Music is in the crisp Montreal air throughout the holiday season, with musicians hitting all the right notes and choirs singing to the heavens…
Montreal is a city of many churches, some of which host spectacular Christmas concerts. Notre-Dame Basilica welcomes the Montreal Symphony Orchestra performing Hector Berlioz’s L’Enfance du Christ for the first time with Kent Nagano conducting the powerful orchestral and choral oratorio, December 19-20. The Basilica also hosts eight Quebecois singers interpreting traditional Christmas songs for the Les Stars chantent Noël concert, December 14-15 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. There’s even a chance to hear the Notre-Dame Basilica organ in action as organist Pierre Grandmaison rehearses on December 23-24 and 28-31 at 2 p.m. The Basilica’s Let There Be Light multi-media show also continues throughout the month.
Les Choralies Christmas concerts add harmonious voices to the quiet space of Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours in Old Montreal, every Saturday and Sunday afternoon at 1:30 and 3 p.m., including a jazz twist on December 9, gospel hymns on December 16, a closing concert on December 23 with the Da Capo ensemble. The Gesù, a downtown church that also has a concert venue, will be full of glorious sound on December 9 at 3 p.m. as the award-winning Le Choeur Gospel Célébration sings its Noël Divin program of Christmas and holiday-themed music. On December 16, the Gesù’s organ gets a workout in the French 18th century music of Les douze Noëls pour orgue de Louis-Claude Daquin, with organist François Zeitouni. And December 27-28 brings La Pastorale des Santons de Provence d’Yvan Audouard to the Gesù space.
The newly built Maison Symphonique de Montréal, downtown at Place des Spectacles, also rings in the holiday cheer this December. The Montreal Symphony Orchestra and conductor Kent Nagano add a twist to traditional Québécois music as Québec writer Bryan Perro tells a magical, Christmassy tale of two villages on the Saint-Maurice River – the storytelling is in French, while the music transcends language – December 14-15 at Maison symphonique de Montréal. The OSM and the Montreal Bach Festival present internationally renowned Collegium Vocale Gent performing Bach’s Christmas Oratorio on December 12-13. And The Orchestre Métropolitain, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, makes the month more romantic with performances of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 6 on December 8.
Festive sounds permeate the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts throughout the month in a series of Christmas- and holiday-themed concerts. Free choral concerts take place on December 9 (Cantivo Vocal Ensemble) and on December 16 (Westmount Harmonia) in the Hall of Bronzes of the Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion at 3 p.m., with local vocal groups lifting their voices high. In the museum’s grand Bourgie Hall, hear soprano Hélène Guilmette sing cantatas and traditional songs on December 12, soprano Suzie LeBlanc in a traditional concert of Advent music, with violinist, organist and conductor on December 16 at 3 p.m., and on December 28-29, join in on the Arte Musica choral concert Let’s Sing Christmas! at 2 p.m.
And if the natural world is your sanctuary, choirs also come to the Montreal Botanic Gardens this month, making themselves at home among the greenery in the festively decorated and lit-up main greenhouse December 8-9, 15-16, and 22-23 throughout the afternoon.