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Thursday, June 5, 2008

Automne Messiaen


2008 marks the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Olivier Messiaen, and Montreal will be part of the celebrations taking place all over the world since January. An exciting musical autumn, filled to the brim with discoveries, was put together by pianist Louise Bessette, brains and artistic coordinator of Automne Messiaen 2008. With Maestro Kent Nagano, conductor and musical director of the Orchestre Symphonique de Montrˆ©al, and composer Gilles Tremblay, both joining the event as honorary patrons, Louise Bessette is therefore inviting the neophyte as well as the connoisseur to a big musical feast, a tribute to one of the greatest French composers.

Olivier Messiaen

Born in Avignon, on December 10, 1908, Olivier Messiaen is a shining light among composers of the 20th century. Organist at the ˆâglise de la Trinitˆ© in Paris, teacher at the Conservatoire National Supˆ©rieur de Musique de Paris and tireless ornithologist, Messiaen humbly spoke of his times through his compositions. He influenced an entire generation of composers, bringing them to grasp the incredible liberties they were being offered. Fascinated by Japan and its traditions, this ¬´ ornithologist and rhythmician ¬ª as he used to describe himself, transmitted to the musical world a touching cry to length through the importance of its rhythmical value. His famous Treatise of rhythm, colors and ornithology is the silent witness of the monumental task Messiaen undertook. However, what remains is the total amount of his works, colored by the powerful Messiaen signature, this extraordinary sensibility which rooted him to his times, wrapped in an utopian hope that provided him with latitudes only he would dare to envision.

Quˆ©bec-France collaboration

Undeniable pianist of the international scene and muse to the contemporary world, Louise Bessette is the natural spokeperson for the unique and sensitive musical world of Olivier Messiaen. This is why the idea to pay tribute to the illustrious composer on a large scale presented itself spontaneously. Motivated by the French association Messiaen 2008, whose goal is to coordinate, lenghthen and promote the ensemble of events dedicated to the composer, in France as well as internationally, Louise Bessette imagined a regrouping of artists who would share the same goal for Quˆ©bec. All she needed then were meetings with the Montreal musical community as a whole. Their enthusiastic answers came pouring in. An exciting and diversified season was built, grouping an impressive number of highly recognized performers as well as young promising artists, therefore honoring the important composer and teacher who was Olivier Messiaen.

Louise Bessette

The work of Olivier Messiaen has always been a part of Louise Bessette's career. Fascinated by his musical world as she was pursuing her studies at the Conservatoire de Musique de Montrˆ©al, she went to Paris to study with Yvonne Loriod-Messiaen, the wife of the composer, and devoured her precious teachings. She eventually met Olivier Messiaen on different occasions and was present at the creation of his opera Saint-Franˆßois d'Assise. Since those days, Louise Bessette has always made a point of playing his works on a regular basis and has managed to impressively enlarge her repertoire of his music. She has recorded many of his pieces, gathering through the years numerous laudatory reviews and prizes, all emphasizing the importance of her musical input and artistic career. ¬´ Messiaen found in Louise Bessette a prodigious performer. ¬ª (Yves Allaz, Journal de Genˆ®ve, December 1996). ¬´ Like Maestro Messiaen, Louise Bessette is first an ear that enjoys the sensuality of sounds, that adores joy, that meditates with devotion and most importantly, that is always surprised by the beauty of these creations. ¬ª (Franˆßois Tousignant, Le Devoir, October 2000). The public will hear her performing regularly during the fall as she will play such masterpieces as the complete Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant-Jˆ©sus, the Quatuor pour la fin du temps, Des canyons aux ˆ©toiles, Sept HaˆØkaˆØ, Trois petites liturgies de la prˆ©sence divine, and Oisaux exotiques.

Thanks to this neverending passion that inhabits Louise Bessette in regards to Olivier Messiaen, Automne Messiaen 2008 will celebrate joy and life through the philosophy and the work of a French composer that has done so much to enrich and enlighten the music of the XX century.

The participants at the great concerts of Automne Messiaen 2008

  • Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne

Date: September 10, 8PM

Location: Salle Claude-Champagne

Programming At first light by British composer George Benjamin who has studied with Messiaen, conductor Lorraine Vaillancourt proposes to think about the influence of the French master on his students.

  • Zubin Mehta, guest conductor with the OSM

Date: September 17, 8PM

Location: Basilique Notre-Dame

It is with Et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum that Maestro Zubin Mehta will revisit the OSM and the Montreal public.

  • ¬´ Journˆ©e Messiaen ¬ª at the 10th Festival Orgue et Couleurs

Date: October 3, 5h30PM and 8PM

Location: ˆâglise Saint-Nom-de-Jˆ©sus

The audience will be invited to hear organ pieces as well as Cinq Rechants, and the Quatuor pour la fin du temps, with Simon Aldrich (clarinet), Louise Bessette (piano), Jonathan Crow (violin) and Yegor Dyachkov (cello). Also on the bill, Le temps des impossibles, a quartet from young quebecer composer Nicolas Gilbert, his musical tribute to Olivier Messiaen, written with the financial support of The Canada Council for the Arts.

  • Opening concert of the Sociˆ©tˆ© de Musique Contemporaine du Quˆ©bec

Date: October 8, 8PM

Location: Salle Pierre-Mercure of the Centre Pierre-Pˆ©ladeau

It is with an imposing work of Messiaen that conductor Walter Boudreau has decided to begin the 43rd season of the SMCQ. Pairing together pianist Louise Bessette and the ensemble of the SMCQ, this concert will present a single work: Des canyons aux ˆ©toiles.

  • Messiaen prize at the Concours International d'Orgue du Canada

Date: October 13 and 14, time to be determined

Location: Church St-Jean-Baptiste of Montreal

The works of Olivier Messiaen are amongst the most important of the repertoire of the 20th century for organ. The first edition of the Concours International d'Orgue du Canada will award the best performer of his music with the Prix Messiaen, a scholarship of 5 000 $. It is during the second round that the qualified candidates will present two works by Messiaen.

  • Olivier Messiaen and the Conservatoire de Musique de Montrˆ©al

The music institution will embark on a series of concert-events around Olivier Messiaen. The students will perform a variety of his solo and chamber works at the Chapelle Historique du Bon-Pasteur, on October 25 and 26, time to be determined. Following that, with conductors Raffi Armenian and Louis Lavigueur, and with pianist Louise Bessette, the musicians of the Orchestre du Conservatoire de Musique de Montrˆ©al will play Sept HaˆØkaˆØ and Trois petites liturgies de la prˆ©sence divine at the Salle Pierre-Mercure of the Centre Pierre-Pˆ©ladeau, on October 27 at 8PM. Finally, with conductor Vˆ©ronique Lacroix, Louise Bessette and the Ensemble de Musique Contemporaine du Conservatoire will render their own vision of Oiseaux Exotiques, at the Chapelle Historique du Bon-Pasteur, on December 13, at 8PM.

  • Olivier Messiaen and McGill University

Date: October 14, 8PM

Location: Pollack Hall

The McGill Wind Symphony, with conductor Alain Cazes, will perform Les oiseaux exotiques.

Date: November 28 and 29, 8PM

Location: Pollack Hall

The McGill Symphony Orchestra, with conductor Alexis Hauser, will tackle Les offrandes oubliˆ©es, the very first composition of Messiaen that was played for a large audience.

  • Automne Messiaen 2008 and the Chapelle Historique du Bon-Pasteur

So as to be part of the celebrations, the Chapelle Historique du Bon-Pasteur will offer many recitals with some of the greatest musicians. Pianist Louis-Philippe Pelletier will present a recital filled with Debussy and Messiaen music, on November 20, at 8PM. The Quatuor pour la fin du temps, with Simon Aldrich (clarinet), Louise Bessette (piano), Jonathan Crow (violin) and Yegor Dyachkov (cello) will be presented again on November 26 at 8PM. Another important rendez-vous is the one in which Louise Bessette will present the complete Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant-Jˆ©sus. Let us mention here that she has won the Prix Opus ¬´ Soloist of the year ¬ª for her magnificient rendering of this masterpiece at Pollack Hall in 1997. This ¬´ return ¬ª will happen on December 10 at 8PM, birthday of Olivier Messiaen.

  • Notre-Dame and the gathering of internationals organ players

Date: December 10, time to be determined

Location: Basilique Notre-Dame

Under the initiative of Pierre Grandmaison, holder of the organs at the Basilique Notre-Dame, international organists will travel to Montreal to perform the entire catalogue of Messiaen's works for organ. This special celebration will take place on December 10, time to be determined.

  • Studio 12 of Radio-Canada

Date: December 11, at 8PM

The radio of Sociˆ©tˆ© Radio-Canada will open its doors and invite the public to congregate at studio 12 so that they may listen to a live transmission of a tribute concert to Olivier Messiaen. Even though the program is shrouded in secrecy, the outcome of the event promises to be highly pleasurable, surprising and intimate. A little secret not to be missed.

  • Saint-Franˆßois d'Assise, a great premiere with the OSM!

Date: December 5 and 9, at 8PM

Location: Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier of Place des Arts

Eminent specialist of Messiaen, Maestro Kent Nagano is distinguishing himself from other conductors by celebrating his mentor with the opera Saint-Franˆßois d'Assise. Chorus, orchestra and soloists will work together so as to give full justice to one of the most significant works of the last 25 years. Needless to say, these two evenings will culminate the events of Automne Messiaen 2008 and be the highlight of a very exciting fall line-up.

Add to this list other events in the works and one can sense that even the most distinguished lover of Messiaen's music will be tickled by a musical offering out of the ordinary. Let the celebration begin!!

Automne Messiaen 2008 thanks SSQ Groupe financier for its support to the promotion.

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