A new school year, a new month of plenty of free stuff in Montreal! And you definitely don’t have to be a student to appreciate it– from all things pop music to top-notch classical symphonic performances to local jazz greats, plus literature, art, photography and even marathon running, September seems to have everyone’s tastes covered when it comes to gratuit…
(free pop) Music lovers have been flocking to the Pop Montreal festival for the past 9 years – and now we’re celebrating 10 whole years of the little fest that could! While most of the shows aren’t free (they’re pretty cheap though!), there’s plenty that is. The biggest free ticket is the outdoor Arcade Fire show at Places des Festivals on September 22, of course, but free shows are scattered here and there throughout the fest (at venues like Divan Orange, Le Pick-Up, Santropol and the Notman House), and there’s also an entire Pop Symposium free for the learnin’, with music and industry related talks and workshops throughout the fest, as well as Art Pop, including art from The Raincoats and Marcel Dzama, at POP Quarters (3450 St-Urbain) and at the SAT (1201 St-Laurent).
(outside art) Art and performance festival Escales Improbables launches its 8th edition on September 7 with a wide selection of music, dance, theatre and art installations at the Quays of the Old Port every day until September 11. Take an audio stroll around the world in installation La Babel Sonore, watch the live painting of Collective RGB, witness L’Ensemble Karel’s urban soundscape sculpture, listen to Nozen’s blend of jazz, modern music and traditional Jewish music, and more.
(photo op) Working with the theme of lucidity, the 12th edition of Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal (September 8 to October 9) sheds much-needed light on these dark times and shows us the world in all its shades of grey and bright colours alike. The international biennale event pushes the boundaries of what photography is capable of in its 25 solo exhibitions, outdoor installations and group shows by artists from Canada and around the world. Le Mois de la Photo launches with a free party and exhibition for all on September 8 at Arsenal (2020 William – corner of Canning and Notre-Dame W.), 6 p.m. and continues there and at local galleries, including several in downtown Montreal, Dazibao in the Cinematheque Quebecoise and, in the Plateau neighbourhood, Articule, Clark and Maison de la culture du Plateau-Mont-Royal.
(latin quarter flavor) OUMF, Montreal’s newest music, film and arts festival, takes place in the city’s Latin Quarter (on and around St-Denis between Ste-Catherine E. and Sherbrooke) until September 10. Along with public art installations, film screenings at the Cinémathèque Québécoise and National Film Board’s CinéRobothèque, every evening from 4 p.m. until late, there’s music in the street from local bands like We Are Wolves, Parlovr, Valleys and Random Recipe, and in the metro from Regroupement des Musiciens du Métro de Montréal. Also check out the urban-inspired work of graduate design students at UQAM’’s Place Pasteur. A few days later, on September 15 at noon, UQAM presents an outdoor performance by sound artists Jean-Pierre Gauthier and Mirko Sabatini at Place Émilie-Gamelin.
(literary minds) For lovers of both the French language and literature, Le Festival International de La Littérature has arrived, with readings, discussions, film screenings and more from Montreal, Quebec and around the world, September 16–25. While most of the festival’s literary events are reasonably priced to begin with, a handful are just plain free. From September 16-23, from 5–7 p.m. at the Cabaret des Terrasses Saint-Sulpice, there are poetry readings MC’d by José Acquelin and accompanied by live music. Le Grand Bibliothèque screens documentary films about major Quebec writers: Gallimard on September 18 and Gaston Miron on September 24. And on September 22 in the foyer of Place des Arts, choreographer and dancer Paul-André Fortier begins his 30-day in-situ work, Le Solo 30×30, with new contributions from 30 invited writers, taking place every evening at 5:15 p.m. until October 21.
(all that jazz) The Montreal Jazz Festival isn’t confined to a few fabulous summer weeks this year: starting September 16, the Bistro Le Balmoral turns into a late-night jazz club every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 9 p.m. The first four weekends are like a mini jazz fest: Jean Félix Mailloux and Jérôme Beaulieu on September 16 and John Roney on September 17, the gypsy jazz of the Christine Tassan trio on September 22, Martin Tremblay on the 23 and Lou Boustani on the 24, a weekend of blues with Dan Livingstone on September 29, bassist Stephen Barry and guitarist Andrew Cowan on September 30.
(classical autumn) The Montreal Symphony Orchestra has a brand new home! Doors open September 8 at 2 p.m., with free guided tours of the concert hall and performances by emerging pianists, throat singers, a string orchestra, a contemporary ensemble as well as duos and trios from around Quebec. Tours and concerts continue September 9 at 12:30 p.m. and September 10. at 2 p.m. And the 13th Orgue et Couleurs Fall Festival of classical organ music runs September 23 to October 2, featuring free lunch-time concerts and reasonably priced evening concerts at churches, music venues, cultural centres around town.
(walk and run) Cheer on participants or be a participant yourself in Ca Marche, a walk to benefit people living with HIV and AIDS and break down social stigmas. Proceeds go to local organizations dedicated to the overall health and welfare of Montreal’s diverse communities. And on September 25, see the Oasis Marathon de Montreal, with long-distance runners from Montreal and around the world. The marathon starts at the Jacques-Cartier Bridge in Parc Jean-Drapeau at 8:30 a.m. and follows a winding course to Parc Maisonneuve, home of the Olympic Stadium and Montreal Botanical Gardens. If you’re an avid runner yourself, check out the Expo Marathon exhibition and market place at Place Bonaventure, September 22–24.
(open culture) At the very end of September comes Journees de la Culture (September 30 to October 2), a weekend of free activities around the city, celebrating the arts in Montreal, in tandem with celebrations across the province. Now in its 15th year, the community-driven festival promises even more, including an open invitation to musicians to play John Cage’s 4’33 outside at McGill’s Queen Victoria statue, a exhibition by Hans-Peter Feldmann at Cinémathèque québécoise, performances and workshops in art, dance, theatre, music and writing, and as always, open doors to almost all of the city’s galleries and museums.