Alexander Shelley has been Principal Associate Conductor of London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra since 2015. The focal point of his work with the orchestra is an annual four concert series at Cadogan Hall which he curates, based around a thematic concept. Previous incarnations have included ‘The Roaring Twenties’, exploring the explosion of musical styles and voices during the inter-war period, and last year’s ‘Symphonic Soundscapes’, which celebrated the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution by chronicling the music of Sibelius and Prokofiev.
The world premiere of Walter Boudreau’s Concerto de l’asile, written for pianist Alain Lefèvre, took place in 2013 with the Montreal Symphony. Reviews of the evening describe how the hapless French guest conductor botched the opening so badly he had to bring the performance to a screeching halt after a few minutes, mumble an apology, and then start again.
With such an inauspicious debut, it’s not surprising that Lefèvre and Boudreau candidly stated in their pre-concert chat that as far as they were concerned, Tuesday’s performance with Alexander Shelley and NACO was the concerto’s “real” premiere.
Next week Alexander and the National Arts Centre Orchestra welcome two great Canadian artists to the Southam Hall stage – pianist Alain Lefevre and composer Walter Boudreau.
In the coming days Alexander Shelley and the National Arts Centre Orchestra will work alongside hundreds of children and amateur musicians from the National Capital Region as part of the “NACO in the Community Week”.
The Sibelius Symphonies have been a recurring theme for Alexander over the last few years. Last season he performed a cycle of the works with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra as part of his ‘Symphonic Soundscapes’ series at London’s Cadogan Hall and subsequently the pieces formed the backbone of his ‘Ideas of North’ Festival at the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa at the beginning of this season.
Alexander’s concert with the English Chamber Orchestra in the Leeds International Concert Series lat weekend was “an absolute knockout”.
Of the interpretation of Schubert’s unfinished Symphony No 8 in B Minor, critic Geoffrey Mogridge commented “The pace, transparency and balance of the ECO’s performance conducted by Alexander Shelley was breathtaking.” … “The dynamic range was just as astonishing – from softly foreboding strings and sighing woodwinds to dramatically loud climaxes.”