The National Arts Centre (NAC) enjoyed an extremely memorable year.
Here are our top 10 moments from 2014:
1) From April 30 to May 3, French Theatre presented Michel Tremblay’s masterpiece Albertine, en cinq temps, directed by Lorraine Pintal and featuring six outstanding actresses — Monique Miller, Lise Castonguay, Marie Tifo, Eva Daigle, Émilie Bibeau and Lorraine Côté. Originally created at the NAC in 1984 by then French Theatre Artistic Director André Brassard, the new production by Théâtre du Nouveau Monde and Théâtre Trident was a tremendous hit. Other French Theatre highlights: in September, Molly Bloom based on the novel Ulysses by James Joyce captivated audiences. Written by esteemed Canadian playwright Jean-Marc Dalpé and directed by French Theatre Artistic Director Brigitte Haentjens, the production generated rave reviews for Anne-Marie Cadieux, who performed Joyce’s famous and lengthy monologue beautifully. Finally, in November, French Theatre was proud to present Kiss and Cry, an innovative Belgian production written by Thomas Gunzig that blends theatre, film and dance, and that has consistently played to sold out theatres in Europe over the past two years.
2) NAC Presents in partnership with BMO Financial Group, led by Producer Simone Deneau,featured 63 performances that showcased Canadian icons and the icons of tomorrow from across the country, including Sarah McLachlan (Vancouver), Oliver Jones (Montreal) Tanya Tagaq (Northwest Territories) Ginette Reno (Montreal) and Buck 65 (Halifax). Other memorable performances includedRobert Charlebois, Joel Plaskett with the NAC Orchestra and Royal Wood, who has credited the series with furthering his career. “I’m now performing around the world, in part because of the respect there is internationally for the NAC,” he said. “If you’ve headlined there, you can stand tall.” The National Arts Centre Foundation is grateful to The Slaight Family Foundation for their support of emerging artists.
3) The NAC’s Music Alive Program: Nunavut, which works with local school boards and territorial governments to send local and visiting teaching musicians to Igloolik, Iqaluit, Kugluktut, Pangnirtung and Rankin Inlet, expanded to Baker Lake and Cape Dorset. The program, which inspires children and youth through the arts, enriches communities through music-making, builds leadership capacity among educators and musicians, and celebrates local culture and artists, has touched over 5,000 northern Canadians. Highlights from 2014 included hip-hop video workshops by Yellowknife hip-hop artist Aaron “Godson” Hernandez with students at Kugluktuk High School; a school workshop and performance by throat-boxer Nelson Tagoona in his hometown of Baker Lake; and a Youth Leadership Symposium in Iqaluit that gathered young artists from Igloolik, Pangnirtung, Arviat, Kugluktuk, Iqaluit and Rankin Inlet to explore their leadership potential, and to consider arts initiatives for their home communities. The Music Alive Program: Nunavut’s honourary patrons are Janice and Earl O’Borne, and it is supported by Travel Partner First Air, the Government of Nunavut and the late Joy Maclaren, C.M., “New Sun”.
4) In August, the NAC New Media podcast Explore the Symphony/L’Univers symphoniquehosted by Jean Jacques Van Vlasselaer and NAC Orchestra musician Marjolaine Fournier (bass)surpassed 1 million downloads. New Media is now in its tenth season of podcasting, continually creating new episodes of the NACOcast, Explore the Symphony/L’univers symphonique, the NAC Dance Podcast/Balados de Danse du CNA and English Theatre’s Points of View. To date, more than 4.5 million podcasts have been downloaded, with approximately 2,700 podcasts downloaded every day from around the world. The NACOcast hosted by Principal Tuba Nick Atkinson is particularly popular, regularly rating in the top five classical music podcasts on iTunes.
5) The NAC Foundation led by CEO Jayne Watson had its most successful fundraising year to date ending August 31, raising more than $8.9 million in 2013–2014 to support performance, creation and learning across Canada.
6) Audiences were transported by the sublime performance of Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins at the NAC Gala on October 2 that celebrated Pinchas Zukerman’s marvellous tenure as Music Director of the NAC Orchestra, and his exceptional contributions as an artist, conductor and educator. For each movement of Bach’s magnificent masterwork, Zukerman was joined by a musician he had trained and whose career he had shaped – Daniel Khalikov, Jessica Linnebachand Ann-Estelle Médouze. The concert’s special guest performer was the iconic violinist Itzhak Perlman, who performed Mozart’s Sinfonia concertante for Violin and Viola in E-flat major with Zukerman. The NAC Gala also featured Amanda Forsyth (Principal Cello), Julia MacLaine(Assistant Principal Cello), 14-year-old Summer Music Institute participant Diana Adamyan andInstitute alumnus Jethro Marks (Principal Viola). Presented by CIBC, the NAC Gala generated net proceeds of more than $760,000 for the National Youth and Education Trust, which invests in young Canadians through the performing arts.
7) A catalyst of creation, NAC Dance opened its 2014–2015 season with the presentation of So Blue, a stunning new solo work co-produced by the NAC, created and performed by NAC Associate Dance Artist Louise Lecavalier. (The iconic Canadian dancer also received a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement and was celebrated at the NAC in June at the GGPAA Gala). Other 2014 NAC Dance highlights included the Canada Dance Festival from June 9to June 14, co-produced by the NAC, which featured 200 dance artists from across Canada; and, the sold-out Canadian premiere of Vollmond by legendary Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch,marking the company’s fourth visit to the NAC in the past 10 years
8) The NAC Orchestra’s Performance and Education Tour of the United Kingdom in October 2001 commemorated the First World War Centenary with five concerts in Edinburgh, London, Nottingham, Salisbury and Bristol, with His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales as Royal Patron, and major support from The W. Garfield Weston Foundation and Presenting Supporter RBC. Highlights included a double performance with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London, as well as a concert at the Salisbury Cathedral, near the place where the first 30,000 Canadian troops landed and trained in 1914. The Tour showcased Canadian composers, including John Estacio (Brio: Toccatta and Fantasy for Orchestra) and the late Malcolm Forsyth (A Ballad of Canada), as well as a new NAC commission, A Song of the Poets by Abigail Richardson. The Tour also included 50 educational events, including a live and interactive event hosted by the renowned percussionistDame Evelyn Glennie that joined music students at the Royal College of Music in London and at the NAC. Other special events included a reading of Winnie the Pooh by Lindsay Mattick, great-granddaughter of Canadian soldier Lt. Harry Colebourn, who famously brought a Canadian bear cub named “Winnie” to the U.K. during the First World War, and a talk about Canada’s role in the conflict by renowned Canadian historian Margaret McMillan.
9) On December 10, The Honourable John Baird, Minister of Foreign Affairs and M.P. for Ottawa West-Nepean, and the Honourable Shelly Glover, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, announced capital funding of $110.5 million to transform and revitalize the National Arts Centre. The project, led by internationally renowned architect Donald Schmitt of Diamond Schmitt Architects, will include a magnificent glass entrance facing Confederation Square that will allow the NAC to be warm and inviting, and to embrace the Nation’s Capital for the first time. “We are very grateful to the Government of Canada for this major re-investment in the NAC,” said Peter Herrndorf, President and CEO of the National Arts Centre. The re-imagined NAC will also include improved performances spaces, public areas for education and events, improved accessibility for people with mobility challenges and many more public washrooms. The target date to open the new transparent entrance of the NAC will be sometime in 2017.
10) From December 9 to January 3, the English Theatre Ensemble, NAC’s resident company of actors from across Canada, is performing Alice Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll, adapted for the stage by esteemed Canadian playwright James Reaney, and directed by Artistic Director Jillian Keiley. Produced in association with the Stratford Festival, this highly colourful production, designed from the point of view of seven year-old Alice and full of manually triggered special effects, is a huge hit with critics and audiences alike.
ABOUT THE NAC
The National Arts Centre collaborates with artists and arts organizations across Canada to help create a national stage for the performing arts, and acts as a catalyst for performance, creation and learning across the country. A home for Canada’s most creative artists, the NAC strives to be artistically adventurous in each of its programming streams – the NAC Orchestra, English Theatre, French Theatre and Dance, as well as the Scene festivals and NAC Presents, which showcase established and emerging Canadian artists. The organization is at the forefront of youth and educational activities, offering artist training, programs for children and youth, and resources for teachers in communities across Canada. The NAC is also a pioneer in new media, using technology to teach students and young artists around the globe, by creating top-rated podcasts, and providing a wide range of NAC Orchestra concerts on demand. The NAC is the only bilingual, multidisciplinary performing arts centre in Canada, and one of the largest in the world.