On the heels of Ottawa Bluesfest, a different kind of music will be showcased at LeBreton Flats starting Thursday.

The third annual Orchestras in the Park — a four-concert outdoor festival — will allow orchestra buffs, families and newbies alike the opportunity to check out the National Arts Centre Orchestra at an unbeatable price — free.

The festival features three NAC Orchestra concerts and one by the Orchestre de la francophonie canadienne starting at 7:30 p.m. through Sunday.


Concerts, which run 90 minutes, feature the NAC Orchestra performing Classics and Kuertis, featuring renowned Ottawa favourite Anton Kuerti at the piano and his son Julian Kuerti, an assistant conductor of the Boston Symphony, leading the orchestra in Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1 Thursday.

On Friday, Opera Under the Stars features Canadian singers soprano Erin Wall, tenor Antonio Figueroa, and baritone James Westman in favourite arias from Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni and The Magic Flute, Gounod's Roméo et Juliette and Faust and Verdi’s La Traviata, joined by the Opera Lyra Ottawa Chorus.

On Saturday, Cape Breton fiddler Natalie MacMaster joins the NAC orchestra and on Sunday, Orchestre de la francophonie canadienne performs Beethoven’s Fifths.

“The concerts have been really successful,” said National Arts Centre Orchestra spokeswoman Jane Morris. “We had 22,000 people last year and we’re hoping to break that this year. I think this is our strongest lineup ever.”

The event not only gets the NAC Orchestra out into the community, it introduces music lovers to a new genre of music in a relaxed setting.

“Families can bring a picnic and a blanket and chairs and listen to music,” said Morris. “We have a lot of regulars and people who have never heard the National Arts Centre Orchestra before.”

LeBreton Flats is a “fantastic venue,” Morris said. “You can see Parliament Hill and it’s very close to the river.”

Other features include a free kids zone and free valet bike parking.