Since its debut in 1969, the National Arts Centre Orchestra has been praised for the passion and clarity of its performances, its visionary educational programs, and its prominent role in nurturing Canadian creativity. Under the leadership of Music Director Alexander Shelley, who began his tenure in 2015, the Orchestra performs a full series of subscription concerts at the National Arts Centre each season.
National and international tours have been a hallmark of the National Arts Centre Orchestra from the very beginning. The Orchestra has toured 95 times since its inauguration in 1969, visiting 120 cities in Canada, as well as 20 countries and 138 cities internationally. In recent years, the orchestra has undertaken performance and education tours across Canada, as well as the U.K. and China. In 2019, the Orchestra marked its 50th anniversary with a seven-city European tour that included performances and education events in England, France, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden, and that showcased the work of six Canadian composers.
The NAC Orchestra has recorded many of the more than 80 new works commissioned since its inception, for radio and on over 40 commercial recordings. Their next recording is due for release on Analekta/Outhere Music in September 2023 and is the fourth and final instalment in their Clara, Robert, Johannes series which highlights aspects of the relationship between Clara Schumann, her husband Robert Schumann and their protégé Johannes Brahms. The orchestra and Alexander Shelley will mark the completion of the recording project with the festival Focus: Clara, Robert, and Johannes, which will open the 2023-24 season.