Just in: Ottawa replaces Pinky with a Brit
October 31, 2013 by Norman Lebrecht
Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra, which has been going nowhere with Pinchas Zukerman for the past decade, has announced as his successor ‘one of the leading conductors of the new generation’. Details below.
Canada’s National Arts Centre announces Alexander Shelley
as its Music Director-designate
Renowned conductor to lead NAC Orchestra in 2015-2016
Canada’s National Arts Centre (NAC) announced today that Alexander Shelley has been appointed Music Director-designate for the National Arts Centre Orchestra. He will assume the role of Music Director as of September 1, 2015.
“Alexander Shelley is one of the leading figures in the new generation of international conductors,” said Peter Herrndorf, President and CEO of the National Arts Centre. “He is an exceptionally gifted musician, with a wide range of experience and a strong emphasis on the creation of new work and community engagement. He represents the dynamic new leadership we were seeking to succeed Maestro Pinchas Zukerman in 2015-2016.”
Over the past decade, Alexander Shelley has established himself as one of the most talented conductors in Europe. He has led the NAC Orchestra in performance five times in the last four years winning enthusiastic response from both musicians and audiences. Born in the United Kingdom, Shelley was unanimously awarded first prize in the 2005 Leeds Conductors Competition and was described in the press 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.”
Now in his fifth season as Chief Conductor of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra, his tenure is acknowledged by both the media and audiences as an outstanding success. He also enjoys a close relationship with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen performing with them regularly both in Germany and abroad and is artistic director of their Zukunftslabor project –an award-winning series which is designed to build a lasting relationship between the orchestra and younger concert-goers through grassroots engagement and through its use of music as a source for social cohesion and integration.
Shelley has guest conducted regularly in Europe’s major musical centres and 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, June) and described his Verdi Requiem in Salzburg in February as an “original, intelligent, thoroughly convincing and well crafted interpretation”.
The son of professional musicians, Shelley studied cello in London and Dusseldorf. In 2001 he founded the Schumann Camerata in Germany with which he subsequently created “440Hz”, an innovative series of concerts involving prominent German television, stage and musical personalities, and conceived by him as a major initiative to attract young adults to the concert hall.
Maestro Shelley said: “My collaboration with the exceptional musicians of the NAC Orchestra has, from the first moment, been both tremendously exciting and fulfilling. I could not be more delighted to be assuming the Music Directorship of this dynamic institution with which I share so many ambitions: to engage with audiences and communities around the whole of this beautiful country, to promote and support the creation of new Canadian work and, with the help of the extraordinary musical talent in this country, to further cement the highest of artistic standards.”
Maestro Shelley was selected following an extensive and exhaustive Canadian and international search. A search committee, co-chaired by NAC Board of Trustees Chair Julia Foster and NAC Orchestra Principal Bassoon Christopher Millard, was struck in July 2012 to conduct the search. Its members consisted of NAC President and CEO Peter Herrndorf, NAC Orchestra Managing Director Christopher Deacon, former NAC Trustee Larry Fitchner of Calgary, NAC Orchestra Manager of Artistic Planning Daphne Burt, NAC Orchestra Concertmaster Yosuke Kawasaki, Associate Concertmaster Jessica Linnebach, and outside members, Ottawa journalist Paul Wells and Dr. Jean-Jacques Van Vlasselaer.
“Alexander is the ideal choice to lead our orchestra. He will bring a fresh perspective to our core repertoire and a broad vision for our future,” enthused Christopher Millard. “We are all looking forward to an energetic and imaginative collaboration.”
NAC Orchestra Managing Director Christopher Deacon led the team that undertook the search. “Alexander Shelley has a proven track record of engaging in the creation of new work and collaborating with youth, notably at the Future Lab in Bremen. His concert this week at the NAC is another perfect example, combining a major new work in an innovative concert format.”
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