Established in Montreal’s cultural landscape for three years, Stella Musica devotes its programing each year to women in classical music. Although more women are taking on roles traditionally reserved for men, female composers, conductors and performers still often remain in the shadow of their male peers. The pianist and artistic director Katarzyna Musial founded the festival to emphasize the work of female musicians and to encourage young women to pursue music.
This fourth edition commemorates the 100th anniversary of the 1918 Armistice by presenting concerts revolving around the theme of psychological distress. Music will be explored for its therapeutic virtues, as a vector of healing and hope for war victims. Complete programing has not been officially announced, but the festival team has already confirmed the participation of five artists from different artistic backgrounds.
An Eclectic Program
The audience will be able to attend performances by the innovative soprano Nathalie Choquette and the dancer and choreographer Jane Mappin, who will be accompanied by dancer Daniel Firth. They are not newbies to the annual theme of the festival. Last September they presented If Only for a Short Time, a dance number inspired by the interpersonal difficulties arising from mental health problems. Indigenous singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Barbara Croall will also be present to introduce her compositions. Trained in the purest classical tradition, Croall draws inspiration from the culture of the Outaouais to create a captivating musical universe where the traditional songs of the First Nations blend harmoniously with tonal language.
Consultation for Change
If the stage performances that take place on March 23 represent the centre of the activities on the program, the festival is not limited to a single platform. For Musial, it is equally important to encourage meetings and exchanges between musicians and spectators. March 22 will be dedicated to such an exchange in which participants discuss various issues related to the theme. This year, the festival will welcome six women from diverse professional backgrounds, including the former Quebec Superior Court judge Anne-Marie Trahan, who will be responsible for moderating the discussions.
Although the pleasure of listening remains the essence of the organizers’ concerns, the Stella Musica festival also is a collective active tool to initiate a profound change in the relationship between men and women in the classical music world. Recent events that have shaken the world of entertainment and provoked a wave of angry denunciations strongly convey the need to create meeting spaces dedicated to women.
The Stella Musica Festival takes place at the Théâtre Outremont on March 22 and 23. See the full program at www.stellamusica.org
Translated by Viviane Reid