Browsing: Contemporary

SMCQ Opens Soon Through much of the pandemic, the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ) remained uncertain about the launch of its season. This will take place at Salle Pierre-Mercure on Sept. 27. In accordance with health measures, the headcount of the orchestra on stage and in rehearsals has been limited to 12. The program has been revised accordingly. Listeners will hear two works by Galina Ustvolskaya, Dona Nobis Pacem (1971) and Dies Irae (1973), as well as Pohjiatuuli (1983) by Michel Longtin. This Quebec composer here pays homage to Sibelius by evoking northern landscapes. The concert is titled…

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Although the number four does not appear in Fibonacci’s mathematical sequence, the Trio Fibonacci has embraced it by presenting a rich and varied season of four concerts, two in the fall and two in the spring, annually at Bourgie Hall. The ensemble’s new season will take the path of eclecticism and discovery – through French, Russian and minimalist music – and conclude on a multidisciplinary note. Cellist Gabriel Prynn guides us through the season and revisits his lockdown experience. Extensive repertoire, daring programs Trio Fibonacci formed in 1998 with violinist Julie-Anne Derome, Prynn and pianist André Ristic. At the time,…

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Like other presenters, the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ) has had to adjust to the new realities surrounding concert life. In addition to obeying physical-distancing rules on stage and in the hall, SMCQ had doubts about the launch of its season, which takes place in Salle Pierre-Mercure on Sept. 27. In accordance with health guidelines, the orchestra’s size on stage and during rehearsals has been cut down to a maximum of 12 musicians. The concert begins with two works by Galina Ustvolskaya, Dona Nobis Pacem (1971) and Dies Irae (1973). Although Ustvolskaya supported official Soviet art, she composed…

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In spite of the health crisis, Le Vivier has no plans to cease operations. After a summer consisting of several outdoor activities, the producers specializing in new music have an ambitious fall season planned, punctuated by anniversaries and celebrations. The opening event of Sept. 12, for instance, isn’t simply a concert but a full afternoon including a double bill and roundtable. Additionally, over the next few months, Le Vivier will present anniversary concerts in celebration of 40 years of Production SuperMusique (PSM), 20 years of the Quatuor Bozzini, and 10 years of the Ensemble Paramirabo. We were able to gather…

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The Nouvel Ensemble Moderne (NEM) and its artistic director Lorraine Vaillancourt will open its new season on Oct. 22 with a gala concert presented by the Azrieli Foundation. On tap that evening are three works by the latest recipients of the biennial Azrieli Music Prizes. At the outbreak of the pandemic last spring, the NEM was forced to push back several of its events to 2021 while developing online activities to bridge the gap until a return to normalcy. Vaillancourt is more than eager to return to the stage, having sorely missed her musicians for such a long period. True…

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Keiko Devaux was already a composer at age five. Unsatisfied with the methodical character of her piano lessons, she found freedom by playing the top line of the score as written and inventing the rest. Thirty-three years later, Devaux has been named the inaugural winner of the $50,000 Azrieli Commission for Canadian Music. Her youthful preference for improvising over practicing was prophetic. Moved by a desire to create rather than make perfect, Devaux went on to earn both a Bachelor and Master’s degree in composition at the Université de Montréal. She is now working on a doctorate at the same…

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Andrew Gray couldn’t have chosen a better city than Montreal when, in 2010, he decided to leave the U.K. to start a new chapter in his already flourishing career. In fact, the “city of a hundred bells” boasts a well-established choral tradition, with two symphony orchestras, a ballet company and hundreds of vocal ensembles of all levels. It was in this rich musical landscape that Gray won his first official position as conductor of the Montreal Children’s Choir, which he left in 2015 to take over artistic and musical direction of the Montreal Choral Institute (MCI) and its ensemble, the…

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You may have noticed the absence of capitals in his name. This orthographic licence was inspired, he says, by his discovery as a young man of the poetry of e. e. cummings, who was known to eschew writing conventions like punctuation and standard syntax. Certain Bauhaus prints also gave him encouragement. Then, a more pragmatic motivation added to these influences: “At a time when everyone wrote on typewriters, I told myself one day that if capital letters were no longer necessary, typewriters would be smaller and lighter, saving much of the metal used in manufacturing.” And, to conclude this mindful…

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Like Bertolt Brecht and Hanns Eisler, and with equal reluctance, Paul Dessau left McCarthyist America in the late 1940s to settle in the austere and oppressive German Democratic Republic. All three men were tainted by having enjoyed life in the capitalist West. Dessau, the least famous, was attacked by party inquisitors and forced to write propaganda hymns in the requisite Socialist Realism style. In the US he had been reduced to working on a chicken farm before Brecht brought him to Hollywood, helping him get filmscore work while playing off his insecurity against Eisler’s in a sadistic game that continued…

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In a dark moment of isolation, I found myself thinking of Viktor Ullmann (1898-1944) a student of the atonalist Schoenberg and the microtonalist Haba who never really found his voice until darkness descended and he faced segregation and extinction. Before 1939 he’d enjoyed fragments of international attention, with a piano sonata premiered in London at the Wigmore Hall and a few more glimmers of invitation. In 1939, after the Germans occupied Prague, he set about writing a piano concerto for Juliette Aranyi, a fellow-Haba student, knowing it might never get performed. Both composer and soloist were deported in 1942 to…

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