A Golden era:  Pinchas Zukerman and the National Arts Centre Orchestra

When Pinchas Zukerman became Music Director of the National Arts Centre Orchestra in 1999, a heady mixture of surprise and delight swept across Canada. As one of the finest violinists and violists of his generation — of any generation — Maestro Zukerman could have chosen another orchestra in another city anywhere in the world.

He chose the NAC, and a golden era of music was born.

Looking back 16 seasons later, Pinchas Zukerman’s achievements at the National Arts Centre are nothing short of extraordinary:

• He transformed a superb orchestra into an even better ensemble by increasing its size and expanding its repertoire;

• He recruited wonderful new talent to the Orchestra, including the brilliant young violinist Yosuke Kawasaki as concertmaster — the second in the Orchestra’s history;

• Zukerman’s stature helped the NAC attract elite conductors and soloists from the orchestral world;

• In 1999, he founded the NAC Summer Music Institute, which has provided world-class training to some of the most promising young musicians in Canada and from around the globe;

• He championed the development of distance learning initiatives and pioneered broadband videoconference masterclasses that allowed him to teach students as far away as Beijing from the Hexagon Studio at the NAC;

• He led the Orchestra on many highly successful tours, bringing “Canada’s Orchestra” to communities across the country and around the world. From Mexico to Newfoundland, and from British Columbia to China, he ensured that every tour included education, with musicians going into schools, conservatories and community halls to teach and mentor the artists of tomorrow;

• To celebrate the best Canadian creators, Pinchas inaugurated the NAC Award for Canadian Composers in 2002, and over the next decade, the NAC selected six recipients — Denys Bouliane, John Estacio, Peter Paul Koprowski, Gary Kulesha, Alexina Louie and Ana Sokolović.

Great orchestral music — from an ensemble at the very height of its power — is without comparison. In that respect, let us leave the last word to Pinchas Zukerman, our first Music Director of the 21st century:

"A live concert experience brings you extraordinary energy, it can be a major life experience. That’s why people come, that’s why they want more. With music, you can reach the depths of human experience.” -- Pinchas Zukerman

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