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NAC Performance with Alexander Shelley. PHOTO: Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photography.

NAC Orchestra announces international tour to celebrate their 50th anniversary

By Madeline Paiva on April 19, 2019

On April 17, the NAC Orchestra officially announced the details of their upcoming Crossings Tour in a press conference at the National Arts Centre. The tour, a celebration of their 50th anniversary, will span across seven cities in five countries in Europe from May 10-26, 2019. The NAC Orchestra will tour with conductor Alexander Shelley and a number of guest musicians.

Christopher Deacon, President and CEO of the National Arts Centre, said that “Crossings will feature the work of no fewer than six Canadian composers.” There was steady applause at this announcement from Deacon. The tour will be a celebration of Canadian artistry and music and will include “great works created by Canadian artists on behalf of Canadian artists” said Deacon. Alexander Shelley, Musical Director, said that “it’s a big dream for our 50th anniversary. We are crossing expectations, generations, and distances.”

The tour will be a celebration of Canadian artistry and music and will include “great works created by Canadian artists on behalf of Canadian artists.”— Christopher Deacon, President and CEO of the NAC.

Also announced was educational programming and activities to be included on tour. These will include OrKidstra programming, opportunities for performances, collaborations, and mentorships. Geneviève Cimon, Director of Music Education and Community Engagement, said “we’ve been inspired by the title of our program—Crossings. This tour is about creating spaces inside and outside of the concert hall.”

This tour is about creating spaces inside and outside of the concert hall.—Geneviève Cimon, Director of Music Education and Community Engagement

Guest musicians will include countertenor David DQ Lee, soprano Erin Wall, actor Monique Mojica, pianist Jan Lisiecki, and violinist James Ehnes. Works by composers Ana Sokolovic, Jocelyn Morlock, John Estacio, Zosha Di Castri, Nicole Lizee, and Claude Vivier will be performed. The tour begins in Saffron Walden, UK at Saffron Hall, travels to Cadogan Hall, in the UK as well, then two different shows at La Seine Musicale in France. The tour then moves to Utrecht, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Gothenburg.

Following the press conference, I had the opportunity to attend a rehearsal ahead of the Lisiecki and Ravel program, a phenomenal rehearsal of both Ravel’s Concerto in G and Bolero. Joining the orchestra for Concerto in G is Jan Lisiecki, an incredible pianist. The speed and perfection by which Lisiecki plays is magnificent. If you are not familiar with the piece, it is characterized by a particular amount of chaos; there is a lot going on across all sections of the orchestra. The NAC Orchestra, however, makes it a calm and cohesive chaos. There is no doubting the talent of each of these musicians. The piece slowly turns into a peaceful dreamscape that does not disappoint. You can just hear Ravel’s jazz influence creeping through the piece.

We get to see an often immensely beautiful final product but if you think of all the work involved, it becomes all the more incredible.

Alexander Shelley is a wonderful conductor to watch and experience. The orchestra was working out some final details for their performance. Shelley turned to those in attendance and said “We’re just going to do a little work.” There is quite clearly a lot of work and effort that goes into these performances that audiences do not necessarily often see beforehand. We get to see an often immensely beautiful final product but if you think of all the work involved, it becomes all the more incredible. The orchestra’s rehearsal of Bolero was no less impressive. Each section of the orchestra was so coherent and together, even while working out final details of the piece. If you have the opportunity to see this show, I highly recommend doing so!


For more information on the NAC Orchestra 50th Anniversary European Tour, visit their website. The NAC Orchestra performs Lisiecki and Ravel at the National Arts Centre April 17 and 18 at 8pm. The performance runs approximately 2 hours, including intermission. Tickets are available online and range from $48 to $106. Student tickets and Live Rush are available for this performance.