Montréal Fall cultural calendar

Richard Burnett

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.

This article was updated on October 4, 2022.

A blockbuster museum exhibition about pop icon Jean-Michel Basquiet, classical music concerts conducted by famed maestros Rafael Payare, Yannick Nézet-Séguin and Kent Nagano, the NBA’s Montréal return, and the city’s renowned film and music festivals are among the many live arts and entertainment events this Autumn 2022.

MUSIC

Tours by national and international touring acts are back in a big way this season. There are multiple shows each night of the week. Some highlights:

The Killers at Bell Centre and Carly Rae Jepsen at MTELUS (September 24), former Beatle Ringo Starr at Place Bell and Father John Misty at MTELUS (September 26), Panic! At the Disco at Bell Centre and Ron Sexsmith at Le Studio TD (September 27), and legendary Jersey boys Franki Valli and The Four Seasons at Salle Wilfred-Pelletier (September 29).

‘Eclectic Celtic’ Canadian singer-songwriter Loreena McKennitt at Salle Wilfred-Pelletier (October 2 and 9), Pink Floyd legend Nick Mason and his band Saucerful Of Secrets at Théâtre St-Denis (October 11), Montreal rockers Suuns at Cabaret La Tulipe (October 13), Demi Lovato at the Olympia (October 16), Michael Bublé at Bell Centre and the all-star Celebrating David Bowie tribute with Todd Rundgren at the Olympia (October 18), An evening with The Flaming Lips at MTELUS (October 21), Jason Lang pays tribute to his late mom – Canadian folk icon Penny Lang – at O Patros Vys (October 27), and Kurt Vile and The Violators at the Corona Theatre (October 27).

The Offspring & Simple Plan at Bell Centre (November 4), Marc Anthony at Bell Centre (November 11), pop icon Engelbert Humperdinck at Theatre Maisonneuve (November 11), Montreal ska legends The Planet Smashers at iconic Montréal venue Foufounes Électriques (November 12), San Diego garage rock legends The Schizophonics at Casa Del Popolo (November 16), country star Luke Combs at Bell Centre (November 18), Three Days Grace at Place Bell (November 20), the Arkells at MTELUS (November 23), the Soweto Gospel Choir at the Maison Symphonique (November 25), former Genesis lead guitarist Steve Hacket at Salle Wilfred-Pelletier (November 29),and Belgian hip hop superstar Stromae headlines Bell Centre four nights (November 25-26-27, December 14).

Québécois icon Robert Charlebois returns in Robert en CharleboisScope at Salle Wilfred-Pelletier (December 1-2-3), Glass Tiger at the Corona Theatre (December 1), country star Kane Brown at Bell Centre and STARS at Fairmount Theatre (December 2), and hometown heroes Arcade Fire at Bell Centre (December 3).

Jazz legend Ranee Lee remounts her critically-hailed Dark Divas show, a musical journey about the lives and times of Black pop icons Josephine Baker, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Pearl Baily, Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald, for two nights only (December 16 and 17) at the Centaur Theatre.

Disco Fest at the Paradoxe Theatre (October 14) presents some of the Montréal disco stars when our metropolis was recognized as “disco’s second city” (after New York): Pierre Perpall, Freddy James and Nancy Martinez.

Also, support Montréal’s premiere musicians and entertainers headlining local nightclubs, such as Diese Onze and Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill, both ranked by Downbeat magazine as two of the top jazz nightclubs on the planet. Upstairs also welcomes one of the one of the great jazz guitarists of his generation (and former Miles Davis sideman) Mike Stern (October 21 and 22, two shows nightly). The city’s top soul and RnB musicians headline Le Balcon dinner-theatre.

MUSIC FESTIVALS

The 21st edition of the POP Montreal International Music Festival (September 28 to October 2) presents five days of music, film, visual art, panels, workshops and more. Plenty of buzz for Alison Russell (September 28) and Montréal legend Martha Wainwright (September 30), both at the Rialto Theatre, and Montréal soul man Wayne Tennant at the Diving Bell Social Club (September 30). Also, do not miss Bran Van 3000’s 25th anniversary concerts at Club Soda (September 30 and October 1).

Montréal’s summer-long Piknic Électronik festival presents the world’s best DJs and draws electronic music lovers, dancers and picnickers each Sunday at Parc Jean-Drapeau where it all winds down on October 9.

Montréal’s famed Black & Blue Festival celebrates its 31st anniversary from October 6 to 10. This year’s all-night Main Event will be held in the round at La TOHU on October 9 from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. and will showcase local DJs, dance and circus arts performers.

The 4thedition of the Carnaval des Couleurs (October 7 to 9) presents headliners Corneille (October 7), Florence K and Jonas Tomalty (October 8), and Elizabeth Blouin-Brathwaite (October 9) on their main outdoor stage at the Esplanade Tranquille (corner Clark and Saint Catherine streets) in the Quartier des Spectacles.

The Montreal Ska Festival (October 20 to 23) returns with headliners Ska Sound System, The Beatdown, Kman & The 45s and King Django at Petit Campus.

North America’s leading industry showcase 100% dedicated to diversified world music, Mundial Montréal returns for its 12th edition from November 15 to 18. Among the Montreal performers this year is 2022 Polaris Prize winner Pierre Kwenders as well as The Brooks who are well-known on the soul / funk scene across the Atlantic.

Meanwhile, the 17th edition of the M for Montréal showcase festival – Québec’s most important initiative for indie music exports – runs from November 16 to 19.

 

THEATRE

Renowned Italian-Canadian playwright Vittorio Rossi’s play Paradise by the River is about the internment of Italian-Canadians during the Second World War. The Montreal revival is getting excellent reviews and continues at the gorgeous Mirella & Lino Saputo Theatre at the Leonardo da Vinci Centre until October 19.

For Halloween season, the Segal Centre for Performing Arts presents two horror classics, Frankenstein and Dracula.

Adapted from Mary Shelley’s novel, the new family-friendly (ages 7+) stage production of Frankenstein blends immersive comic book design and playful theatrical techniques for a new generation. Runs October 19 to 30 in the Segal Studio.

Over at the Sylvan Adams Theatre (October 23 to November 13), Dracula: A Comedy of Terrors is an irreverent farce combining classic horror fiction with satire. The all-star cast – including Canadian national treasure Ellen David – tackles dozens of zany characters in this exciting romp imaginatively staged and filled with magic and special effects.

Mainline Theatre is also bringing back its hugely popular annual Halloween musical production of the The Rocky Horror Show from October 20 to 31.

Over at Centaur Theatre, Hannah Moscovitch’s award-winning comedy Sexual Misconduct of the Middle Classes (November 8 to 27) is a provocative look into the intimate challenges within academia in the #MeToo era.

The Broadway musical Rock of Ages (October 27 to November 6) at Théâtre St-Denis is in French while all songs are sung in English. The Broadway musical The Sound of Music (La mélodie du Bonheur), also at Théâtre St-Denis (December 3 to 23) and directed by Gregory Charles, is performed by the same cast in separate French and English presentations.

 

CLASSICAL STAGE

For their 89th season, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal presents Maestro Rafael Payare conducting Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in a staged adaptation alternating music and excerpts from Shakespeare’s play (September 21 and 22).

Beloved OSM Conductor Emeritus Kent Nagano returns to conduct repertoire that is particularly close to his heart: Schubert’s Third Symphony dated 1815, in the Mozart and Schubert concert  (November 22-23-24). This series will sell out, get your tickets early.

A classical music icon and specialist of the contemporary repertoire, internationally-renowned Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan is the OSM’s guest for the Barbara Hannigan and Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique concert conducted by Maestro Rafael Payare (December 7-10-11).

Meanwhile, Grammy-nominated Montréal homeboy, Maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conducts the Orchestre Métropolitain in Orchestral Auroras which includes a symphonic performance of Ravel’s ballet Daphnis et Chloé (September 25).

Nézet-Séguin also conducts the OM and soloist-in-residence Emmanuel Pahud – one of the greatest flute virtuosos playing today – in Pahud’s French Melodies (October 16).

Then OM guest conductor Lina Gonzalez-Granados brings the sounds of the Andes, Mexico and Spain to the orchestra in Latin Waves (November 24).

All OSM and OM concerts are at the Maison symphonique de Montréal.

Following the death this year of Maestro Boris Brott, the Orchestre Classique de Montréal bounces back for its 83rd season with the arrival of two principal guest conductors, Geneviève Leclair and Alain Trudel. The OCM kicks off their season with the Boris: His Life in Music all-star tribute concert (October 18), followed by Bach: Violin & Voice featuring some of J. S. Bach’s most virtuosic works for violin, voice, and orchestra (November 15). Both concerts are at Pierre-Mercure Hall at the Pierre-Péladeau Centre.

Then at the Cirque Éloize, the OCM marks World AIDS Day (December 1) with the world premiere of Unruly Sun, a theatrical song cycle featuring 18 songs inspired by the memoir of filmmaker Derek Jarman who died of AIDS in 1994, created by Canadian composer Matthew Ricketts and famed American librettist Marc Campbell whose operas have received both a Pulitzer Prize in Music and a Grammy Award.

The Orchestre Philharmonique et Choeur des Mélomanes performs Verdi's Requiem at the Maison symphonique (November 13) with soprano Aline Kutan, mezzo-soprano Rose Naggar-Tremblay, tenor Adam Luther and bass-baritone Vartan Gabrielian alongside 100 choristers, accompanied by 70 musicians on stage, conducted by Francis Choiniere.

The 2022 Azrieli Music Prize Gala Concert at the Maison symphonique (October 20) marks a much-anticipated return of French Maestro Alexandre Bloch conducting the Orchestre Métropolitain with soloists Sharon Azrieli, Sepideh Raissadat, Naomi Sato and Zhongxi Wu.

The theme of I Music de Montreal Chamber Orchestra’s 39th season is “Amazing Journeys” whose concert destinations include Britannia (September 29), First Nations (October 20) and Paris (November 17) at Pierre-Mercure Hall.

The exciting Orchestre de l’Agora – a multifaceted musical collective that is reinventing the role classical musicians play in their community – perform the world premiere of creations by four up-and-coming Quebec composers at their Big Bang – Sommet de la creation concert at the Espace Orange of the Wilder Building (September 30 and October 1)

Over at Salle Wilfred-Pelletier, after a successful premiere of the opera Les Feluettes in 2016, Quebec playwright Michel Marc Bouchard (with composer Julien Bilodeau) is back at the Opéra de Montréal with an original libretto about the epic rescue of artwork from the Louvre, in the opera La Beauté du Monde (November 19 to 27): While Nazi officers plan to plunder the Louvre of its precious masterpieces, Jacques Jaujard and Rose Valland risk their lives to orchestrate an historic clandestine rescue.

Meanwhile, Bourgie Hall marks its 12th season with more than 100 concerts, including the Complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas five-concert series with pianist Louis Lortie, seven concerts by Les Violons du Roy chamber orchestra, as well as a pair of concerts presented by the Festival Bach Montréal, North America’s premiere celebration of Johann Sebastian Bach. The festival itself presents some 30 events in November and December in venues throughout the city, including Bourgie Hall and the Maison symphonique.

DANCE

The contemporary Danse Danse series presents iconic choreographer Pina Bausch’s The Rite of Spring featuring 36 dancers from 14 African countries at Théatre Maisonneuve (October 5 to 8), Graces by the Silvia Gribaudi Performing Arts company, choreographed by legendary Italian choreographer Silvia Gribaudi, at Théatre Jean-Duceppe (October 11 to 15); Double Murder by the UK-based Hofesh Shechter Company, set to music by choreographer Hofesh Shechter himself, and featuring his 10 virtuoso dancers at Théatre Maisonneuve (November 2 to 5); MOI – Momentum of Isolation by Shay Kuebler Radical System Art (November 8 to 12) in the Studio-Théatre of the Wilder Building; and Fables by the Compagnie Virginie Brunelle at Théatre Maisonneuve (November 30 to December 3).

Choreographer Étienne Béchard returns to Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal headlining Carmen, a contemporary dance program that kicks off Les Grands Ballets’ 66th season. The mixed bill by Béchard, Kiara Flavin and Uwe Scholz with Les Grands Ballets Orchestra conducted by Dina Gilbert runs for five performances at Salle Wilfred-Pelletier (October 20 to 23).

The Agora de la danse presents several productions in the Wilder Building this season, including One Hundred More (October 19 to 22) about what it means to resist, À bout de bras solo show with virtuoso dancer David Albert-Toth (November 2 to 5), and Le sacre de Lila featuring male dancers from Quebec and Morocco (November 23 to 26).

Located in the Plateau-Mont-Royal, the innovative Montréal, arts interculturels cultural organization – more commonly called “The MAI” by locals – presents an eclectic slate of multi-disciplinary productions (visual arts, dance and theatre) each season. Some of the dance highlights of the MAI’s 24th season are If My Body had a Name (November 3 to 5) by Hoor Malas, the Syrian dance and movement artist newly settled in Montréal; and Vietnamese dancer Anh Vo’s solo BABYLIFT which conjures the ghosts of the Vietnam War (November 24 to 26).

 

MUSEUMS AND EXHIBITIONS

A Montréal Museum of Fine Arts world premiere, the blockbuster exhibition Seeing Loud: Basquiat and Music (October 15 to February 19, 2023) is an innovative exploration of pop icon Jean-Michel Basquiat’s life, work and meteoric career. This is the first large-scale multimedia exhibition devoted to the role of music in the work of one of the most innovative artists of the second half of the 20th century.

Diane Arbus: Photographs, 1956-1971 features some 90 gelatin silver prints by the famed American photographer. The exhibition (runs to January 29, 2023) provides a chronological look at the singular vision of this artist who revolutionized portraiture.

The Pointe-à-Callière archaeology museum exhibition Headdresses from Around the World from the Antoine de Galbert Collection features over 300 pieces of headwear from Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas, and runs from November 17 to March 12, 2023.

The Pointe-à-Callière archaeology museum in Old Montréal presents Vikings– Dragons of the Northern Seas until October 10. The blockbuster exhibition features some 650 objects and artefacts from the collections of the National Museum of Denmark.

The PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art presents the blockbuster exhibition Yayoi Kusama: DANCING LIGHTS THAT FLEW UP TO THE UNIVERSE by one of the most popular living contemporary artists in the world today. This compact exhibition offers an introduction to Kusama’s artistic universe, with a desire to impart the spiritual and philosophical aspects of her work. Free admission but reservations are required. Due to the high volume of visitors, the PHI Foundation is unable to accept walk-ins.

Over at the McCord Stewart Museum, Art and Nature (runs to April 16, 2023) is the first major retrospective devoted to Alexander Henderson’s Canadian wilderness photographs, taken from the McCord archives which are home to the largest collection of work by the renowned photographer (1831-1913).

The Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal – widely known as The MAC (or “Le MAC” in French) – screens (from October 13 to November 13) TimeTraveller™ by Skawennati. The nine-episode series offers a postcolonial rereading of the history of Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island. The screening is free and it is strongly recommended to reserve your seat online. All MAC exhibitions are presented at the MAC’s temporary location in the Place Ville Marie shopping mall during the museum’s current $57-million renovation expected to be completed in 2024. The new MAC will open in 2025.

Last chance if you haven’t seen them: the immersive exhibition Frida Kahlo: The Life of an Icon at the Arsenal Contemporary Art centre and The World Press Photo Montréal exhibition at Bonsecours Market both run to October 2.

Click here for more Montréal museum exhibitions this fall.

 

THE NBA IN MONTREAL

McGill University graduate Dr. James Naismith famously invented basketball in 1891. How fitting, then, that the Toronto Raptors – who won their first NBA championship in 2019 – will play against the iconic Boston Celtics at the Bell Centre on October 14 as part of the pre-season NBA Canada Series.

 

 

FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT

Disney On Ice: Let’s Celebrate runs for nine performances at Place Bell from October 6 to 10.

In the Old Port, the kid-friendly permanent exhibitions at the Montréal Science Centre are all open, while its IMAX cinema screens films for all ages. Click here for the screening schedules of the latest films.

Children of all ages can also discover new worlds at Montréal Space for Life, the largest natural-sciences museum complex in Canada which comprises the Botanical Garden, Planetarium, Biosphere, famed Biodôme and Insectarium. Purchasing fixed-time tickets online is highly recommended.

CIRCUS ARTS

The Montréal Clown Festival returns for its sixth edition at the superb Gesù Theatre in the heart of the Quartier des Spectacles, from September 29 to October 2. The lineup includes acts from across North America.

Fusing acrobatics, dance, multimedia and theatre, My Island My Heart is a love letter to the city of Montreal, a crowd-pleasing immersive circus cabaret by the 7 Doigts company in the brand-new entertainment complex Espace St-Denis located inside Théatre St-Denis in the heart of the Latin Quarter. There are both English and French versions of this show, so be sure to purchase the proper tickets. Runs to October 16.

The only presenter specializing in contemporary circus in North America, Le TOHU (located at the centre of the Cité des arts du cirque) presents Muse by FLIP Fabrique in which seven skillful acrobats play with gender stereotypes and blur the boundaries between male and female (November 3 to 13), Ghost Light: Between Fall and Flight by Machine de Cirque (November 9 to 12), and Air Play by Acrobuffos (December 14 to January 1, 2023) – part comedy, part sculpture, part circus and part theatre – already seen by more 150,000 people on five continents.

Evenko presents the Cirque du Soleil production Corteo for 17 shows at the Bell Centre from December 21 to January 1, 2023.

CINÉMA

Canada’s longest-running film fest, the star-studded 51st edition of the Festival du nouveau cinéma (FNC) will screen 291 films from 49 countries at various cinemas from October 5 to 16. The opening film is Falcon Lake, Canadian actor Charlotte Le Bon’s directorial debut, which will screen at the Cinéma Impérial. To close the festival is Les Cinq diables (The Five Devils) by Léa Mysius.

In association with the FNC, the Cinémathèque presents a retrospective of transgressive queer Canadian filmmaker Bruce LaBruce (September 27 to October 26). The retrospective features more than 20 of his films, including his latest, The Affairs of Lidia, shot entirely in Montréal with a cast that includes porn star Sean Ford (October 14). LaBruce will attend screenings on September 27-28-29 as well as more screenings towards the end of the retrospective.

The 2022 BAFTA Best Short Film award-winning documentary The Black Cop about Gamal ‘G’ Turawa – the first openly gay, Black police officer in the Metropolitan Police Service in Greater London, England – will be screened at the Maison de la culture Verdun (October 15 at 7 pm) with a live in-person keynote speech by Turawa himself. Also that evening, a screening of the Oscar-nominated, Sundance award-winning documentary Writing with Fire – about India’s only newspaper run by Dalit women – part of the inaugural season of the new OPTIMISTA series of cinéconferences.

The Montréal Black Film Festival runs to September 25, the 28th edition of the CINEMANIA French-language film festival runs from November 2 to 13, and 35th edition of Image+Nation – the oldest queer film festival in Canada – runs from November 17 to 27.

The Parc at Midnight series continues each weekend at Cinéma du Parc. One highlight is director John Carpenter’s 1982 classic sci-fi horror flick The Thing starring Kurt Russell (October 28 to 31).

The Rocky Horror Picture Show Halloween Ball in Montréal is the largest RHPS event in North America. Click link or check back here for this year’s dates.

 

LITERATURE

Award-winning out New York Times bestselling author David Sedaris headlines Théâtre Maisonneuve (October 2).

The October 5 edition of the queer Violet Hour reading series takes place outdoors at Place du Village, the new green space across the street from Cabaret Mado, at the corner of Saint Catherine Street East and Wolfe in the Gay Village. Hosted by author Christopher DiRaddo, there will be readings by LGBTQ+ writers Gabriel Cholette, Nofel, Virginie Savard, Su J. Sokol and Neil Smith (October 5 at 6 pm).

Lectures LOGOS Readings is a series of monthly multicultural readings hosted by award-winning author H. Nigel Thomas and renowned human rights advocate Maguy Métellus at the The UNIA Hall in Little Burgundy.

The Read Quebec Holiday Book Fair celebrating Québec English-language books and authors takes place annually in November. Click link or check back here for this year’s festival dates.

COMEDY

Before filmmaker Kevin Smith’s new film Clerks III opens in cinemas, Smith is touring the film in select markets as the Clerks III: The Convenience Tour including a stop at the Olympia on October 17. The Just For Laughs screening will be followed by a Q&A with Smith.

Malaysian standup comedian Nigel Ng brings his Haiyaa World Tour to the Corona Theatre (October 25), Moroccan-Canadian stand-up comedian Gad Elmaleh headlines the Bell Centre (October 30), and drag legends BenDeLaCreme and Jinkx Monsoon bring their internationally-acclaimed Jinkx and DeLa Holiday Show to the Olympia (November 27).

You can also support local, national and international comics at The Comedy Nest nightclub located in the historic Montréal Forum.

Richard Burnett

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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