Alexander Shelley

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Alexander Shelley
Alexander Shelley.jpg
Background information
Birth name Alexander Gordon Shelley
Born (1979-10-08) October 8, 1979 (age 35)
London, England
Genres Classical
Occupation(s) Conductor
Instruments Cello, Piano
Years active 2005-present

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

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 1, 2015.[1][2] Shelley has been Chief Conductor of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra since 2009 and in 2012 extended his contract until 2017. On January 20, 2015 Shelley was named Principal Associate Conductor of London's Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.[3]


Early life and studies[edit]

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

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 Mstislav 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.[4]

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.[5]

Leeds Conductors Competition[edit]

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."[6]

Conducting career[edit]

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 September 2009, aged 29, Shelley was appointed the youngest ever Principal Conductor of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra on an initial contract of four years. In 2011 his contract was extended by a further four years to 2017.[7]

Alongside his continuing concert projects with Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Alexander Shelley became, from 2009, Artistic Director of their new and ground-breaking Zukunftslabor project.[8] 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 2014 he worked with, among others, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, German Symphony Orchestra, Berlin, Gothenburg Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, Houston Symphony, Komische Oper Berlin, Konzerthaus Orchestra Berlin, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Malaysian Philharmonic, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra, Mozarteum Orchestra of Salzburg, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, NDR Radiophilharmonie, Orchestre National de Bordeaux, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Sapporo Symphony Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, Seoul Philharmonic, Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra in Caracas, Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Zurich Chamber Orchestra.[4]

In Spring 2014 Shelley conducted an extended tour of Germany with the Bundesjugendorchester (German National Youth Orchestra) and Bundesjugendballett (directed by John Neumeier). The tour, which included a collaborative concert at the Baden-Baden Easter Festival with Sir Simon Rattle and members of the Berliner Philharmoniker, culminated in a concert at the Berliner Philharmonie which was broadcast live on the Digital Concert Hall.

In January 2015 Shelley was named Principal Associate Conductor of London's Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, with whom he will curate and conduct a series of concerts at Cadogan Hall each season, alongside other projects.

Major forthcoming debuts include the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and Oslo Philharmonic.[4]

Alexander Shelley is the Dance4Life Ambassador for Germany and patron of House meets Charity e.v.[9]

Shelley was the keynote speaker at the graduation ceremony for the class of 2013 at Jacobs University Bremen [10]


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 a new production of La Bohème for Opera Lyra Ottawa, in 2013 a new production of Cosi fan tutte at the Opéra national de Montpellier and in 2015 a new production of The Marriage of Figaro at Opera North.


Alexander Shelley's first album for Deutsche Grammophon, with Daniel Hope and the Stockholm Philharmonic was released in September 2014.

Personal life[edit]

Shelley and his wife Zoe were married in July 2011 at St Paul's Church, Knightsbridge.

Selected appearances[edit]

United Kingdom[edit]






  • 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. ^ "Alexander Shelley Appointed Principal Associate Conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra". Retrieved January 20, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c "Shelley Biography". Askonas Holt. August 2011. Retrieved 2011-12-20. 
  5. ^ "Veranstaltungsreihen". SMKP. 23 April 2010. Retrieved 2011-12-20. 
  6. ^ "Exciting new talent rises to challenge of demanding score". The Yorkshire Post. 11 July 2005. Retrieved 2012-01-29. 
  7. ^ "Vertragsverlaengerung Shelley" (PDF) (Press release). Nuernberger Symphoniker. 24 September 2011. Retrieved 2012-01-29. 
  8. ^ "Shelley Kuenstlerische Leiter des Zukunftslabor" (Press release). Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen. 22 April 2010. Retrieved 2012-01-29. 
  9. ^ "Shelley Schirmherr" (Press release). House meet Charity e.v. October 2011. Retrieved 2011-12-20. 
  10. ^ "Keynote Speaker". Jacobs University. April 2013. Retrieved 2013-04-29. 

External links[edit]