The NAC Orchestra Audio Archives

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the National Arts Centre Orchestra (NACO), a representative selection the Orchestra’s musical history is now accessible in a way that it has never been before. Historic recordings of NACO performances over the past forty years, originally made by CBC Radio for broadcast, can now once again be listened to, enjoyed, and studied online thanks to a special partnership with CBC Radio 2 to support this NACOmusicbox project.

As a performing arts archivist, I see this as a very significant achievement.

While an original performance, its atmosphere, mood and context, can never be fully captured for posterity, these historic audio recordings – catalogued and digitized for this special project – are of immense documentary and artistic value. They tell the National Arts Centre Orchestra’s musical history better than any other archival record could.

We have also attempted to give you a fuller sense of the National Arts Centre Orchestra’s history, by drawing on some of the other archival collections relating to the Orchestra that we hold in our Archive.

The National Arts Centre Archive exists to document the artistic activities of one of Canada’s most prominent cultural institutions. Chief among these artistic activities is the work of the National Arts Centre Orchestra, our oldest and most successful resident artistic company.

Over the years, we have faithfully preserved not just audio recordings, but also photographs, posters, media reviews, brochures, administrative records, artifacts and memorabilia relating to NACO. They tell the story of the founding of the National Arts Centre Orchestra, its 40 years of music-making, and its extraordinary achievements.

All of these precious materials are stored in our Archive. A selection of these valuable archival records has been made for inclusion in this project. They are displayed here as a companion exhibition, to chart the historical timeline of the founding and musical journey of NACO, and provide historical context to the wonderful music you will hear. We also hope these materials focus a spotlight on the names and faces of some of the talented artists, founders and supporters of the National Arts Centre Orchestra, to whom we owe much gratitude.

Happy listening!

Gerry Grace
NAC Archivist