New Resident Conductor position opens with NAC Orchestra

The National Arts Centre Orchestra (NACO) announces the creation of a new Resident Conductor Program for Canadian conductors, beginning in the 2024-25 concert season.

Supporting professional development for early career artists is a strategic priority of the National Arts Centre. The new position of Resident Conductor will focus on developing conducting and leadership skills crucial for early-career Canadian conductors. The position will be filled through an open and equitable process which will include a live audition with the NAC Orchestra.  

Led by NACO Music Director Alexander Shelley, the Resident Conductor Program will provide mentorship and experience designed to launch the Conductor into their career. As well as collaborating with the Music Director and guest conductors, the Conductor will play an essential role within the Orchestra’s administrative, artistic and operational teams, working closely with NACO musicians and administrative staff on programming, orchestra management and supporting the National Arts Centre’s strategic goals through various activities, including community engagement.

The Resident Conductor will also develop communications and public relations skills crucial to successful leadership of projects and engagement with audiences and community members. 

The Resident Conductor will also have the unique opportunity to connect with the artistic directors and staff of all the NAC’s programming disciplines, including NAC Dance, English Theatre, Indigenous Theatre, Théâtre Français, Popular Music and Variety (PMV), and Arts Alive, learning how an arts centre operates from collaborative and programmatic perspectives.

Apply by March 7, 2024!

About the position

This two-season position (2024-25 and 2025-26) will include covering and assisting the Music Director and guest conductors for rehearsals and concerts throughout the season, building programming knowledge by actively participating in season planning, supporting NACO’s community engagement plan, and representing NACO at engagements and through public speaking. The Resident Conductor will have the opportunity to lead programs in both seasons and may be responsible for conceiving and curating a project during their tenure, for performance in the 2026-27 season. Flexibility will be provided for the conductor to take other conducting engagements.  

Conductor Exchange Program:

This position includes the unique opportunity to work with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, spending one (1) week with each Orchestra per season, as assistant conductor to their respective Music Director or visiting conductor, and working alongside the artistic and operations teams. 

The NACO Resident Conductor will:

  • Cover and assist the Music Director, all Principal Conductors, and visiting guest conductors in the rehearsal process and concert preparation for a set number of programming weeks in each season. This includes preparation of all personal scores, attending all rehearsals and performances, providing feedback on artistic matters in the hall (including but not limited to balance, intonation, dynamics, etc), possible off-stage conducting or score reading for livestreams, and being ready to step in as a substitute, as needed. Opportunities to cover other performances will be discussed.
  • Assist the Music Director with commercial recording projects, tours, livestreams, auditions, programming research, and other duties.
  • Conduct a minimum of two programs, either full or partial, in each season. In the 2024-25 season, conducting opportunities will focus on Family and Community programming. In the 2025-26 season, conducting opportunities may include, additionally, a Main Series and/or Pops program.
  • Work alongside the NACO Administration team to gain beneficial insight into the day-to-day planning of an orchestra season, including:
    • Working with the Artistic Programming team on the planning of a concert season and developing concert and tour programs, building the Conductor’s own artistic integrity.
    • Supporting NACO’s strategic objectives of diversifying repertoire, at both the planning and performance stages, and engaging with more diverse communities. 
    • Working with the Learning & Engagement team on programming activities or collaborations related to community outreach and partnership.
    • Working with the Artistic Operations, Production, Library and Personnel team to further knowledge on concert production.
    • Gaining an understanding of how to build a program, including creating a script for presentation (whether solo or with a co-host), and developing strong skills to speak confidently and effectively in Canada’s official two languages from the stage.
    • Participating in administrative meetings with the larger NAC team, including Marketing and Communications, Facilities Planning, and NACO committee meetings, and attending events with the NAC Board, as required. 
  • Represent the NAC Orchestra at various concerts and events, including Galas, fundraising activities, and media relations. 
  • Build relationships with the administration staff of the other NAC artistic disciplines (Dance, English Theatre, Indigenous Theatre, Théâtre Français, PMV, Arts Alive), gaining an understanding of how a national arts institution, with multiple disciplines, works together to achieve the common goal of outstanding artistic excellence.

Qualifications and Requirements

All applicants must: 

  • Be Canadian citizens or Permanent residents. 
  • Be able to reside primarily in Ottawa, or within a reasonable distance, for the duration of the Residency and begin on September 1, 2024.
  • Have an advanced degree in conducting or equivalent experience. 
  • Have experience conducting a professional orchestra, and orchestral education programs and concerts.
  • Knowledge of orchestral repertoire including classical, contemporary and Canadian composers. 
  • Demonstrated rehearsal skills, as well as excellent verbal and written communication skills, with the ability to connect easily with NACO musicians, administration, audiences, and patrons.
  • Fluency in both official languages is an asset.

The NAC is committed to creating, providing and sustaining a work environment that is safe, inclusive, anti-racist, accessible, welcoming, representative of the Canadian diversity, equal of opportunity, and independent access. The NAC actively seeks candidates who identify as women, Indigenous, Black, Persons of Colour (IBPoC), members of 2SLGBTQIA+ communities, and neurodiverse persons and persons with visible and invisible disabilities. We are interested in Conductors who can advance this mission and encourage you to self-identify in the recruitment process if you feel comfortable doing so.

How to apply

Applicants must submit the following as part of their application:

  • Short video, no more than 2 minutes in length, expressing interest, musical and conducting experience, and career aspirations.
  • Current CV including contact information, education background, professional activities and affiliations, and website, if applicable.
  • Complete list of repertoire including performance history.
  • Two or more conducting videos of contrasting styles, including standard repertoire, with an orchestra or chamber ensemble, recorded from the orchestra’s perspective. Inclusion of rehearsal footage an asset. Submissions limited to a maximum of 15 minutes total, with clear indications for segments, submitted via YouTube.
  • One (1) letter of recommendation.

All written materials must be submitted as PDF documents. 

Applications must be received no later than Thursday, March 7, 2024 at 11:59 pm.

Apply now!

Audition process

Live auditions and interviews will be held on Saturday, April 27, 2024, at the National Arts Centre, in Ottawa. Invitations will be sent to select finalists. Travel and accommodation will be provided for the finalists. 

At the time of invitation, the finalists will be provided with a list of repertoire, and the details and expectations for the audition.  

Compensation package and terms of the position

The position will include a competitive annual salary plus a stipend for travel and/or moving costs. It will also include travel for professional development and a library allowance. Compensation to be discussed with the successful candidate. 


If you have questions about the Resident Conductor Program or the application process, please send them to

Join our email list for the latest updates!