National Arts Centre Orchestra’s “Canada 150 Tour” Arrives in Halifax

Tour includes a performance at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium and a free concert at the Halifax Central Library featuring Dinuk Wijeratne

OTTAWA, April 28, 2017 — The National Arts Centre Orchestra, led by Music Director Alexander Shelley and featuring the internationally renowned violinist James Ehnes, will perform a concert at the Dalhousie Arts Centre in the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium, presented by Symphony Nova Scotia, on Saturday, May 6 at 7:30 pm.

The concert is part of the NAC Orchestra’s nation-wide Canada 150 Tour. It is the first NAC Orchestra tour to be led by its highly acclaimed Music Director Alexander Shelley.

“I am very much looking forward to performing in Halifax, and to engaging with the community and young people through free concerts and education activities as part of the NAC Orchestra’s Canada 150 Tour,” Alexander Shelley said. More than two dozen education and community engagement events are planned while the NAC Orchestra is in Halifax.

James Ehnes is a GRAMMY® Award and 10-time JUNO winning violinist who is widely considered one of the world’s finest living soloists. He will perform Concerto in D minor for Violin and Orchestra, Opus 47 by Sibelius. The Orchestra will also perform Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95, “From the New World”.


The concert will culminate with I Lost My Talk by Edmonton-based composer John Estacio. The work is based on the poem by Mi’kmaw elder and poet Rita Joe, C.M., about her experience at Shubenacadie Residential School in Nova Scotia. I Lost My Talk will be performed with a film created by Barbara Willis Sweete, featuring choreography by Tekaronhiáhkhwa Santee Smith and with live narration by Guna and Rappahannock actor Monique Mojica.

This lush and powerful multimedia work was created under the artistic leadership of Alexander Shelley and Creative Producer and Director Donna Feore, and premiered during the NAC Orchestra’s 2015/16 season. Reviewer Christophe Husse from Le Devoir called it one of “Estacio’s very best compositions for orchestra… a truly powerful and overwhelming creation.” I Lost My Talk was commissioned for the NAC Orchestra to commemorate the 75th birthday of The Right Honourable Joe Clark, P.C., C.C., A.O.E. by his family.

The concert will conclude with We Shall Remain (It Wasn’t Taken Away), a new song by Eskasoni student Kalolin Johnson, her father Tom Johnson, and teacher Carter Chiasson that Kalolin will sing with the Orchestra. Kalolin and her fellow students were nominated this year for an East Coast Music Award for their song Gentle Warrior, which was also inspired by the poem I Lost My Talk, through the National Arts Centre’s Rita Joe Song Project national outreach project.

A pre-concert performance at 6:50 pm in the lobby will feature the Halifax Boys Honour Choir.

For tickets to the NAC Orchestra concert on May 6, please call the Dalhousie Arts Centre Box Office at 902.494.3820 or buy online at Symphony Nova Scotia’s website.


The Atlantic leg of the Canada 150 Tour includes 80 education and community engagement activities that will unite the musicians of the Orchestra with 6,000 students, educators, community leaders, and artists. The tour will also include a series of meaningful events that will focus on reconciliation through the arts.

In collaboration with the NAC Music Alive Program and Music Nova Scotia, local hip-hop artists MAJE and Shevy Price have been leading six weeks of collaborative songwriting and music production workshops with young people from Halifax’s African-Nova Scotian community. On Friday, May 5, they will showcase their work at this celebratory community performance, which will also feature musicians from Symphony Nova Scotia and the National Arts Centre Orchestra.

  • Orchestrated Neighbours Performance (FREE)
    Date: Friday, May 5
    Time: 8:00 pm – 9:00 pm
    Location: St. George’s Church Hall, 2222 Brunswick Street, Halifax

Orchestrated Neighbours is part of the Music Alive Program, which is being piloted in Atlantic Canada during the Canada 150 Tour. The program, which is active in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Nunavut, sends local teaching musicians to work with children in rural and remote communities, and its programming promotes musical and cultural diversity. It is now being developed for Atlantic Canada, in partnership with community leaders, local organizations, classroom teachers, arts specialists, and teaching artists, and will run in all four Atlantic Provinces.

On Saturday, May 6, members of NAC Orchestra and Alexander Shelley will rehearse with the All City Music Program and the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra, and host a Q&A session.

  • All City Music Program and the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra
    Date: Saturday, May 6
    Time: 9:00 am – 11:00 am
    Location: Halifax Music Centre, 6364 North Street, Halifax

On Saturday, May 6, guest artist James Ehnes and members of the NAC Orchestra will give masterclasses for high school students, select string students and ensembles of Dalhousie University’s Fountain School of Performing Arts, and from the Maritime Conservatory. John Estacio will give a small masterclass to a group of high school students from the Halifax Music Centre.

  • Composition masterclass with John Estacio
    Date: Saturday, May 6
    Time: 9:30 am – 11:00 am
    Location: Halifax Music Centre, 6364 North Street, Halifax (not open to the public)
  • Public masterclass with James Ehnes
    Date: Saturday, May 6
    Time: 10:00 am – 11:00 am
    Location: Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre
  • Public masterclass with Yosuke Kawasaki, concertmaster of the NAC Orchestra
    Date: Saturday, May 6
    Time: 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
    Location: Room 406, Dalhousie Arts Centre
  • Upper strings masterclass with Jeremy Mastrangelo, violin, NAC Orchestra
    Date: Saturday, May 6
    Time: 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
    Location: Maritime Conservatory, Studio 5
  • Woodwinds and brass clinic with Lawrence Vine, Principal Horn, NAC Orchestra
    Date: Saturday, May 6
    Time: 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
    Location: Maritime Conservatory, Studio 15

The public is invited to attend a free concert of chamber music hosted by conductor, composer and pianist Dinuk Wijeratne, with members of the NAC Orchestra and Symphony Nova Scotia. The Sri Lankan-born, Canada-based composer-performer has been described by the Toronto Star as “an artist who reflects a positive vision of our cultural future”, and by the New York Times as “exuberantly creative”. His boundary-crossing work sees him equally at home in collaborations with symphony orchestras and string quartets, tabla players and DJs, and takes him to international venues as poles apart as the Berlin Philharmonie and the North Sea Jazz Festival. The program features music by Nova Scotian composers Derek Charke, Jérôme Blais, and Wijeratne.

  • Concert with Dinuk Wijeratne and members of Symphony Nova Scotia and the NAC Orchestra
    Date: Saturday, May 6
    Time: 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
    Location: Paul O’Regan Hall, Halifax Central Library


People from across Canada and around the world can follow this extraordinary tour by visiting Daily reports will also be posted on the NAC Orchestra’s Facebook page, on Twitter at @NACOrchCNA (#nacotour), and on Instagram at @nac.cna.


The Canada 150 Tour is made possible with leadership support from Tour Patrons Gail and David O’Brien, Presenting Supporters Alice and Grant Burton, Supporting Partners Peng Lin & Yu Gu, Education Partner Dasha Shenkman, and Digital Partner Facebook.


In September 2015 Alexander Shelley took up the mantle as Music Director, leading a new era for the National Arts Centre’s Orchestra. Shelley has an unwavering reputation as one of Europe’s leading young conductors, notably as Chief conductor of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra and most recently as the Principal Associate Conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Formed in 1969 at the opening of Canada’s National Arts Centre, the NAC Orchestra gives over 100 performances a year with renowned artists including Itzhak Perlman, Renée Fleming, James Ehnes, Emanuel Ax, and Yo-Yo Ma. It is noted for the passion and clarity of its performances and recordings, its ground-breaking teaching and outreach programs, and nurturing of Canadian creativity. Since its inception, the Orchestra has commissioned over 80 works, mostly from Canadian composers. In 2001 it inaugurated the National Arts Centre Awards for Canadian Composers and the recipients thus far have been Denys Bouliane, John Estacio, Peter Paul Koprowski, Gary Kulesha, Alexina Louie, and Ana Sokolović.



Andrea Ruttan
Communications Officer, NAC Orchestra
(cell) 613.220.5487
[email protected]