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 September 22, 2021.

The photographs of Yousef Karsh, concerts by the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, and the return of the Osheaga and POP Montréal music festivals are among the pandemic-friendly live arts and entertainment events this fall.

Health and safety first

Wearing a face mask indoors is mandatory at all venues. Numerous measures have been put in place to ensure the safety of visitors and employees, including government-mandated vaccine passports as of September 1st. Safety precautions and directions for each venue are listed on their websites.

Music

While tours by international and national touring acts are mostly still on hold, this is as good a time as any to see Montréal’s premiere musicians and entertainers headline 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. Both nightclubs are also among the many venues hosting concerts during the 22nd edition of the OFF Festival de Jazz de Montréal which runs from September 30 to October 9.

The hybrid 20th edition of the POP Montréal festival (in-person and virtual) runs from September 22 to 26 in various venues. Headliners include such Montréal and Canadian acts as The Besnard Lakes, Cadence Weapon, Hanorah, The Dears (who also played at the first edition of POP), SUUNS, Chiiild, Backxwash, The Flamingos Pink, Aiza, Wayne Tennant, and out American rapper Cakes da Killa. Online ticket purchases only. There will be no tickets available at the door.

Audiences are enjoying Hip-Hopéra, Carmen which returns to Place de la Paix on The Main, with two free shows nightly at 7 pm and 8:30 pm from September 23 to 26. The performance is an unprecedented meeting of hip-hop and opera, and retells Georges Bizet’s famous Carmen, the world’s most-produced French-language opera.

Meanwhile, Osheaga presents its Osheaga Get Together on two stages at Parc Jean-Drapeau from October 1 to 3. The all-Canadian line-up includes Charlotte Cardin, The Franklin Electric, Jesse Reyez, Half Moon Run, Stars and The Damn Truth.

Grammy-winning Montreal DJ Kaytranada will spin on the main stage at Piknic Électronik Montréal on October 7 and 8.

Other performers slated to headline in Montréal include Megadeth and Lamb Of God (October 1 at Place Bell), South African diva Lorraine Klaasen’s 40th Anniversary Concert (October 5 at Cabaret Lion d’or), Enrique Iglesias and Ricky Martin (October 9 at Bell Centre), Judas Priest (November 4 at Place Bell), Bruce Springsteen’s saxman (and Montréal resident) Jake Clemons (November 6 at L’Astral), Alan Doyle (November 18 at the Olympia), The Flaming Lips (November 18 at MTELUS), Genesis (November 22 and 23 at Bell Centre), City and Colour (December 4 at MTELUS), Crown Lands (December 4 at Petit Campus), and Molly Johnson (December 15 at Corona Theatre).

Theatre

Montréal’s two large English-language theatre companies – Segal Centre for Performing Arts and Centaur Theatre Company – have programmed feel-good comedies, dramas and musicals for their 2021-2022 seasons.

The magic begins at The Segal Centre with the critically-hailed Every Brilliant Thing (October 24 to November 14), produced in association with Hudson Village Theatre, directed by Montréal theatre legend Dean Patrick Fleming and starring Daniel Brochu in a poignant, life-affirming and funny one-man show about a child whose mother has chronic depression and the lengths we will go to for those we love.

Centaur’s first mainstage production of the season sees the return of one of Canada’s foremost creators and actors, Rebecca Northan, with her new fully-scripted play All I Want for Christmas (November 16 to December 5) about two centenarian elves who receive a surprising and unprecedented “Dear Santa” package, thrusting the North Pole into hilarious last-minute Christmas chaos.

Also getting plenty of buzz is the French-language play Embrasse at the Théâtre du Nouveau Monde (September 21 to October 24). Written by celebrated playwright Michel Marc Bouchard and directed by the Centaur’s artistic director Eda Holmes making her TNM début, Embrasse stars 24-year-old Québec acting sensation Théodore Pellerin as a young man who dreams of becoming a fashion designer.

Classical stage

The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal presents 61 concerts for their 88th season, including several concerts conducted by OSM music director designate Rafael Payare, such as Passion Unleashed: Tchaikovsky and Sibelius at the Maison symphonique de Montréal on December 8 and 11. The OSM will also welcome 16 guest conductors, including legendary Grammy-winning OSM Conductor Emeriti Kent Nagano (December 15, 16 and 18).

Click here for the full OSM season.

Orchestre Métropolitain Maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin teams up with French classical pianist Hélène Grimaud at the Maison symphonique on September 30, then returns to conduct the OM in Romantic Treasures on October 29.

Ballet-Opéra-Pantomime and the I Musici de Montréal chamber orchestra join forces with the Opéra de Montréal for a double bill: Riders to the Sea and the new work Le Flambeau de la nuit, at Théâtre Maisonneuve on September 25 and 26.

The Orchestre classique de Montréal opens its 82nd season with Maestro Boris Brott and internationally-renowned pianist Sara Davis Buechner in Buechner, Barber and Beethoven at the Centre Pierre-Péladeau on November 9, followed by Tales and Melodies on November 23, and the return of the OCM’s annual classic Handel’s Messiah concert at Saint Joseph’s Oratory on December 7. Highly recommend buying tickets for Handel’s Messiah early – there are just 500 tickets for this performance.

Meanwhile, some 100 concerts have been programmed over at Bourgie Concert Hall for their 10th anniversary season, including the long-awaited return of The Complete Cantatas of J.S. Bach (which begins on October 31), plus signature concerts by cellists Jean-Guihen Queyras and Stéphane Tétreault (October 26), Discovering Medtner with soprano Myriam Leblanc and pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin (November 17), and the hugely popular annual A Charlie Brown Christmas concert by the Taurey Butler Trio, with guest vocalist Marie-Christine Depestre (December 15 and 16).

Dance

To mark the 50th anniversary of BJM- Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal, the contemporary Danse Danse series presents Vanishing Mélodies by BJM with music by Montréal singer-songwriter Patrick Watson, at Théatre Maisonneuve (November 2 to 6). Other Danse Danse highlights include Efer by Parts+Labour_Danse at Cinquième Salle (November 16 to 20) and Garden by Ballet BC at Théatre Maisonneuve (December 1 to 4).

The 2021-2022 Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal season continues with the blockbuster contemporary ballet triple bill The Four Seasons by Gaby Baars, Edouard Lock and Mauro Bigonzetti (who returns with his beloved ballet The Four Seasons, set to Vivaldi’s iconic score of the same name), at Salle Wilfred-Pelletier (October 14 to 23).

Les Grands Ballets will soon announce the December dates for the return of their timeless adaptation of The Nutcracker by Québec choreographer Fernand Nault. This two-act ballet based on E.T.A. Hoffmann’s classic tale is set to the music of Tchaikovsky and brings together more than 60 dancers and 100 extras, plus the Orchestre des Grands ballets Canadiens de Montréal.

Museums

The Montréal Museum of Fine Arts exhibition The World of Yousuf Karsh: A Private Essence documents the life and work of one of the greatest portraitists of the 20th century (September 22 to January 30, 2022). The exhibition features renowned images of political figures, including Fidel Castro, Winston Churchill, William Lyon Mackenzie King, Nelson Mandela, Eleanor Roosevelt and Pierre Elliott Trudeau, plus portraits of such cultural icons as Ernest Hemingway, Ingrid Bergman, Albert Einstein and Muhammed Ali.

The much-anticipated exhibition Parachute: Subversive Fashion of the ‘80s tells the story the Parachute brand which was founded in Montréal in 1977 by designer Nicola Pelly and architect Harry Parnass, and which quickly became an international fashion phenomenon with a celebrity clientele that included Madonna, Duran Duran and Peter Gabriel. This exhibition explores Parachute’s androgynous and provocative clothing, and the company’s transformation from its subcultural New Wave beginnings, to a designer brand with concept stores in cities including Montréal, New York and Los Angeles. The exhibition opens on November 22 and runs to April 24, 2022.

While the wearing of facemasks is obligatory, museums are exempted from government-mandated vaccine passports.

Click here for more museum exhibitions in Montréal.

Family entertainment

Located in the Old Port, the Montréal Science Centre and its IMAX®TELUS theatre reopen to the public on September 23. The kid-friendly permanent exhibitions are all open, and the IMAX cinema is screening two films: Great Bear Rainforest 3D and Superpower Dogs 3D.

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

The COVID-19 passport is required for visitors aged 13 and up at Montréal Space for Life and at the Montréal Science Centre, and face masks are mandatory.

Cinema

The 50thFestival du nouveau cinéma de Montréal runs from October 6 to 17. The opening film is Bootlegger by filmmaker Caroline Monnet at the Cinéma Impérial on October 6, and the closing film is the animated Archipelago by director Félix Dufour-Laperrière, also screening at the Impérial, on October 17. The full festival lineup will be unveiled on September 28.

The 17th edition of the Montreal International Black Film Festival runs from September 22 to October 3, and will screen 134 films from 30 countries, while Canada’s first LGBTQ film festival, Image + Nation, returns for its 34th edition from November 18 to 28.

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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