Canada // Music  

Life Reflected

A National Arts Centre Orchestra project conducted by Alexander Shelley and directed by Donna Feore

June 18 , 2017

7:00 PM

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Pre-show Panel

5:30 PM
Come to the theatre early at 5:30 PM for a pre-show panel conversation featuring Donna Feore, Ann Joe, Carol Todd, Jocelyn Morlock, Merilyn Simonds, and Nicole Lizée.
More Info
Estimated Run Time:
1 hr 20, no intermission
1 hr 20, no intermission

Joan and Jerry Lozinski

Janice & Earle O’Born are the NAC Orchestra Tour Patrons for Life Reflected at Luminato.

I Lost My Talk was commissioned for the National Arts Centre Orchestra to commemorate the 75th birthday of The Right Honourable Joe Clark, P.C., C.C., A.O.E. by his family. 

VIA Rail is the Official Rail Partner of the NAC Orchestra.


Canada’s rich and dynamic history has provided the setting for some of the most captivating, personal and yet universal stories I have heard. What better way to share these stories than through the collaborative voices of some of the best artists and creators Canada has to offer.
– Alexander Shelley, Artistic Director, National Arts Centre
Four Canadian composers created compelling musical portraits of four exceptional Canadian women. Roberta Bondar, Rita Joe, Alice Munro, and Amanda Todd are the inspiration behind Life Reflected, a unique symphonic and multi-media celebration of youth, promise, and courage. The National Arts Centre Orchestra commissioned four works by Zosha Di Castri, Jocelyn Morlock, Nicole Lizée, and John Estacio to create its largest production ever. The staging includes stunning projections, which immerse the audience in sound, motion picture, photography, and graphic design.

Dear Life, based on the short story by Alice Munro is a reflection on memory, childhood and the formative stages of life.

My Name is Amanda Todd tells the story of a vibrant 15-year-old who, after suffering for years from cyber abuse, spoke out against harassment and bullying on YouTube.

Dr. Roberta Bondar’s expertise as an astronaut, physician, scientific researcher, and photographer have been interpreted in Bondarsphere.

I Lost My Talk, based on the poem by Mi’kmaw elder and poet Rita Joe, expresses Joe’s experience at Schubenacadie Residential School and is accompanied by a film by Barbara Willis Sweete, featuring choreography by Tekaronhiáhkhwa San tee Smith performed on the shores of Georgian Bay.

Under the direction of Alexander Shelley, with Creative Pro ducer and Director Donna Feore, and Visual and Stage Design by Normal, Life Reflected comes to Toronto for one night only following a sold out premiere performance in Ottawa in 2016.  
A National Arts Centre Orchestra production presented by the NAC and Luminato


Life Reflected resonates not only because of the notes played but due to its thematic inspirations and anchors that are intensely tied to the Canada we live in today.”
– Ottawa Citizen
“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.”
– artsfile
“Thought-provoking and jaw-dropping spectacle”
– Exclaim!
“A quartet of multimedia works that transcend biography to embrace universal themes of pain, forgiveness, beauty, and hope.”
– Ottawa Citizen

Creative Team

In September 2015, Alexander Shelley took up the mantle as Music Director, leading a new era for the National Arts Centre’s Orchestra. Formed in 1969 at the opening of Canada’s National Arts Centre, the NAC Orchestra gives over 100 performances a year with renowned artists including Itzhak Perlman, Renée Fleming, James Ehnes, Emanuel Ax and Yo-Yo Ma. It is noted for the passion and clarity of its performances and recordings, its ground-breaking teaching and outreach programs, and nurturing of Canadian creativity. Since its inception, the Orchestra has commissioned over 80 works, mostly from Canadian composers.
Alexander Shelley

Donna Feore

Christopher Deacon

Zosha Di Castri, Dear Life
Jocelyn Morlock, My Name is Amanda Todd
Nicole Lizée, Bondarsphere 
John Estacio, I Lost My Talk


Peter McBoyle

Kimberly Purtell

Ann Baggley

Susan Monis

Erin Wall, Soprano
Martha Henry, Narrator
Monique Mojica, Actor
National Arts Centre Orchestra

Merilyn Simonds

Larry Towell

Barbara Willis Sweete

Santee Smith

Santee Smith and dancers in I Lost My Talk filmed by Willis Sweete Productions

More Information

Note from Peter Herrndorf, President and Chief Executive Officer, National Arts Centre
“Four Canadian women. Four different life experiences. But what they had in common was a struggle and determination to find their voices, despite extremely difficult circumstances. These women are the inspiration behind Life Reflected, a new work commissioned by Alexander Shelley, Music Director of the NAC Orchestra.
Led by Donna Feore, Creative Producer & Director, the multi-disciplinary creation blends music with literature, dance, photography and film. And each of these remarkable women is captured by a different composer — Zosha Di Castri, John Estacio, Nicole Lizée and Jocelyn Morlock.
Bondarsphere was inspired by Roberta Bondar whose perseverance, in a profession dominated by men, led her to become Canada’s first woman – and the world’s first neurologist — in space.
In Alice Munro’s Dear Life — her most autobiographical work to date — she recounts a childhood marked by stark events that she only partly understood at the time. Against the odds, she believed herself a lucky person, she says. Munro would go on to enjoy a stellar international career that included winning the Nobel Prize.
In I Lost My Talk, the acclaimed Mi’kmaw poet Rita Joe describes losing her language in residential school, yet the poem ends with a hand offered in the hope of reconciliation: “Let me find my talk/ So I can teach you about me.”
Fifteen-year-old Amanda Todd was also coming of age in a hostile environment. After being bullied cruelly and relentlessly, she told her story in an online video that helped create more awareness worldwide about the dangers of bullying. May 19, 2016 marked the world premiere of Life Reflected.”

Peter Herrndorf
President and Chief Exeutive Officer, National Arts Centre
Note from Donna Feore, Creative Producer and Director

Life Reflected explores the lives of four exceptional Canadian women. Alice Munro, Roberta Bondar, Amanda Todd and Rita Joe, each in their own unique way, encourage us to see, and to see with fresh eyes.

My challenge was to find a way of telling their stories in an orchestral setting that embraced their vision. Believing that many heads are better than one, I assembled an exceptional group of collaborators who drew their inspiration from these extraordinary women. And though each element is capable of standing alone, we built on the impact of the foundational orchestral work of four magical composers led by the incomparable Alexander Shelley, in the hope that we might arrive somewhere new.

The brilliant visual design team at Normal became the heartbeat of our effort. They made it possible to integrate the work of our wonderful collaborators; musicians, photographers, filmmakers, actors, dancers and singers into a seamless whole.

Dr. Bondar has seen us from afar. Alice Munro has seen us from within. Amanda Todd shared her heart and Rita Joe shared her soul. I hope the experience of Life Reflected will thrill and move you as much as it has enlightened and inspired me.”

Donna Feore
Note from Alexander Shelley, Music Director, NAC Orchestra
Life Reflected tells powerful stories through the eyes, ears and words of some of Canada’s finest creative artists. It is an immersive, multidisciplinary work without an interval, an unbroken, focused, intense, dramatic and soothing experience from beginning to end.
During the creation of this unique symphonic experience, it has been an honour to bring together four visionary Canadian composers in collaboration with an ensemble of extraordinary Canadian performers and multi-media artists, all under the inspiring leadership of Creative Producer & Director Donna Feore.
Canadian arts and culture continue to captivate audiences worldwide thanks to compelling stories such as those of these four remarkable women, each of whom found voice through sacrifice and challenge. They have been an inspiration to me. And while some of the subject matter is born from painful memories, it is my belief that Life Reflected will prove a redeeming and hopeful experience for us all.”
Alexander Shelley
Music Director, NAC Orchestra