NACO takes Life Reflected to Luminato

A scene from the performance of Dear Life, one of four compositions in the Life Reflected series. Photo: Dwayne Brown

It’s not often that new Canadian music gets a second hearing, but the NAC Orchestra is determined that its quartet of compositions called Life Reflected won’t moulder in a file somewhere.

The works, which premiered at the NAC in the 2015-16 season, will travel with NACO to Toronto for a performance on June 18 at Sony Centre for the Performing Arts that will be part of the massive Luminato Festival.

Life Reflected featured compositions that were based on the works and lives of four Canadian women: Dear Life was drawn from a short story by the legendary writer Alice Munro; I Lost My talk was based on a poem by the Mi’kmaq poet Rita Joe; Bondarsphere is about the astronaut and scientist Roberta Bondar and My Name is Amanda Todd, is about the life and tragic death of B.C. teenager Amanda Todd, as she told it herself with flash cards on the internet. The composers are Zosha Di Castri (Alice Munro), John Estacio (Rita Joe), Jocelyn Morlock (Amanda Todd) and Nicole Lizée (Roberta Bondar).

The four pieces of Life Reflected were paired with visual elements and put under the director of Donna Feore, one of Canada’s leading producer/directors to create what the NAC calls a “unique symphonic experience.”

“My basic wish was to create a collaborative immersive show that would have no interval. Where it’s an experience from the moment you go in to the moment you leave,” Shelley is quoted as saying in a media release from the NAC.

The Montreal-based visual and stage design company Normal created screens that surround the orchestra with the intention of  immersing the audience in the performance.

The aim of Life Reflected is to use the boundaries of the concert experience, Feore is quoted as saying in the same release.

“We wanted to create a communal experience so the audience can share something together. One of our great responsibilities as artists is to keep a dialogue going.  And to provoke a conversation for all demographics.

“My hope is that while some of this subject matter is born from painful memories, that ultimately this performance will be a redeeming and hopeful experience for the audience,” adds Shelley. 

Life Reflected is at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts June 18, at 7 p.m. as part of the Luminato Festival. For tickets please see

I Lost MY Talk will be performed by NACO on its tour of the Atlantic provinces this spring and Life Reflected will be performed during the orchestra’s fall tour of western Canada.

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Peter Robb began his connection with the arts community in Ottawa in the mid-1980s when he was the administrator and public relations director of the Great Canadian Theatre Company. After a long career in journalism with the Ottawa Citizen where he served in a number of different posts he returned to the arts when he became the Citizen's arts editor.