Henry Kennedy appointed first Resident Conductor of NAC Orchestra

– JULY 2024 by Greggory Clark

Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra is delighted to announce that Nova Scotian conductor Henry Kennedy has been selected as its new Resident Conductor.

Henry Kennedy hails from New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, and has spent his educational and professional life mostly based in the United Kingdom. His comprehensive experience and passion for music make him an invaluable addition to the NAC Orchestra.

27-year-old Kennedy is already a distinguished young conductor with a background in both opera and orchestral music, having recently completed his tenure as Conductor of Wroclaw Opera, in Poland, where he led numerous productions during the 2022-2023 season. Last summer, he was the Assistant Conductor to Sir John Eliot Gardiner for Berlioz’s monumental opera Les Troyens, touring prestigious venues such as the Berlioz Festival, Salzburg Festival, The Royal Opera of Versailles, Berliner Philharmonie, and BBC Proms. His forthcoming engagements include performances of Tosca in Italy with Orchestra Cherubini, marking the 100th anniversary of Puccini’s death.

As the founder of the London, UK-based Resonate Symphony Orchestra and its music director since 2017, Kennedy has curated and conducted diverse programs across London’s prominent concert halls. His training includes studying under Riccardo Muti and assisting several esteemed conductors with leading symphony and opera orchestras worldwide.

Kennedy will visit Ottawa this summer to attend the NAC Orchestra’s summer concert series and officially starts his tenure in September 2024.

“I will never forget the lightning bolt response I received from the Orchestra in the audition.”

Reflecting on this new role, Henry Kennedy said, “I feel greatly honoured to be joining the National Arts Centre Orchestra as their Resident Conductor. I will never forget the lightning bolt response I received from the Orchestra in the audition when I gave the downbeat for the first movement of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. From the beginning to the end of the audition, I felt a musical electricity that I have never experienced before. This position offers a unique opportunity to work alongside some of the world’s finest musicians and contribute to the vibrant cultural landscape of Canada. I look forward to a period of immense growth and artistic collaboration in the beautiful city of Ottawa.”

The selection process, open to Canadians and Permanent Residents, involved reviewing over 50 applications, auditioning five finalists, and obtaining feedback from orchestra members and the Artistic Advisory Committee. The final decision was made by Alexander Shelley.

Alexander Shelley, NACO Music Director, expressed his enthusiasm for Kennedy’s appointment: “I am delighted to be welcoming Henry to our artistic team. During his audition he demonstrated wonderful technique and poise in front of the orchestra and spoke eloquently about the role of the conductor in the community and about the importance of music to us all. He joins us at an exciting moment in his career as his work across the pond in the UK and Europe continues to blossom. I am confident that our audiences in Ottawa and across Canada will benefit greatly from his artistry. Welcome, Henry!”

The new two-year Resident Conductor position offers an immersive professional development opportunity under the mentorship of Music Director Alexander Shelley. Responsibilities include serving as assistant conductor for the Orchestra’s guest conductors, working closely with Principal Guest Conductor John Storgårds and Principal Youth Conductor Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, and collaborating with NACO’s administrative team. The role includes a competitive salary and participation in a conductor exchange program with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

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