This year we mark the milestone of the OSM’s 85th season, an anniversary we deeply look forward to celebrating with you, our public. Just like the exquisite nature of Quebec that surrounds us, each season we share in moments of extraordinary beauty and discovery, which in turn propel moments of personal and societal growth. Over our 84 seasons so far, we have seen the face of our public and the orchestra evolve, and with it our understanding of an orchestra’s role in society. Through it all, we always return to the masterworks of our tradition that anchor us within common values, and from which our cultural heritage can continue to grow.

The three works on our opening concert exemplify the balance between roots and new flight that we aim to espouse. Together they honour our past while setting a course for our future. Each in its own way reflects revolutionary ideas and agitates for progress.

Stravinsky’s impulse when he wrote The Rite of Spring was to tap into something primal about his own identity. The pagan themes of rebirth and earth-worship in the great masterpiece are the composer’s appeal to his ancient Russian roots. Since the OSM became the first Canadian orchestra to perform it in 1957, the Rite has become a fundamental chapter in our own tradition.

No less important to the OSM’s musical DNA, Ravel’s Boléro is similarly rooted in its composer’s ancestry. As a French composer with Basque roots, Ravel called on his mixed heritage, employing a Spanish rhythm in a complex orchestration that could never be mistaken for anything but French.

Finally, we look inward with a new work, as much a contemporary tribute to the sounds, people and traditions of our own land as Rite and Boléro were in their time. Chaakapesh by Ricketts and Highway is the fruit of a collaboration across five linguistic groups including Cree, Innu, Inuktitut, French and English, involving artists from the multiple cultures that call this land home. Emerging from a reflection on our own roots, it is a Cree origins myth with a universal message of love that hints at an imagined peaceful future within this nation of nations. This is only the beginning of a season of celebration and full of visionary impulse, signalling the beginning of the next 85 years of the OSM-Montreal tradition. Thank you for joining us. We look forward to seeing you often in the year to come.

Kent Nagano
Music Director