Unveil of the 2017-18 OSM Season : Over 60 Programs and 105 Concerts as Striking evidence of its Diversity

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MAHLER, BEETHOVEN, MOZART AND VERDI
HIGHLIGHT THE OSM SEASON WITH SUBLIME WORKS

Mahler’s “Symphony of a Thousand” opens the season on a grand scale

A finale with the complete Beethoven symphonies

Mozart tints the season in a series of concerts featuring bold combinations

Four sacred works: Verdi’s Requiem, Mozart’s C Minor Mass,
Saint-Saëns’s Christmas Oratorio and Bach’s Magnificat

The premiere of Matthew Ricketts’s Blood Line will celebrate 150 years of Confederation

Nordic Festival from Mathieu to Sibelius: with Alain Lefèvre and Samian

Science and fiction: a week in images and music
when the OSM meets E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Express concerts: early and short, for evenings in a life that sometimes goes by too fast

The OSM welcomes the Toronto Symphony Orchestra,
the National Arts Centre Orchestra and Russia’s Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra

Three great names perform in recital:
pianists Mikhail Pletnev, Yuja Wang and Maurizio Pollini

“The devil in a birchbark canoe”: a Christmas tale from Michel Tremblay

A jazz evening on the organ with saxophonist Branford Marsalis

A concert in the dark for an immersive experience in sound:
a sixties tribute with Steve Hill on electric guitar

The Cegeps turn 50: to celebrate, artists from the pop sphere,
a comedian, a dancer, and pianist Charles-Richard Hamelin

Montréal, March 22, 2017 — What is the importance of classical music in today’s world? This is a concern of Kent Nagano’s, in his 12th year at the helm of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. And that question is at the source of the programming offered by the OSM for its 2017-2018 season, with the 375th anniversary of the city of Montréal well under way. Each week, Maison symphonique will resound to the sound of the Orchestra, with over 100 concerts being presented there.

On the heels of his initiating the “Musique aux enfants” program, an achievement dear to the Maestro and which reminds us of the mobilizing power of music when action is guided by the heart, OSM artistic director Kent Nagano presents a 2017-2018 season imbued with humanism. Between the “Symphony of a Thousand” and the complete Beethoven symphonies, over 60 of the most varied sorts of programs have been designed to captivate audiences of all ages.

As Maestro Nagano, himself always deeply engaged in the community, puts it so well, clear-sighted and conscious of the essential role of music for our time: Classical music reminds us that, even as times change, the human spirit demonstrates a remarkable constancy.”

THE GRAND-SCALE SYMPHONY OF A THOUSAND OPENS THE SEASON (SEPT 19 AND 21)

Mahler’s “Symphony of a Thousand” opens the season with great ceremony. This monument of Western music constitutes a sort of artistic credo of Mahler’s, as he places his faith in communication among men and their capacity for rising to the “other world.” Voice plays a dominant role, so much that some analysts speak more of a cantata than a symphony. Whence the importance of bringing together a range of top singers and an imposing choral mass: eight soloists, including Marie-Nicole Lemieux, the full OSM Chorus and the Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal will be joining the enhanced personnel of the Orchestra (118 musicians). In sum, considerable means are brought to bear in translating Mahler’s ambition of making the entire universe “ring and resound.”

THE BEETHOVEN FESTIVAL CONCLUDES THE SEASON:
THE COMPLETE SYMPHONIES IN ONE WEEK! (MAY 27 TO JUNE 2)

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Can the progression of Beethoven’s symphonies be seen as a long march towards joy? Witnesses to important mutations in early-19th-century Western society, these works were written over a period of 24 years (between 1800 and 1824) and testify to the composer’s interest in the ideals of the philosophy of the Enlightenment. Starting late in May, in one week and in five concerts, Kent Nagano shares with audiences his fascination for the world of Beethoven. Music lovers are invited to conceive of the nine masterworks as an entity and to come and hear them in their entirety. The symphonies are coupled together not on the basis of their date of composition but rather in a sequence that takes account of their length, their affinities or their complementarity. Nevertheless, the Beethoven Festival could not conclude otherwise than with the Ninth, the apotheosis of the most celebrated cycle of symphonies in classical music. Choice of this work in all its majestic grandeur was also a given for bringing to a close, on June 2, the OSM’s 2017-2018 season.


VERDI’S REQUIEM (MARCH 21, 24, 25)

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Always current, the question of death surfaces on a regular basis in all our societies. Giuseppe Verdi, mourning the loss of a friend, transcended his sorrow in a powerful work. At the time of its premiere, his Requiem was described by one critic as an “opera in ecclesiastical robes.” The composer’s long experience of the stage breathes through this large-scale liturgical work, in which the Orchestra interacts in intensely dramatic fashion with a vocal quartet and an imposing chorus. Kent Nagano will be offering us his vision of this prayer for the dead, which places man in the face of his destiny. 

MOZART LIKE A COMMON THREAD

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The music of Mozart runs through the season like a common thread. In the energy of the “Paris” and “Prague” symphonies and the Symphony No. 40 (FEB. 21, 24 AND 25), the fervor of the Great Mass in C minor (APR. 8) and the grace of the Clarinet Concerto (NOV. 21-23), Mozart serves as a guide in the face of the contradictions of human nature. He continues to exercise his powers of seduction in his Sinfonia concertante (DEC. 10), his Piano Concerto No. 12 (MAY 6) with Leon Fleisher at the piano and his “Gran Partita” Serenade (NOV. 24), performed in November as part of the chamber music series.

In the regular series, each of the symphonies selected will be associated with a Canadian piece: the premiere of a work by Alexina Louie (MAR. 15) for three violins and orchestra will be heard, and that of Matthew Ricketts’s Blood Line (DEC. 10). The latter work was conceived for the 150th anniversary of Confederation, with the idea of evoking some dramatic aspects of the construction of the trans-Canada railway. These are current works deeply rooted in the culture of the country, as those of Mozart were in the Viennese society of his day.

NORDIC FESTIVAL: FROM MATHIEU TO SIBELIUS (APR. 24 to 26)

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Echoing the Italian Festival of March 2017, whose spirit was characteristic of a more southern culture, the OSM, in April 2018, will present three concerts on the theme of nordicity under the direction of Finnish conductor John Storgårds. Snow, cold and isolation shaped the language of composers like Sibelius, Grieg and Nielsen in the Scandinavian countries, and those like Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky in Russia. In this “Nordic Spring” festival, their works will be performed alongside Canadian pieces such as André Mathieu’s Concerto romantique, featuring pianist Alain Lefèvre (APR. 24), and Take the Dogsled by Alexina Louie, which includes Inuit throat singing performed by Evie Mark and Akinisie Sivuarapik. Finally, the result of an OSM commission, a world premiere for singer and orchestra will be given on April 26: in this particular adventure, Montreal composer Nicole Lizée joins forces with Algonquin artist Samian.

CONCERT IN THE DARK (FEB. 16)

In February, the creative daring of the OSM will find expression in an “Éclaté” concert. Nothing like turning out the lights to put an audience in an outstanding mood for listening. It is in this atmosphere that the Orchestra, conducted by Kent Nagano, will present an immersive experience in sound: the 1960s will be evoked in music, a time when an entire generation of young people seeking transcendence plugged into spatial, ethereal and meditative works. The organ, with Jean-Willy Kunz, and the electric guitar, with Steve Hill, will add a touch of originality to the program, not to mention the world premiere of a work by John Anthony Lennon, Electric Candlelight Concerto. Whereas the visual is ubiquitous in our lives, Kent Nagano invites the public to a unique experience, one where hearing becomes the sole sensory point of reference.

EXPRESS SERIES (OCT. 5, NOV. 15, FEB. 7 AND MAY 30)

The OSM presents concerts at different times of day, both during the week and on weekends; the Express concerts formula is an attempt to adapt to the hectic life of today by offering great works starting at 7 p.m. and without intermission. The four events in the series will be led by as many conductors, from Nikolai Znaider to Kent Nagano by way of Adam Johnson and Jacques Lacombe. The first three concerts include a concerto aimed at showcasing the trumpet, the trombone, the cello and the violin in works by Estacio, Tomasi, Saint-Saëns and Shostakovich. For these occasions, the Orchestra will be hosting soloists Paul Merkelo, James Box (OCT. 5), Steven Isserlis (NOV. 15) and Alina Ibragimova (FEB. 7). The fourth concert is borrowed from the Beethoven Festival: Kent Nagano will be presenting the composer’s Symphonies Nos. 7 and 8. Other great orchestral works fill out the series, among them the Symphonic Dances taken from Bernstein’s West Side Story, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 and Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5.

THE SCIENCE & FICTION SERIES (MAY 16, 20 AND 22)

Science and technology are at the heart of the science-fiction films that help give the future a face. In the first concert in this series being presented in May, the OSM performs excerpts from the soundtracks of movies that have left their mark on cinema through their unfettered imaginativeness, in an evening hosted by André Robitaille (MAY 16). The film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, from 1920, will be screened on the occasion of the second event (MAY 20), with a musical theme completely improvised on the organ. As for the third, it will showcase E.T. the Extra-terrestrial, directed by a young Spielberg in 1982: thanks to ingenious technological manipulations, the OSM will perform the soundtrack live during the screening (MAY 22). A unique way to discover or rediscover this cult film.

A WORLD OF DISCOVERIES FOR CHILDREN

Providing a child with the opportunity of hearing the Orchestra in the exceptional acoustics of Maison symphonique means offering that child an unforgettable musical experience and an opening to a world of artistic discoveries.” It is in these terms that Patrice Bélanger describes the adventure presented by each event offered to young spectators next season. Children will be delighted by the fantastical tales served up in the three Children’s Corner concerts. And primary- and secondary-school students will be invited to Youth Concerts that will dazzle the senses, sometimes with the screening of a film (The Flying Canoe and Other Stories, OCT 10), sometimes a troop of street performers (Don Quixote’s Spanish Adventure, NOV. 26), combined with happy diversions (The Mysterious Metamorphosis of Mr. and Mrs Tacet, MAY 13). It should be noted that three of these concerts will be headed by Adam Johnson, the OSM’s assistant conductor.

CEGEPS ARE 50 YEARS OLD (NOV. 30)

To mark the 50th anniversary of Cegeps, the OSM will be celebrating in the company of past winners of the annual Cégeps en spectacle competition, with song, humor, contemporary dance and classical music. Under the direction of Adam Johnson and hosted by Monique Giroux, this concert will bring together on stage Koriass, spokesman for the 2017 edition, Vincent Vallières, Yann Perreau, Philippe Brach, Claudine Mercier, Jessica Viau and Charles Richard-Hamelin.

GREAT SOLOISTS IN MONTRÉAL

In the Recitals series, in association with Pro Musica, the OSM is honored to announce the visit of three of the world’s finest pianists, from three different generations: Mikhail Pletnev (JAN. 9), artist in residence at the OSM thanks to the support of the Larry & Cookie Rossy Family Foundation, Yuja Wang (MAY 15), and the exceptional visit of Maurizio Pollini, returning to Montréal after an absence of over 20 years.

GUESTS OF RENOWN

Other exceptional musicians will be on hand to captivate audiences at Maison symphonique: Vasily Petrenko (OCT. 11), Masaaki Suzuki (NOV. 21), Juanjo Mena (JAN. 17), Edo de Waart (FEB. 21,) and Lionel Bringuier (MAR. 6-8) will take to the podium, and we will be welcoming as soloists violinists Gidon Kremer (OCT. 25-26), Maxim Vengerov (OCT. 17-18) and Leonidas Kavakos (DEC. 5-7), cellist Steven Isserlis (NOV. 16), pianists Charles Richard-Hamelin (NOV. 30), Alain Lefèvre (APR 24) and Paul Lewis (JAN. 17-18); mezzo-soprano Marie-Nicole Lemieux (Mar. 21-24-25,) and baritone Philippe Sly (APR. 24).

THE OSM WELCOMES

Maison symphonique has become a coveted destination for leading orchestras on the national and international scene. The National Arts Centre Orchestra will be performing there under the baton of Alexander Shelly (APR. 5), with Beatrice Rana at the piano. As part of its annual exchange with the OSM and on the occasion of Peter Oundjian’s final season at the head of the ensemble, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra will be presenting the great Symphony No. 8 by Bruckner in addition to performing a Mozart concerto with Leon Fleisher (MAY 6). Besides accompanying pianist Denis Matsuev, the Mariinsky Theater Orchestra, conducted by Valeri Gergiev, will offer a highly Russian-flavored program produced by Show One (NOV. 11).

CHRISTMAS AT THE OSM

Little ones from the prekindergarten program La musique aux enfants will be taking part in a Christmas concert that features a German choir, the Audi Young Persons Chorus, in the Saint-Saëns Christmas Oratorio and the Bach Magnificat (DEC. 12-13), to which will be added some traditional holiday-season songs. In that spirit of rejoicing particular to the month of December, the Québec legend of the flying canoe will be revisited with the participation of Antoine Bertrand in “The Devil in a Birchbark Canoe,” a Christmas tale by Michel Tremblay directed by René-Richard Cyr (DEC. 19-20-21).

THE PIERRE-BÉIQUE ORGAN WILL RESOUND THROUGHOUT THE YEAR

The Grand Orgue Pierre-Béique[1] will continue to do honor to its maker, the house of Casavant, and to those who made its installation possible. Recalling its inauguration, Saint-Saëns’s Symphony No. 3 will be performed in May in a concert that has conductor Jérémie Rhorer appearing alongside organist Chelsea Chen (MAY 9-10). In the Organ series, we point out the association between saxophonist Branford Marsalis and organist in residence Jean-Willy Kunz (Dec. 15), a big recital by American organist Nathan Laube in March; and the performance by David Briggs as he improvises a soundtrack to the film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde during its screening in May. Finally, Montréal’s 375th anniversary provides an opportunity to celebrate the wealth of the religious heritage of the “City of a Hundred Steeples.” Works of art and architectural elements characteristic of the city will be projected and serve as commentary to pieces by Raymond Daveluy, Rachel Laurin, Louis Vierne and César Franck. This celebration will bring together three internationally renowned organists: Rachel Laurin (Canada), Patrick Wedd (Canada) and Michel Bouvard (France).

Chamber music concerts are a powerful link among OSM musicians. The more intimate acoustics of Bourgie Hall at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) will provide the ideal setting for presenting small ensembles in five varied concerts. The one on November 24 will bring artists from more than one generation together: some OSM musicians, who will be joined by judges and prize-winners of the OSM Manulife Competition, which will be taking place, as it does each year, in November, and featuring the brightest lights from the country’s rising generation.

COMMITTED SPONSORS

We are very pleased to continue our partnership with the OSM as presenting sponsor. A leading cultural ambassador, the orchestra continues its tradition of excellence with Kent Nagano, while reinvigorating itself year to year with a rich and innovative program,” stated Élise Proulx, Vice-President – Communications and Government Affairs at Hydro-Québec.

Mr. L. Jacques Ménard, C.C., O.Q., Chairman, BMO Nesbitt Burns, President, BMO Financial Group, Quebec, called attention to the excellence of the OSM in these terms: “Now 83 years old, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (OSM) is truly a jewel in Montreal’s cultural crown. Its world-class reputation, earned through its exceptional talent and quality oeuvre, also reflects on the city it calls home. The OSM makes us all proud to be Montrealers. We’re grateful to the Orchestra and to its maestro, Kent Nagano, for helping to make Montreal – which is celebrating its 375th anniversary this year – a city that epitomizes ‘joie de vivre’.”

This is an exceptional programming, which demonstrates once again the emotional intelligence of a great conductor like Maestro Kent Nagano, and the OSM is proud and honored to present it to its large and faithful audience,” concluded Madeleine Careau, OSM chief executive officer. It is for that audience that our Orchestra, which ranks with the world`s finest, presents a lineup of concerts that is as diversified as ever. The Orchestra is reiterating its commitment, with this season, to offering great concerts every week, as well as to welcoming soloists of the highest level, and at the same time constantly innovating.

[1] The Grand Orgue Pierre-Béique was generously offered to the OSM by Mrs. Jacqueline Desmarais

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