The Metropolitan Orchestra of Montreal has provided me with many hours of music excellence over the past year. The greatest accolade I can pay them is that they take their performances out into the surrounding areas of Montreal and not just stay at Place Des Arts. The ticket prices at PdA are ridiculous and many people are forced out of the market. A local church or similar setting along with adult prices of $22-$25 is far more reasonable and that is what I have done with my 4 performances.
Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the Artistic Director and Principal Conductor is a delight to watch. He brings such enthusiasm to the performance and you can see the respect he has for the musicians. I do find the whole conducting part to be way over my head in terms of what waving the baton actually does but I do know that after 2 performances by Yannick he seems to know what he is doing. He always looked so happy and relaxed on the stage, like he was having fun, and that conveyed itself to the Orchestra and those of us fortunate enough to be in the audience. I specifically remember watching the majority of the performances with a big grin on my face 🙂
Another person whom I have had the honour to watch perform twice is a young man by the name of Stéphane Tétreault, a Quebecois Cello prodigy with a very unique style. The passion he has for his instrument is clearly seen by his playing style and facial expressions. If you watch the clip below you will see what I mean. Here, and during the two performances I saw, he literally jumps out of his chair when he plays and you can almost see the music on his face. All this was rather surprising to me when I first saw him play back in December, classical music does have a reputation as a “upper class” activity and raw emotion is not something you usually associate with it, so in this regard, Stéphane was a joy to watch.
I have been to two other concerts by the Metropolitan with Philadelphia Conductor Cristian Măcelaru and a young Japanese-American Conductor called Kensho Watanabe. Yannick Nézet-Séguin provides a connection to both as he also conducts for the Philadelphia Orchestra and Kensho has just completed his training under his guidance in the US. The two concerts with were also a joy to listen to and I shall look out for them both if they ever visit Montreal.
The other major Orchestra in Montreal is of course the Symphony Orchestra and I have now been to two of their performances. Unlike the Metropolitain they do not venture out of Place des Arts and they their prices sadly reflect this. I will try to get to more of their performances but only if I can find a reasonably priced ticket.
The first concert I have to tell you about was back in February and featured that annoying but memorable ringtone William Tell Overture. It was quite an experience to hear such a famous piece of music played before me. Other pieces played during this concert were Symphony #5 by Mendelssohn, which I enjoyed.
and Concerto for Piano #1 by Brahms, which I enjoyed less. Not because it was not good, the guest Pianist was Emanuel Ax and he was great, it is just that found the notes to be too “harsh”. I do prefer the Violin/Viola and wind instruments to the keys. You can have a listen for yourself here.
My final concert was one from an absolute legend in the music and film industry. This man has been composing music and film scores for over 50 years. He has 3 Academy Award nominations and a host of other accolades and awards, his name is Philip Glass and his performance was outstanding. Two pieces stood out for me that evening. The first was Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists and Orchestra (2000), what a stunning piece that was.
The second was when Mr Glass himself took to the stage and performed his piece Mad Rush. I have been able to find the actual performance online as CBC recorded the event for one of their programmes. I am so glad I found this so I can see the close up of his hands as he plays. We were right up on the balcony, in the Cheap Seats so you don’t get to witness the finer details of the performance.
That is everything for now. I hope to get out to a few performances during the upcoming Jazz Festival (like last year) and to other venues showcasing musical talent.