Alexander Shelley

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Alexander Shelley
Birth name Alexander Gordon Shelley
Born (1979-10-08) October 8, 1979 (age 34)
London, England
Genres Classical
Occupations Conductor
Instruments Cello, Piano
Years active 2005-present

Alexander Shelley (born October 8, 1979, London, England) is an English conductor.


Alexander Shelley is an English conductor and cellist born in 1979 into a family of musicians (father Howard Shelley OBE, mother Hilary Macnamara).

It was announced on October 30, 2013 that Shelley would succeed Pinchas Zukerman as Music Director of Canada's National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa effective from September 1st 2015. [1][2] Shelley has been Chief Conductor of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra since 2009 and in 2012 extended his contract until 2017.

Shelley began playing the piano as a child and in 1992 won a music scholarship to Westminster School from The Hall School Hampstead. He studied cello with Timothy Hugh, Steven Doane and Johannes Goritzki at the Royal College of Music and at the Robert Schumann Hochschule, Düsseldorf respectively.[2] Master-classes with Rostropovich, Janos Starker and Aldo Parisot led him to France, Italy and North America. He was a member of the World Orchestra for Peace during the 2003 tour with Valery Gergiev. He studied conducting with Professor Thomas Gabrisch[2] in Düsseldorf and worked closely with Yan-Pascal Tortelier as his assistant conductor, among others with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain.[3]

In 2001[2] he founded the Schumann Camerata, a chamber orchestra with whom he subsequently performed over 80 concerts, including a high-profile tour of 11 Russian cities culminating in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire. In 2005 Shelley conceived the "440Hz" project, an innovative series of concerts involving prominent German television and stage personalities, in a major initiative to attract young adults to the concert hall.[2] The third edition of 440 Hz was completed in 2011 and the fourth edition began in 2013. Guest artists have included Konrad Beikircher, Gotz Alsmann&Band, Die Wise Guys, Blank&Jones, BASTA, Ensemble Six, Miki, Curse, Reen, Mellow Mark, Ono, Chima, Marlies Petersen and Ralf Bauer.[4]

Unanimously awarded first prize in the 2005 Leeds Conductors Competition, Shelley 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."[5]

Following the competition Shelley quickly established himself on both the national and international music circuit and his early UK appearances featured the BBC Philharmonic at the BBC Proms in 2006 and the inaugural Manchester International Festival in 2007 and the Britten Sinfonia at the BBC Proms in 2007. He was subsequently invited to conduct The Philharmonia Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Bournemouth Symphony, English Chamber Orchestra, Northern Sinfonia, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, London Mozart Players and, most recently, several projects with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra .

In Scandinavia he has conducted, among others, the Swedish Radio Orchestra, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Gothenburg Symphony, Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra, Danish National Chamber Orchestra and Odense Symphony and appeared in 2009 for the fourth consecutive year at the Tivoli Festival. Following his professional opera debut with The Merry Widow for Royal Danish Opera in 2008, he was re-invited to conduct a new production of Gounod's Romeo and Juliet in Copenhagen in Spring 2011. In 2012 he led La Bohème for Opera Lyra Ottawa and in the coming seasons will conduct a new production of Cosi fan tutte (2013) at the Opéra national de Montpellier and a new production of The Marriage of Figaro at Opera North (2014).

Following regular guest engagements in Germany including the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie, MDR Leipzig and Hamburg Symphony, Shelley took up the post of Principal Conductor of Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra in September 2009 on a four year contract. In 2011 his contract was extended by four years up to 2017.[6]

Alongside his continuing concert projects with Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Alexander Shelley became, from 2009, artistic director of their new and ground-breaking Zukunftslabor project.[7] This award-winning series aims to build a lasting relationship between the orchestra and a new generation of concert-goers through grass-roots engagement and involvement with young audiences as well as exciting and unusual programming concepts. In 2012 the Zukunftslabor was awarded the prestigious Echo Klassik prize in the category of Nachwuchsförderung.

Between 2009 and 2013 he worked with, among others, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, Komische Oper Berlin, Konzerthaus Orchestra Berlin, German Symphony Orchestra, Berlin, NDR Radiophilharmonie, Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Gothenburg Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony, Houston Symphony, Seoul Philharmonic, the Mozarteum Orchestra of Salzburg, the Zurich Chamber Orchestra, Malaysian Philharmonic, Sapporo Symphony Orchestra, Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra in Caracas, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Orchestre National de Bordeaux.[8]

Major forthcoming debuts include the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and Hong Kong Philharmonic.[9]

Alexander Shelley is the Dance4Life Ambassador for Germany and patron of House meets Charity e.v.[10]

Shelley was the keynote speaker at the graduation ceremony for the class of 2013 at Jacobs University Bremen [11]

Selected appearances[edit]

United Kingdom[edit]




  • Musikkollegium Winterthur
  • Zürcher Kammerorchester



  • Teatro Carlo Felice, Genova
  • Orchestra Di Roma E Del Lazio
  • Orchestra Di Padova E Del Veneto



  • Orquestra Sinfónica do Porto Casa da Música


  • Thessaloniki State Symphony Orchestra



North America[edit]

South America[edit]




  1. ^ "Canada’s National Arts Centre announces Alexander Shelley as its Music Director-designate Renowned conductor to lead NAC Orchestra in 2015-2016". NAC. October 30, 2013. Retrieved October 30, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Alexander Shelley to replace NACO's Pinchas Zukerman in 2015". CBC News. October 30, 2013. Retrieved October 31, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Shelley Biography". Askonas Holt. August 2011. Retrieved 2011-12-20. 
  4. ^ "Veranstaltungsreihen". SMKP. 23 April 2010. Retrieved 2011-12-20. 
  5. ^ "Exciting new talent rises to challenge of demanding score". The Yorkshire Post. 11 July 2005. Retrieved 2012-01-29. 
  6. ^ "Vertragsverlaengerung Shelley" (Press release). Nuernberger Symphoniker. 24 September 2011. Retrieved 2012-01-29. 
  7. ^ "Shelley Kuenstlerische Leiter des Zukunftslabor" (Press release). Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen. 22 April 2010. Retrieved 2012-01-29. 
  8. ^ "Shelley Biography". Askonas Holt. August 2011. Retrieved 2011-12-20. 
  9. ^ "Shelley Biography". Askonas Holt. August 2011. Retrieved 2011-12-20. 
  10. ^ "Shelley Schirmherr" (Press release). House meet Charity e.v. October 2011. Retrieved 2011-12-20. 
  11. ^ "Keynote Speaker". Jacobs University. April 2013. Retrieved 2013-04-29. 

External links[edit]