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NAC Orchestra will play all nine Beethoven symphonies in Focus Festival

(Via NAC) – The NAC Orchestra FOCUS Festival’s Beethoven edition opens on Thursday, September 13th, 2018 and runs until Saturday, September 22nd, 2018 at the NAC. Over the course of 10 days, NAC Music Director Alexander Shelley brings to light the creative musical genius of Beethoven the composer, whose work irrevocably changed classical music and bridged the Classical and Romantic Eras.

“Beethoven is known around the world as the composer of passionate symphonic music. This is the time when one can hear all that music. If you were to write a cultural bucket list, there are few musical canons that would come higher on a list than Beethoven’s nine symphonies,” says Alexander Shelley.

Throughout the full program of events, the NAC Orchestra will perform exclusively all nine of Beethoven’s symphonies. Marjo², a quirky duo of NAC musicians will perform a special program for families. In addition, the Beethoven Series presents a host of free experiences:

  • Post-concert musical salons reminiscent of those in Beethoven’s time
  • Noon-hour concerts with a variety of string quartets including the GRAMMY-winning Pacifica Quartet
  • Musically Speaking pre-concert chats
  • Community piano marathons
  • A pop-up exhibit created by the Beethoven Center at San Jose University.

Beethoven is a legendary composer who left an imprint on history and whose impact continues to reverberate some 200 years after his death. With great respect for tradition, Beethoven was an unwitting yet stalwart champion of modern ideals and helped to advance man’s right to self-determination.  Beethoven’s philosophical outlook on humanity profoundly inspired his work, as did the immense personal challenges that he faced. Beethoven was a genius, a madman, and a romantic all at once, facets which shine through his music.

Click here to learn more about Beethoven.

Tickets are available online or at the NAC box office.

  • Jean-Jacques Van Vlasselaer: a long-time music journalist and is co-host of the “Explore the Symphony” podcast with the NAC. On September 13th, he will co-host Musically Speaking: Opening Night with Beethoven with Alexander Shelley.
  • Jan Swafford: The New York Times bestselling author of “Beethoven: Anguish and Triumph” has established himself as the de facto authority on all things Beethoven. On September 19th, he will host Musically Speaking: Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony and on September 20th, he will host Musically Speaking: Beethoven Symphony No. 7.
  • Jessica A. Holmes: The postdoctoral Scholar of Musicology at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music completed her Doctorate of Philosophy in Musicology at McGill University where her thesis was titled “Music, Disability and Embodiment in Contemporary Performance”. On September 22nd, she will host Musically Speaking: Beethoven’s Ninth.
  • Frédéric Lacroix: The prolific soloist, chamber musician and collaborative pianist as well as Adjunct Professor of Piano at the University of Ottawa will host four post-concert musical salons, on September 13th, 19th, 20th and 22nd.


FOCUS is an expansive exploration of classical music with artistic direction and concept by Alexander Shelley. The NAC Orchestra dives deep into a singular theme, going beneath the surface of the music and its makers through concerts, lectures, chats, podcasts, exhibits and more. Each annual edition of FOCUS presents a unique theme or topic. While the festival has been taking place at the NAC for many years, the 2018 edition marks the first under its new banner “FOCUS”.

Click here to learn more about FOCUS.


Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra is a world class ensemble of outstanding classical musicians from across Canada and around the world, under the inspiring leadership of Music Director Alexander Shelley. Formed in 1969, the Orchestra gives about 100 performances a year in Ottawa, across Canada and around the globe, working with diverse artists of international renown. It breaks boundaries with its regular commissions of new creations including the critically-acclaimed, immersive Life Reflected. The NAC Orchestra reaches a wide audience through national and international tours, recordings, extensive educational outreach across Canada and on tour, and via the websites NACmusicbox.ca and ArtsAlive.ca.