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A Midsummer’s Night Dream

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Alexander Shelley was born on October 8, 1979 in London, England into a family of musicians. He is an English conductor and is a cellist and a pianist. He began playing the piano at a very young age in 1992, and won a music scholarship at the Westminster school from, “The Hall School Hampstead”. He was a member of the World Orchestra for Peace during the 2003 tour with Valery Gargeiv. He studied conducting with Professor Thomas Gabrisch in Düsseldorf and worked closely with Yan-Pascal Tortelier as his assistant conductor, among others with the National Youth Orchestra in Britain.

In 2005 Shelley conceived the “440Hz” project, an innovative series of concerts involving German television and stage personalities, in a major initiative to attract young adults to the concert hall.[2] The third edition of 440 Hz was completed in 2011 and the fourth edition began in 2013. Guest artists have included Konrad Beikircher, Gotz Alsmann&Band, Die Wise Guys, Blank&Jones, BASTA, Ensemble Six, Miki, Curse, Reen, Mellow Mark, Ono, Chima, Marlies Petersen and Ralf Bauer.[4]

Following the competition Shelley quickly established himself on both the national and international music circuit and his early UK appearances featured the BBC Philharmonic at the BBC Proms in 2006 and the inaugural Manchester International Festival in 2007 and the Britten Sinfonia at the BBC Proms in 2007. He was subsequently invited to conduct The Philharmonia Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Bournemouth Symphony, English Chamber Orchestra, Northern Sinfonia, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, London Mozart Players and, most recently, several projects with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra . Following his professional opera debut with The Merry Widow for Royal Danish Opera in 2008, he was re-invited to conduct a new production of Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet in Copenhagen in Spring 2011.

In 2012 he led a new production of La Bohème for Opera Lyra Ottawa, in 2013 a new production of Cosi fan tutte at the Opéra national de Montpellier and in 2014 a new production of The Marriage of Figaro at Opera North. Shelley took up the post of Principal Conductor of Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra in September 2009 on a four year contract. In 2011 his contract was extended by four years up to 2017.[6] Alongside his continuing concert projects with Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Alexander Shelley became, from 2009, artistic director of their new and ground-breaking Zukunftslabor project.[7] This award-winning series aims to build a lasting relationship between the orchestra and a new generation of concert-goers through grass-roots engagement and involvement with young audiences as well as exciting and unusual programming concepts. In 2012 the Zukunftslabor was awarded the prestigious Echo Klassik prize in the category of Nachwuchsförderung.

An overview of his style of conducting Shelley is one of a growing generation of younger conductors worldwide (which includes Canada’s own Yannick Nézet-Séguin) who are infusing the traditional world of classical music with new energy, optimism and power. Who understand the modern world with its unique opportunities for communication and engagement naturally and effortlessly. And who are convinced that, by being true to itself, the centuries-old world of classical music can take on modern relevance. Shelley was unanimously awarded first prize in the 2005 Leeds Conductors Competition and was described in the press as “the most exciting and gifted young conductor to have taken this highly prestigious award. His conducting technique is immaculate, everything crystal clear and a tool to his inborn musicality”.

Now in his fifth season as Chief Conductor of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra, his tenure is acknowledged by both the media and audiences as an outstanding success. –an award-winning series which is designed to build a lasting relationship between the orchestra and younger concert-goers through grassroots engagement and through its use of music as a source for social cohesion and integration. Shelley has guest conducted regularly in Europe’s major musical centres and recent press has singled him out as “a musician of considerable gifts and extraordinarily impressive interpretative qualities” (Strauss, Elgar and Sibelius in London), a conductor with “exceptional artistic authority” (Brahms with DSO Berlin, June) and described his Verdi Requiem in Salzburg in February as an “original, intelligent, thoroughly convincing and well crafted interpretation”.

The elements of traditional concerts he maintained were Since then he has been in demand from orchestras around the world including the Royal Philharmonic, the Philharmonia, City of Birmingham Symphony, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Stockholm Philharmonic, Mozarteum Orchester Salzburg, Konzerthausorchester Berlin, DSO Berlin, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Simon Bolivar, Seattle and Houston Symphony Orchestras. Further afield Alexander is a regular guest with the top Asian and Australasian orchestras. Recent press has singled him out as “a musician of considerable gifts and extraordinarily impressive interpretative qualities” (Strauss, Elgar and Sibelius in London), a conductor with “exceptional artistic authority” (Brahms with DSO Berlin) and described his Verdi Requiem at Salzburg’s Festspielhaus as an “original, intelligent, thoroughly convincing and well-crafted interpretation”. Alexander’s operatic engagements have included The Merry Widow and Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet for Royal Danish Opera; La Bohème for Opera Lyra at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Iolanta with DKP Bremen and Cosi fan tutte in Montpellier. This season Alexander will conduct The Marriage of Figaro for Opera North.

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