Archive pour June, 2013

A busy summer for our orchestras

27 June 2013

Summer is here but orchestras are still fairly busy.  

I Musici de Montreal will give at least three festival performances this summer, in programs that reveal the chamber orchestra’s range and power.  They’ll be at Domaine Forget, Lanaudiere, and Montreal’s Festival International de Jazz, and featured artists include Karina Gauvin, DJ Champion, and a massed choir!  More here…

The Orchestre symphonique de Montreal (led by outgoing resident conductor, Nathan Brock, and featuring host Charles Lafortune) performs a three concert series in Montreal parks, starting July 31.  Details here… 

Following an intensive, 10-day preparation session at the Conservatoire de Musique in Montreal, the Orchestre de la Francophonie (led by founder Jean-Philippe Tremblay) undertakes a 12-concert tour to venues ranging from Southam Hall at the National Arts Centre (on July 29) to the Société des arts technologiques.  This summer’s commissioned works include new orchestral pieces by Frédéric Chiasson and Olivier Larue, and the orchestra will also perform with Montreal’s Sistema-like Garage à Musique. To learn more…

July 18 and August 1, the Orchestre symphonique de Quebec (led by guest conductor Gilles Bellemare) will give a pair of performances devoted to the music of Jacques Brel.  As well, the orchestra will perform varied repertoire at key Quebec music festivals, including the unique Festival d’opéra de Québec.  For more information…


Musician jokes

25 June 2013

It’s summer, it’s hot, festivals’ season is starting, but just before we all embark on that wonderful journey, why not laugh a little at a few memorable musicians jokes.

Q – What is the difference between a rock guitarist and a jazz guitarist?
A – Rock guitarists play three chords for a crowd of thousands while the jazz guitarist plays a thousand chords for a crowd of three…

Q. How many conductors does it take to change a lightbulb?
A. Nobody knows because nobody was watching.

Q – Why are upright basses like elderly parents?
A – Both are unforgiving and hard to get into and out of cars.

Q – Which is larger, a violin or a viola?
A – Actually they are the same size, but the violin looks smaller because the violinist’s head is so much bigger.

Vibrato: Used by fretless players to hide the fact that they are on the wrong pitch.

St. Peter’s still checks ID’s. He asks a man, “What did you do on Earth?”
The man says, “I was a doctor.”
St. Peter says, “Ok, go right through those pearly gates. Next! What did you do on Earth?”
The next person says, “I was a school teacher.”
“Go right through those pearly gates. Next! And what did you do on Earth?”
The rumpled, bleary-eyed man says, “I was a bass player.”
“Go around the side, up the freight elevator, through the kitchen…”

Just before a performance of the Beethoven choral symphony, the double basses decided to play a practical joke on the conductor. They used some yarn to tie knots in the score when they have their big solo early in the 4th movement. To make matters worse, they passed around a flask of brandy during the first three movements to the point of extreme intoxication.
So there they were. It was the bottom of the 9th, the score was tied, and the basses were loaded.

A sad moment for Greek musicians

20 June 2013

Last week, the Greek government had to close the country’s public broadcasting network, ERT. Nearly all of the 2,700 employees were fired, among which the members of the Greek National Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. This gesture was made to try to meet some of the pressing demands of Greece’s international creditors. Along with the 75-year-old radio orchestra, the national contemporary music ensemble, dating to 1954, was also closed.

Last Friday, the orchestra released a video of the musicians’ final perfomance, playing in a very hot rehearsal room (the air conditionning had already been turned off), Elgar’s “Nimrod” from the Enigma Variations. This was broadcast as well to hundreds of saddened music lovers who watched it on a giant screen. In this case, music wasn’t enough to soothe everyone’s pain.

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Festival Montréal baroque

17 June 2013

For the adventures to New Worlds, to be experienced from June 21 to 24 in Old-Montreal, Susie Napper, the Festival’s founder & artistic director had an image in mind: the tomato! She states:
“The tomato, more than gold, was the discovery that transformed the everyday life of a continent! The blood and gore that characterized the conquest of the Americas is evoked by the gorgeous red fruit of the deadly nightshade family that sweetened the diet of every European household! New fruits, new ideas, new music, new groups and new technologies will make for a zesty Festival 2013, the start of a second decade for Montreal Baroque!”

Constantinople will take part in this 11th edition with Spanish partners. They will present a kaleidoscope of musical influences from Eastern and Western hemispheres. The Festival has also invited for its Montreal debut the Mexican ensemble La Fontegara, in a program of music by Mexican star composer Manuel de Zumaya (1678-1755).  New artists will be given carte blanche as well to experiment with old music in a new world. Aleks Schürmer will meld baroque and pop music to create a new idiom and in Pop d’époque, cantatas by Clérambault and Courbois will be sampled to create a backdrop for a performance by baroque musicians and pop singers. Welcome a new world!

The opening concert, on June 21, 7 p.m., at the new St. James Theatre, is not to be missed. Ensemble Caprice joins singers from Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal for the Montreal première of a concert version of Vivaldi’s opera Motezuma. Imcomplete but reconsctructed by Matthias Maute of Ensemble Caprice, this work is the only Vivaldi opera set in America. It tells the story of the defeat of the last Mexican emperor (Motezuma) to Spain. It includes disguises, jail sentences, fires, sacrifices and many other twists and turns… Seven singers and actor Brett Watson will be accompanied by the 20 musiciens  of Ensemble Caprice under Matthias Maute. He also is the stage director and the initiator of multimedia effects.

You can view the complete Festival’s program here…



Farewell to Mario Bernardi

12 June 2013

Musical Canada was saddened last week by the news of the death of Mario Bernardi at age 82.  He was founding music director of the National Arts Centre Orchestra (he was with the orchestra from 1968 to 1982), long-time music director of both the CBC Radio Orchestra and CalMario Bernardigary Philharmonic Orchestra, and valued guest conductor with orchestras and opera companies around the world.  He was made companion of the Order of Canada and presented with the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2001. Bernardi died in his retirement residence in Toronto. He is survived by his wife, mezzo-soprano Mona Kelly, family, friends and colleagues.

In his honour, the National Arts Centre lowered its flag to half-mast, and will be unveiling a bust of the Maestro by sculptor Ruth Abernethy on July 1, to be mounted at the entrance to Southam Hall, where he led hundreds of concerts during his tenure with the National Arts Centre Orchestra.  In addition, the NAC will create a fund in Maestro Bernardi’s name to commission new Canadian compositions for the orchestra. 

To view CBC News’ homage page…


The Prix d’Europe to flutiste Ariane Brisson

10 June 2013

The laureates of the Prix d’Europe were announced on Saturday night, after a gala concert featuring the four top contenders and pianist Jean Saulnier, at salle Bourgie. Ariane Brisson, a 22 year-old flutist, is the grand prize winner and took home a bursary of $ 25 000, to be used in the pursuit of her studies with Mathieu Dufour, Principal Flute of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Violinist Simon Riverin was awarded the John-Newmark Prize ($ 4 000). Four special prizes (each $ 2 500) were as well awarded to François-Olivier Jean (tenor), Steven Massicotte (piano), Simon Riverin (violin) and Ariane Brisson (flute). Beavan Flanagan wins the Fernand-Lindsay Composition Prize ($ 10 000).

The jury of this 102nd edition  included Frédéric Bednarz (violin), Jacinthe Couture (piano), Nicole Lorange (soprano), Jean-Louis Sajot (clarinet) and Gabriel Thibaudeau (composer). Nicolas Gilbert, Jean Lesage and John Rea were members of the jury for the composition prize.

Twenty-five candidates performed throughout the week at Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur. Congrats to all!

Marie-Nicole Lemieux and Walter Boudreau chevaliers

6 June 2013

Quebec’s premiere, Pauline Marois, will highlight the achievements of 33 great Québécois  this afternoon by granting them one of the three levels of the Ordre national du Québec. Two personnalities from the musical world will be knighted “Chevaliers de l’Ordre du Québec”: contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux and composer and conductor Walter Boudreau.

The press release states: “Marie-Nicole Lemieux is recognized for her unique contralto voice and her charismatic personnality. Since years, the opera singer shines brightly in Quebec and abroad. She can embody vocally very powerful roles and can at the same time demonstrate extreme softness. She is as well a renowned performer of French and Russian melodies, as well as German lied, a repertoire she likes especially, and performs in the most beautiful halls in the world. Many believe that she is one of the greatest contralto voices in the international lyrical world today.”

It talks as well about Walter Boudreau in those terms: “Versatile musician in sync with his time, Walter Boudreau has an international reputation second to none as an exceptional creator. (…) Caring deeply about the democratisation of music, he did not hesitate, in the last few years, to innovate while initiating participative or gathering events destined to a large audience.” As a matter of fact, he intends to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the SMCQ with a bang in 2016 with an enormous port symphony, which will require 3333 performers!

You can hear Marie-Nicole Lemieux in a box set featuring some highlights from her wonderful carreer, Meilleurs moments, here…

Premiered in January by Alain Lefèvre and the OSM, performed once more with the OSQ last week, Walter Boudreau’s Concerto de l’Asile will soon be recorded by Alain Lefèvre.  He plays here the Valse de l’asile, part of the material used in the concerto.

21st annual Congress on Acoustics in Montreal

3 June 2013

The Acoustical Society of America (ASA) and the Canadian Acoustical Association (CAA) are hosting the 21st International Congress on Acoustics in Montreal this week (until June 7), at the Palais des congrès de Montréal. Various topics related to the science of acoustics will be discussed, including “Studying the sea with sound” (by Stan E. Dosso and Jan Dettmer), “Basics and applications of psychoacoustics” (Hugo Fastl), “Objective evaluation of musical instrument quality: A grand challenge in musical acoustics” (D. Murray Campbell) and “Sensory evaluation of  concert hall acoustics” (Tapio Lokki). Various scholar papers will be presentend as well throughout the congress and participants will be able as well to visit the parallel exposition as well as the Maison symphonique de Montréal. Tonight, all will be at the I Musici concert, Love and tango, to be held at Église St-Jean-Baptiste.

To learn more about the congress…