Project Description

In September 2015 Alexander Shelley took up the mantle as Music Director, leading a new era for the National Arts Centre’s Orchestra.

He is currently in his seventh year as Chief Conductor of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra where he has transformed the orchestra’s playing, education work and touring activities which have included tours to Italy, Belgium, China and a re-invitation to the Musikverein in Vienna. In January 2015, he was named Principal Associate Conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Born in the UK in 1979, Shelley first gained widespread attention when he was unanimously awarded first prize at the 2005 Leeds Conductors Competition and was described 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.”

He is the son of celebrated concert pianists, the grandson of a talented cellist and the great grandson of an equally talented organist. He has been described in the press as a “musician of considerable gifts and extraordinarily impressive interpretive qualities” (Strauss, Elgar and Sibelius in London), a conductor with “exceptional artistic authority” (Brahms with DSO Berlin) and described his Verdi Requiem in Salzburg as an “original, intelligent, thoroughly convincing and well-crafted interpretation.”

Since then he has been in demand from orchestras around the world including the Philharmonia, City of Birmingham Symphony, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Stockholm Philharmonic, Mozarteum Orchester Salzburg, Konzerthausorchester Berlin, DSO Berlin, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Simon Bolivar, Seattle and Houston Symphony Orchestras.  Further afield Shelley is a regular guest with the top Asian and Australasian orchestras.

Shelley’s operatic engagements have included The Merry Widow and Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet for Royal Danish Opera; La Bohème for Opera Lyra at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Iolanta with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Cosi fan tutte in Montpellier and a new production of The Marriage of Figaro for Opera North in 2015.

Alongside his regular appearances in London, Ottawa and Nuremberg, the 2014/15 season included return visits to, among others, the DSO Berlin, Gothenburg Symphony, Konzerthausorchester Berlin, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Melbourne Symphony and NDR Radio Philharmonic as well as his debuts with Camerata Salzburg, Czech Philharmonic, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Orchestre Philharmonique de Luxembourg and Oslo Philharmonic. His first recording for Deutsche Grammophon, an album with Daniel Hope and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, was released in September 2014.

In Germany he enjoys a close relationship with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, with whom he performs regularly both in subscriptions in Bremen, and around Germany, and in October 2013 he took the orchestra on tour to Italy with a signature programme of Strauss, Wagner and Brahms. He is artistic director of their Zukunftslabor project – an award-winning series which aims to build a lasting relationship between the orchestra and a new generation of concert-goers through grass-roots engagement and which uses music as a source for social cohesion and integration.

Inspiring future generations of musicians and audiences has always been central to Shelley’s work. In spring 2014, he conducted an extended tour of Germany with the Bundesjugendorchester and Bundesjugendballett which included a collaborative concert at the Baden-Baden Easter Festival with Sir Simon Rattle and members of the Berliner Philharmoniker. In 2001, during his cello and conducting studies in Dusseldorf, he founded the Schumann Camerata with whom he created “440Hz”, an innovative concert series involving prominent German television, stage and musical personalities, conceived by him as a major initiative to attract young adults to the concert hall.

Alexander Shelley will perform National Arts Centre Orchestra: Life Reflected on October 26, 2017.