Archive pour March, 2014

Do you really know Bach?

28 March 2014

The father of all composers will celebrate his 329th anniversary on Monday (on the same day Haydn his 282nd) and seems as fresh as a rose. Of course, as a devoted music lover, you know everything about Bach, right? Are you really really sure? Take this quizz sure to puzzle even the experts, with references to pop music and culture as curveballs here and there. I am certainly not bragging about my own score because, oh well, there was nothing at all to brag about. Nevertheless, I learned quite a few new interesting facts about Bach and had fun doing it!

Take The Big Bach Puzzler here…

A three-year agreement between Opéra de Montréal and CSDM

25 March 2014

Nothing makes us happier than successful outreach projects from musical organisations, especially when kids are involved. Short before the premiere of Hansel and Gretel on Saturday night at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier,  the resident of the Commission scolaire de Montréal (CSDM), Ms. Catherine Harel-Bourdon, announced the signature of a  three-year agreement (starting with this season), under which the CSDM will contribute $30,000 per year to the Opéra de Montréal’s educational projects. “This agreement reflects our joint commitment to providing greater
access to opera and to culture for the greatest possible number of our students, and I am delighted about it,” stated Ms. Harel-Bourdon.

The Opéra de Montréal’s educational projects include this season: three dress rehearsals open free of charge to 6,000 high school students; a school matinee for 1,300 elementary school
students; interactive workshops in schools, with singers and a group leader; the coOpera project, which, over the course of the school year, guides some 100 elementary school students from underprivileged backgrounds through each step in the creation and production of a show inspired by an opera presented at the Opéra de Montréal; and a coOpera kit, which will give schools throughout Quebec the means to experience the coOpera project over a shorter period of time. We were treated with a chorus of adorable angels, featuring kids of the coOpéra program, at the end of the production on Saturday. At intermission, we also took the time to take a look at some very interesting drawings, inspired the fairy tale, hung all over the foyers.


Music at the FIFA

20 March 2014

The 32nd edition of the International Festival of Films on art starts today and the offer for music lovers is especially appealing. Here are some of the films that caught our attention.

A Film About Kids and Music: Sant Andreu Jazz Band: a feature on a a special youth orchestras, with kids from 6 to 18, led by Joan Chamorro.  

Benjamin Britten – Peace and Conflict explores pacifism in the work of the British composer.

Colin Davis: The Man and His Music shows the conductor in his last appeareances, with talks with loved ones and musicians of the London Symphony Orchestra.

Maurizio Pollini, de main de maître by Bruno Monsaingeon, the Italian pianist talks about his musical experiences, his repertoire et his political views.

Cosi Fan Tutte follows Michael Haneke while he directs the Mozart opera at Teatro Real de Madrid par le réalisateur autrichien Michael Haneke.

Dmitri Hvorostovsky: The Music and I is a mix of interviews with the singer’s partners and performances of operas by Tchaikovsky, Bizet, Rachmaninov and Verdi.

The Perfect American is about Philip Glass’ latest opera, premiered in Teatro Real de Madrid, about Walt Disney, a not-so-nice portrait, the libretto being taken from Peter Stephan Jungk’s novel. 

Schedules and details of the programmation are here…


The OSM plays Mahler in Vienna

18 March 2014

There is no doubt about it: playing Mahler in Vienna at the Konzerhaus can bring chills to any professional musician’s spine! This is what the OSM had the privilege to do last night, as it performed Mahler’s Seventh Symphony under Kent Nagano’s direction. The concert was recorded by Medici. tv and can be viewed here for free if you missed it yesterday.

André Moisan and Paul Merkelo, two musicians of the orchstra, decided to get themselves ready for the concert in a slightly different manner than usual and they took the opportunity to visit the composer’s summer home, where the Fottinger family now lives. It is just a few hundreds meters from there, on the other side of the lake actually, that Mahler is said to have heard in his head the famous horn solo featured in the Third Symphony. Paul Merkelo, the OSM Principal Trumpet, couldn’t resist the place and played a few instants for some very lucky visitors.

Classical music as part of TV drama

14 March 2014

Music seems to become more and more part of TV offerings. Now in its last season, Glee certainly did a lot to make choir singing appealing to the young crowd and Smash did the same with musicals. But how about classical music? Can classical musicians become interesting characters?

Amazon has put eight TV pilots online and wiewer feedback will make the difference here. Interestingly enough, one of them is called Mozart in the Jungle, created by Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman and Alex Timbers and starring the very sexy Gael Garcia Bernal (as a conductor who many will find a not-so-distant “cousin” of Gustavo Dudamel), Malcolm McDowell, Bernadette Peters and Lola Kirke. It is based on a memoir of the same name that was subtitled “Sex, Drugs And Classical Music,” published in 2005 by New York Philharmonic oboist Blair Tindall.  

Yes, some things are a bit exaggerated… but nevertheless, it this show gets picked up by an American TV conglomerate, I will make sure to watch – at least a few episodes.

On the big screen, you may be interested in the just released in the US Grand Piano, starring Elijah Wood and John Cusack. In this, a virtuoso pianist, played by Wood, makes a come back after one disastrous performance five years earlier. He already has nightmares about his performance, but this takes on a whole new meaning when a message that reads “Play one wrong note and you die” on his music stand makes it all the more challenging. This will do nothing to ease stage fright with students – and professionals -, that’s for sure.

The OSM on European tour

10 March 2014

From March 11 to 25, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, under Kent Nagano’s direction, is on an 11-concerts tour in 9 cities in Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Spain. The tour will kick off in Switzerland with a concert in Zurich (Tonhalle) tomorrow night, then in Bern (Kulturcasino) on March 12 and in Geneva (Victoria Hall) on March 13. The OSM will then visit Austria, with two concerts at the Konzerthaus in Vienna, on March 16 and 17 (this one, featuring Mahler’s Seventh Symphony, will be broadcast live by, before traveling to Spain for two concerts in Madrid, on March 19 and 20 (Auditorio Nacional de Música). The tour will conclude in Germany with a concert in Cologne (Köln Philharmonie) on March 23 followed by a performance in Essen (Essen Philharmonie) on March 24 and a final concert in Munich (Philharmonie im Gasteig) on March 25. This is the OSM’s 11th European tour in its history.

Just before it left on tour, the OSM took time to launch its latest album Beethoven, featuring the First and Seventh Symphonies, recorded live. You can listen to and download the album here…

Don’t miss a beat and follow the OSM on its tour blog here…


Handel and Porpora: The London Years

6 March 2014

This is one great story of rivalry, between two opera houses in London, the Royal Academy of Music de Handel and the Opera of the Nobility, essentially political, “just as big as the quarrel between the Greens and the Blues in Justinian’s Constantinople,” explained the political writer Lord Hervey. This rivalry would most importantly give the opportunity to two important composers of that day, Georg Friedrich Handel and Nicolo Porpora,  to truly shine and showcase their immense talent.

The structure of the operas was then quite simple and you could focus your attention on the music. You would go from a given situation (exposition) to which ideally critical elements would be added (incidents) to its resolution (by catastrophy or denouement). This construction lent itself quite naturally to a three-acts treatment – except when one was adapting a French text, traditionnally in five acts. The three segments were not of equal lenght, the exposition being longer than the other two. The lieto fine, the famous happy ending, was as well essential; the audience had to come out of the theatre with a feeling entirely devoid of ambuity. Even if sordid crimes were evoked, they were never shown on stage. In any case, everyone knew that the bad would be punished and that all’s well that ends well. One had then to believe that human nature was optimistic and rational. 

To better understand the specificities of Handel and Porpora, nothing beats a careful listening of the just released album featuring Julie Boulianne, Luc Beauséjour and the Ensemble instrumental Clavecin en concert. You can listen (and download) it here in full.

Here is as well an excerpt from Handel’s opera Alcina.

The OSM unveils its 81st season

4 March 2014

It was yesterday that, in the Allegro Foyer of the Maison symphonique de Montréal that the OSM Music Director Kent Nagano unveiled the 81st season of the orchestra. It features several extravaganzas, including the concert version of the rarely performed L’Aiglon (with music by Honegger and Ibert), to be recorded, and that of the first act of Wagner’s Die Walküre to close off the season, the presence of Philip Glass, the return of Zubin Mehta (one of the previous OSM music directors) in Mahler’s Third (benefit concert) and the presence of two artists in residence: Maxim Vengerov and Lang Lang.

The 2014-2015 OSM season also features concerts by Angèle Dubeau & La Pietà (around the music of the album Blanc), the National Centre for the Performing Arts Orchestra (from China), the Toronto Symphony and the Ottawa National Arts Centre Orchestra.

The gigantic list of soloists include some Analekta artists: baritone Philippe Sly (in two programs), soprano Marianne Fiset, pianists Alain Lefèvre (Ravel’s Concerto) and André Laplante (Grieg’s Concerto), harsichordist and organist Luc Beauséjour as well as Andrew Wan, concertmeister of the OSM (Saint-Saëns’ three Violin Concertos, as part of a recording project).

You can view the brochure online here…

On peut consulter la brochure en ligne ici…