Maison symphonique de Montréal: 10 Years of Emotions


10 Years of Emotions

With the warmth of its woodwork and sublime acoustics, the Maison symphonique de Montréal has established itself as a landmark of the city’s environment. This 2100-seat international venue is a meeting place where young and old, music lovers and amateurs alike come to enjoy the pleasures of music. In 2021, the Maison symphonique celebrates its 10th anniversary, an opportunity to revisit many of the emotions that have filled its hall during the last decade.

The dream carried by Kent Nagano and the OSM to offer this unique venue to Montreal and Quebec was made possible thanks to the unwavering support of long-standing partners.

The Genesis of the Project

Between 2009 and 2011, the Maison symphonique was built in the heart of Montreal’s Quartier des spectacles, thanks to a collaboration between the OSM, the Place des Arts, the Government of Quebec and the private sector. Its architectural design is owed to the consortium of Diamond and Schmitt Architects and Ædifica Architects. Its acoustics and stage were entrusted to Artec, a firm directed by Tateo Nakajima. Kent Nagano was the OSM’s Music Director at the time.

The OSM Takes up Residence

The Maison symphonique, home to the OSM, was inaugurated on September 7, 2011, to the mighty sound of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and of Quebec works performed by the OSM led by Kent Nagano. Since then, conductors and artists from all over the world have rediscovered the classical repertoire in this new hall renowned for its exceptional acoustics.

Guest Artists and Conductors

Over the past decade, the OSM has welcomed to the Maison symphonique the illustrious conductors Zubin Mehta, Valery Gergiev, Gustavo Dudamel, as well as the brilliant soloists Martha Argerich, Evgeny Kissin, Hilary Hahn, Maxim Vengerov and Marie-Nicole Lemieux, among others. The OSM has also hosted prestigious orchestras such as the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Budapest Festival Orchestra, making the Maison symphonique a much appreciated venue for some of the great flagships of the international classical world.


Premieres of New Works

From Julien Bilodeau’s Qu’un cri élève nos chants in 2011 to Samy Moussa’s Violin Concerto, “Adrano” in 2020, many works were given their first performance at the Maison symphonique in the last decade. There have been premieres of works by Pascal Dusapin, Ana Sokolović, Kaija Saariaho, José Evangelista, and Matthew Ricketts, to name a few. The Maison symphonique thus joins the most prestigious halls in the world in serving as a cradle for premieres of new works.

Increasingly Innovative Concerts

As early as 2011, Kent Nagano forged a bond between the OSM and the Quebec storyteller Fred Pellerin that would fill the holiday season with a tradition that grew stronger over the years. The enchanting setting of the Maison symphonique also inspired the OSM with some particularly innovative ideas, such as the 2017 Organ and Space concert, in collaboration with the Canadian Space Agency, in which the audience achieved video contact with the International Space Station to the sounds of the Grand Orgue Pierre-Béique. Other highlights include the Orchestra’s performance of the Symphonie montréalaise presented in collaboration with Moment Factory, as well as the OSM’s famous pop concerts.

The Grand Orgue Pierre-Béique

Inaugurated in 2014, the Grand Orgue Pierre-Béique*, a King among instruments, has become an indispensable pillar of the Maison symphonique. OSM Organist Emeritus Olivier Latry played an essential role in the design and installation of the organ. Jean-Willy Kunz, the OSM’s Organist-in-Residence, is tasked with increasing the instrument’s notoriety and influence through bold and varied programming.

*The Grand Orgue Pierre-Béique was generously gifted to the OSM by Madame Jacqueline Desmarais.

A concert hall for all audiences

Since the hall’s inauguration in 2011, poets, authors and even artists from the Cirque Éloize have performed on its stage. Throughout the decade, the OSM has made the Maison symphonique a space that is open to all. It is a place of astonishment, wonder, and learning. With its Youth Concerts, the OSM Classical Spree, collaborations with pop artists such as Half Moon Run and Les Cowboys Fringants, the first performance of the chamber opera Chaakapesh, as well as various collaborations with dance and circus troupes, the OSM has opened the Maison symphonique to a wide array of audiences.

Photo - Kent Nagano

Kent Nagano: OSM Conductor Emeritus

A visionary and daring conductor, Kent Nagano provided the necessary momentum for the establishment of the Maison symphonique de Montréal. In 2020-21, Maestro Nagano stepped down as Music Director of the OSM, becoming Conductor Emeritus in recognition of his 16 years as a vital force for the Orchestra. From the Grand Orgue Pierre-Béique to the OSM’s three octobasses, from award-winning recordings to world tours, from community outreach to youth initiatives, Kent Nagano’s name is indelibly linked to the first ten years of the Maison symphonique.

Appointment of Rafael Payare

The appointment of Venezuelan-born conductor Rafael Payare as the OSM’s new Music Director was signalled by three con-certs in the Maison symphonique in January 2021 and paves the way for a promising future. A precious gem at the heart of Montreal, the Maison symphonique will continue to surprise, amaze and inspire future generations.

On September 12, in connection with an open house day celebrating 10 years of the Maison symphonique, the public was introduced to a slice of the world of Rafael Payare. The Maestro gave a talk, sharing a few elements of his musical vision and speaking of his delight at working in the OSM’s magnificent home venue. The many possibilities it offers will enable him to carry out the artistic project he envisions with his new orchestra.