Archive pour la catégorie ‘In the news’

Suspense continues in Berlin

12 May 2015

Believe it or not, but after 11 hours of deliberation behind closed doors (phones and electronic devices were not permited on the premises), the 123 musicians of the Berlin Philharmonic didn’t come to an agreement yesterday and Simon Rattle’s successor was not announced. Discussions will resume later on this year. “I must unfortunately tell you that we did not come to a decision,” stated Peter Riegelbauer, one of the two delegates the orchestra assigned to share the news with the media, yesterday at 10 p.m., in front of the South-West Church in Berlin, where the musicians had been spending the last few hours.

Journalists had been going wild in the last couple of days, everyone sharing their “short lists.” On them, one could find Daniel Barenboïm (who denied being on the list) as well as Gustavo Dudamel, Christian Thielemann, Mariss Jansons, Andris Nelsons (a favourite), Riccardo Chailly, Riccardo Muti and… Québécois Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

In other orchestras, musicians are of course consulted. Here, they are the sole decision-makers. “We agree on the direction we want to take, but don’t agree on the means to get there,” stated the delegates last night. Musicians are bound to secrecy. At most, they admitted that discussions didn’t come to a halt because the prospective director declined the offer. (Who in their right mind would turn down an offer from the Berlin Philharmonic?)

Time is not really of the essence here, since Simon Rattle will be leaving only in 2018. Time enough to write another chapter of this story…


Walter Boudreau recipient of GG Lifetime Artistic Achievement

10 April 2015

SMCQ artistic director, composer  and conductor Walter Boudreau is one of the six recipients of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards. This distinction recognizes artists for their outstanding body of work and enduring contribution to the performing arts in Canada. These national awards are presented in the categories of theatre, dance, classical music, broadcasting, popular music and film. “I am deeply moved, pleasantly surprised even, by this show of consideration and appreciation for the efforts I’ve deployed in the last 40 years, with the hopes that today’s music and composers be better-known, recognized and valued!”, stated Boudreau yesterday.

Walter Boudreau is undeniably an emblematic personnality of Québécois musical life. It is impossible to remain indifferent to the character and to his particular vision of contemporary repertoire. “It is more than time that this music – our music – takes its rightful place, just like contemporary works and artefacts by our choreographers, movie makers, directors, writers and poets of our time do!”, he concluded.

The composer and conductor was born in Montreal in 1947. He studied with Gilles Tremblay, Serge Garant, Mauricio Kagel, Karlheinz Stockhausen, György Ligeti, Olivier Messiaen, Iannis Xenakis and Pierre Boulez. To this day, he wrote more than 60 works for orchestra, various ensembles and soloists, as well as two ballets and about 15 scores for film and theatre. He has been leading the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ) for 27 years.

This award is not his first, of course. He has received several Opus prizes from Conseil québécois de la musique, including for “Event of the Year” in 1999, 2000, 2003 and 2008. He also won the “Composer of the Yeaer” Award in 1998, the Molson Prize in 2003 and the Prix Denise Pelletier for performing arts in 2004. He is Chevalier de l’Ordre national du Québec and Member of the Order of Canada since 2013.

Boulez at 90

27 March 2015

He was born on March 26, 1925 and undeniably changed  the word of composition and conducting. Through the years, he was rewarded with 27 Grammys, far more than any big rock or pop star. His 90th birthday was celebrated with splendour at the Philharmonie de Paris yesterday and an exhibit devoted to his works – mostly through his milestones  Second SonataLe Marteau sans maîtrePli selon pliRituelRépons and Sur Incises – can be experienced until June 28.

A student of Messiaen, he devoted the first segment of his life exclusively to composition but soon realise that having his works conducted by someone else was often very complicated and this is why he turned to conducting. After all, who better than the composer who understands from the inside out his music to conduct it? He could program some of his works next to cornerstones of the repertoire (he has been celebrated for his Mahler symphonies for example) and he got to lead major orchestras in London, New York, Chicago and Cleveland (for more than 40 years now, he has a very close connection to the orchestra), conducting a width swath of classical music from Handel to the contemporary British composer George Benjamin.

You may want to read and listen to this NPR profile to know a bit more…

In The Telegraph, Ivan Hewett also pays tribute to classical music’s most contentious revolutionary. Read The modernist maverick here…

Simon Rattle will lead the LSO

3 March 2015

This is certainly the news of the day in the international classical music world: the London Symphony Orchestra just announced the appointment of Sir Simon Rattle as its Music Director, starting in September 2017. He follows in the footsteps of André Previn, Michael Tilson Thomas, Sir Colin Davis and Valery Gergiev.  

At the announcement of his appointment, Simon Rattle said: “During my work with the LSO over the last years, I noticed that despite the Orchestra’s long and illustrious history, they almost never refer to it. Instead, refreshingly, they talk about the future, what can they make anew, what can they improve, how can they reach further into the community. In terms of musical excellence, it is clear that the sky’s the limit, but equally important, in terms of philosophy, they constantly strive to be a twenty-first century orchestra. We share a dream in which performing, teaching and learning are indivisible, with wider dissemination of our art at its centre. I cannot imagine a better or more inspiring way to spend my next years, and feel immensely fortunate to have the LSO as my musical family and co-conspirators.”

LSO Chairman Lennox Mackenzie spoke of the Orchestra’s delight at Simon Rattle’s appointment at this morning’s announcement: “I am thrilled that Sir Simon Rattle has accepted our invitation to lead the Orchestra into the future. On behalf of the whole Orchestra, we welcome him as our Music Director at this hugely important moment in the LSO’s history.

This is a real coup for the LSO since Simon Rattle, at the helm of the Berliner Philharmoniker since 2002 (his contract expires in 2018) is considered by most experts one of the three top conductors in the world today. He first led the LSO when he was in his twenties. More recently he conducted the Orchestra at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games, and in two acclaimed concerts at the Barbican Centre in January of this year.


New Order of Canada appointments

6 January 2015

Congratulations to a number of people linked to the musical community for their recent appointments to, or promotions within, the Order of Canada.   

  • Montreal cellist, teacher, and artistic director of the Montreal Chamber Music Festival, Denis Brott, recognized for his role in establishing the Canada Council of the Arts’ Musical Instrument Bank;
  • Tubist, educator, music education advocate, and founding member of the Canadian Brass, Chuck Daellenbach;
  • Soprano Suzie LeBlanc;
  • General Director of the Opéra de Québec, Grégoire Legendre;
  • Trumpet virtuoso, educator, and regular commissioner of new works for trumpet, Jens Lindemann;
  • Conductor and founder of the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, Lorraine Vaillancourt.

Recipients will be invited to accept their insignia at a ceremony to be held at a later date.

An orchestra is essential to a city’s music scene

17 December 2014

We were quite saddened to learn last week that Orchestra London would be cancelling two mid-December concerts in response to an acute cash-flow crisis.  According to reports in the London Free Press, representatives from the orchestra are scheduled to report to London City Council later this week, in an effort to obtain short-term relief and save the remainder of the 2014-15 season, while a new business model and plan are developed.

Young cellist Fiona Robson, 17, wrote an essay on Orchestra London’s impact for the London Free Press earlier this week, a real cry from the heart.

“I’ve been taking cello lessons from an Orchestra London member for eight years, and her colleagues have coached me in chamber music and orchestra. Watching your teacher perform is different than seeing them demonstrate in the studio; it is truly inspiring.

So is listening to and learning from the amazing soloists who come to play with the orchestra: Shauna Rolston, Janina Fialkowska, Annette-Barbara Vogel, Jan Lisiecki, Tom Wiebe.

This orchestra is an invaluable part of music education, and music education is important. It teaches creativity, cognitive skills, teamwork, history, dedication. It teaches everything.

If the orchestra disappears, how can the musicians stay here? It’s a major part of their livelihood. If they leave, what do the students do? We need our teachers.

Simply put, if the orchestra goes, it will undermine London’s music community.”

To read the complete article…

The Art Remembers

10 November 2014

On Remembrance Day, tomorrow November 11 at 3 p.m., the Théâtre du Nouveau Monde, the Opéra de Montréal and Veterans Affairs Canada, in collaboration with Place des Arts, join together to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Great War (1914) and the 75th anniversary of the Second World War, with the play Le Journal d’Anne Frank (TNM) and the opera Silent Night (Opéra de Montréal). This event, L’ART SE SOUVIENT, will take place in Espace culturel Georges-Émile-Lapalme at Place des Arts, with the participation of the following artists: Mylène St-Sauveur, Jorane, Vanessa Marcoux and Phillip Addis, who will have the lead in Kevin Puts’ opera Silent Night in May 2015. He will sing an aria from the opera that recalls the World War I historical truce. Excerpts from Anne Franck’s Journal will also be read.

Premiered in 2011 and inspired by the film Joyeux Noël, Silent Night is a plea for peace and has won the Pulitzer Prize of Music. The lead roles will be held by Marianne Fiset, Phillip Addis, Joseph Kaiser and Daniel Okulitch. This production of the Minnesota Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Cincinnati Opera and Fort Worth Opera, will be shown in Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier on May 16, 19, 21 and 23.

Conservatoire: the chairman of the board resigns

7 October 2014

Since the possible closing of regional conservatories has been mentioned, several artists have shared their concern, whether through letters or interviews, both on TV and radio. Alumni were prompt to express their indignation and to share stories about the years they spent in the various antennas of the institution, reassessing the neccessity of such a service. An essential service some would say.  We learned earlier today that, less than four months after having been named by the Couillard gouvernment, the chairman of the board of the Conservatoire de musique et d’art dramatique du Québec, Jean-Pierre Bastien, just resigned and has refused to voice any comments.

Let’s be reminded that, last week, the minister of Culture and Communications Hélène David had rejected the report the board had produced that would have led to the closing down of the Rimouski, Saguenay, Trois-Rivières, Gatineau and Val-d’Or branches in the hopes to eliminate the 14 millions dollars deficit. She stated that he would be better to deal with the cumbersome adminstrative procedures.

Can young musicians and actors living outside the big centers breathe more easily? Not quite. Let’s keep our fingers that a solution will be found in the next few weeks.

Arthur Kaptainis of The Gazette has an interesting take on the subject here…

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

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.