The National Arts Centre (NAC) mourns the loss of Maestro Mario Bernardi, the founding conductor of the NAC Orchestra. Maestro Bernardi passed away peacefully in Toronto on Sunday morning.
The NAC lowered its flag in Ottawa to half-mast to pay tribute to the man who moved to the nation’s capital in 1968, to literally build the 45-member NAC Orchestra from the ground up.
“Mario was a visionary who led the orchestra on tours of European capitals, to Carnegie Hall, and to cities across Canada. He brought a unique combination of imagination and discipline that enabled him to not only build an orchestra, but also a renowned international summer opera festival,” said Christopher Deacon, Managing Director of the NAC Orchestra.
Earlier this year, the NAC commissioned a bust of Maestro Bernardi which will be unveiled at noon on July 1, 2013. The bust will be mounted at the entrance of Southam Hall, where Maestro Bernardi led the Orchestra in hundreds of concerts during his tenure. The bust will face a portrait of Hamilton Southam, the founding Director General of the NAC. Mr. Southam passed away on Canada Day in 2008.
The bust was created by Canadian sculptor Ruth Abernethy, who is well-known for her life-sized portraits of Oscar Peterson outside of the NAC, and the Glenn Gould sculpture outside of the CBC Building in Toronto. The NAC will also create a fund in Maestro Bernardi’s name to commission new Canadian compositions for the orchestra.
Canada’s National Arts Centre extends its condolences to Mario Bernardi’s wife, Mona Kelly, and the entire family.