Montreal Chamber music festivalArtistic Director Denis Brott on left. Crowds from the 2012 festival on right.
If this is a return visit for you, welcome back! If this is your first concert with us, please introduce yourself to me so that we might celebrate what has brought us together, our 18th Festival season.
Each year I have tried to offer you an exceptional chamber music experience. Last year our efforts were rewarded by record attendance and five national and regional awards including Tourisme Québec’s highest honours and two Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Awards given to Michael and me.
The Festival is particularly proud of this year’s lineup, our best ever. Below are a few highlights, a taste of what’s to come.
Our programming this year crosses borders with a first-ever exchange between the Festival and the Boston Chamber Music Society, led by my good friend and colleague for close to fifty years, Marcus Thompson. The Festival will celebrate Camille Saint-Saëns in a two concert mini-series featuring a star studded cast including the Fine Arts Quartet, Brazilian pianist Cristina Ortiz, OSM principal players Paul Merkelo, trumpet, and Ali Yazdanfar, bass, and the 14 year old future piano star, Annie Zhou. Each of these concerts will be preceded by a pre-concert lecture given by Saint-Saëns scholar Sabina Ratner.
A very special event will be our celebration of Bach. This week will be unique as we are joining hands with the Canada Council Musical Instrument Bank, Power Corporation of Canada and the Alex U. Soyka Foundation. We are the first presenter in the Canada Council’s history to bring together all the winners of the Musical Instrument Bank Competition who will all have come from the 2012 edition. We will be able to hear this truly extraordinary Canadian collection of 16 great violins and cellos made by Stradivarius, Guarneri, Gagliano, among others, as played by the most brilliant emerging string players Canada has to offer. Programs will feature a solo Bach night entitled Stradivarius etc., the complete Brandenburg Concerti led by the British baroque master violinist Elizabeth Wallfisch and the complete Violin Concerti as performed by Festival favorite, violinist Rachel Barton Pine. Our Bach week will also offer the 50th Anniversary concert of the Swingle Singers performing their best jazz Bach hits. Who could forget their last performance here with their 1812 Overture and the light show that closed their concert! Russian-American jazz piano sensation Eldar Djangirov, whom many have called the next Oscar Peterson, will also be on hand in a solo piano night entitled Three Stories.
There’s more! The great Emerson String Quartet introduces their new cellist Paul Watkins to the world, a first for Montreal and a coup for the Festival! Extraordinary French pianist Jean-Phillippe Collard returns to our stage in two evenings of French music and he will be joined by David Jalbert, the Cecilia String Quartet and others. The Festival ends on June 1st with a four-hour Everybody Loves Tchaikowsky marathon featuring the brilliant young New York pianist Conrad Tao and Israeli-American violin sensation Giora Schmidt, the Cecilia String Quartet and me. The final notes will feature a conductor-less performance of the magnificent String Serenade as played by 17 strings!
I can’t wait for this season and look forward to welcoming each and every one of you.
Enjoy your Festival season!