In many ways, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal’s 2019-20 season is a particularly special one.
The expression of timeless human creativity, optimism and spirituality, as well as deeply provocative aesthetic and existential questions will shape this season. It also marks the 16th and final one I will have the honour and privilege of presiding over as Designated Music Director and Music Director.
“Everything has its time,” says the Old Testament. Everything has a beginning and an end, just as every musical composition and concert that our Orchestra plays and in which you take part has an opening and finale.
Almost 20 years after my first collaboration with the OSM, the 2019-20 season brings another opportunity for our Orchestra to provide special focuses, accents, and a wealth of insights and experiences that we hope will astonish and stimulate you while remaining profoundly relevant to our modern lives.
Take, for example, this season’s Schubert Cycle: a first in the OSM’s history. It is a celebration whose centerpiece is Schubert’s complete cycle of symphonies, complemented by some of the lieder
for which he is so famous, and contextualized with music by other composers. This approach faithfully reflects the fashion and popular aesthe-tics of Schubert’s time and the uncompromisingly courageous, pioneering spirit that characterizes this composer’s genius.
Then, there is the OSM’s tribute to the great 20th-century French composer Olivier Messiaen, offering a special performance of his Trois petites liturgies.
As we have done with Johann Sebastian Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Bruckner, Mahler and others, it is our hope that, by providing a particular platform to our greatest compositional voices, we will, as music lovers, deepen and widen our appreciation of the richness and depth of our classical music repertoire. Indeed, the creative works of these great composers of Western art music are the root and substance of our philharmonic concert life by their importance and their capacity to establish tradition.
Each time we revisit the peerless masterpieces that shaped and guided the development of this core repertoire, our fluency, insight and sensitivity as performers are nourished afresh.
The orchestra is a metaphor for contemporary society: diverse in age, experience, and background. The OSM embodies the special qualities of Montreal and Quebec society. “Philharmonie”— the “love of community”— brings us together at concerts to witness the uniqueness and greatness of creative power and potential that live in the spirit of music, here and now.
The OSM’s communion with its public has dynamized the fullness and history of the symphonic repertoire and brought it into our actual vocabulary, in our modern Quebec culture. The result has been one of the most unique orchestral traditions today.
From the beginning of our collaboration, when the OSM was facing many imponderables, until today as it confidently lays plans for the future, community support and participation were always present. It is deeply impressive that so many of our politicians, representative organisations, businesses and private individuals – in sum, the culture of Montreal and Quebec embraced the vision and spirit of music.
One need only think of the OSM’s capacity audiencesat Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Centre Bell, and the Olympic Stadium, of the brilliant inauguration of the Maison symphonique and the Grand Orgue Pierre-Béique, the flourishing of a new chamber music series, the creation of the OSM Chorus, the astonishing success of the new Classical Spree, and of La Musique aux enfants in Montréal-Nord: all reflections of this city’s remarkable culture.
Many important steps were taken, major achievements realized, the most prestigious awards won, historic events created, and social and cultural milestones crossed in these years of collaboration.
And yet, only history will determine what, if anything, will live on in the collective memory. Time will tell whether the OSM tradition flourished in our era, evolved in some important way over these past years;
whether music lovers here in Montreal gained something new from the immeasurable world of music, if new musical experiences and insights into the particular attributes of classical music were obtained, and whether we have grown closer as an audience, a community and an orchestra.
From my point of view, what we as an orchestra and public can be most proud of is to have cultivated one of the youngest, diverse, sophisticated and most integrated audiences in all of North America, indeed internationally. We have nurtured the OSM’s artistic evolution and simultaneously nourished our financial health to the extent that we now stand as a solid, stable, exceptionally healthy, forward-looking arts organization. This is an extraordinary transformation from a mere 16 years ago. Montreal has risen once again as a visionary, international, cultural, and civic leader.
Finally, and more personally, my family and I have been deeply touched by the Quebec community’s generous welcome, the special aura and atmosphere of our concerts, and the wonderful warmth, vitality and openness of our public and wider community. We want to share our heartfelt gratitude for this constantly renewed gift of inspiration and friendship.
I sincerely wish you many beautiful and appealing musical experiences in this new 2019-20 season.
Merci à tous, vive Montréal, vive le Québec, vive l’OSM!