Archive pour July, 2013

The Orchestre de la Francophonie tonight in Ottawa

29 July 2013

You are in the Ottawa tonight and are looking for something substantial yet free? I have the thing for you, as the Orchestre de la Francophonie, under its founder Jean-Philippe Tremblay performs an eclectic program at 7 p.m. at the National Arts Centre (Southam Hall). Featured soloists include soprano Pascale Beaudin and trumpet player Aaron Hodgson, in a program featuring the premiere of Frédéric Chiasson’s Urbania (a commission from the OF), Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto No. 1 and Mozart’s Symphony No. 41, “Jupiter.”

The OF also has concerts on August 3  in Dunham (dinner-concert for the MIMC Foundation), at the SAT on August 7 and 9 (concerts “éclatés”), at Centre-Pierre Péladeau in Montreal on August 12, 13 and 14 (three different programs, the latter with pianist Serhiy Salov as soloist in Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto) and on August16 in Domaine Forget in beautiful Saint-Irénée.

Details of the various programs can be found here…


Tristan und Isolde

25 July 2013

Wagner’ s Tristan und Isolde (premiered in Munich in 1865) is one of the most revolutionary musical scores ever created. To convince oneself, one needs only to think about its highly advanced chromatic harmony, its almost exclusive portrayal of psychological states rather than external events, and the sheer intensity of the emotions depicted in the music. The love Tristan and Isolde feel for each other is so painfully intense, so all-consuming, boundless and unbearable, that release can be found only in death. The Prelude and Liebestod (Love-death) constitute the opening and closing pages of the opera. As it happens, they also embrace the psychological synthesis of the four-hour work, and Wagner himself sanctioned their linkage for use as a concert number.

In a program note for the Prelude, Wagner explained its meaning as follows: “In one long succession of linked phrases, [the composer has] let that insatiable longing swell forth from the first, timid avowal to … the most powerful effort to find the breach that will open out the path into the sea of love’s endless delight.” The fulfillment of this agonizing, aching love is achieved in the Liebestod. Isolde, lost to reality, imagines a glow emanating from the lifeless body of her beloved Tristan, whom she holds in her arms while singing her great paean of love.

You can listen to those pages on the Betrayals album, with the Orchestre de la Francophonie under Jean-Philippe Tremblay’s direction.

Are we ready for an Islamic interpretation of Wagner

22 July 2013

In 2013, we celebrate two opera giants, Verdi and Wagner. If the first generally brings smiles to the faces of music lovers, the latter still seem to be at the center of many debates. Tonight Daniel Barenboim and the Staatskapelle Berlin open their Ring cycle at the BBC Proms. That gave way to headlines in the medias such as “Jewish conductor Daniel Barenboim defends performance of anti-Semitic Wagner’s Ring cycle“. This is not the first time (nor the last) Barenboim has been at the centre of such attention. For some mysterious reason, Wagner still can trigger such extreme reactions. Old news maybe? Yes, perhaps, but how about taking an Islamic perspective on Wagner?

On An Overgrown Path refers to Ian Dallas aka Abdalquadir as-Sufi’s book The New Wagnerian, published in 1990, which presents an erudite analysis of Wagner’s operas and the links he makes in the concluding chapters with some Islamic issues.

This makes for a fascinating – and certainly off the beaten path – read here…





How audiences behave

18 July 2013

Everyone seems to have a set of explanations to justify what is called the “greying” of the audience or poor attendance in concert halls. Maybe they’ve been looking at it the wrong way, as many new music groups performing in previously “odd” settings draw audiences in. Maybe it is also a question of not so efficient programming. Christopher Stager gave an address at the 17th International Conference of International Artists’ Managers Association that was most fascinating and revisit many concepts we have accepted as truths in the last few years.

He makes eight very valid points.

1. Audiences are drawn more to repertoire than to artists.

2. Make no mistake: audiences are shrewd, selective consumers. 

3. Audiences buy what they know.

4. It’s not just “what” we play – but also “when” we play it. 

5. It’s not just “what” we play – but also “where” we play it.

6. Participation in school music programs is a predictor of attendance.

7. Classical audiences are not graying.

8. Classical music – at least as it relates to audiences – is in transition, not decline.

You can read this very interesting piece here…

Valérie Milot records with the Violons du Roy

15 July 2013

The album will only be released at the end of October, but we are bringing you behind the scenes… Harpist Valérie Milot and the Violons du Roy, under Bernard Labadie’s direction, were “in the studio” to record an album that features Boieldieu (Concerto in C minor), Handel (Concerto in B-flat major) and Mozart (Concerto for flute and harp). Musical magic certainly seemed to be in the air…

Photos: Davaï



Your brain on music

11 July 2013

Good news for festival fans: Lanaudière and Orford festivals will be starting this weekend. If you don’t want to go too far, you may also want to catch Stéphane Tétreault and Orchestre Nouvelle Génération in Lachine on Saturday night, in a Haydn, Schubert and Vivaldi program, in which Tétreault plays and conducts. Details here…

The road is long and you’re not driving? You may want to bring with you a book or two on music, more precisely how your brains behave when hearing music. Three choises.

This is your brain on music

Scientist Daniel Levitin tries to solve the question of why music makes us feel so good. What is so special or even mysterious about it? He talks about technical concepts such as scale, tone and timbre, but also gets into neurobiology, philosophy, cognitive psychology, memory theory, behavioral science, Gestalt psychology and more.

Music, language and the brain

In this fascinating book, Aniruddh Patel (a musician and a neuroscientist) talks about the neuropsychological relationships between language and music, and goes as far back in his explanation as Ancien Greece, challenging the assumption many of us may have that music and language are two independent concepts that evolved independently. For him, music remains “sound organized in time, intended for, or perceived as, aesthetic experience.”

Music, the brain and ecstasy

Everytime we play, compose or listen to music, the brain plays an intense game to decipher and organise harmonies and patterns, transforming those in emotional elements that will bring intense pleasure to the listener. In this book, composer Robert Jourdain really digs into the emotional power of music and even pins down the origin of pleasure while listening to music as a consequence of a series of deviations that create a conflict in the brain, the return to the tonal center giving it a sensation of bliss. That doesn’t quite explain the appeal of some atonal works, but makes a very interesting read.




8 July 2013

He was born almot 134 years ago, on July 9, 1879, in Bologna. One may smile when reading his first name (Ottorino), but mainly remembers what a master of colour he is, his wonderful gifts as orchestrator and how he can transmit in music powerful imagery. The composer knows how to create a unique atmosphere that makes the ensembles, whether large or small, shine. Interestingly, while some of this fellow composers insisted on the necessity to shatter the music of their predecessors, Respighi was exactly on the opposite page. He even signed in 1932 with a few composers a manifesto against modernism in music.

“We are against art that doesn’t have or can’t have human substance and is only a mecanical demonstration of a cerebral puzzle. A logical chain ties past and futur: the Romantism of yesterday will become once more the Romanticism of tomorrow.

You can listen to Angèle Dubeau & La Pietà in his First suite of Anciant Airs and Dances, a free reading of four pieces by Italian composers: Ballo detto Il Conde Orlando by Simone Mollinaro (c1565-1615), Gagliarda by Vincenzo Galilei (end of 1520s-1591) and Villanella and Passo mezzo e mascherada (unknown authors).

Road Movies

4 July 2013

Today, 4th of July, Independance Day for our American neighbours, why not listen to a bit of John Adams, certainl one of the composers most in view today. Why not hit the road and feel the wind blowing through our hair with Angèle Dubeau and Louise Bessette?

“Movement I is a relaxed drive down a not unfamiliar road,” explains Adams. “Material is recirculated in a sequence of recalls that suggest a rondo form. In Movement II, the violinist must tune the G string down a major second. Adams describes it as “a simple meditation of several small motives. A solitary figure in an empty desert landscape.” Adams cautions that “Movement III is for four wheel drives only, a big perpetual motion machine called ‘40% Swing.’ […] Relax, and leave the driving to us.”

You can hear it all on John Adams – Portrait, here…


Ensemble Caprice gets rave review in New Yorker

2 July 2013

We all know and love Ensemble Caprice’s unusual projects, but sometimes we may take it for granted. It’s always a pleasure to see his excellence saluted by international press, at it is the case in a recent issue of the prestigious New Yorker magazine. Alex Ross states:

“As you listen, you imagine a time machine that has somehow transported Shostakovich’s Bachian pieces to the messy desk of Bach himself, who, puzzled but intrigued, tries them out with his orchestra in Cöthen. He likes what he hears.”