Les Concerts aux Îles du Bic celebrate their 20th anniversary

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

He was born in Edmonton; she, in Bas-Saint-Laurent. Cellist James Darling and his wife, the violinist Élise Lavoie, settled in Rimouski 20 years ago, after having spent much of their career in Montreal. Together they have made Les Concerts aux Îles du Bic one of the leading chamber music festivals in Quebec.

Thanks to its varied programming, ranging from instrumental to vocal repertoire and from baroque to contemporary, this summer event, which operates as part of the Société des concerts Bic Saint-Fabien, is now an integral part of the region’s cultural ecosystem. “We are very lucky in Rimouski,” Darling says. “We have a tremendous cultural offering, with the Conservatoire and the performances at the Salle Desjardins-Telus. We also have the Vieux-Théâtre de Saint-Fabien and a series of concerts by very good ensembles such as the Rimouski Chamber Choir and the Quatuor Saint-Germain.” Darling is active himself on the stages of eastern Quebec. In addition to being artistic director of Concerts aux Îles du Bic, he is a professor at the Conservatoire de Rimouski and principal cello of the Orchestre symphonique de l’Estuaire.

“We found a way to keep in touch with our circle of friends and our professional circle by inviting them here for two weeks,” he says. “Along with the reputation of Les Concerts aux Îles, this circle has grown. We meet a lot of musicians who come from Ottawa, Vancouver, Halifax, New York, Texas… It often happens that one of these musicians, who has experienced our festival from the inside, allows us to approach such renowned artists as Daniel Taylor, Yannick Nézet-Séguin or Alain Lefèvre.”

Despite the pandemic, Les Concerts aux Îles du Bic are trying to stay true to their distinctive brand. “We used to bring 20 to 25 musicians on site – of course some know each other – and try new collaborations so that we have programs that exist only here.” Darling recalls how in 2011 an alliance was forged between violinist Renée-Paule Gauthier and pianist David Jalbert around Chausson’s Concert. “The public follows us in these initiatives. The quality of listening is like nowhere else. To me, that means we can present any sort of program and the audience will remain loyal.
“There is also a convivial aspect to our concerts. The musicians introduce the works. This year, for example, violist Frédéric Lambert and double bassist Ali Yazdanfar will come to present a duo by Efrain Oscher at the grand opening concert.”

From Aug. 7 to 15. Owing to the pandemic, there will be two performances per concert, at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., plus online programming. www.concertsauxilesdubic.org

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

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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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