Browsing: Classical Music

“Playing a Stradivarius is fascinating for a musician, can inspire peer appreciation, attract media interest, and stimulate conversation in classical-music circles,” says violinist Alexandre Da Costa. “But do not give too much importance to the instrument. It is only a tool. Most important is the quality of the performance of the instrumentalist, his artistic sensibility.” The Canadian virtuoso is well placed to support these remarks. Da Costa has been playing Stradivarius instruments for almost 20 years and recognizes, of course, the luck he has had and still has: the loan until 2027of a 1701 Devault Stradivarius offered by Maryse and…

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“An post-war and Soviet-era formula has often been used to train young musicians during musical competitions: train musicians as if they were Olympic athletes, ignoring that musicians are above all artists.” Violinist and conductor Alexandre Da Costa does not mince words when it comes to highlighting the shortfalls of international competitions. Da Costa believes that these competitions are heavily centred on technical performance, eclipsing artistic and human dimensions. These generally shape the awarded musicians’ international career. “Most winners of these international competitions play at a high technical level,” said Da Costa, winner of many national and international awards, including the…

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While a musical calling is often apparent early, the unique sensitivity that marks a great performer often comes later in life, with experience. Even so, some artists seem from an early age to combine technical know-how with a visceral understanding of the artistic intention behind the interpreted work. Judging by the many laudatory reviews and packed concert halls, classical guitarist Thierry Bégin-L seems to be one of those lucky few for whom music just flows. If he is recognized today as one of the most promising talents of his generation, it is because he seems to have developed a nearly…

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The sixth and seventh symphonies are central to the composer’s work, in both senses of the term. Written in 1939 and 1941, they develop the method that Shostakovich invented in the fifth symphony of delivering two messages at the same time – public optimism to fool the commissars and private anxiety to express what the audience was experiencing under Stalin’s terror. The sixth, written as the Soviet Union was signing its notorious alliance with Nazi Germany, opens with an ominous phrase from Malher’s tenth symphony, which Shostakovich had neither heard nor read. Brisk, bold and barely half an hour long,…

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Though globalization and offshore manufacturing have conspired to undermine traditional guitar-making, a handful of fervent diehards persists in this centuries-old craft. Finesse and meticulousness are the watchwords of these great makers who, huddled in their workshops, design and manufacture unique instruments whose refinement delights professional musicians and lovers of fine guitars. At the heart of this industry, schools play a fundamental role not only in the transfer of know-how but also by nurturing innovation and development of the profession. École de Lutherie-Guitare Bruand has been training guitar-makers for more than 40 years. In partnership with the Cégep du Vieux-Montréal, the…

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The Université de Montréal is seeking candidates for the position of Dean of the Faculty of Music. The Université de Montréal, with its two affiliated institutions (Polytechnique Montréal and HEC Montréal), is the largest university in Québec and is ranked third in Canada in terms of research, with more than 66,000 students from all over the world and 2,400 professors and researchers. More than 13,000 degrees are awarded each year. The Université de Montréal is one of the best universities in the world Francophone community. Job Description  Forward-thinking, innovative and unifying leader who knows the music world well, without necessarily…

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The modern flute is one of the most recent additions to the woodwind family. Developed in the 1830s, it gained full acceptance by the century’s end. Its new key system gave it a more even tone, greater sound projection and, not least, increased playing facility. As entrenched as it is in concert music, is this instrument, otherwise known as the Boehm flute, the only one worthy of interest? What about its predecessors? Is there anything to learn from these? Mika Putterman, for one, would certainly answer the last question in the affirmative. As a self-described “historical flutist,” she owns an…

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Reality television has launched the careers of several pop stars who have become household names. From 2016 to 2018, Radio-Canada in Montreal applied that formula to the classical music scene in a show called Virtuose. The brainchild of host Gregory Charles, Virtuose showcased prodigies aged 11 to 17 playing top-drawer classical music. This May, two past winners, pianists Emily Oulousian and Zhan Hong Xiao, will be featured with the McGill Chamber Orchestra in a program called Young Virtuosos playing Mozart’s Concerto for Two Pianos under conductor Boris Brott. “Mozart probably wrote the concerto to play with his sister, Nannerl,” says…

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Christopher Dunham will sing the famous role of Escamillo in the upcoming Opéra de Montréal production of Bizet’s Carmen. The Niagara Falls native possesses all the qualities we wish to hear in a Kavalier baritone, including chiaroscuro timbre with strong middle voice and easy emission in the high notes but with more bite than a lyric voice. Such a voice is perfect for other roles like Don Giovanni or Eugene Onegin. In my opinion he is a Canadian talent that deserves more attention. Over the last few years he has been quietly carving himself a place in the industry. Some…

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For the ninth year, La Scena Musicale has provided an alternative gift on Valentine’s Day. Singing Valentines are a different way of reaching out to those you care about. And geographic location is not an issue “It was a lovely surprise,” stated Monique Djokic of New York, who received L’invitation au voyage as sung by soprano Chantal Dionne from her nephew Mark. Dionne also sang Vissi d’arte from Puccini’s Tosca for longtime patron of the arts (and La Scena supporter) Noël Spinelli. “It made my day,” said Raymonde Coderre after Wah Keung Chan had sung La fleur que tu m’avais…

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