Anticipating Opening Night with the NAC Orchestra

The National Arts Centre Orchestra’s musicians have been practicing for weeks in the lead-up to the opening night of the season, and to Alexander Shelley’s inaugural beginning as Music Director. Now as the final hours tick-on, and last minute adjustments to phrasing and colour have been made, the excitement of this momentous occasion is finally here!

As NACO principal oboist Charles “Chip” Hamann explains, every year the season opening is something that the musicians look forward to and thrive off of. In fact, he notes the reception and enthusiasm of the audience is something that directly impacts how the orchestra performs.

“The audience is such a huge part of who we are. And we feel the energy from the audience so much. It’s like fuel for us. The orchestra loves the feeling that people are really excited about a concert. It helps us play better,” he says with a grin.

This year the anticipation and enthusiasm of the musicians is palpable, muses Alexander Shelley. Not only will opening night mark his inaugural concert as Music Director, but it is also the world premier of Dear Life, a new creative work commissioned by the NAC and inspired by Nobel Prize-winner Alice Munro’s semi-autobiographical short story “Dear Life.” The score for Dear Life is written by award-winning Canadian composer Zosha Di Castri, with text adaptation by Merilyn Simonds, and features soprano Erin Wall and recorded narration by legendary Canadian actor Martha Henry. Under the expert guidance of Creative Producer and Director Donna Feore, the work will be an immersive visual stage experience, featuring beautiful images projected onto the stage by Magnum photographer Larry Towell.

“I think it will be very exciting backstage. There is a lot of anticipation and a desire to get out there and just present this wonderful music,” says Shelley.

As NACO Double Bass Marjolaine Fournier adds the inherent beauty and joy of opening night stems from the mounting promise that awaits the audience. “For several weeks now, we’ve been rehearsing, rehearsing and rehearsing. And now at last, the time has come to present our gift.” 

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