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NAC pulling out all the stops for Canada’s 150th birthday bash

Canadian singer Buffy Saint-Marie will perform as part of the Canada Scene festival in 2017.

Chris Young/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The last time Canada threw a birthday bash on par with the upcoming sesquicentennial shindig was, of course, the centennial celebration of 1967. The Centennial Flame at Parliament Hill was set ablaze, Montreal's Expo 67 was a fair which invited the world, the song Canada by the Young Canada Singers was a (pre-CanCon) hit, and among the hundreds of historic monuments, museums, libraries and cultural centres built was a UFO landing pad in St. Paul, Alta.

They were proud and strange times.

Ottawa's National Arts Centre was also a centennial project. However, because of construction delays, it would not open to the public until 1969.

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For the 150th birthday, the NAC absolutely will not be late to the party.

On Wednesday, it announced a number of projects intended to mark the milestone in 2017. Orchestra and theatre tours will be launched, a massive arts festival will be held and a Canada Day weekend extravaganza will feature the 25th anniversary of the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards Gala and a grand reopening of the NAC's newly-renovated building.

"In 2017, the NAC will perform for Canadians in their communities and then bring back their stories and artists to our national stage here in the nation's capital," said Peter Herrndorf, president and chief executive officer of the National Arts Centre, said in a released statement.

Details revealed on the NAC festivities included a preview of the Canada Scene festival, which will feature more than 1,000 artists over six weeks, from June 15 to July 30.

Canada Scene (a culmination of the NAC's nationwide biennial showcase of dance, music, theatre, culinary and visuals arts which began in 2003 with Atlantic Scene) will present a new production of Harry Somers' opera Louis Riel, in partnership with the Canadian Opera Company.

There will also be concerts by the veteran singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie and, with the NAC Orchestra, the flamboyant Rufus Wainwright. Montreal's circus troupe Les 7 doigts de la main (The 7 Fingers) will bring its acrobatic homage to food, Cuisine & Confessions, to the NAC.

The full festival program will be unveiled in the spring of 2017.

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About the Author

Brad Wheeler is an arts reporter with The Globe and Mail. More

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