Saturday, July 9, 2011

34th Festival de Lanaudière, July 9-Aug 7

Over the next month, the 34th edition of the Festival de Lanaudière takes place in Joliette, just north and east of Montreal. It is the largest Classical music festival in Canada. The festival presents a series of intimate recitals in the historic churches of the region and performances by famous symphony orchestras at Amphithéâtre Fernand-Lindsay.

In addition to Kent Nagano and the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, Bernard Labadie with Les Violons du Roy, and Yannick Nézet-Séguin leading the Orchestre Métropolitain, former OSM conductor Charles Dutoit will be making a return to Quebec with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Next year, Yannick Nézet-Séguin takes over from Dutoit as the Principal Conductor in Philadelphia.

Soloists performing at the festival include pianists such as Alain Lefèvre, Kirill Gerstein, Arnaldo Cohen, Valentina Lisitsa, Serhiy Salov and Pascal Amoyel. Many of the concerts will feature the underappreciated music of Franz Liszt, in recognition of the bicentennial of his birth.

A series of films are projected outdoors, free of charge, on the Tuesday evenings. The films screened will be Radu Mihaileanu's Le Concert, Todd Graff's rock comedy Bandslam, Luc Dionne's L'Enfant Prodige (The Child Prodigy) and Disney's Fantasia.


Unique Encounters

July 9 – August 7, 2011

UNIQUE! – This is the catch-word that describes perfectly each of the 22 concerts scheduled for the 34th season of the Festival de Lanaudière this summer. Twenty-two events render unique by artists delivering memorable performances and by the magical settings of the Fernand Lindsay Amphitheatre and churches of the Lanaudière region. Kent Nagano, Charles Dutoit, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Bernard Labadie and Jean-Marie Zeitouni – no denying it, 2011 is the year of the great conductors at Lanaudière. It is the year of great conductors but also of great soloists and great discoveries. Alain Lefèvre, Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Susan Graham and Kirill Gerstein will be there in addition to romantic opera (Der Vampyr) and a tribute to Liszt. The catalogue of diverse artistic offerings is long, delivering to audiences a new delight every night.


The 2011 season kicks off on Saturday, July 9 at the Amphitheatre with an all-Beethoven concert. At this event, Yannick Nézet-Séguin leads the Orchestre Métropolitain, the Choeur du Métropolitain, the Choeur Fernand-Lindsay and soloists Layla Claire (soprano), Julie Boulianne (mezzo-soprano), John Tessier (tenor) and Nathan Berg (baritone) in the celebrated Ninth Symphony. The entire audience will surely be intrigued with this recreation of the exact program that took place on May 7, 1824, when the sensational Ninth had its first public performance.


The world premiere at the Festival by Alain Lefèvre of the 24 Preludes by François Dompierre, originally scheduled for July 15, has been postponed until next year. In the meantime, music lovers will be pleased to know that Mr. Lefèvre will perform André Mathieu’s Piano Concerto No. 4, a work that has never before been heard at the Amphitheatre. He will be joined by the Orchestre de la Francophonie and conductor Jean-Philippe Tremblay. The decision to make this change was made in view of the overwhelming international success of “Mathieu-Lefèvre” and of the hundreds of enthusiastic messages the pianist has received from music lovers asking him to continue championing André Mathieu. In addition, we are taking advantage of this change of program to remind concert-goers of the Liszt anniversary year, with the Orchestre de la Francophonie playing three of his finest orchestral compositions.


As part of the Festival’s tradition of offering Quebec audiences concerts by the world’s greatest orchestras, we are pleased to welcome the Philadelphia Orchestra and its Principal Conductor Charles Dutoit on July 22 and 23. This also marks the grand return of Maestro Dutoit to Quebec.

On Friday, July 22, these incomparable musicians will perform Ravel’s La Valse, Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances and a suite of excerpts from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet. The next night, they will be joined by pianist Kirill Gerstein, winner of the 2010 Gilmore Award, one of the most prestigious prizes in the world of classical music. He will play Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No. 2. Also on the program are Sibelius’ Finlandia and Berlioz’ Symphonie fantastique.


On Saturday, July 30, the Festival offers opera lovers an irresistible treat: Heinrich Marschner’s romantic opera Der Vampyr with a first-class, all-Canadian cast and crew. Soloists Phillip Addis (baritone), Marianne Fiset (soprano), Frederic Antoun (tenor), Nathalie Paulin (soprano), Robert Pomakov (bass), Chad Louwerse (baritone) and Tracy Smith Bessette (soprano) will be joined by the Orchestre du Festival led by Jean-Marie Zeitouni. Staging will be in the hands of Alain Gauthier, winner of a 2010 Opus Prize for his work with the Opéra de Montréal.


This season, the Festival takes pleasure in welcoming a number of Quebec’s leading orchestras. In addition to those already mentioned – the Orchestre Métropolitain, the Orchestre de la Francophonie and the Orchestre du Festival – we will hear the Sinfonia de Lanaudière, the Orchestre symphonique de Québec, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and Les Violons du Roy.

The Orchestre symphonique de Québec will appear in the Sunday afternoon series, on July 17 in an array of works we never tire of hearing: Dvořák’s New World Symphony, Liszt’s Second Hungarian Rhapsody and Johann Strauss’s Overture to Die Fledermaus. This concert also offers the audience the opportunity to discover one of our most promising young conductors, Jean-Michaël Lavoie, who has already acquired an enviable reputation abroad.

The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal will make two appearances at the Amphitheatre in 2011, the first on Friday, July 29 with one of the greatest Russian conductors of our time on the podium, Gennady Rozhdestvensky. The all-Russian program is steeped in romanticism, rich colors and passionate flair: Prokofiev’s Overture on Hebrew Themes, Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini with pianist Viktoria Postnikova, and Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony.

With the return of its music director Kent Nagano on August 6, the OSM will be joined by the magnificent soprano Susan Graham in Mahler’s Rückert Lieder, eloquent testimony to this composer’s artistic maturity and poetic efflorescence. The program will also include Stravinsky’s complete Firebird ballet score and Takemitsu’s A Flock Descends into the Pentagonal Garden.

Over the years, Les Violons du Roy and the Chapelle de Québec conducted by Bernard Labadie have established a reputation for excellence that transcends borders resulting from their unity of ensemble and finesse in performances of music of the Baroque and Classical periods. On Friday, August 5, we will enjoy these qualities in the performance of an audience favorite, Mozart’s Requiem, and in a lesser-known work yet one that Beethoven, Liszt, Schumann and Berlioz loved, the Cherubini Requiem.

The Orchestre du Festival is part and parcel of the summer landscape for music lovers. Their two appearances will be devoted to the opera Der Vampyr, conducted by Jean-Marie Zeitouni and, on Saturday, July 16, to a concert featuring our most famous contralto, Marie-Nicole Lemieux. Berlioz’ sublime Les Nuits d’ete forms the centerpiece of this program, in addition to arias from Massenet’s Werther (“Werther, Werther! Qui m’aurait dit la place”), Saint-Saëns’ Samson et Dalila (“Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix”) and Berlioz’ Les Troyens (“Je vais mourir”).


The Festival is observing the bicentennial of the birth of Franz Liszt with recitals in tribute to the composer and his work, given in the heritage churches throughout the Lanaudière region. Pianists Arnaldo Cohen, Valentina Lisitsa, Serhiy Salov and Pascal Amoyel give us original compositions and transcriptions, some acknowledged masterpieces, others curiosities.


The Desjardins Concerts, presented each Sunday afternoon throughout the season, are a perfect combination of music, relaxation, conviviality and discovery. Hear concerts of classical music and offerings from the worlds of jazz and ethnic music with family and friends. In 2011, the first of these will be a concert by the Sinfonia de Lanaudière conducted by Stephane Laforest, who will present some of Mozart’s best. This will be the first in a new series entitled “Pourquoi c’est Beau”, created by the Festival’s Artistic Director, Alex Benjamin. Mr. Benjamin joins forces with
conductor and orchestra to explain what makes Mozart great, describing the works on the program and guiding us through the music. An event that will please both the novice and the aficionado.

Jazz lovers will surely not want to miss the concert by the Blok Note Big Band on July 24 entitled “Sinatra: the Big Hits.” In addition to popular songs of this twentieth-century icon, the instrumentalists and singers of this swing group will perform big band favorites. On Sunday, July 31, the eclectic Quartetto Gelato visits the Amphitheatre for a program that combines masterpieces of the classical repertory, operatic excerpts, tangos and ethnic music. On the following Sunday, the Gypsies of Sarajevo will light up the stage in a veritable gypsy music fest.


In what has become a “must” on the summer cultural calendar, Loto-Québec’s open-air film series returns for the sixth straight year. Well-protected under the Amphitheatre roof, musical film buffs are invited to attend these Tuesday evening showings entirely free of charge: Le Concert, Bandslam, L’Enfant prodige and Fantasia (all films screened in French only). Thanks go to our partners Loto-Québec, Place des Arts and the cities of Joliette, St-Charles-Borromée and Notre Dame-des Prairies, who make these events possible.


For the first time, Festival audiences can enjoy concerts from a brand new perspective. With the addition of four giant screens at the Amphitheatre offering unsurpassed image quality, music lovers can appreciate the technical detail that goes into performances from the soloists and groups performing at the Amphitheatre. The emotional power of music has never been so great!

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