Much acclaimed on the international contemporary music scene, the Quasar saxophone quartet is celebrating its milestone 25th anniversary this year. From its first concert in 1994 till now, all four members have never wavered in their commitment to the group and its dedication towards all things creative. For its current concert season, the group intends to focus more on the future than the past, with a view of renewing itself.
Marie-Chantal Leclair, Quasar’s managing director and soprano player, recalls the foursome’s first outing: “We premiered four pieces that evening, and it was more than a wish for us to do that, but a need. As a performer, you are always excited to play new works for the first time because of the challenge they pose to outdo yourself and turn over a new leaf, so to speak, so there’s no time to get bored.” This view is shared by her bandmates, brother Mathieu on alto, life partner Jean-Marc Bouchard on baritone and André Leroux manning the tenor chair.
True to itself, Quasar has an eclectic program of concerts on tap for its 2019-2020 season, staged for the most part at the Théâtre du Gesù. Two highlights worth checking out are the famous Stockholm Saxofonkvartett and Quasar-Chestra II, an event involving students at McGill University’s Schulich School of Music. The program for that show will be divided between premieres of works by Simon Bertrand and Jenny Hettne, and compositions by Alexandre David and Dawn Hatfield. Quasar will also match wits with the Quatuor Molinari in Projet Anticosti, another first that will occur at the Lion d’Or. Dedicated as they are to the cause of audience development for contemporary music, quartet members will also participate in open public discussions to be held at the Espace Custeau of the Gesù.
Not be overlooked either is its special anniversary event (Quasar a 25 ans) staged during Arte Musica’s ninth annual concert season. Works from composers as diverse as Florent Schmitt, Michel Frigon, Iannis Xenakis, Michael Oesterle and Ülo Krigul will be performed anew that evening. “We are delighted to play pieces that mean so much to us in front of a new audience at the Salle Bourgie,” Leclair says.
Quasar will also be hitting the road, with tours of British Columbia and Ontario, then south of the border to the United States and Mexico, even over to Europe. For all of its international acclaim, the quartet’s heart and soul is still in Montreal. Leclair is adamant about this when talking about the city’s contemporary music scene. “We must be proud about what we have here,” she says. “The scene is so vibrant, and it’s been like that since we started. And so many talented people who keep the music brewing…My greatest wish is that Quebecers, and Montrealers in particular, acquaint themselves a little more with our exceptional scene. If we and other groups are making names for ourselves abroad, then we really have something to offer.”
Translation by Marc Chénard
More on the 2019-2020 concert season of Quasar at www.quasar4.com