International Artists headline Montréal Chamber Music Festival

Richard Burnett

Some of the world’s finest classical musicians will pay tribute to Beethoven at the 22nd edition of the Montréal Chamber Music Festival. The theme for this year’s 43-concert festival is “Beethoven: Passion romantique.”

"Like no other composer, Beethoven ushered in a new musical language inspired by the French Revolution’s Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité,” says festival founder and artistic director Denis Brott. “The festival celebrates his genius with gratitude and gusto in 2017."

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American String Quartet of the Moment

A favourite of music critics after sweeping the 2013 Banff International String Quartet Competition, The Dover Quartet will perform the complete Beethoven String Quartet cycle over six concerts at Pollack Hall on May 26 and 28; June 2, 4, 9 and 11.

The Dover Quartet will also join current Banff International String Quartet Competition winners, the Rolston String Quartet, for a June 8 concert at Pollack Hall. Music will include Mendelssohn’s famous String Octet, Op. 20 and the Quebec premiere of Quartet No. 1 by Zosha di Castri, which was written for last summer’s Banff competition.

Saturday Night Fever

The MCMF’s popular TD Jazz Series presents three Saturday evening concerts at Salle Bourgie, a gorgeous and intimate concert hall at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts.

Canadian saxophone icon Rémi Bolduc and his band will pay tribute to legendary British jazz pianist George Shearing on June 3; Juno Award-winning virtuosic pianist and Oscar Peterson protégé Robi Botos makes his festival debut on June 10; and famed Cape Breton fiddler Natalie MacMaster and her quartet perform on June 17.


Canadian piano phenom Jan Lisiecki

Dubbed “a pianist who makes every note count” by no less than The New York Times, spectacular young pianist Jan Lisiecki has become a global sensation. Lisiecki will be joined by cellist (and festival founder) Denis Brott in a recital of works by Bach, Beethoven and Chopin on June 14. Lisiecki will then perform a solo piano programme, including works by Beethoven and Chopin, on June 16.


Tribute to Leonard Cohen

One of Montréal’s favourite sons, Leonard Cohen – who passed away in November 2016 – will be honoured at a special June 17 late-night concert at Salle Bourgie. Performers include Cantor Gideon Zelermyer and the choir of Congregation Shaar Hashomayim, conducted by Roï Azoulay, who gained global attention for their performances on Cohen’s final album You Want It Darker, which was released three weeks before his death.


Quebec premieres and MCMF free concerts

The award-winning Israel and US-based Israeli Chamber Project features top musicians from around the world, and will make their long-awaited festival appearance with two concert premieres, on June 13 and 15.

The MCMF has also programmed many free concerts, notably its one-hour Matinées Musicales concerts at McGill University’s state-of-the-art Tanna Schulich Hall on June 10 and 17 at 10:30 a.m., as well as the fun Concerts dans les rues series of daily noon-hour concerts featuring up-and-coming musicians, from June 12 to 16.


Making Vivaldi Proud

To close their 2017 festival, the MCMF has booked the young winners of the Music Instrument Bank of The Canada Council for the Arts Competition to perform the Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saëns and Vivaldi’s masterpiece Four Seasons – complete with narration and projections – on June 18 at Pollack Hall. The young musicians will perform on violins and cellos by such legendary makers as Antonio Stradivarius and Guarnerius del Gesù, valued at over $40 million.

For more info on the Montreal Chamber Music Festival, visit

Richard Burnett

Richard Burnett, blogger

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

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