Over the course of fifteen days we have played eleven concerts in nine different cities with programmes featuring twelve major symphonic works, including Berlioz’ magnificent Symphonie Fantastique, Stravinsky’s Petrushka and Mahler’s concert-length Seventh Symphony. The artistry of our three invited soloists, Marc-André Hamelin, Ekaterina Lekhina and Kit Armstrong complemented and amplified the exemplary work of the OSM musicians.
Our trip offered a return to our roots as a touring ensemble. Indeed, in Vienna we were reminded that the OSM’s first concerts abroad took place there under the direction of Zubin Mehta in 1962. But it wasn’t all about looking back: there were some monumental firsts as well. Not only did the OSM perform Mahler for the first time in Vienna, but our concert was broadcast live from the Vienna Konzerthaus on medici.tv. Also, it was with great joy that for the concluding concert of the tour, I presented the OSM in Munich for the first time, a city where I served for many years.
Over the course of our travels we had to adjust our sound and style to many different acoustics, from the 19th century “temples of music” in Switzerland to the large modern halls in Spain. Concerts in Germany brought us back to Cologne and Munich, while we visited Essen and Oviedo in Spain for the first time. Each venue demanded a new approach to phrasing, pacing and dynamics, and in this the musicians of the OSM once again proved themselves to be highly sensitive and adaptable.
All our programming reflected the French and Russian elements for which the OSM first became well-known in Europe, but with the addition of a broader range of repertoire reflecting our growth over the last ten years. Also, in Switzerland we had the honour of creating a work by Swiss composer David Philip Hefti, while in Germany we were proud to present the work of the visionary Quebecois composer Claude Vivier.
Looking back at a successful tour that was saluted by critics both from home and abroad, I am proud of our musicians – their hard work and dedication to music and the art of performing are truly gratifying and humbling, not only for me but for the audiences as well. We have enjoyed good spirits, high energy and most of all, unrelentingly high standards of performance. We are glad to have had the chance to share what we do with the wider European public, and confident that our musicians have served as exemplary ambassadors for Montreal. As we have learned in past tours, the OSM’s special sound has a universal resonance – what better way to celebrate this fact than with concerts abroad!
From the bottom of our hearts, we wish to thank our hosts, presenters and partners without whom our touring activities would not be possible. We also thank the faithful Montreal public who are at the heart of why we do what we do, and what makes the OSM such a unique and special organisation. As we anticipate our imminent return to Montreal and the familiar surroundings of the Maison symphonique we look forward to greeting our home audience refreshed, re-invigorated and inspired from our travels. Until then!