Podcasts: Eric Friesen Presents the NAC Orchestra

How did the NAC Orchestra become the world class organization it is today? Veteran broadcaster Eric Friesen chronicles the unfolding drama of the NAC Orchestra from its earliest days in 1969 to the present time. With his charming personality and a host of probing questions, he interviews conductors, orchestral musicians, guest artists and administrators about the Orchestra's beginnings, the challenges it faced, the tours it made all over Canada and to many foreign lands, and the kind of individuals it took to mold the Orchestra into what it is today.

Programme 01 - An Orchestra is born: The Bernardi Years

The National Arts Centre Orchestra was born in the cultural euphoria of the 1960's, an off shoot of a bold Centennial Year project for our nation's capital. Not only did Ottawa get its first arts centre complex, it acquired a world class orchestra almost instantly. Meet the bold and visionary men who created the NAC and the orchestra. Hear from Music Director Mario Bernardi and from players and music lovers alike who remember those early days, and hear excerpts from the orchestra's audio archive

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Programme 02 - The Eighties: Mannino and Chmura

After 13 years under Bernardi, the NAC Orchestra's new leader was another Italian: Franco Mannino. Where Bernardi had been all northern Italy - cold blue light, Mannino was all southern Italy - red hot light. Listen to the smiles that come into the voices of those who remember Mannino. Then a darkness descends on the NAC as financial woes threaten the orchestra and its ambitious programs, and the orchestra goes on strike. The young Polish Israel conductor, Gabriel Chmura, succeeds Mannino, but his stay in Ottawa is short-lived.

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Programme 03 - The Pinnock Years and a Memorable Principal Guest Conductor

Through much of the 1990's, the NAC Orchestra was led by the baroque and classical specialist from England, Trevor Pinnock. This was a time of continued financial challenges for the NAC, but Trevor Pinnock was not only a superb musician, but a man of great character and helped heal the ravages of the late 1980's. The NAC Orchestra also shows its flexibility as gifted and colourful Principal Guest Conductor Franz Paul Decker leads them into the territory of Richard Strauss, Paul Hindemith, Jean Sibelius and Johannes Brahms.

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Programme 04 - The Golden Years with Pinchas Zukerman

The return of the NAC Orchestra to stability and health coincides with the arrival of a superstar violinist/conductor, and a man with a huge vision for expansion and education. Pinchas Zukerman pushes the organization to a larger greatness and a new CEO, Peter Herrendorf, and Board Chair David Leighton, help Pinchas achieve his dreams. The players, the audience, and a wave of young performers, composers and conductors all benefit. We'll hear the singular voice and personality Pinchas Zukerman reflect on his 11 years here and find the passion for more burns brightly. Others chime in.

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Programme 05 - Beyond Ottawa: The National Mandate of NACO

The National Arts Centre Orchestra has, from its conception, had a mandate beyond Ottawa, a mandate to serve all Canadians from coast to coast to coast. The key national stages for the NAC Orchestra have been broadcasting, recording and touring, to which has now been added a significant presence on the internet. As part of the national mandate the NAC Orchestra has always been committed to nurturing and presenting great Canadian performers. We hear from Angela Hewitt, Jon Kimura Parker and Anton Kuerti. The national mandate has also meant commissioning and playing works by Canadian composers; R Murray Shafer, Alexina Louie and Gary Kulesha are heard from, their voices and their music.

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Programme 06 - Beyond Ottawa: NACO and the World!

The NAC Orchestra has from its very early years been known outside the boundaries of Canada. In its third year of life, it made a triumphant debut in New York City. From there touring to Asia, Europe, the rest of the US and South America have won it friends and admirers. Recordings have also been part of the NAC Orchestra's international reputation, as have great virtuosos who have come to play at the NAC and then gone away again, singing the orchestra's praises. We hear from Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, and Garrick Ohlsson, among others. At the end of this program, we look to the future and see the "decade of magic continuing.

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Programme 07 - The Post War Years: Canadian Composers Come of Age!

As World War 2 ended, there was a great flowering in contemporary music making in Canada. For the first time, men and women declared themselves professional composers. Listen to the stories, the voices and the music of these magnificent pioneers: John Weinzweig, Harry Somers, Violet Archer, Oskar Morawetz, Srul Irving Glick, Malcolm Forsyth and many others in English Canada; Claude Champagne, Pierre Mercure, Clermont Pépin and André Prévost in Quebec. With performances from the archives of the National Arts Centre Orchestra.

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Programme 08 - The New Wave: Canadian Composers of the 80's, the 90's and into the new Millennium!

This is the story of the composers from the last two decades of the 20th century. These are men and women who are confident of their place in Canadian culture and yet looked out to the world and embraced minimalism, the influences of pop and rock music, a new rhythmic vitality, eastern music and the new trends from western Europe and the United States. Composers from other countries continued to find Canada a welcome home. It's the era of Glenn Buhr, Kelly-Marie Murphy, Alexina Louie, Gary Kulesha, Michael Colgrass, Istvan Anhalt and many more in English Canada. And in Quebec: Jacques Hétu, Claude Vivier, Linda Bouchard, Denis Gougeon and Denys Bouliane.

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Programme 09 - The 2009 NAC Award Winners: Up Close and Personal!

Meet the second group of three Canadian composers given the prestigious NAC Awards: Peter Paul Kaprowski, Anna Sokolovic and John Estacio. Two are immigrants to Canada from Eastern Europe and the third a first generation Portuguese Canadian. They have just begun a 3-year residency with the National Arts Centre Orchestra and will each contribute at least 3 major works in collaboration with Music Director Pinchas Zukerman and the NAC Music team. Here we are looking to the present and the future, as these three composers tell us their stories and talk about their music and their dreams for new work inspired by writing for this superb orchestra.

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Excerpt I from Divertimento No. 6 by John Weinzweig (0:01:19)

Excerpt I from Divertimento No. 6 by John Weinzweig - Play now

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