La Nef: 30th anniversary

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This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)

No fewer than three events are on the horizon between now and February. The musicians of La Nef will first present a concert on Nov. 11, another on Dec. 14 and, finally, a new album, which is due early in the new year. This is how the 30th-anniversary celebrations of this cultural organization unfold. In an interview, La Nef artistic director and co-founder Sylvain Bergeron shared some of his most vivid memories of the adventure:

“Our first trips took us to Spain in the days of Jeanne la Folle, to the Cathars of southern France and even to the Middle East. These were projects with stories set in the Middle Ages, but there was also an element of reinvention – reclaiming the stories and trying to tell them to a North American audience.”

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After this, the musicians of La Nef opened themselves to other repertoires, including contemporary music. Works have been written for La Nef in different production styles. Multidisciplinary formats, using new technical means, have been added to the programming. La Nef offerings also include music based on oral traditions and Celtic inspiration, such as the songs of Robert Burns, who was so central to the Scottish repertoire of the 18th century. For 10 years, Bergeron explains, these initiatives have become more and more a part of La Nef’s identity. This is true also of the Musica Ficta project and Andrew Wells-Oberegger’s album, Long Way Home, released last May but presented for the first time in concert this February.

Musica Ficta, presented on Nov. 11, was initiated by the composer and music director Jean-François Daigneault. He has teamed up with soprano Dorothéa Ventura, who has already joined La Nef in several collaborations. “This is the idea, once again, of expanding original material that comes to us from the Middle Ages up to the beginning of the Renaissance. Chromatism was born at this time and composers began to experiment with new styles. Jean-François has taken this early material and wants to push it further. We are talking about six mixed voices with instruments that add a touch of improvisation or modernity: among others, a bass clarinet, glass instruments and musical saws.”

Based on a Celtic-inspired program recorded by ATMA in 2005, the Noëls Anciens series of concerts has taken La Nef on tour across Canada and the United States for several years. The original program will be performed at the Dec. 14 concert in Bourgie Hall. Some of the musicians were there at the start: Meredith Hall, soprano; Robin Grenon, harpist; and Bergeron himself on the archlute. “We perform this program every year, but rarely in Montreal,” says the artistic director. “This is what is interesting. This is an opportunity for us to share it with the Montreal public.”

This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)


About Author

Justin Bernard est détenteur d’un doctorat en musique de l’Université de Montréal. Ses recherches portent sur la médiation musicale, notamment par le biais des nouveaux outils numériques, ainsi que sur la relation entre opéra et cinéma. Membre de l’Observatoire interdisciplinaire de création et de recherche en musique (OICRM), il a réalisé une série de capsules vidéo éducatives pour l’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. Justin Bernard est également l’auteur de notes de programme pour le compte de la salle Bourgie du Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal et chargé de cours à l’Université de Sherbrooke. Par ailleurs, il anime une émission d’opéra et une chronique musicale à Radio VM (91,3 FM).

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