Montréal winter cultural calendar
Ancient Egyptian mummies and homecoming concerts by global pop icon Céline Dion are among the many Montréal arts and entertainment highlights this winter.
Montréal is a great jazz city: beloved Montréal blues queen and jazz diva Dawn Tyler Watson headlines concerts (January 15 and 31, February 19, and March 6 and 18) at Upstairs Jazz Bar and Grill, named one of the world’s top jazz nightclubs by DownBeat magazine.
A Montréal superstar, Rufus Wainwright, returns home to headline the “Complainte pour Catherine” tribute concert to his late mother Kate McGarrigle, featuring the Wainwright and McGarrigle families at Théâtre Maisonneuve on February 5.
Jamaican reggae royalty Morgan Heritage – the Grammy-winning band formed by the children of reggae legend Denroy Morgan – headlines L’Astral on February 7. Chance the Rapper (February 13) and American folk-rock band The Lumineers (March 6) all headline the Bell Centre.
Global pop superstar Céline Dion brings her Courage World Tour home to the Bell Centre for two additional concerts on February 18 and 19, 2020.
Over at the Cabaret Lion d’Or on February 18, irrepressible Montréal impresario Doudou Boicel presents Montréal’s Blues Guitar All-Stars, a tribute to the legendary artists who performed at his iconic Rising Sun (Soleil levant) Celebrity Jazz and Blues Club.
Don’t miss the world English-language premiere of playwright Catherine-Anne Toupin’s taut psychological thriller Mob, directed by Andrew Shaver (March 3 to 22).
The Segal Centre for Performing Arts continues its current season with the Montréal premiere of Bess Wohl’s smash-hit play Small Mouth Sounds about six city dwellers who attend a silent retreat only to discover just how hard it can be to keep their mouths shut (February 9 to March 1), and the acclaimed musical The Times They Are A Changin’, celebrating great Jewish musical voices of the 1960s – such as Bob Dylan, Mama Cass, Simon and Garfunkel, Carole King and Montréal pop icon Leonard Cohen – stars Canadian theatre legend and Tony Award nominee Louise Pitre (March 1 to 22).
The West End smash musical We Will Rock You, based on the music of classic rock band Queen, headlines Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier on February 10 and 11.
At Bourgie Concert Hall, beloved Québec soprano Marie-Josée Lord headlines Poems, Prayers and Bliss (February 25) with pianist Hugues Cloutier, performing a programme of mélodies (“art songs”) by Chausson and Duparc, songs by Bernstein and Gershwin, and American spirituals.
Eleven of Canada’s finest female voices – including Martha Wainwright and Betty Bonifassi – offer symphonic interpretations with the OSM of songs by celebrated Québec songwriter Luc Plamondon in PLAMONDON SYMPHONIQUE (February 11 to 13). Another OSM concert of note is Jan Lisiecki Meets Brahms, starring prodigious young pianist Jan Lisiecki with the OSM, led by young American conductor James Gaffigan (February 5 and 8).
Metropolitan Opera music director and Montréal homeboy Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts the Orchestre Métropolitain in Mozart Larger-than-Life, which presents Québec composer Jacques Hétu’s Symphony No. 5 for chorus and orchestra, followed by Mozart’s Great Mass in C minor, at the Maison symphonique de Montréal on February 7.
Celebrated Montréal soprano Aline Kutan headlines A Viennese afternoon with maestro Boris Brott, conducting the Orchestre Classique de Montréal at Victoria Hall in Westmount on February 16.
Grammy-winning maestro Kent Nagano – in his last full season with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal – conducts Dusapin and Beethoven (February 18 and 20). For this North American premiere, the OSM’s Organist Emeritus Olivier Latry takes command of the Grand Orgue Pierre-Béique.
To close its season, Opera McGill joins forces with the McGill Baroque Orchestra and Cappella Antica to perform one of Handel’s most famous works for the stage, Acis and Galatea, at Pollack Hall (March 27 to 29).
One internationally-acclaimed Montréal dance company is front and centre at the city’s hugely popular Danse Danse series: Compagnie Flak presents its founder, dancer-choreographer José Navas in the much-anticipated Winterreise (February 11 to 22) at Cinquième Salle.
To celebrate the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal present their Dancing Beethoven double bill: American choreographer Garrett Smith opens the concert with a piece set to Beethoven’s Symphony No 5, followed by a piece by late German choreographer Uwe Scholz set to Beethoven’s Symphony No 7, with all music performed by Les Grands Ballets Orchestra, at Théatre Maisonneuve (February 19 to 23).
Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives is at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts until March 29.
The McCord Museum hosts Jean-Claude Poitras: Fashion and Inspiration to April 26.
Arsenal Contemporary Art Centre presents Imagine Van Gogh from December 5, 2019, to April 5, 2020.
If you’re looking for more details, we’ve got a whole article dedicated to winter exhibitions in Montréal.
Movie lovers will enjoy projections of the blockbuster films Titanic (February 8 and 9) and Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers (February 28 and 29) with full orchestras at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier. The original motion pictures will be screened in HD with French subtitles.
If you’re looking for Christmas shows, check out this article.
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.