National Arts Centre Orchestra

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National Arts Centre Orchestra
Founded 1969
Concert hall National Arts Centre Southam Hall
Principal conductor Alexander Shelley

The National Arts Centre Orchestra (NACO) is a Canadian orchestra based in Ottawa, Ontario. The NACO's primary concert venue is the eponymous National Arts Centre. The NACO also broadcasts nationally on CBC Radio. The Orchestra has visited 112 cities in Canada and 122 cities internationally in its 38-year history, including a 1999 coast-to-coast Canada Tour. The NACO undertook first international tour in 1973 to Europe.

The NAC Orchestra was founded in 1969 as the resident orchestra of the newly opened National Arts Centre, with Jean-Marie Beaudet as Music Director and Mario Bernardi as founding conductor. Bernardi became Music Director in 1971 and held the post until 1982. Beaudet and Bernardi are the only Canadian conductors to be appointed Music Director of the NACO. Bernardi was named Conductor Laureate in 1997. Subsequent NACO music directors have included Franco Mannino (1982 to 1987), Gabriel Chmura (1987 to 1990), and Trevor Pinnock (1991-1997). From 1999 to 2015, Pinchas Zukerman was the NACO's Music Director.[1] The orchestra expanded to 61 players during Zukerman's tenure.[2] In October 2013, the NACO announced the appointment of Alexander Shelley as its next music director, as of the 2015-2016 season, with an initial contract of 4 years.[3][4]

Franz-Paul Decker was Principal Guest Conductor from 1991 to 1999. In 2001, Jean-Philippe Tremblay becamse the NACO's Apprentice Conductor, a then newly created post, for a two-year term.


The NAC Orchestra has 40 recordings, six with Pinchas Zukerman: Haydn, Vivaldi, Beethoven, Schubert and two of Mozart (a CD of flute quartets, and a CD of orchestral music and string quintets). The commissioning of original Canadian works has been an important part of the National Arts Centre's mandate, with over 50 works commissioned to date.

An all-Mozart double CD was released in 2003 featuring both orchestral and chamber music with Pinchas Zukerman as conductor and violin soloist. A CBC Records chamber music CD of Mozart Flute Quartets featuring principal flutist Joanna G'froerer, guest violinist Martin Beaver, Pinchas Zukerman on viola, and principal cellist Amanda Forsyth was named best Canadian chamber music recording of 2001 by Opus Magazine.

Music Directors[edit]


  1. ^ Mark Brownlee (2012-03-06). "The maestro steps down". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 2012-03-07.
  2. ^ Michael Vincent (2015-06-22). "Pinchas Zukerman says heartfelt farewell to National Arts Centre Orchestra". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2015-09-20.
  3. ^ "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.
  4. ^ Martin Knelman (2015-09-16). "Meet Alexander Shelley, Ottawa's charismatic new conductor". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2015-09-20.

External links[edit]