Mission, vision, history

Mission, vision, history



The original Orchestre des CSM in 1934 under the direction of Wilfrid Pelletier

Since its founding in 1934, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal has distinguished itself as a leader in the orchestral life of Canada and Québec. A cultural ambassador of the highest order, the Orchestra has earned an enviable reputation internationally through the quality of its many recordings and tours. The OSM carries on that rich tradition under the leadership of its Music Director, Kent Nagano, while featuring innovative programming aimed at updating the orchestral repertoire and deepening the Orchestra’s connection with the community.

The excellence and vision of the OSM have been shaped over the years by its music directors: Wilfrid Pelletier, a Montrealer by birth and first Artistic Director of the Orchestra; Désiré Defauw; Igor Markevitch; Zubin Mehta, with whom the Orchestra toured in Europe for the first time; Franz-Paul Decker; Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos; Charles Dutoit, who collaborated with the Orchestra for close to 25 years and under whom the OSM achieved great prominence on the international scene; and, since September 2006, Kent Nagano.

The Music Directors of the OSM: Wilfrid Pelletier (1935-1941), Désiré Defauw (1941-1953), Igor Markevitch (1957-1961), Zubin Mehta (1961-1967), Franz-Paul Decker (1967-1975), Rafael Frübeck de Burgos (1975-1976), Charles Dutoit (1977-2002), Kent Nagano (2006- )

Over the years the Orchestra has performed on more than 40 tours and some 30 national and international excursions. The OSM has carried out ten tours in Asia, eleven in Europe and three in South America. Under the direction of Kent Nagano, the OSM presented a concert at Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris (2006), did its first cross-Canada tour (2007), and in September 2008 Maestro Nagano and seven musicians from the Orchestra set off on a historic tour of Nunavik, in northern Québec, where their program included Stravinsky’s Soldier’s Tale narrated in Inuktitut. Kent Nagano and the Orchestra have appeared twice in Carnegie Hall (2008 and 2011), where the OSM played almost every year between 1982 and 2004 to sold-out halls. In 2011 the OSM took part for the first time in the Edinburgh International Festival. Kent Nagano and the Orchestra have together done a tour in South America (2013) and two European tours (2008 and 2014), and performed the OSM’s first concerts in China, in 2014.

The OSM has made over 100 recordings for Decca, EMI, Philips, CBC Records, Analekta, ECM and Sony as well as on its own label, which have earned it some 50 national and international awards.

In September 2011 the OSM and Maestro Nagano inaugurated Maison symphonique de Montréal, the Orchestra’s new home. The construction of this concert hall was made possible thanks to the Government of Québec. The hall’s acoustics bear the signature of the firm Artec Consultants Inc., while its architecture was entrusted to Diamond Schmitt Architects Inc. in association with Ædifica Architects.

Inaugurated on May 28, 2014, at Maison symphonique, the Grand Orgue Pierre-Béique was generously offered to the OSM by Mrs. Jacqueline Desmarais. It was manufactured by the house of Casavant on behalf of the OSM (and is the Orchestra’s property), with the collaboration of architects Diamond Schmitt + Ædifica for its visual design.

The OSM offers its varied audience an increasingly rich programming, one that consists of orchestral concerts, recitals, chamber music, and performances featuring the OSM Chorus and the Grand Orgue Pierre-Béique. Moreover, the OSM is recognized for the innovative projects that have marked it history. During the 2008-2009 season, the Orchestra’s 75th anniversary, the OSM presented the opera Saint François d’Assise by composer Olivier Messiaen, which was awarded the Grand Prix (2008) from the Conseil des arts de Montréal. The 75th season additionally was the subject of the documentary Montreal Symphony by director Bettina Ehrhardt, named Best Canadian Film at the 2010 edition of Montreal’s International Festival of Films on Art. During the 2014-2015 season the OSM presented L’Aiglon, a work by Honegger and Ibert, in a North American premiere, which was also the first project in a renewed partnership with Decca Classics, the label on which the Orchestra recorded some 80 albums between the early 1980s and the early 2000s. The OSM figures prominently outside the concert hall thanks to the broadcast of concerts on a variety of platforms, enabling it to reach thousands of music lovers around the world.