Almost overnight, the COVID-19 crisis had a devastating impact on the performing arts sector, disrupting plans for creative artists round the globe. Deeply concerned about the enormous challenge artists were facing, NACO Music Director Alexander Shelley, NACO Managing Director Arna Einarsdóttir, and Creative Producer Donna Feore came together to create a project that would give voice to artists in an “undisrupted” way.

Through UNDISRUPTED, the NAC Orchestra (NACO) is throwing open the doors to the symphonic experience. This four-episode series takes the audience on a musical and visual journey with powerful, diverse and contemporary stories. Visionaries Measha Brueggergosman, Ana Sokoloviċ, Nicole Lizée and Shawnee Kish were each invited to draw on their own unique experiences using NACO as a megaphone to share their stories – stories that come to virtual life with the inclusion of mixed reality visual designs created by Montreal’s Normal Studio.

These four leading artists were offered a blank canvas to curate their 30-minute episode in which they each explored compelling narratives, offering unique and personal perspectives of the world. They were each empowered to collaborate with a wide variety of performing and visual artists to amplify their stories.   

More than a filmed performance, UNDISRUPTED immerses the audience with the orchestra and the concert hall with multiple camera angles captured by audiovisual production company ProdCan Inc. and mixed reality effects created by Montreal-based Normal Studio. Normal merges the real and the virtual worlds together to bring NAC’s Southam Hall to life in a way that has never been done before. UNDISRUPTED shows a reconfigured orchestra with conductor Alexander Shelley and musicians on risers placed overtop sections of the audience seating. This repositioning allowed for the nine cameras to capture unique viewpoints, thus inviting the audience to experience the Orchestra up close and personal.

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    Former Managing Director, NAC Orchestra Arna Einarsdóttir

“This project was born out of the desire to respond to these times of disruption, by pushing the boundaries and exploring the digital medium to present orchestral music in a completely new and unexpected way. UNDISRUPTED is an important step in fulfilling our commitment to engage with audiences across multiple platforms and work with artists from diverse backgrounds. UNDISRUPTED perfectly captures the collaborative nature of our Orchestra, which strives to explore and expand diversity in our musical genre.”

  • 2:32
    UNDISRUPTED: Keeping the orchestra relevant to our times
  • 1:28
    Selecting curators for UNDISRUPTED
  • 1:19
    UNDISRUPTED: Throwing open the doors to the orchestra
  • Music Director, NAC Orchestra Alexander Shelley

 “We wanted to create a project that engages in a profound way with the Canadian public and demonstrates how a symphony orchestra can become a vehicle for powerful storytelling and a tool for social inclusion. Our society has been confronted with fundamental questions about equity, representation, accessibility, and we at the NAC were interested in how an orchestra can be driving forward the conversation and become a catalyst for change. UNDISRUPTED serves to underscore the strength, the breadth and diversity of creative voices in this country.” 

  • 4:14
    The idea behind UNDISRUPTED
  • 2:17
    UNDISRUPTED: A project for the digital stage
  • 2:23
    Spacing out the orchestra during a pandemic
  • Creative producer Donna Feore

“This project has been specifically developed for a digital platform because the audience could not physically be present in the hall. The intent was to keep their seats warm and to bring Southam Hall to them with a virtual experience. We wanted to offer these artists complete artistic freedom, and it feels wonderful to give them the space and resources to bring their visions to life. It’s a collaboration in its highest form, working with so many artists, technicians and disciplines to make this large-scale project a success.”

  • 1:53
    Donna Feore describes her role in UNDISRUPTED
  • 2:50
    UNDISRUPTED: A response to our times
  • 1:19
    UNDISRUPTED: An immersive experience
  • 2:02
    UNDISRUPTED: The legacy

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