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Montréal’s star-studded winter-spring 2016 classical music season

Montréal’s winter-spring 2016 cultural season features many all-star concerts for classical music lovers. The return of famed Swiss Maestro Charles Dutoit with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal in the Maison symphonique for two much-anticipated concerts on February 18 and 20 with superstar Argentine pianist Martha Argerich (also former spouse of Dutoit) ranks as one of the most significant cultural events in Montréal in 2016, and is part of MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE. Dutoit, who turns 80 this year, will lead the OSM 14 years after his 24-year tenure as its legendary conductor, a period that witnessed the OSM’s elevation into the ranks of the world’s greatest orchestras. On the program: the overture of Roman Carnival, op. 9 by Berlioz; the Piano Concerto no 1 in C Major, op. 15, by Beethoven; Petrushka (the original 1911 version from) by Stravinsky; and La Valse by Ravel. Other concerts of note presented by the OSM this season include the concert recital Marie-Nicole Lemieux & The French Art of Song, presented in collaboration with Pro Musica at the Maison symphonique de Montréal on April 19, featuring internationally-acclaimed Quebec contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux, who was also appointed to the order of Canada in 2015; and three OSM Pop concerts with famed French entertainer Patrick… / Read More →

10 New Year’s resolutions you’ll keep… in Montréal

Whether we make them every year or we’ve sworn off them for life, New Year’s Resolutions can haunt us – the trick is to make your yearly promises as fun-loving as possible. And since Montréal is decidedly fun-loving, it’s easy to follow through on those quintessential New Year’s resolutions any time of the year. Eat a multi-course meal Eating is necessary to life, whether you’ve made a “lose-weight” resolution or not, and five-course meals aren’t something most of us enjoy every day – so why not dig in to Montréal’s best prix-fixe menus at award-winning hotel and independent gourmet restaurants serving delicious local creations, authentic French food, special late-night menus, and so much more. If you visit in late fall, take advantage of the slashed prices at dozens of restaurants during the MTL à TABLE Montréal restaurant week. If you’re here in February, look for gourmet specials at MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE. And from late February to early April, experience the Québec cabane à sucre sugar shack tradition. Drink the good stuff There’s no time like the present in Montréal to splurge on that cask-aged whiskey or gorgeous bottle of wine you’ve been dreaming about. Taste rare single malts and more… / Read More →

Montréal offers a chorus of song for the holiday season

’Tis the season to have your ears sweep you off your feet as many of Montréal’s illustrious choirs and orchestras – offering spirited gospel, pop, classical, jazz and more – bring their holiday A-game to the city’s best venues in the coming weeks. The award-winning Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir – who closed the Montreal International Jazz Festival this year and have collaborated with artists like Ray Charles, Céline Dion and Barry White – are prepping for the 33rd instalment of their hugely popular Gospel Celebration Christmas Show. Roof-raising gospel songs and a selection of festive faves are all on tap for what is guaranteed to be an unforgettable celebration of song at Théâtre Maisonneuve, in Place des Arts, December 6. Hallelujah! The magnificent Saint Joseph’s Oratory – Canada’s largest church, situated on the western slope of Mount Royal – plays host to some 2 million visitors each year, many of whom eagerly anticipate the annual series of Christmas concerts. Again this year, on December 4 (8 pm) and 5 (2:30 and 8 pm), the Basilica of the Oratory will play host to ten renowned artists performing 22 holiday arias in the company of Oratory organist Vincent Boucher musical director/bassist Jacques Roy. It’s a Wainwright holiday… / Read More →

MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE leaves the lights on even longer this year

The autumn leaves are barely off the trees, the first flurries have so far only teased, but winter festival MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE is already planning a “blizzard” of arts and entertainment. Their freshly announced programming includes surprises in every corner of performance – music, theatre, dance, circus and more – and some welcome news for those who can’t get enough of Montréal’s cold-weather fun fest. MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE, which annually attracts some 1,300,000 visitors, is already one of the largest winter festivals in the world, and now it will be one of the longest. The 2016 edition jumps from 11 to 17 days, February 18 to March 5, in order for families to take full advantage of the midwinter school break. Also new, as it is every year, is the festival’s featured country or city, and this year MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE will celebrate Shenzhen, China. One of the world’s most rapidly developing urban centers, Shenzhen (population 10 million) is a UNESCO City of Design and a major arts and culture hub, making it a fascinating ambassador for the many Chinese-themed events at the festival. First among these is the Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra – presenting Chinese and European classical works celebrating… / Read More →

10 (more) wonderful ways to explore Montréal

A second (or third or fourth) visit to Montréal is a time for really getting to know the city and its people – but where to start digging deeper? We’ve compiled a top-ten list that’s all about going beyond the main attractions – check our 10 Montréal “musts” for first-time visitors first so you don’t miss any of those! See a Show at Place des Arts Live music, theatre, dance and more is all under the roof of Place des Arts, the city’s biggest theatre complex, right downtown in the Quartier des spectacles. Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and Orchestre Métropolitain play classical favourites and new music in the new Maison Symphonique, Opéra de Montréal stages lush opera productions, Danse Danse brings international dance stars to the Montreal stage, and rock stars and Broadway shows make appearances at PdA throughout the year. Shop the Plateau Find speciality stores and Canadian and Quebecois designers’ boutiques as well as bookstores, furniture and more on the streets of the Plateau neighbourhood, especially on Saint-Denis Street and Saint-Laurent Boulevard north of Sherbrooke, Mont-Royal Avenue in the several blocks east and west of the Mont-Royal Metro station, and along Laurier Avenue west of Saint-Laurent. and if… / Read More →

Montréal Shows Off its incredible fall cultural calendar

We’re standing on the doorstep to September, and while we have lived and loved our gorgeous Montréal summer, we can’t wait for fall because the city’s got a cultural calendar that’s bursting with discovery. Looking for something to do? Let’s peruse just a sample of what Montréal’s got in store this autumn. Dance   The pleasure and passion of dance is everywhere this fall, from the lovely pirouettes and astonishing jetées of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal to the raw expressiveness of contemporary dance troupes like La La La Human Steps. Experience the seduction of salsa at the Salsathèque, the passion of flamenco, the amped-up energy of breakdance battles, or the fun of freestyling yourself! History The cooler weather tends to trigger a little nostalgia and introspection, and a great way to let it run its course is wandering through some of our halls of history. Whether you’re walking through the city’s past with the help of Montréal en histoires cutting-edge app, delving into stories of our communities at the McCord Museum or taking in an exhibition on the fascinating Aztec civilization at the Pointe-à-Callière Museum, a trip back in time is great for reconnecting. Music Montréal’s music scene… / Read More →

Meet a Montrealer: Maestro Kent Nagano

Grammy-winning Maestro Kent Nagano has come a long way from the American concentration camps his Japanese-American parents and grandparents were imprisoned in during the Second World War. Nagano, born in Berkeley, California, in 1951, overcame much racism in his youth, was given his first real big break by the late Frank Zappa in 1982. In the 1980s Nagano was a student of legendary American composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein, and Nagano would go on to win Grammy Awards and work with the likes of Björk, Sting and Paul McCartney, as well as Sophia Loren, Bill Clinton and Mikhail Gorbachev. Nagano – the rock star of the classical world – was named Music Director of the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal in 2006, a contract extended until 2020. Nagano sat down to talk about Montréal and his upcoming projects. What is your favourite pastime? My favourite pastime is making music. How long have you been a Montrealer? I was convinced since the first time I visited Montréal around 1999 that this city was the place to be. What is the coolest thing you’ve done so far this year? (Laughs) You know, I’m really not cool at all. But my daughter thought it was really cool… / Read More →

A classical start to spring with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal

One of the true crown jewels in Montréal’s rich cultural scene, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (OSM) is a gateway to an internationally acclaimed range of classical music. From within its slick, contemporary headquarters at the Maison symphonique de Montréal, it’s planning a spring full of treats for connoisseurs and newbies alike. Here are 10 concerts not to be missed between March and May. Adventures in the East kicks off the month on March 4 (8 p.m.) and 8 (2:30 p.m.) with a program presented in collaboration with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and its exhibition Marvels and Mirages of Orientalism: From Spain to Morocco, Benjamin-Constant in His Time. Directed by Kent Nagano, the concert features pieces by Saint-Saëns, Dukas and Strauss (“Dance of the Seven Veils”, from Salome), as well as the world premiere of works inspired by Sephardic and Arab-Andalousian songs by contemporary Montréal composer Kiya Tabassian. The eastern inflections continue with the concert on March 7 (9 p.m.), Travels with Philip Glass, which unites the work of Tabassian and Dukas with that of groundbreaking composer Glass. From March 11 to 13, flamboyant contemporary pianist Lang Lang is on the menu with two concerts, one titled Kent Nagano Greets Lang Lang (on March 11 and 12, 8 p.m.), the other… / Read More →

Things to Do in Montreal: August 9–15

Enjoy Montreal-made entertainment and August’s sunny days at several outdoor events this week, ranging from rock and blues music festivals to orchestra performances to live graffiti art – all the while, eat well at food and cultural festivals…