Straight to the Heart with the Montréal Chamber Music Festival

Richard Burnett

The Montréal Chamber Music Festival will showcase the best of jazz and classical music at its 23rd edition, which runs from June 1 to 17. “We highlight the best of the upcoming generation of Québec musicians, as well as welcome back friends from around the world,” says festival founder and artistic director Denis Brott of Montréal’s renowned Brott musical family. This year’s theme is “Droit au Cœur!” (“Straight to the Heart!”).

Here are some of this year’s highlights.

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Jazz Series

The festival’s popular TD JAZZ series is back for three Friday night concerts, beginning with the June 1 musical tribute to one of Montréal’s – and the world’s – great musicians, jazz icon Oscar Peterson. Oscar’s daughter Celine Peterson has selected the artists and program for this personal tribute to her father, which will include Oscar’s own bass player Dave Young, along with jazz heavyweights, pianist Ben Paterson and percussionist Jim Doxas.

On June 8, the festival presents rising young Grammy-nominated jazz pianist Eldar Djangirov and his trio. Djangirov came to the U.S. from the former Soviet Union at the age of 10, was signed to Sony Masterworks at 17, has appeared at numerous major jazz festivals and has performed with major symphony orchestras. No less than Dave Brubeck has called Djangirov “a genius beyond most young people I've heard.”

A regular on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert’s band, charismatic musical prodigy Grace Kelly promises to wow jazz fans when her trio headlines the festival on June 15.

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Classical Series

The festival’s Classical Series is anchored by some of North America’s finest musicians, including the brilliant, internationally-acclaimed Canadian pianist André Laplante who will join the Rolston String Quartet (currently Quartet-in-Residence at Yale University) for an evening of Haydn, Tchaikovsky and Schumann, on June 12.

The Tempest Trio – violinist Ilya Kaler, cellist Amit Peled and pianist Alon Goldstein have been compared by critics to the legendary “Million Dollar Trio” of Arthur Rubinstein, Jascha Heifetz and Gregor Piatigorsky – makes its Canadian premiere on June 14. The following day, on June 15, Alon Goldstein joins three of Canada’s top classical pianists – David Jalbert, Steven Massicotte, and Wonny Song – for a live program that includes Danse Macabre by Saint-Saëns and the Rhapsody by Liszt, as well as Mozart’s Sonata for four hands, K. 381. 

Then, the recently-formed New York Philharmonic String Quartet makes its hotly-anticipated Canadian premiere at the festival on June 16. The quartet is comprised of four principal musicians from the orchestra: Concertmaster Frank Huang, Principal Associate Concertmaster Sheryl Staples, Principal Viola Cynthia Phelps and Principal Cello Carter Brey. This new classical super group will perform works by Haydn, Shostakovich and Borodin.

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Year of the Cello

To celebrate the “Year of the Cello,” the festival will close with a grand finale all-cello concert at Pollack Hall on June 17. The show will feature 12 cellists, including festival founder and artistic director Denis Brott.

Concert highlights include works by Menotti, Popper and the Québec premiere of Kelly-Marie Murphy’s Coffee Will Be Served in The Living Room for eight cellos. The full composite of 12 cellos will be heard in Klengel’s Hymnus pour 12 violoncelles, op 57, and Heitor Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras 1 and 5, featuring soprano Aline Kutan.

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Music to Your Ears: Free-admission events!

This year the festival presents three free events – two concerts (one by The Rolston String Quartet, the other by cellist Amit Peled) and a screening of the documentary film The Cellist: Legacy of Gregor Piatigorsky. Click here for details.

For more information about the Montréal Chamber Music Festival, visit festivalmontreal.org.

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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