A NEW CONDUCTOR FOR THE OSM
Music lovers and Montrealers have cause to celebrate: on March 2, 2004, Kent Nagano—a world-leading conductor with a prestigious international career—is named the next Music Director of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and will officially take up residence at the opening of the 2006–2007 season.
INTRODUCTION TO THE CONDUCTOR’S VISION
In September 2004, Kent Nagano gives an address to members of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal entitled “The OSM and Montreal: The Cultivation of a Symbiotic Relationship,” in which he discusses the power of music to impact the future of society. Six months later, he conducts his first OSM concert as Music Director Designate. The enthusiastic reception that greets Maestro Nagano foreshadows many prosperous years to come for the Orchestra. Shortly after that, the OSM’s performance of Messiaen’s music impresses the Montreal public with its vision and daring.
FROM MONTREAL TO PARIS
In May 2006, Kent Nagano and the OSM make a brief sprint to Paris to perform at the famous Théâtre du Châtelet at the invitation of its Director Jean-Pierre Brossmann. Performing works by Brahms and Kodály as well as Bartók’s The Miraculous Mandarin and Ravel’s La valse as an encore, the OSM shines brilliantly and conquers Parisian audiences.
THE PEOPLE’S ODE TO JOY
Kent Nagano begins his first season as Music Director of the OSM with a grandiose, innovative concert of works by Charles Ives and Galina Ustvolskaya, complete with Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. The event is displayed on a giant screen at the Esplanade de la Place des Arts and broadcast live on Radio-Canada television, to the great delight of thousands.
FROM COAST TO COAST (TO COAST)
Kent Nagano’s first tour with the OSM in 2007 occurs on Canadian soil. From Vancouver to Newfoundland to Yellowknife, the Orchestra and its conductor —in the company of contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux and tenor Michael Schade—are warmly received at every concert.
TOUR TO ASIA
Kent Nagano and the OSM give eight concerts during a tour of six cities in Korea and Japan.
Confident of the benefits of music for young people, Maestro Nagano organizes a chamber music concert with musicians from the Orchestra for the children of a Japanese orphanage. The tour is the OSM’s 9th one to Asia.
RECORDINGS OF INTERNATIONAL CALIBER
The first of the OSM’s numerous recordings with Kent Nagano is made in 2008. Titled The Ideals of the French Revolution, this album set is the first of a series featuring Beethoven’s complete symphonies recorded on the Analekta label and distributed internationally by Sony. In 2009, this recording garners a 13th Juno Award for the OSM in the category “Classical Album of the Year.”
THE MEETING OF THE CENTURY
In 2009, Canadians celebrate the anniversary years of two great national institutions: the 75th anniversary of the OSM and the centenary of the Canadiens de Montréal hockey club. Almost 15,000 people attend the spectacular benefit concert at the Bell Centre, which brings together 1000 choristers and legendary Canadiens players. The event also marks the launch of the OSM Foundation, tasked with ensuring the Orchestra’s sustainability, and to raise close to 2 million dollars in support of the OSM’s upcoming major European tour.
In solidarity with the people of Haiti, who were severely hit by a deadly earthquake, the OSM and Kent Nagano give a free outdoor concert at the Quartier des spectacles. Novelist Dany Laferrière recites an original text while the Cirque Éloize adds a touch of magic to the performance of Stravinsky’s The Firebird. The initiative is a clear testimony of the Maestro’s social commitment in this and similar actions in years to come.
In collaboration with the Mutek festival, the OSM presents a truly innovative concert combining symphonic and electronic music for some 2,000 spectators at the Molson Brewery. For the occasion, the walls of this former warehouse are adorned with video projections designed by Baillat Cardell & fils of Montreal.
TRIBUTE TO FATHER EMMETT JOHNS
In May 2011, the OSM and its Music Director commission a work by composer Jean Lesage for a concert in honour of Father Emmett Johns, founder of Dans la Rue, which assists homeless youth. The concert is part of a series of tributes to Canadian heroes, developed at the beginning of Maestro Nagano’s tenure.
THE OSM’S NEW HOME
The OSM introduces audiences to the Maison symphonique, a world-class venue with acoustics comparable to those of the world’s finest orchestral concert halls. The inaugural concert includes works by Canadian composers and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Some 400,000 television viewers watched this historic moment on Radio-Canada, in addition to 20,000 visitors greeted onsite at the Maison symphonique the following Saturday.
A HOLIDAY TRADITION IS BORN
Quebec storyteller Fred Pellerin delivers a musical tale at the instigation of Kent Nagano. The event has turned into a tradition: a holiday concert that combines the prolific Pellerin’s texts with orchestral works. Broadcast on Radio-Canada television and across all OSM media platforms, it was to be the first in a series of four concerts that would run until 2018.
FIRST CLASSICAL SPREE
On August 11, 2012, the OSM presents the first edition of its annual Classical Spree, the largest urban classical music festival in Canada. The inauguration of this end-of-summer event features a dozen indoor concerts and a host of free activities. Subsequent editions would see the number of concerts grow to 30 by 2018, and the Esplanade at Montreal’s Olympic Park has now become famous as a performance space for the opening event.
THE OSM TAKES A DIGITAL TURN
In addition to in-house spectators in attendance as the OSM performs Bruckner’s Symphony No. 6 on April 16, 2013, thousands of listeners tune in live via the international web-based platform Medici.tv, which services 46 countries—a first for the OSM. This partnership enables the Orchestra to reach an impressive audience total of more than 200,000 over the next season.
REACHING OUT AFTER THE LAC-MÉGANTIC TRAGEDY
Over the years, the OSM has shown its solidarity with Quebecers on several occasions. On November 1, 2013, the OSM and Kent Nagano give a performance for the population of Lac-Mégantic in tribute to the courage and determination of this community devastated by a railway disaster. The concert is dedicated to the memory of the 47 killed and missing as a result of this tragedy.
IMMERSION AT THE CORE OF THE OSM
The Society for Arts and Technology mounts a screening at the Satosphere of the 360-degree immersive film Harmonielehre, starring Kent Nagano and the OSM as they perform the eponymous work by American composer John Adams. Co-produced by Figure 55 in partnership with the OSM, the production is also presented at the FullDome Festival in Berlin and competed as a finalist at the Numix Awards.
RETURN TO THE DECCA LABEL
Kent Nagano and the OSM turn the spotlight on a little-known but unique opera, L’Aiglon, with a recording on the prestigious Decca label. The recording goes on to win numerous awards, including the coveted Diapason d’Or and Echo Klassik. Three years later, in 2018, the OSM’s recording of A Quiet Place is hailed by critics internationally.
A MAJOR TOUR TO THE USA
In March 2016, under the direction of Kent Nagano, the OSM embarks on a 12-day tour of 10 concerts in 10 different American cities, coast to coast, including a performance at the legendary Carnegie Hall in New York.
This highly anticipated tour is an opportunity to reconnect with American audiences and enthralls music lovers and critics alike.
THE COLOSSUS OF STRING INSTRUMENTS
Kent Nagano dreamed for years of endowing the OSM with the most imposing and deepest-ranged string instrument of them all: the octobass. The giant instrument loaned by philanthropists Roger Dubois and the late Huguette Dubois was unveiled in October 2016 in the concert Kent Nagano Celebrates the Montreal Metro. The octobass is one of only three instruments of its kind in the world, the OSM’s being the only one actively played in the ranks of a symphony orchestra.
SYMPHONY FOR MONTREAL
For the 375th anniversary of Montreal, Kent Nagano conducts an original symphony by Samy Moussa in a performance staged by the multimedia studio Moment Factory. With the luminous visual experience provided by this trailblazing Quebec company, this co-production transports audiences on a dreamlike journey imbued with the spirit of Montreal and fueled by the imagination of its poets.
LA MUSIQUE AUX ENFANTS
A staunch advocate of the benefits of music education for child development, Kent Nagano lays down his vision for a special programme to be implemented by the OSM in partnership with the Université de Montréal and the Pointe-de-l’Île school board, in the borough of Montréal-Nord. La musique aux enfants offers preschoolers an opportunity to flourish through intensive musical instruction in a stimulating setting.
THE OSM AT THE SALZBURG FESTIVAL!
On July 20, 2018, Kent Nagano and the OSM are given the honour of opening the 98th edition of the Salzburg Festival, becoming the first Canadian orchestra in history to perform at this highly prestigious event. On the stage of the legendary Felsenreitschule (rock riding school), the Orchestra performs Krzysztof Penderecki’s St. Luke Passion with the composer in attendance.
JOURNEY TO THE FAR NORTH
The OSM’s unprecedented collaboration with Canadian, Inuit, Innu, and Cree artists results in the opera Chaakapesh, the Trickster’s Quest, given its world premiere in Montreal at the opening concert of the Orchestra’s 85th season. Ten years after their initial visit there, the OSM returns to the Nord-du-Québec region to present this work in five different languages. On this inspiring journey, conductor and musicians travel to six Indigenous communities, experiencing special moments and truly memorable exchanges.
DISCOVERING THE OSM'S HISTORY
Open to the public since January 2019, the Espace OSM is a space where visitors can explore the Orchestra’s rich history while experiencing a distinctly modern and forward-looking institution. Adjoining the Maison symphonique, this space’s several installations, exhibitions and interactive stations offer an experience of the OSM that transcends the concert hall.
TOUR OF THE AMERICAS
For his last tour as Music Director of the OSM—the 55th in the history of the organization—Kent Nagano conducted the Orchestra in a series of 11 concerts in 9 cities throughout Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, the United States, and Canada. Among other fine concert halls, the musicians performed at the prestigious Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, as well as at the Festival Internacional Cervantino in Mexico.
TWO NEW "GIANTS"
In February 2020, two new octobasses were added to the ranks of the Orchestra, bringing the total of these gigantic instruments to three. Unlike the levers and pedals on the first of these acquisitions, the two new ones are equipped with a keyboard that regulates note lengths, the only system of its kind in the world!
FAREWELL TO THE MAESTRO
Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection,” was scheduled to conclude Kent Nagano’s time as Music Director of the OSM on June 20, 2020, but was cancelled owing to the pandemic. This farewell performance finally takes place almost a full year later in a series of 4 concerts, of which 3 are webcast by the OSM and one is broadcast on Radio-Canada. For the occasion, the Orchestra appoints Kent Nagano Emeritus Conductor in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the OSM.