NACO releases fifth CD as part of an active and ambitious program of recording

Alexander Shelley. Photo: Fred Cattroll

The National Arts Centre Orchestra has just released the album New Worlds, its fifth in three years, in an ambitious program of recording music with the Quebec based classical label Analekta.

The album is the third under the baton of music director Alexander Shelley. Two others were led by former music director Pinchas Zukerman.

In a release Shelley says the new record investigates “themes of migration and crossing borders … with two works written in the so-called New World by composers from the Old World.

Golden slumbers kiss your eyes… is the result of an NAC commission and was composed by Serbian-born Ana Sokolović who now lives in Montreal. It is dedicated to Mario Bernardi the founding music director of NACO.

“I wanted to dedicate the piece to him as an Italian and to myself as a Serbian and to many others who have come to Canada from different countries, who have contributed to making the culture of this country. This was my guide,” she has told the Ottawa Citizen in a previous interview.

She also wanted to present songs that immigrants might have brought with them to Canada. That meant looking into folk traditions for inspiration. There are songs in Italian, French, German, Ladino, which is an old Spanish language connected to the Sephardic Jews, Serbian and English.

She says the work “is structured like a travel diary describing different countries and different times … imaginary countries we visit most often in our dreams and strongly influenced by the theme of childhood.”

The other work is the seminal Symphony No. 9, Op. 95, From the New World by Antonín Dvořák. This was a piece played on the recent NACO tour of Canada. The new album is available at

Analekta is today the largest independent classical music record company in Canada. It has produced more than 500 albums and recorded more than 200 of the country’s musicians.

The other NACO CDs on Analekta are:

•  Pinchas Zukerman, Brahms: Double concerto — Symphony No. 4, with Amanda Forsyth on cello.

• Pinchas Zukerman, Baroque Treasury. Both of the Zukerman recordings were funded by Harvey and Louise Glatt. 

• Alexander Shelley, Life Reflected. A recording of four new Canadian works for orchestra based on the lives of four prominent Canadian women. It was first performed in 2016. One of the pieces written by Vancouver-based Jocelyn Morlock is nominated for a JUNO this year for best classical composition. 

• Alexander Shelley, Encount3rs. This features three new compositions by Canadian composers that were performed with three new ballets last season at the NAC and was a collaboration with the NAC’s Dance department, with Ballet BC, the Alberta Ballet and the National Ballet of Canada. One of these works, Phi, Caelestis by Andrew Staniland has also been nominated for a JUNO for best classical composition.

NACO has just finished recording a CD featuring works by Rimsky Korsakov and Canadian Walter Boudreau. 

“Releasing high quality recordings is key to the NAC Orchestra’s goal of sharing Canadian artistry, and many new creations by Canadian composers, across Canada and internationally,” says Marc Stevens, NACO’s general manager.

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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.