Alexander Shelley succeeded Pinchas Zukerman as Music Director of Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra in September 2015. The ensemble has since been praised as “an orchestra transformed … hungry, bold, and unleashed” (Ottawa Citizen) and Alexander’s programming credited for turning the orchestra “almost overnight … into one of the more audacious orchestras in North America.” (Maclean’s magazine).
Born in London in October 1979, Alexander, the son of celebrated concert pianists, studied cello and conducting in Germany and first gained widespread attention when he was unanimously awarded first prize at the 2005 Leeds Conductors' Competition, with the press describing him 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”. In August 2017 Alexander concluded his tenure as Chief Conductor of the Nürnberger Symphoniker, a position he held since September 2009. The partnership was hailed by press and audience alike as a golden era for the orchestra, where he transformed the ensemble’s playing, education work and international touring activities. These have included concerts in Italy, Belgium, China and a re-invitation to the Musikverein in Vienna.
In January 2015 he assumed the role of Principal Associate Conductor of London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with whom he curates an annual series of concerts at Cadogan Hall and tours both nationally and internationally.
Described as “a natural communicator both on and off the podium” (Daily Telegraph) Alexander works regularly with the leading orchestras of Europe, the Americas, Asia and Australasia, including the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester Berlin,, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Gothenburg Symphony, Stockholm Philharmonic, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Sao Paulo Symphony and the Melbourne and New Zealand Symphony Orchestras. This season’s collaborations include debuts with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National de Belgique, Orchestre Metropolitain Montreal, Orquesta Sinfonica de Valencia, and Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra; alongside returns to MDR Sinfonieorchester Leipzig, Orchestre Philharmonique de Luxembourg and the Tasmanian symphony orchestras. He will also embark on an extensive tour of Europe with the National Arts Centre Orchestra performing in cities such as London, Paris, Stockholm and Copenhagen
Highlights of the previous season include debuts with the Helsinki and Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestras and Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, as well as at the Aspen Festival in Colorado. Re-invitations include Konzerthausorchester Berlin, RTE National Symphony Orchestra and a return to the Tivoli Festival with the Copenhagen Philharmonic.
Alexander’s operatic engagements have included The Merry Widow and Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet (Den Kongelige Opera); La Bohème (Opera Lyra/National Arts Centre), Iolanta (Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen), Così fan Tutte (Opéra National de Montpellier), The Marriage of Figaro (Opera North) in 2015 and he led a co-production of Harry Somers’ Louis Riel in 2017 with the NACO and Canadian Opera Company.
Alexander was awarded the ECHO prize in 2016 for his second Deutsche Grammophon recording, “Peter and the Wolf”, and both the ECHO and Deutsche Grunderpreis in his capacity as Artistic Director of the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen’s “Zukunftslabor”, a visionary project of grass-roots engagement, which uses music as a source for social cohesion and integration. Through his work as Founder and Artistic Director of the Schumann Camerata and their ground-breaking “440Hz” series in Dusseldorf, and through his leadership roles in Nuremberg, Bremen and Ottawa, inspiring future generations of classical musicians and listeners has always been central to Alexander’s work. He has led the German National Youth Orchestra on several tours of Germany and works with many thousands of young people a year in outreach projects. He regularly gives informed and passionate pre- and post-concert talks on his programmes, as well as numerous interviews and podcasts on the role of classical music in society. He has a wealth of experience conducting and presenting major open-air events - in Nuremberg alone he has, over the course of nine years, hosted more than half a million people at the annual Klassik Open Air concerts - Europe’s largest classical music event.
The Music Director role is supported by Elinor Gill Ratcliffe, C.M., O.N.L., LL.D. (hc)
Praised for his welcoming personality, trustworthiness and attention to detail, Frédéric-Alexandre Michaud (FAM) is a versatile artist nationally recognized as a hardworking and talented conductor, violinist, radio cultural commentator, soundman, booking agent, manager, teacher and chamber musician.
He is currently pursuing a second Master’s degree in Orchestral Conducting, studying with Guillaume Bourgogne and Alain Cazes, at McGill University where he also completed in May 2019 a Master’s degree in Violin Performance with professors Mark Fewer and Alexander Read. In October 2019, he had the privilege of participating in an inspiring conducting masterclass with the internationally acclaimed French maestro François-Xavier Roth through a partnership between McGill University and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra.
A proactive and benevolent leader, Frédéric has been serving as President of his Student’s Association, the Music Graduate Students’ Society (MGSS), since 2019. In addition to his school responsibilities, he serves as Artistic Director of the Orchestre symphonique des jeunes de Joliette (OSJJ) and of his own ensemble, the Brownies Concerto Orchestra (BCO), as well as the violinist of The Élan Trio. Over the years, he had the opportunity to conduct many renowned artists including Philip Chiu, Pierre Beaudry, Alexander Read, Kerson Leong, Jinjoo Cho, Ali Kian Yazdanfar, Il volo, as well as rising pop star Klô Pelgag.
Since March 2020, to share his passion for music, Frédéric developed in collaboration with his brother Benjamin Michaud a community-focused online project called “FAM, a confined maestro” in which he conducts recordings in livestreams accessible on his Facebook page. So far, there have been 29 episodes of these concerts including two special events, the first presenting all the Beethoven symphonies and the second presenting all the Brahms symphonies. In addition, during the summer of 2020, he enjoys the opportunity of educating the public about classical music as the host of the weekly segment “Chronique musique avec Maestro FAM” on the Radio-Canada (CBC) radio stations in Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine and Bas-St-Laurent. Frédéric is a versatile violinist who has performance experiences across multiple genres including baroque, classical, popular and improvised music.
For four years, he performed with the McGill Baroque Orchestra conducted by Hank Knox on period instruments and was the manager, soundman, booking agent and violinist of the pop-folk band SHYRE between 2014 and 2019. During their five years of existence, SHYRE performed in more than 150 public performances throughout Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.
In 2017, he received a scholarship by the Gérard D. Lévesque Foundation and, in the same year, he participated in the Business and Career Development Program for Aspiring International Musicians organized by a partnership between the Père Lindsay Foundation and HEC Montreal. In 2016, he appeared on CBC Music’s list of “30 Hot Classical Musicians Under 30” and in 2013, at the end of his journey in Rimouski, he was awarded the Lieutenant Governor’s Youth Medal as a recognition for his excellent grades and exceptional commitment to the community.
Montreal native Charles-Eric Fontaine is an active conductor and oboist. He completed his masters in conducting with Alain Cazes at McGill University, and holds a bachelor of oboe performance from the same institution. During his time at McGill, he worked closely with conductors Guillaume Bourgogne, Alexis Hauser, and Lorraine Vaillancourt.
Charles-Eric regularly conducts new music. He has premiered various works with the McGill Association of Student Composers (MASC). Outside the academic community, he has collaborated with the Paramirabo sextet and has conducted at a Le Vivier production. Charles-Eric’s upcoming projects include a collaboration with the research program ACTOR (Analysis, Creation and Teaching of Orchestration Project) and the establishment of an interdisciplinary artistic collective of which he is a founding member.