, Inuit throat singing, and sing alongs in English, French and Inuktitut.

    • Vocalist, acoustic guitar


    • Vocalist, traditional hand drum, Native American flute

      Chelsey June

    • Fiddle, percussion and Inuit throat singer

      To Be Announced

  9. Finnish Legends

    Ideas of North Festival

    NAC Southam Hall

    • Sibelius Pojohla’s Daughter
    • Sibelius Luonnotar
    • Sibelius The Bard
    • Sibelius Lemminkäinen Legends

    Songs of Goddesses and Heroes

    Lose yourself in a world of legends with the incantatory music of Jean Sibelius. Swirling with primal energy, this series of symphonic poems evokes the Finnish creation-goddess Luonnotar, the celestial Maiden of Pojohla who spins golden threads in the sky, and the hero Lemminkainen, who meets death and resurrection in the netherworld of Tuonela. Resonant of ancient Scandinavian ballads, these works express Sibelius’ belief that “music begins where the possibilities of language end.”

    Wednesday night Signature subscribers attend this concert.

  10. In 1967, the National Arts Centre rose on the banks of the Rideau Canal, a brutalist outcropping as solid as the granite of the Canadian Shield. Now, 50 years later, new trends in Nordic architecture inspire the rebirth of the NAC — and a building that has long hunkered down against the cold opens up to human warmth. Explore how the materials, forms and light of the North inspire the design of Nordic Arts Centres in this fascinating lecture series.

  11. Pre-Concert Chats

    Week Two: Architecture and Design of Nordic Arts Centres

    Canal Foyer

    Donald Schmitt from Diamond Schmitt Architects  (National Arts Centre Rejuvenation / Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Toronto) and Anne-Rachel Schiffmann from Snøhetta (The Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, Queen's University, Kingston / Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, Oslo) in conversation with Paul Wells. 

  12. Lapland Chamber Orchestra

    Ideas of North Festival

    NAC Southam Hall

    • Somers North Country Suite
    • Debussy (Orch. Birch) Two Preludes
    • Vivier Zipangu*
    • Sibelius Suite for Violin and Strings
    • KALEVI AHO Symphony No. 14 “Rituals”

    Polar Premiere

    Discover great Canadian and Finnish composers at the Lapland Chamber Orchestra’s first-ever North American concert. Hailing from Rovaniemi on the Arctic Circle, the 18-member orchestra boldly brings contemporary Nordic music to listeners in Finland, and the world.  This concert juxtaposes work by Toronto’s Harry Somers — who composed major scores for stage, film and orchestra during a life that spanned most of the 20th century — with that of Montreal’s Claude Vivier, whose search for spirituality in his short, lonely, bohemian life found poignant expression in his music. The evening culminates with Finnish composer Kalevi Aho’s Rituals, whose 2009 recording won the orchestra The Finnish Broadcasting Company Record of the Year award.

    Included in the 7-concert Ideas of North series

    • Conductor

      John Storgårds

    • Lapland Chamber Orchestra

    • Choreographer*

      Michael Greyeyes

  13. Lapland Chamber Orchestra Wind Quintet

    Ideas of North Festival

    Atrium O’Brien

    Following the October 12 evening concert featuring the Lapland Chamber Orchestra, please join us for this unique chance to hear five of its musicians in an intimate chamber music setting, in the beautiful new NAC Atrium.

  14. Glenn Gould’s String Quartet

    Casual Fridays with the NAC Orchestra

    NAC Southam Hall

    • Sibelius Violin Concerto
    • GOULD (orch. Di Castri) String Quartet*

    Gould as Never Before

    Never before has Glenn Gould’s Opus No. 1 been performed by a full symphonic orchestra. That will change when NACO takes the stage in this world premiere orchestration of Gould’s String Quartet. Arranged by internationally-renowned composer Zosha Di Castri, this concert offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear the work of the Canadian classical music genius, interpreted in full symphonic glory. For Gould fans, it’s an event not to be missed.

    *World premiere; NAC Orchestra commission

  15. Shelley and Storgårds

    Ideas of North Festival

    NAC Southam Hall

    • Sibelius Symphony No. 5
    • KAIJA SAARIAHO Graal théâtre
    • Sibelius Symphony No. 7

    Ideas of North Grande Finale

    In 1997, solo violinist John Storgards dazzled audiences in the chamber orchestra premiere of Graal Theatre. NAC Orchestra principal guest conductor once again takes up his bow in an authoritative performance of this contemporary concerto, inspired by legends of King Arthur and the search for the Holy Grail. Jean Sibelius’ final symphony, considered by many his greatest achievement, crowns the grande finale concert of our Ideas of North festival.

    Thursday night Signature subscribers attend this concert.

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