Archive pour May, 2014

Two Canadians in the MIMC semi-finals

29 May 2014

Everybody on the who’s who list was at Maison symphonique last night for the inauguration of the Grand Orgue Pierre-Béique. Limos were dropping guests, many dresses were somptuous. If you missed the grand night, don’t despair. Though the extra concerts with the OSM and the organ (tonight, Sunday and on June 9) are all sold-out, you will be able to discover the new Casavant organ 3900 for free on Saturday, as several concerts will be presented. (You need to come in early though to secure a ticket.) Learn more about it here…

At the same time, a few blocks down, the names of the MIMC semi-finalists were announced. Out of the 12 lucky contestants, 2 are Canadian: Xiaoyu Liu (winner of the OSM Standard Life Competition) and Charles Richard-Hamelin (Prix d’Europe winner). Starting tomorrow, you will be able to follow all the recitals online. More details at

1st session
2 p.m. : Márton Takáts – Hungary
3 p.m. : Giuseppe Mentuccia – Italy
4:20 p.m: Jayson Gillham – Australia/UK  
2nd session
7:30 p.m.: Ismaël Margain – France
8:30 p.m. : Mehdi Ghazi – Algeria
9:30 : Viviana Pia Lasaracina – Italy
3rd session
2 p.m. : Annika Treutler – Germandy
3 p.m. : Xiaoyu Liu – Canada
4:20 p.m. : Alexander Ullman – UK
4th session
7:30 p.m. : Nadezhda Pisareva – Russia
8:30 p.m. : Kate Liu – USA
9:30 p.m. : Charles Richard-Hamelin – Canada

The MIMC starts this afternoon

26 May 2014

A draw was completed yesterday and here is the order of passage of the 24 candidates to perform today, tomorrow and Wednesday at Salle Bourgie.

1st  session
2:00 p.m.: Alexia Mouza – Greece / Venezuela
2:50 p.m.: Maddalena Giacopuzzi – Italy
4:10 p.m.: Scott MacIsaac – Canada 
5:00 p.m.: Márton Takáts – Hungary
2nd  session
7:30 p.m.: Giuseppe Mentuccia – Italy
8:20 p.m.: Jayson Gillham – Australia / UK
9:30 p.m.: Ismaël Margain – France
10:20 p.m.: Mehdi Ghazi – Algeria
3rd  session
2:00 p.m.: Denis Zhdanov – Ukraine
2:50 p.m.: Viviana Pia Lasaracina – Italy
4:10 p.m.: Chi Ho Han –  South Korea
5:00 p.m.: Annika Treutler – Germany
4th  session
7:30 p.m.: Nikita Abrosimov – Russia
8:20 p.m.: Xiaoyu Liu – Canada
9:30 p.m.: Beiyao Ji – China
10:20 p.m.: Vladislav Pautov – Russia
5th  session
2:00 p.m.: Chenna Lu – China
2:50 p.m.: Hayoung Jeong – South Korea
4:10 p.m.: Alexander Ullman – United Kingdom 
5:00 p.m.: Michelle Nam – Canada
6th  session
7:30 p.m.: Nadezhda Pisareva – Russia
8:20 p.m.: Kate Liu – United States
9:30 p.m.: Charles Richard-Hamelin – Canada
10:20 p.m.: Jaeyeon Won – South Korea

In the quarter final round, pianists must demonstrate their knowledge of the classical repertoire (by performing a Haydn sonata), but must also play a piece filled with trills and tremolos, Tremor: Homagae to Ligeti  byMarjan Mosevitch, born in Italy to Slovenian parents. He studied composition and piano performance at the University of Toronto, before furthering his studies as a composer in Italy and England, on several Canada Council Grants. The winner of the 2010 Juno Award for best classical composition and the Socan Jan V. Matejcek Concert Music Award, he is a co-founder of Arraymusic, for which he was co-artistic director from1976 to 78. This is what he has to say about the work.

“It is a piece of contrasts from the aggressive to the tender, from the dissonant to the harmonious, from the harsh to the melodious. It is in three continuous yet varied sections, each one rising to a dramatic climax only to release itself melodically downwards and begin again. Metaphorically it is like the myth of Sisyphus who is cursed to perpetually push a rock up a mountain only to have it roll back down, and then start all over again. 

In the context of this piano competition Tremors, with its particular difficulties of tremolos and trills, presents a challenge of strength and endurance to the candidate; but also the performer is challenged to bring musical sense to the piece. As for the title the trills and tremolos are like tremors.”

A summer of festivals

23 May 2014

Nice weather grants us permission to dream about summer and to think on which festivals we’ll visit when. Here are a few suggestions to pen in your agenda.

Festival de Lanaudière

The opening of the festival on July 8 will not be a spectacular extravaganza, but instead will feature pianist/ambassador Alain Lefèvre (who will also perform Gershwin at the Montreal International Jazz Festival with the OSM on June 26 and 27) in a recital featuring works of Haydn, Rachmaninov, Chopin and Ravel (L’Assomption’s Church).

Young cellist Stéphane Tétreault will join violist Brian Bacon and the Festival Orchestra on July 12, under Jean-Marie Zeitouni in Strauss’ Don Quixote.

On July 25, the MIMC 2011 winner, Italian pianist Beatrice Rana will perform Bach, Chopin and Prokofiev.

On August 2 and 3, Berlin’s Deutsche kammerphilarmonie under Paavo Järvi makes a return in programs around Brahms’ symphonies.

On August 8 and 9,  the OSM and Kent Nagano will give two concerts, one featuring Debussy and Ravel, the other Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony.

Festival Orford

On August 3, violinist Yolande Bruno, winner of the Grand Prize of the 2013 OSM Standard Life Competition will perform Mozart’s Fifth Concerto with the Academy Orchestra under Jean-François Rivest.

On August 8, pianist Serhiy Salov, just crowned the first winner of the Richard Lupien Improvisation Prize, will play Bach, Beethoven, Stravinski, Ravel, and Tim Brady, composer in residence this season.

On August 15, the MIMC laureate Stephen Waarts will be in recital.

Several open to the public master classes are on the schedule, including one by André Laplante, on June 23, the first of the series.

Domaine Forget

On June 22, contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux becomes a jazz singer, but also sings exceprts from Lettres de madame Roy à sa fille Gabrielle (André Gagnon/Michel Tremblay).

On July 26, I Musici de Montréal will be joined by violonist Vadim Gluzman.

The Orchestre symphonique de Québec will give a concert on August 2 and the Orchestre de la Francophonie the next day.

Winner of the MIMC 2013 edition, violinist Marc Bouchkov will be in recital on August 9 and les Violons du Roy and pianist Benedetto Lupo will close the festival’s season on August 24.

Richard Lupien Improvisation Prize: share the magic in the hall or in streaming

20 May 2014

The Montreal International Musical Competition announced yesterday the order of appearance of the six candidates selected to participate in the first edition of the Richard Lupien Improvisation Prize, to be held today at 1 p.m. (free of charge) in  Tanna Schulich Hall of McGill University (555 Sherbrooke West). (Each candidate will perform a maximum of 25 minutes.)

1. Mr. Noam Sivan (Israel)
2. Mr. Avishai Darash (France / Israel)
3. Mr. Yoni Levyatov (Israel)
4. Mr. Yakir Arbib (Italy / Israel)
5. Mr. Serhiy Salov (Ukraine)
6. Mr. Tae Kim (United States)

If you can’t make it, both the Richard Lupien Improvisation Prize and Gabriela Montero’s concert (tonight 8 p.m.) will be broadcast live on and available internationally for on demand listening for three months.

As an activity complementing the Prize, pianist and member of the international jury Bruno Fontaine will give an improvisation workshop on Wednesday, May 21 at 2 p.m. in Tanna Schulich Hall.

A couple of suggestions for the weekend

16 May 2014

The long weekend won’t be too great it seems weather wise. Why not take the opportunity to listen to a couple of new albums and attend live performances? Vocal music lovers will certainly be thrilled with three of Analekta’s recent releases: L’heure rose (collaboration between Hélène Guilmette and Martin Dubé), Love’s Minstrels (Philippe Sly and Michael McMahon) and Handel, Porpora: Les années londoniennes (Julie Boulianne and Luc Beauséjour).

Since there aren’t any tickets left for Turandot at Opéra de Montréal, why not try a brand new opera, premiered last night at Monument-National, Pierre Michaud’s Le Rêve de Grégoire (sung in French)? This Chants libres production tells Grégoire’s journey (loosely inspired by the character from Kafka’s Metamorphosis) who has to learn how to transform his revolt into action. The show is directed by René-Daniel Dubois. More information here…

You may also take in the sights at the Botanical Garden before planning your own planting. Why not catch a concert at the same time? Angèle Dubeau & La Pietà will be performing in the auditorium of the Garden at 4 p.m. on Sunday.

I Musici celebrates its 30th anniversary

13 May 2014

Time just flies, doesn’t it? I Musici will celebrate its 30th anniversary in style on Thursday at Maison symphonique de Montréal. A benefit evening will be presented in conjunction with the concert, at Place des arts’ chic Salon Urbain. Three of Montreal’s hottest chefs will be in attendance to prepare an outstanding cocktail dinner. Sweets will be provided by renowned pastry chef Patrice Demers. Silent auction will also be offered on site.

The concert, under Jean-Marie Zeitouni, features three works, two of which have marked the history of I Musici. Indeed, in 1998, Denis Gougeon wrote Coups d’archet for I Musici de Montréal’s 15th anniversary. The performance had such an impact that the ensemble commissioned the composer to create a second work to mark its 30th anniversary. The program will also feature Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings, a favourite among I Musici’s musicians and audience alike, used as basis for a film a few years back, as well as Beethoven’s revolutionary Eroica Symphony. Happy anniversary and long live I Musici!

All the info can be found here…


2 Pianos 4 Hands at the Centaur Theatre

9 May 2014

Written 20 years ago, presented 4000 times, whether in Canda, in the United States, in the United Kingdom, in Japan, in Australia or in South Africa, 2 Pianos 4 Hands is quite a joyous handful. In town at the Centaur Theatre until May 25 (the first time in English since 1997), the play is largely autobiographical but still possesses that universality that should appeal to anyone who has received music lessons – or done sports in a semi-competitive way.

The aspiring musician must not only learn to develop a bond with his teacher, but spend endless (or so it seems when you’re young) hours practicing, repeating difficult passage works or running through scales and arpeggions. While doing this, the budding musician will cross paths with frustrated musicians who turned to teaching, competitions judges that are either completely blasé or overly enthusiastic, and other kids who, in same cases (especially if you are a pianist or a violinist) will do anything to push you aside and climb on the top step of the podium. The play features about 20 different characters, mots of them hilarious: the teacher who tries to instill rhythm with money metaphors (the quarter note becoming a quarter), the festival’s presenter who is about to collapse from boredom as he announces the upcoming category, the duet partner who flips out on the day of the competition and just can’t seem to play one note, the mother who just tells the teacher about her week and cannot even play the simplest of pieces properly, the teacher who falls asleep during lesson time, the alcoholic who asks that Billy Joel’s Piano Man (who was just performed two seconds prior) be played “for the first time”.

It is always a challenge to cast this show, since performers must play high-level piano and be able to act as well. Reza Jacobs and Bryce Zulak are impeccable duet partners here, whether they portray a child who phones his friend while rehearsing with the other hand or the parent who says he’ll sell the piano so that his teenager finally has a “real” career. 

A must-see for all those musically inclined!

Louise Bessette concludes her cycle devoted to Québécois piano music tomorrow

6 May 2014

As part of the celebrations surrounding the 25th anniversary of the Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur, pianist Louise Bessette concludes tomorrow night her four-concerts cycle, which featured 25 works written in the last quarter of century written by as many Québécois composers. Choosing a very strict chronological approach, with logic and finess that would have been envied by any sudoku expert, she invited us over the last few months on a journey that surely demonstrated how vibrant the Canadian piano repertoire was.

Tomorrow night, she will present works written in the last few years by Serge Arcuri, François Dompierre, Nicole Lizée, Maxime McKinley (world premiere), Silvio Palmieri, Anthony Rozankovic  and Gilles Tremblay.

The concert is free, but requires tickets, available at the Chapelle. Details of the program can be found here…

Names of MIMC and Richard-Lupien Improvisation Prize are known

2 May 2014

The names of the 24 pianists who will participate in the upcoming edition of the Montreal International Musical Competition from May 26 to June 6 are now known. On the Canadian front, four pianists will try to win crowd and jury over and all are winners of national competitions:  Xiaoyu Liu and Michelle Nam (OSM Standard Life Competition), Charles Richard-Hamelin (Prix d’Europe) and Scott MacIsaac (Canadian Music Competition and TSO Concerto Competition, amongst others). American pianist Sara Daneshpour, who made it to the finals in 2008, will once again be in the starting blocks. Of note is also Algerian pianist Mehdi Ghazi, discoverd a few years ago by Alain Lefèvre, who had bowled critics over when he gave a recital in Montreal in 2011, two Chinese and three South-Koreans and, more surprisingly, three Italian pianists, maybe inspired by the phenomenal ascension of Beatrice Rana, Grand winner in 2008. You can access the complete list of competitors here.

One week before the MIMC, on May 20, starting at 1 pm at Tanna Schulich Hall, all are invited (free of charge) to listen to the performances of the six pianists who will take part in the first Richard-Lupien Improvisation Prize. Interestingly, four of the six pianists are from Israel (two have double nationality). One of them, Yakir Arbib, who studies at Berklee, was in Montreal in January for a show at the Upstairs. Ukrainian pianist Serhiy Salov, winner of the MIMC in 2004, now living in Montreal, hopes that he could win both competitions.

Each pianist will have to give a recital that will last no more than 25 minutes and will articulated around four challenges: theme and variations (five wite minutes before going on stage, the competitor will know which well-known theme he’ll get to work with), pasticcio (from an original cinema theme determined by jury), transition (between two theme) and free improvisation. The jury will be made up of François Dompierre, Bruno Fontaine and Gabriela Montero, who will also give an improvisation concert in the evening.