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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 16, No. 5

Quebec New Music Society Turns 25

by Crystal Chan / February 3, 2011

Flash version here

It's the closest thing to a concert co-op in Montreal. Codes d'accès (CA), a haven for contemporary Quebecois and Canadian composers and the musicians who play their work, celebrates its 25th birthday this month. It all started with a group of young composers in 1985. Searching for a more organized forum to connect, share resources, and have their music performed, the previously named Société des Concerts Alternatifs du Québec set out to be a democratic, artist-run organization—at a time when there were few opportunities for composers whose works otherwise went unheard. Since then, projects like Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne's Forum International des Jeunes Compositeurs and the Ensemble contemporain de Montréal's Génération have joined the increasing pool of series that showcase emerging composers, but Codes d'accès continues as a leader in the field.

On February 28, 1986, the CA's inaugural concert was presented at the Bibliothèque nationale du Québec (at that time located in the Bibliothèque St-Sulpice). The works of six composers were performed: John Oliver, Laurie Radford, Marie Pelletier, Claude Frenette, Guy Perron, and Marc Hyland.

Codes d'accès has always been proud to have presented the first performance of many great musicians, composers, or chamber groups that subsequently became very active in the contemporary music scene,” said composer Éric Champagne, president of the CA, who has been working with the organization since 2007.

The organization is already known among the contemporary music milieu and receives a fair share of government support. Champagne's goal is to generate wider public interest in CA and the musicians it represents. Bungapolis, their May 2010 opera-cabaret featuring comic book art, drew record numbers by appealing to a whole new crowd. Continued multidisciplinary projects are the way of the future, believes Champagne. From instrumental music to electro-acoustic, mixed, opera, musical theatre, installation, music videos… nothing goes unconsidered by CA.

Above all, CA projects offer artists the opportunity to produce projects that other companies deem too risky, including commissions and premieres of very novel pieces. For example, May 2007 saw the CA commission the premiere of Analia Llugdar’s musical La Faim d’Artaud, directed by Quebec theatre veteran Alice Ronfard. 2009's An Index of Metals was not only the North American premiere of the final work of a prematurely deceased composer, Fausto Romitelli; the video-opera was the biggest production in CA history, employing 16 musicians. Running from 2001 to 2007, the Tentacules series of concerts was perhaps the most important of CA's contributions to the musical scene. The series brought 10 highly original concerts featuring often previously overlooked pieces to light, presenting instrumental, electronic, and other genres of music all on the same bill.

Part of CA’s plans for the future includes taking this innovative programming out of Montreal. CA has already engaged in exchanges with other musical groups in different places in the past (Toronto in 1989, Barcelona in 1992, and Belgium in 1996). Similar exchanges, Champagne hopes, will be part of their near future. There are also plans to tour with the season programs on a more local scale: namely, around the city to different venues and in other cities and towns in the province, including Quebec City.

» Upcoming concert: La guitare selon Montréal. April 21, 8 p.m. Place des Arts.


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