London-based conductor Alexander Shelley is making a home in Collier County to take over as artistic and music director for Artis–Naples.
“No matter how many times I go on a stage, this thing is kind of amazing,” Shelley said. “It’s like… whether you experience it on a daily basis or not, it’s like going into a great church or great cathedral.”
Shelley has performed a few times on the grand stage at Hayes Hall. Now, it will be his new professional home. Shelley will have the opportunity to communicate with people in his first and favorite language, one universally understood.
“I think notes were in many ways sort of my first language, the thing I realized that people communicate through—through notes, through the sound of music,” Shelley said.
Shelley will conduct the Naples Philharmonic and help set up artistic leadership for the entire multidisciplinary organization.
Artis–Naples Executive Director Kathleen van Bergen knows he has big shoes to fill.
“The previous music director was Andrey Boreyko, who led for eight-plus years of exciting growth and commitment to the orchestra,” van Bergen said.
Shelley’s role expands on his predecessor’s. In Southwest Florida’s relatively young arts world, his background will, he hopes, move the arts to Naples’ center stage.
“All of those fundamental human experiences, you know, hope and love and fear and aspiration, all those things can be expressed so beautifully with the arts,” Shelley said. “Even if it’s just rhythm, even if it’s just some drums banging, we can always connect into something that is quite primal there.”
He hopes to find connections that bring patrons closer to each other and themselves through what they see, hear and experience through every facet of Artis–Naples.
“It’s a very beautiful human experience, because you have all these people who are so brilliant working together to express something that’s bigger than the collective,” Shelley said.