Going to the symphony in Montreal usually means an evening or afternoon of world-class musicianship, amazing acoustics and compelling conductors, but Pointe-à-Callière’s Port Symphonies turns such notions on their heads, moving the show outside and replacing strings and brass with ships and trains…
Pointe-à-Callière, the Montreal history and archaeology museum, has been hosting its Port Symphonies for 20 years now, challenging a local or international composer to pen a symphony to be performed using a variety of ship horns, train whistles and percussion found in the harbour of the Old Port – the result of that endeavour plays out near the museum at Place Royale on March 3 and March 10 at 1:30 p.m.
This year, in light of Pointe-à-Callière’s Japan-focused temporary exhibition Samurai: The Prestigious Collection of Richard Béliveau, the museum asked Japanese Montrealer Kota Nakamura to compose a work that would evoke the culture and history of Japan. The symphony, entitled Cymbidium, not only makes use of train whistles and tugboat horns, but incorporates human voices, flute, taiko drums and more.
While the armour and weaponry of Japan’s samurai tradition stand proudly displayed in all their finery inside the museum, representing one aspect of the country’s culture, Nakamura’s symphony, named after Japanese orchids that blossom in March, lends a lighter note to traditional and contemporary Japanese ways of life, while also commenting on the urban landscape of the Port of Montreal. The museum even adds another Japanese touch this weekend with their Nuit Blanche festivities including re-tellings of traditional samurai tales.
Pointe-à-Callière’s Port Symphonies, March 3 and 10, 2:30 p.m.
Photo Credit: © Noémie Letu