Montreal, March 22, 2018 – The year 1934 saw the birth of the Société des concerts symphoniques de Montréal, which in 1953 would become the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. Over the years, the OSM made a name for itself as Montreal’s cultural ambassador for music. Today, the OSM and Kent Nagano unveiled the 2018-2019 programming marking the OSM’s 85th season. At a glance, the season offers more than 100 concerts, 60 programs, 112 artists and 2 tours.

“The OSM’s 85th season is a reflection of the strong Montreal tradition, a musical tradition which has always had a core. This is to say that in our tradition, a symphony is a picture or a metaphor for human life and human experiences. It is a gigantic palette of styles with special connections to the folklore of many countries and regions within. A symphony is “diversity in unity” and it is exactly that which makes up our special social life in both small and large scale. We invite you all to celebrate with us this rich musical tradition. ” – OSM Musical Director Kent Nagano


The 85th season of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal will be a great celebration of the cultural wealth of our shared territory. The opening concert, conducted by Maestro Kent Nagano, will showcase diversity with a captivating program. The Orchestra presents Ravel’s Bolero, a landmark work for Montreal audiences, and one that helped the OSM become the first Canadian orchestra to sell over 100,000 copies of a recording in 1984. The Rite of Spring, a resolutely contemporary composition for ballet by Stravinsky that caused a scandal at its premiere, will follow. Joining the two works will be the world premiere of a chamber opera in Cree, commissioned from Canadian composer Matthew Ricketts and Cree-Canadian author Tomson Highway: Chaakapesh, The Trickster’s Quest, inspired by a Cree legend. The OSM will be taking this work on tour when they revisit audiences in Northern Quebec and Nunavik in September 2018. *

The season will close with an evening devoted entirely to Berlioz (MAY 29, 31 AND JUNE 1), marking the 150th anniversary of the French composer’s death. On the program, the Symphonie fantastique, a major work in the Orchestra’s repertoire, and the subject of more than one OSM recording. The Symphonie fantastique will be preceded by Lélio, a work incorporating music and spoken text that was written as a sequel to the symphony. These two autobiographical works are rarely presented on the same bill. The role of Lélio will be performed by the French actor Lambert Wilson.


The OSM and Kent Nagano invite music lovers to four concerts over four days to witness performances of the complete Brahms symphonies (Feb. 7-10). Four films will also be screened as part of these original programs, accompanied by contemporary works, including premieres by Canadian composers Simon Bertrand and Zosha di Castri, as well as French composer Régis Campo. The films are presented thanks to a collaboration with the National Film Board of Canada and the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema at Concordia University. Featured guest soloists include violinist Veronika Eberle, pianist Rudolf Buchbinder and OSM bass clarinettist André Moisan.


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart left to posterity a great number of sublime symphonic and vocal works. The OSM presents Encounters with Mozart from April 16 to 18, 2019. Under the direction of Bernard Labadie and Hervé Niquet, featured works include Mozart’s unfinished masterwork, the Requiem, Symphonies Nos. 36 and 39, Piano Concerto No. 21 featuring French pianist Alexandre Tharaud, the overture to Der Schauspieldirektor (The Impresario), and A Little Night Music. Two chamber music pre-concerts will be offered to ticket holders, offering a rich overview of the many musical genres mastered by Mozart.


2019 marks the 5th anniversary of the Grand Orgue Pierre-Béique, gifted to the OSM by the late Madame Jacqueline Desmarais and built by Casavant Frères. Honouring this great instrument its 6,489 pipes, Maison symphonique will host some great names from the organ world: Thierry Escaich, for a start, who will set the instrument resonating to images from the classic movie Nosferatu for a Halloween evening (OCT. 30). Quebec’s Isabelle Demers who will pay tribute to French composers with the recital Symphonic France (JAN. 31) and Olivier Latry, the OSM’s organist emeritus who will join a number of other organists for The Grand Orgue Pierre-Béique: Anniversary Concert (MAY 19), a recital celebrating this majestical and versatile instrument. A fourth evening of organ music is sure to delight: Improv and Organ (FEB. 22), with master of ceremonies François-Etienne Paré and actors including Réal Bossé and Salomé Corbo, who will improvise to the music played by the evening’s organists, among them Jean-Willy Kunz, OSM organist in residence.


The Christmas tradition launched by Kent Nagano and Fred Pellerin in 2011 carries on this year by popular demand with a brand-new conte – Les jours de la semelle (DEC. 12, 13, 15) – featuring the colorful characters of the now famous village of Saint-Élie-de-Caxton. The OSM also revives one of its most cherished traditions, presenting Handel’s Messiah (DEC. 18), this time under the direction of Paul McCreesh, one of the great specialists in Baroque music. The oratorio has been performed by the OSM over 40 times since 1958 and remains one of the Orchestra’s most frequently played works. A classic not to be missed!

Radio-Canada, a loyal OSM partner, will broadcast the premiere of the Fred Pellerin concert over ICI RADIO-CANADA TÉLÉ on December 23, 2018, at 8 p.m.


In addition to the films presented as part of the Brahms week, the love story between music and cinema continues. The Orchestra will screen among others, The Artist – the silent movie that took the Oscar for Best Picture in 2012 – under the direction of the 2017 Opus Awards “Discovery of the Year”, Dina Gilbert (JAN. 8); City Lights by the great Charlie Chaplin (NOV. 6); and Nosferatu (OCT. 30), a masterpiece of German expressionism.


Since the time of Wilfrid Pelletier, the OSM’s first music director, education has been at the heart of the Orchestra’s mission, making it possible for young people to discover orchestral music. Children’s Corner, which blends theatre and music, offers 60-minute concerts for the whole family. Conducted by OSM conductor in residence Adam Johnson, concerts that will charm both kids and grownups include Puss in Boots (NOV. 18), with actors Didier Lucien; Peter and the Wolf (JAN. 27), narrated by Patrice Bélanger (also the OSM’s young-audience ambassador); and Pinocchio (MAY 12), designed and narrated by Lionel Rougerie. On the program for these three concerts, works by Bartók, Poulenc, Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Bizet, Gounod and Kosma.


Many outstanding soloists and conductors will be joining us on the Maison symphonique stage: violinists Julian Rachlin (OCT.18, 20) and Anne-Sophie Mutter in a rare Montreal appearance (MARCH 15); conductors James Feddeck (OCT. 2, 3), Christoph Eschenbach, last here in 1989 (OCT. 18, 20), Juraj Valčuha (OCT. 24, 25), François-Xavier Roth (OCT 31, NOV 1), Alain Altinoglu (NOV. 13, 14), Paul McCreesh (Dec. 18), Dina Gilbert (JAN. 8), Nikolaj Znaider (JAN. 12, 13), David Robertson (JAN. 16, 17), Hervé Niquet (APR. 16, 18), Bernard Labadie (APR. 17, 18), Pablo Heras-Casado (MAY 8, 9), Karina Canellakis (MAY 15, 16, 17), and the American Michael Tilson Thomas, conducting for the very first time in Montreal (MAY 22, 23). Pianists Charles Richard-Hamelin (OCT. 11, 12, 14), André Laplante (OCT. 24, 25), Till Fellner (Nov. 13, 14), Alain Lefèvre (JAN. 12, 13), Leif Ove Andsnes (JAN. 26), Alexandre Tharaud (APR. 17), Jean-Philippe Collard, OSM artist in residence* (APR. 30, MAY 1 AND 5), Daniil Trifonov (MAY 15, 16, 17), Jean-Yves Thibaudet (March 5, 6) and Evgeny Kissin (MAY 25). In addition, singers contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux – who will take the stage on two occasions (Dec. 4, 5 AND FEB. 24) – and sopranos Karina Gauvin (JAN. 16, 17) and Hélène Guilmette (DEC. 4, 5).


In December the OSM presents one of the most beautiful works of sacred music by Johann Sebastian Bach, the Mass in B Minor (DEC. 4, 5), as part of the Montreal Bach Festival. A very special moment to turn inward in contemplation with splendid voices of four great vocal artists (Hélène Guilmette, Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Julian Prégardien and Peter Harvey) and the OSM Chorus. Kent Nagano conducts The Planets (APR. 30, MAY 5), Holst’s well-known work that variously evokes war or peace, not to mention the gaiety of Jupiter. Conductor Juraj Valčula will conduct Strauss’s Alpine Symphony (OCT. 24, 25), a journey through the landscapes of the Bavarian Alps from daybreak to nightfall. Mahler’s Fourth Symphony (JAN. 16, 17) will be led by American conductor David Robertson and features the divine voice of Karina Gauvin in the final movement, “The Heavenly Life.” Finally, the OSM will perform Claude Vivier’s Siddhartha, inspired by the Herman Hesse novel describing the journey of a young man seeking spiritual illumination (Feb. 27, 28).


Since its founding the OSM has undertaken no fewer than 40 international tours and some 30 national excursions, showcasing the talent and music from this part of the world in so many others.

Northern Quebec*

In 2008, Maestro Nagano and seven musicians traveled to Nunavik to perform Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale in Inuktitut; ten years later the Orchestra is at it again, returning to the Far North to visit six villages in three nations: Inuit, Innu and Cree.

The opera Chaakapesh, The Trickster’s Quest by Tomson Highway and Matthew Ricketts was commissioned for the occasion. The idea of this tour is to share classical music with all the peoples of Quebec while presenting a point of encounter and exchange between the different cultures by way of rich and respectful interaction through music.

The tour will consist of a musical journey from North to South, from Nunavik to the Côte-Nord, by way of Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean and northern Quebec from September 10 to 19 2018.

The Great European Capitals

A twelfth European tour is on the agenda for March 2019 (MARCH 11 TO 23), when the Orchestra will visit some of the most highly esteemed concert halls of the great capitals of Europe: Dusseldorf (Tonhalle), Hamburg (Elbphilharmonie), Essen (Philharmonie), Vienna (Konzerthaus), Paris(Philharmonie), Brusells (Palais des Beaux-Arts), Munich (Philharmonie Im Gasteig), Regensburg (University Audimax) and Berlin, at the prestigious Philharmonie. Works and guest soloists: pianist Rafał Blechacz will perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major; pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet will play the Saint-Saëns Piano Concerto No. 5, “Egyptian”; while Quebec contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux will join the Orchestra for Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder. Also on the program for this tour, Debussy’s Jeux, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and Petrushka (1947), and three excerpts from Berlioz’s Damnation of Faust: Hungarian March, Ballet des sylphs and Menuet des follets.

Salzburg and Cracow

Before opening the prestigious Salzburg Festival in a concert on July 20, 2018, the Orchestra will make a stop in Cracow on July 18, for the very first time in its history. The OSM under Kent Nagano will perform Krzysztof Penderecki’s imposing Saint Luke Passion, a work for orchestra, choruses and soloists, in celebration of the Polish composer’s 85th birthday.


If our eyes could perceive music, what would they see? In exploring a form of synesthesia associating music and colors, the OSM wanted to provide an answer to that question and visually transpose the depth of its musical reflections. In addition to its moments of innovation and premieres, the 85th season is characterized by a rich programming retracing with fresh eyes the great moments that have united the Orchestra and its Montreal audience. In order to represent the artistic vision of Maestro Kent Nagano, the OSM called on the services of people living with the neurological phenomenon of synesthesia to translate music into colors in an unprecedented way, with the help of an algorithm created for the occasion. Hence, the visuals for the season’s marketing campaign will be a reflection of their visual interpretation of great works of the repertoire, as they see the music.