Nick speaks with Alexander Shelley, Music Director, about the 2015/2016 NAC Orchestra Season.
Alexander Shelley was appointed Music Director-designate of Canada's National Arts Centre Orchestra in October 2013 and will take up the position of Music Director in September 2015. In 2015 he enters his seventh year as Chief Conductor of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra where he has transformed the orchestra’s playing, education work and touring activities which have included tours to Italy, Belgium, China and a re-invitation to the Musikverein in Vienna. In January 2015 Shelley was named Principal Associate Conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with whom he will curate and perform a series of concerts at Cadogan Hall each season.
Born in the UK in 1979, Alexander first gained widespread attention when he was unanimously awarded first prize at the 2005 Leeds Conductors Competition and was described as "the most exciting and gifted young conductor to have taken this highly prestigious award. His conducting technique is immaculate, everything crystal clear and a tool to his inborn musicality."
Since then he has been in demand from orchestras around the world including the Philharmonia, City of Birmingham Symphony, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Stockholm Philharmonic, Mozarteum Orchester Salzburg, Konzerthausorchester Berlin, DSO Berlin, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Simon Bolivar, Seattle and Houston Symphony Orchestras. Further afield Alexander is a regular guest with the top Asian and Australasian orchestras. Recent press has singled him out as "a musician of considerable gifts and extraordinarily impressive interpretative qualities" (Strauss, Elgar and Sibelius in London), a conductor with "exceptional artistic authority" (Brahms with DSO Berlin) and described his Verdi Requiem in Salzburg as an "original, intelligent, thoroughly convincing and well-crafted interpretation".
Alexander’s operatic engagements have included The Merry Widow and Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet for Royal Danish Opera; La Bohème for Opera Lyra at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Iolanta with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Cosi fan tutte in Montpellier and a new production of The Marriage of Figaro for Opera North in 2015.
Alongside his regular appearances in London, Ottawa and Nuremberg, the 2014/15 season and beyond includes return visits to, among others, the DSO Berlin, Gothenburg Symphony, Konzerthausorchester Berlin, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Melbourne Symphony and NDR Radio Philharmonic as well as his debuts with Camerata Salzburg, Czech Philharmonic, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Orchestre Philharmonique de Luxembourg and Oslo Philharmonic. His first recording for Deutsche Grammophon, an album with Daniel Hope and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, was released in September 2014.
In Germany Alexander enjoys a close relationship with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, with whom he performs regularly both in subscriptions in Bremen, and around Germany, and in October 2013 he took the orchestra on tour to Italy with a signature programme of Strauss, Wagner and Brahms. He is artistic director of their Zukunftslabor project - an award-winning series which aims to build a lasting relationship between the orchestra and a new generation of concert-goers through grass-roots engagement and which uses music as a source for social cohesion and integration.
The son of professional musicians, inspiring future generations of musicians and audiences has always been central to Alexander’s work. In Spring 2014 he conducted an extended tour of Germany with the Bundesjugendorchester and Bundesjugendballett which included a collaborative concert at the Baden-Baden Easter Festival with Sir Simon Rattle and members of the Berliner Philharmoniker. In 2001, during his cello and conducting studies in Dusseldorf, he founded the Schumann Camerata with whom he created "440Hz", an innovative concert series involving prominent German television, stage and musical personalities, conceived by him as a major initiative to attract young adults to the concert hall.