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National Arts Centre 2017-2018 Annual Report


Alexander Shelley and the NAC Orchestra had an enormously successful year that included a festival exploring the idea of the North, a roster of superstar performers and sensational debuts, and the completion of an ambitious tour through every province and territory.

The season began on September 13 and 14, with music by Richard Strauss and Ravel conducted by Alexander Shelley, and Itzhak Perlman performing some of the most beautiful pieces from the cinema. That same week the Orchestra performed at the NAC Gala with the legendary singer-songwriter k.d. lang, as well as Kalolin Johnson, the powerful young M’ikmaw singer from Eskasoni, Nova Scotia who first performed with the Orchestra in Eskasoni in May 2017 during the Atlantic Canadian leg of the Canada 150 Tour.

From October 3 to 14, the Ideas of North festival examined our relationship with the North, and celebrated two important milestones – Canada 150 and Finland 100. There were many highlights. They included a mini-cycle of symphonic works by the seminal Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, and the first North American performance of the Lapland Chamber Orchestra, featuring violinist and conductor John Storgårds, Principal Guest Conductor of the NAC Orchestra. Audiences enjoyed two Canadian NAC Orchestra co-commissions – a triple violin concerto by Alexina Louie showcasing the concertmasters of the NAC Orchestra (Yosuke Kawasaki), the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (Jonathan Crow) and the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (Andrew Wan); and the world premiere of Nameless Seas by Matthew Whittall, written for and performed by the renowned Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt.

The Orchestra’s Canada 150 Tour continued into western Canada from October 17 to November 6, with nine performances and 130 education events in Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton, Victoria, Vancouver and Whitehorse. Calgary pianist Jan Lisiecki joined the all-Canadian roster of soloists that included soprano Erin Wall and actor Monique Mojica. Highlights included Life Reflected – the multimedia NAC commission about four remarkable Canadian women – in Calgary and Vancouver, and a brilliant performance by Associate Concertmaster Jessica Linnebach in her hometown of Edmonton. From December 4 to 9, the Orchestra completed the final leg of the Canada 150 Tour with two sold-out concerts and more than 20 education and community events in Iqaluit and Yellowknife.

On November 23 and 24, Conductor Emeritus and violinist Pinchas Zukerman returned to the Southam Hall stage, bringing his burnished sound and incomparable expressivity to Haydn’s Violin Concerto No. 1, and conducting a superb interpretation of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2. The first concert paid tribute to the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, retiring Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, a keen supporter of classical music.

On December 20, the virtuoso violinist Joshua Bell performed The Man with the Violin with the NAC Orchestra, conducted by Alexander Shelley, as part of the Orchestra’s holiday concert. Co-commissioned by the NAC and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the work was composed by the Grammy Award-winning composer Anne Dudley, with animation by Montreal’s Normal studio. The Man with the Violin, which is based on Bell’s experience busking outside a Washington metro station, was adapted from the popular Canadian children’s book written by Kathy Stinson and illustrated by Dušan Petričić.

On January 10 and 11, the rising young American conductor Karina Canellakis made her NAC debut, with Jessica Linnebach performing Bartók’s Second Violin Concerto. On February 20 and 21, the celebrated Quebec pianist Alain Lefèvre performed Quebec composer Walter Boudreau’s monumental Concerto de l’asile, conducted by Alexander Shelley. It’s a tribute to the Quebec author and poet Claude Gauvreau, one of 16 young Québécois artists and intellectuals behind Refus Global, a 1948 manifesto that has been called one of the most important and controversial artistic and social documents in modern Quebec society. The program also included Scheherazade by Rimsky-Korsakov, and was recorded for future release by Montreal label Analekta.

On March 1 and 2, the renowned American jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis performed Glazunov’s Saxophone Concerto with the Orchestra. He also played chamber music as part of the Music for a Sunday Afternoon series at the National Gallery of Canada. On April 4 and 6, the exciting young Italian pianist Beatrice Rana made her NAC debut performing Brahms’s passionate First Piano Concerto. This program was then taken to Montreal, marking Alexander Shelley’s debut with the NAC Orchestra at Maison Symphonique, in a concert presented by Orchestre symphonique de Montréal.

Two remarkable conductors made their NAC debuts in the spring. Xian Zhang, Music Director of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra – and one of the few women in the world to hold this position with a major orchestra – led a program on April 18 and 19 featuring Quebec pianist Louis Lortie. And on May 2 and 3, the 22-year-old Finnish conductor Klaus Mäkelä performed an all-Russian program with the acclaimed British pianist Stephen Hough.

The season concluded on May 23 and 24 with Alexander Shelley conducting Beethoven’s Emperor concerto featuring the exceptional American pianist Emanuel Ax, and Richard Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben (A Hero’s Life). The first concert was dedicated to Peter Herrndorf, the NAC’s former President and CEO, who stepped down on June 2, 2018 after an extraordinarily successful tenure of nearly 19 years.

NAC Dance, led by Executive Producer Cathy Levy, featured 48 performances by 20 companies, including three Canadian exclusives, two co-productions, 11 artists and companies making their NAC debuts, and a strong commitment to Canadian dance and new Canadian creation.

The season kicked off in September with one of the biggest events of the year – three performances in Southam Hall by the internationally acclaimed contemporary dance company Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch. This exclusive Canadian presentation began with the riveting Café Müller, followed by Bausch’s masterpiece The Rite of Spring, which featured 34 dancers on an earth-covered stage, fiercely driven by Stravinsky’s groundbreaking score, performed by the NAC Orchestra led by Joana Carneiro. On
October 4-5, Finland’s Tero Saarinen Company took the stage of the Babs Asper Theatre with Morphed, a work that examines themes of male identity.

Many international companies and artists made their NAC debuts. They included Germany’s Semperoper Ballett Dresden with its exclusive Canadian presentation
of Swan Lake (November 9-11); Legend Lin Dance Theatre of Taiwan with The Eternal Tides (January 20) and Australia’s contemporary circus company Circa with Opus (May 5) in Southam Hall; and the French circus artist and choreographer Yoann Bourgeois with his ensemble work Celui qui tombe/He Who Falls (March 9-10), and Spain’s La Veronal with Siena (February 2-3), both in the Babs Asper Theatre.

Canadian companies and artists also took the spotlight. A particular highlight was Nijinsky by The National Ballet of Canada (January 25-27), John Neumeier’s powerful ballet about the art and life of the legendary dancer and choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky. Its three Southam Hall performances sold out. Another work inspired by an iconic artist captivated dance lovers – Dance Me, the multimedia homage to poet and singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen (February 23-24). Created by BJM – Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal in collaboration with choreographers Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Andonis Foniadakis and Ishan Rustem, the two Southam Hall performances also sold out.

Rising stars Joshua Beamish, Belinda McGuire, Cie Mossoux-Bonté, Laurie Young and Daina Ashbee had their NAC debuts during Face 2 Face (October 26-28). The series celebrated a new partnership with La Nouvelle Scène Gilles Desjardins, and continued its partnership with Ottawa Dance Directive’s Series Danse 10, both of which co-presented these performances. Other Canadian companies and artists this season included Vancouver wunderkind Shay Kuebler/Radical System Art with Telemetry (April 26-28) in the Azrieli Studio, Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet with Dracula (April 12-14), and seven December performances of Nutcracker, both in Southam Hall.

NAC Dance has a long-standing history of supporting new Canadian creation, and the season included two co-productions by Montreal dance artists – Some Hope for the Bastards by Frédérick Gravel (April 20-21 in the Babs Asper Theatre), and Solitudes Duo by Daniel Léveillé (February 15-17 in the Azrieli Studio). NAC Dance was also proud to launch its Visiting Dance Artist program, supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, with Ottawa-born, Montreal-based choreographer and performer Dana Michel as its first resident.

Since the beginning of her tenure, Artistic Director Jillian Keiley has proactively engaged in questions of diversity on the stage and in the stories we tell. This season, five of the eight productions in the English Theatre subscription series were stories by and about persons of colour.

The season opened in September in the Babs Asper Theatre with the stunning new musical Onegin by Amiel Gladstone and Veda Hille. Based on a poem by Pushkin and an opera by Tchaikovsky, the show was directed by Amiel Gladstone and produced by The Musical Stage Company (Toronto) in collaboration with English Theatre. In October in the Azrieli Studio, English Theatre produced the world premiere of Sir John A: Acts of a Gentrified Ojibway Rebellion, commissioned from Drew Hayden Taylor. Also in October, audiences in the Asper Theatre enjoyed King of the Yees (Gateway Theatre, Richmond B.C.), which explored the tension between generations and cultures in a modern North American Chinatown.

Two innovative productions captivated audiences in January. Mr. Shi and His Lover, an opera-theatre piece from Macau Experimental Theatre/Music Picnic/Point View Art Association, written by Njo Kong Kie and Wong Teng Chi, came to the Azrieli Studio. The show was performed mainly in Mandarin with English surtitles. And in the Asper Theatre, 887 by Robert Lepage (Ex Machina, Quebec City), an autobiographical work about growing up in 1960s Quebec, was both moving and breathtaking.

In March in the Asper Theatre, the English Theatre production of carried away on the crest of a wave by David Yee, directed by Kim Collier, explored the impact of the 2004 tsunami. In April, Sal Capone: The Lamentable Tragedy of, the story of a hip-hop crew whose DJ becomes a victim of police violence, was performed in the Azrieli Studio by Boldskool (Vancouver) in association with Holding Space Productions. That same month, English Theatre was proud to present Betroffenheit, the acclaimed co-production by Electric Company Theatre and Kidd Pivot, co-produced by NAC Dance, in the Asper Theatre. The season closed with Up to Low, a funny and deeply felt coming-of-age story based on the book by Ottawa’s own Brian Doyle, directed by Janet Irwin, also in the Asper Theatre.

English Theatre plays a national role in Canadian theatre. In October 2017, the department executed its first tour in nearly 20 years, taking Jillian Keiley’s 2013 production of Tartuffe, adapted by comedian and writer Andy Jones, to five communities in Newfoundland. Through The Collaborations, English Theatre supported theatre companies developing new work across the country. And English Theatre continued to lead on issues of accessibility and inclusion: its production of A Christmas Carol featured Deaf artist Jack Volpe and blind artist Bruce Horak in key roles, and included an ASL performance, an audio-described performance, and a “touch tour” of costume pieces, props and set models.

French Theatre audiences discovered 17 original and daring productions in 2017–2018. Among the highlights was the world premiere of the season opener, Gabriel Dumont’s Wild West Show, a flamboyant epic about the struggle of the Métis of Western Canada. This ambitious collective creation brought together 10 playwrights, 10 performers and an impressive team of designers, all representing different territories and cultures across the country. After its opening run at the NAC, the show toured to Montreal, Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Quebec City.

Artistic director Brigitte Haentjens directed two mesmerizing creations. In December, she collaborated with the composer and musician Denis Plante and the actor Sébastien Ricard to present La Bibliothèque-interdite, an intimate and lyrical opera-tango inspired by the world of Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges. And in February, she directed the premiere production of Dans la solitude des champs de coton, a sizzling verbal sparring match between a dealer (played by Hugues Frenette) and a client (Sébastien Ricard), written by Bernard-Marie Koltès.

French Theatre also presented the exclusive Canadian engagement of two major shows from Europe. In November, following an American tour, the large-scale production of Albert Camus’s L’état de siège, directed by Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota and performed by the illustrious troupe from the Théâtre de la Ville in Paris, took the Babs Asper Theatre by storm. In April, the iconic Flemish Belgian collective tg STAN delivered a refreshing version of Chekhov’s mythical La cerisaie (The Cherry Orchard).

The plays in the Enfance/jeunesse series for young audiences were just as entertaining. For example, in March, children from 18 months to five years old were introduced to the mysteries of the creation of the universe in Magie lente, by the Montreal-based company Des mots d’la dynamite. For older children, French Theatre presented Et si Roméo et Juliette…, a reimagining of the Shakespeare classic by the acrobatic movement company DynamO Théâtre in May; and Romanzo d’infanzia, a breathtaking show created by Italian artists that has been touring internationally for more than 20 years, in May. As well, French Theatre reached out to the deaf and hearing-impaired community with a show featuring a deaf actress (Traversée, produced by Voyageurs immobiles), and shone the spotlight on the many facets of adolescence by casting local teenagers alongside professional actors (Impatience, produced by L’eau du bain).

In 2017-2018, the NAC’s historic new Indigenous Theatre department began to lay the foundation for its first season in 2019 with the recruitment of an extremely talented team.

Kevin Loring, an award-winning playwright, actor and director, began his tenure as the first-ever Artistic Director. A Nlaka’pamux from the Lytton First Nation in British Columbia, Kevin is perhaps best known for having won a Governor General’s Literary Award for his 2009 play, Where the Blood Mixes. Kevin travelled broadly throughout the year, sharing his plans, cultivating support, speaking with Indigenous artists, leaders and allies, and seeing work by Indigenous artists. He also shared his vision in a number of powerful speeches at the NAC, including at the Institute on Governance’s Nation-to-Nation National Summit; at the annual conference of the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres; and at a dinner in honour of former NAC President and CEO Peter Herrndorf that raised more than $1.1 million (net) for Indigenous Theatre. To date, more than $2 million has been raised from donors across the country to support the new department.

Lori Marchand, a highly respected national leader in professional theatre, joined the team in April as Managing Director. She brings more than a decade of experience as the former Executive Director of Western Canada Theatre in Kamloops. She is Syilx and grew up in Algonquin and Secwepemc Territory. Artist and scholar Lindsay Lachance, who holds a PhD in Indigenous dramaturgy from UBC, began as Artistic Associate in February. Mairi Brascoupé, with a MA in Design from Central Saint Martins in the U.K., coordinates community outreach and rounds out the team. Both Lindsay and Mairi are Algonquin Anishinaabeg.

NAC Presents, led by Executive Producer Heather Gibson, once again showcased some of the most exciting performers on the Canadian music scene, with more than 130 concerts and total attendance of more than 41,000.

There were many highlights. Canadian icon Bruce Cockburn kicked off the season on September 22. In October, singer-songwriters Oh Susanna and Sarah MacDougall, performed in the Fourth Stage, and Halifax’s David Myles performed in the Azrieli Studio. Thirty-five artists and bands performed in November. They included Francophone artists Beyries and Philippe B in the Fourth Stage, Klô Pelgag and Kellylee Evans with Petr Cancura in the Azrieli Studio, and Blackie and the Rodeo Kings in Southam Hall.

On February 9, NAC Presents collaborated with the Ottawa music conference MEGAPHONO to present two shows. The Native North America Gathering featured veteran Indigenous artists who appear on the GRAMMY-nominated Native North America (Vol. 1) album, including Duke Redbird, Willie Thrasher and Linda Saddleback, as well as Alanis Obomsawin paying tribute to poet and songwriter Willie Dunn. The second show featured singers Trails, Keturah Johnson and LUKA.

Performers in March included African-Canadian artist Laetitia Zonzambé in the Fourth Stage, east coaster Rose Cousins in the Babs Asper Theatre, and the legendary Randy Bachman in Southam Hall. In April, Quebec group Avec pas d’casque played the Fourth Stage, and JUNO award nominee Donovan Woods and the Opposition performed in the Asper Theatre. And in May, the LYNNeS, a duo of Lynn Miles and Lynne Hanson, launched their new album in the Fourth Stage with two sold-out shows.

NAC Presents created Fridays at the Fourth, an upbeat music series in the newly renovated NAC Fourth Stage that was extremely popular with audiences. NAC Presents also launched NAC Presents Across Canada, an initiative that supported nearly 40 concerts in 10 cities across Canada. The goal is to build a network of music organizations and community promoters that promote talent, help artists develop audiences across Canada, and create touring opportunities that will build national networks for both the artists and the organizations involved.

A number of legendary artists performed in the NAC’s Variety season. GRAMMY award-winning saxophonist Kenny G played his best-known songs in Southam Hall on December 1. On January 21, Calypso Rose, the queen of Calypso music, took to the Southam Hall stage with local JUNO award winners Kobotown. And on May 26, the American soul singer-songwriter Betty Lavette gave an outstanding performance in the Babs Asper Theatre.

The NAC is also a home for local artists and arts organizations. Highlights included a showcase performance by Rock Camp For Girls+ (November 5); La Chanson Française by Les Contes Nomades (December 9), and an evening of music from the show Grievous Angel: the Legend of Gram Parsons, presented by local promoter Michael Bate (March 31).

The National Creation Fund, a major initiative to help Canadian artists and arts organizations create ambitious new work, officially opened on November 1, 2017. Led by Artistic Producer Heather Moore, the Fund aims to change the game for creation in Canada by investing up to $3 million a year in 15 to 20 compelling new works of music, theatre, dance and inter-disciplinary performing arts. The Fund is fuelled by money raised from generous donors across the country who responded to the National Arts Centre Foundation’s Creation Campaign, which exceeded its $25 million goal.

The Fund team initiated more than 80 meetings with artists from across Canada to learn about upcoming projects, and to encourage artists to consider the Fund in their planning. The team attended performances, workshops, pitch sessions and industry events, all the while building relationships with artists and arts organizations. Staff consulted frequently with members of the NAC’s artistic leadership team, and twice met with the Fund’s National Advisory Committee, a group of experienced artists and arts professionals who do not make investment decisions but provide insights and feedback.

On June 14, the NAC announced the first nine projects in which the Fund has invested approximately $1.4 million:

  • Eve 2050 (Van Grimde Corps Secrets, Montreal)
  • The Full Light of Day (Electric Company Theatre, Vancouver)
  • The Hockey Sweater: A Musical (The Segal Centre for Performing Arts, Montreal)
  • Mînowin (Dancers of Damelahamid, Vancouver)
  • Le reste vous le connaissez par le cinéma (Carte Blanche, Quebec)
  • The Storyville Mosquito (Kid Koala, Montreal)
  • Treemonisha (Volcano Theatre, Toronto)
  • who we are in the dark (Peggy Baker Dance Projects, Toronto)
  • Unikkaaqtuat (The 7 Fingers, Montreal, Artcirq, Igloolik and Taqqut Productions, Iqaluit)

The NAC will announce a second round of investments in the fall of 2018.

2017-2018 marked the first full year of the NAC’s inspiring new atrium, an addition made possible thanks to the NAC’s Architectural Rejuvenation Project, funded by the Government of Canada.

The new Public Spaces allowed the NAC to welcome the community in a whole new way. Free programming, led by Associate Producer Amanda Baumgarten, included Toddler Tuesdays animated by local artist and teacher Jesse Kahat, and Seniors Pop-Up Painting on Wednesday afternoons. Both took place in Peter A. Herrndorf Place, a space that was also used for performances, pre-concert talks, podcast interviews and more.

The Public Spaces team also hosted events in partnerships with a variety of community organizations. The monthly In Conversation with Paul Wells speaker series, in partnership with Maclean’s magazine and CPAC in the Alan & Roula Rossy Pavillion, was a particular highlight.

2017-2018 Learning Highlights

NAC Music Education did extensive education and outreach across Canada in 2017–2018, with 700 unique events that reached nearly 70,000 Canadians.

The biggest example was the western and northern portions of the NAC Orchestra’s Canada 150 Tour. With more than 130 events that celebrated collaboration and reconciliation, Orchestra musicians and guest artists connected with more than 6,000 students, teachers, community leaders and local artists in 11 communities in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. The diverse events included a three-day residency at the University of Manitoba; an artists’ summit and concert with Indigenous musicians in Winnipeg; a workshop on sharing music and culture at the Calgary Centre for Newcomers; and a masterclass led by the renowned Calgary pianist Jan Lisiecki at the University of Saskatoon.

In addition, there were 20 events in northern Canada, including an Indigenous songwriting workshop with the acclaimed singer-songwriter Leela Gilday at Inuksuk High School in Iqaluit; and Alexander Shelley leading a choral workshop with teachers in Yellowknife and Whitehorse.

The Music Alive Program, which sends local and visiting artists to rural and remote communities, continued to be active in western and northern Canada. This year the program increased its activity in Atlantic Canada after a pilot year in 2017. Events included workshops for Indigenous youth at the St. John’s Native Friendship Centre, and for the Saint John Schools Music Program featuring composer Andrew Miller and Indigenous collaborators Deantha Edmunds-Ramsay and Sheila Croteau, in partnership with Symphony New Brunswick.

At the NAC, Music Education programmed exceptional concerts for young audiences through its KinderNACO and TD Family Adventures series. And throughout the NAC Orchestra’s Community Week (February 12 –15), students from six local schools and adult amateur musicians performed alongside the Orchestra’s wind, brass and percussion sections, led by Alexander Shelley.

NAC Dance provided invaluable opportunities for professional dancers, aspiring dancers and students in 2017-2018.

Every year, some of the most acclaimed artists in the world grace the NAC’s stages, and Dance helps ensure their expertise is shared with the next generation through masterclasses and initiatives such as Tea with a Ballerina and Coffee with a Choreographer. On October 3, Tero Saarinen led a two-hour contemporary dance workshop with students from The School of Dance. Other teaching artists this year included dancer Belinda McGuire, world-renowned ballet master Olga Kostritzky, Jonathan Renna (The National Ballet of Canada), Kennedy Kraeling (BJM – Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal), French circus artists Yoann Bourgeois and Marie Varedin, Yayoi Ban (Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet) and west coast dancer and choreographer Shay Kuebler.

Education Associate and Teaching Artist Siôned Watkins organized numerous workshops, special events with choreographers and local dancers, and collaborations with partner schools and companies in Ottawa throughout the year. Highlights include the performance of Pina Bausch’s Nelken-Line at the NAC, and choreography workshops with students in 10 Ottawa-Gatineau schools.

English Theatre’s largest national education initiative took place during the tour of Tartuffe, the 2013 NAC production adapted by comedian Andy Jones and directed by Jillian Keiley that travelled to five communities in Newfoundland.

There were 20 distinct education and outreach events, and 54 individual workshops led by artists in the company. Events included three professional learning days with teachers and students from the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District in the eastern, western and central regions of the province; numerous visits to schools, libraries and community groups; and a full day with theatre students from Memorial University of Newfoundland’s Grenfell Campus in Corner Brook. The company also visited three correctional facilities in Stephenville, Bishop’s Falls and Clarenville, the latter being the only women’s prison in the province. The sessions were profound and memorable for both artists and inmates.

Back at the NAC, English Theatre delighted young people with imaginative performances. From February 14 to 19, SNAFU Dance Theatre performed Table Top Tales in the Alan & Roula Rossy Pavillion, one of the NAC’s beautiful new spaces. The show invited children as young as three to share stories of growing up, which the performers instantly brought to life through puppetry.

French Theatre organized a series of outreach and education activities for audience members. There were many highlights.

Several artists featured in the Enfance/jeunesse series interacted with local students as part of two projects – Visits by Creative Artists and Putting Your School to Work. Twenty-four workshops were offered to more than 400 primary and secondary school students. During the fourth edition of De plain-pied, 50 teenagers invaded the public spaces of the NAC, transformed for the occasion into a national campground.

With the help of the NAC’s Digital Engagement department, French Theatre produced a bilingual website dedicated specifically to the creation of Gabriel Dumont’s Wild West Show and its historical context. In addition, the team produced 10 podcasts of interviews with artists by host Julien Morissette, recorded in the new Hexagon Studio.

And as always, the essays and articles published in the Cahiers du Théâtre français sparked curiosity and reflection among French Theatre audiences, and allowed them to learn more about the season’s productions.

2017–2018 marked the first year of the NAC’s new Hexagon Studio, newly built as part of the Architectural Rejuvenation Project. The studio, home base for the NAC’s distance learning, digital content creation and outreach programs, features glass frontage and a location that opens to the public; studio-grade soundproofing and lighting; and integration with the Atelier Belle Shenkman & Desmond Smith. And thanks to the NAC’s partnership with Rogers, the studio has best-in-class conferencing services, enabling the NAC to push the boundaries of what’s possible in distance learning, telematic music-making and digital engagement.

There were many distance learning events throughout the winter and spring. For example, NAC Orchestra clarinetist Sean Rice taught 12 master classes to students at Memorial University in St. John’s. And in March, in partnership with Blues in the Schools, the studio hosted a week-long series of connections between Ontario musicians Rick Fines and Catriona Sturton with students of Kildala Elementary School in Kitimat, B.C.