Some lucky young musicians had the rare opportunity to work with an internationally renowned conductor in Moncton recently when Maestro Alexander Shelley paid them visit.

Shelley is the new music director of the National Arts Centre Orchestra and chief conductor of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra.

He was invited to work with children in the Sistema NB Children's Orchestra and both the Moncton and the New Brunswick youth orchestras.


Antonio Delgado, music director and conductor of the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra with Maestro Alexander Shelley, music director of the National Arts Centre Orchestra. (Ken MacLeod)

Speaking to Information Morning Moncton, Shelley said he had been "hearing a lot about what's happening here in New Brunswick" and wanted to experience it first-hand. 

'It was a real blast!' - Joel Phi, 11, N.B. Youth Orchestra

'It's an extraordinary privilege for me to be here," he said.

Shelley was invited by Sistema NB, a program of the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra. Sistema, begun in the barrios of Venezuela, promotes social change through music, with the goal of improving the lives of children and families through music.

More than 700 children are involved in this music program around the province, according to Sistema NB.

Antonio Delgado, musical director and conductor of the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra and Sistema, who is originally from Venezuela, said he was excited to host Shelley.

"[He is] super good with kids, which is not a given. It's a special and unique quality," said Delgado. 


From right to left, Antonia Delgado, Alexander Shelley, Avery Shelley and Joel Phi speaking with the CBC's Jonna Brewer. (Ken MacLeod)

Joel Phi, 11, plays the violin and is the leader of the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra. His description of working with the Maestro?

"It was a real blast," said Phi.

"He has a very nice vocabulary and he uses it and his [facial] expressions to show the orchestra how to do a certain piece ... every conductor seems to have a certain, like, personality for what they want and I find his very nice," said Phi.

Avery Kennedy,14, plays flute with the NBYO and she said working with Shelley was "an amazing experience."

"You can see that he's really very passionate about what he does ... I definitely saw the orchestra improve an amazing amount in just the small amount of time ... that we got to work with him," said Kennedy.

Shelley said he plans to return to Moncton to work with the youth orchestras again.

"It's a model for how you can achieve extraordinary change through music."