Andrew Potter/ Alexander Shelley at the NAC

I’m writing this to explain to some friends why I’ll be at the National Arts Centre on Feb. 16, and why I hope they’ll come too. The event is simple enough: Andrew Potter will interview Alexander Shelley about music. It’ll cost you $10 for a ticket.

Let me unpack this. Here’s Andrew Potter.

He’s the editor of the Ottawa Citizen, for a few more weeks. But unlike most journalists he didn’t just wash up on the sidewalk looking confused. He’s an academic philosopher who’s published two books of popular philosophy and has just been named the new director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada. He will soon, in his new role, come into his own as one of Canada’s leading public intellectuals.

Here’s Alexander Shelley.

Handsome devil. He’s the new music director (both the main conductor and the lead long-term artistic planner) of the NAC Orchestra, and he’s barely begun shaking up classical music in this town. Soon everyone will know he’s a big deal. Local and visiting critics rave about his concerts. Audiences are already younger than before he came to town. But off the podium he’s an eloquent and thoughtful advocate for the role of music in contemporary society.

I’m pleased to count both of these gentleman as friends, and I know they’ll have an unusually rich and thoughtful conversation on why orchestras, and this orchestra in particular, matter.

The evening is designed to raise awareness of the Southam Club, a social club for young professionals who are interested in the performing arts. But mostly it’s a chance to meet, network, unwind, and hear two of the most thoughtful people in Ottawa talk about this institution in transformation, the NAC Orchestra. Drinks before and after. Schmoozing all night long. Both Alexander and Andrew will take questions from the floor before it’s all done.

Here are more details about the event, and a place to buy tickets.