Alexander Shelley succeeded Pinchas Zukerman as Music Director of Canada’s NAC Orchestra in September 2015. The ensemble has since been praised as being “transformed... hungry, bold, and unleashed” (Ottawa Citizen) and Shelley’s programming credited for turning the orchestra into “one of the more audacious in North America” (Maclean’s).
Shelley is a champion of Canadian creation; recent hallmarks include the multimedia projects Life Reflected and UNDISRUPTED,and three major new ballets in partnership with NAC Dance for Encount3rs. He is passionate about arts education and nurturing the next generation of musicians. He is an Ambassador for Ottawa’s OrKidstra, a charitable social development program that teaches children life skills through making music together.
Alexander Shelley is also the Principal Associate Conductor of London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and, starting with the 2024–2025 season, Artistic and Music Director of Artis-Naples and the Naples Philharmonic in Florida, USA. In the spring of 2019, he led the NAC Orchestra on its critically acclaimed 50th Anniversary European tour, and in 2017, he led the Orchestra in a tour across Canada, celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary. Most recently, he led the Orchestra in its first performance at New York’s Carnegie Hall in 30 years.
He has made seven recordings with the NAC Orchestra, including the JUNO-nominated New Worlds, Life Reflected, ENCOUNT3RS, The Bounds of Our Dreams, and the acclaimed Clara, Robert, Johannes four-album series, all with Canadian label Analekta.
The Music Director role is supported by Elinor Gill Ratcliffe, C.M., O.N.L., LL.D. (hc)
Ian Cusson (b. 1981) is a Canadian composer of art song, opera, and orchestral work. Of Métis (Georgian Bay Métis Community) and French Canadian descent, his work explores the Canadian Indigenous experience, including the history of the Métis people, the hybridity of mixed-racial identity, and the intersection of Western and Indigenous cultures.
He studied composition with Jake Heggie and Samuel Dolin and piano with James Anagnoson at the Glenn Gould School. He is the recipient of numerous awards and grants including the Chalmers Professional Development Grant, the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation Award, and several grants through the Canada Council, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Toronto Arts Council.
Ian was an inaugural Carrefour Composer in Residence with the National Arts Centre Orchestra from 2017 to 2019. He is currently the Composer-in-Residence for the Canadian Opera Company for 2019 to 2021. He is an Associate Composer of the Canadian Music Centre and a member of the Canadian League of Composers.
He lives in Toronto with his wife and four children.