Montreal Chamber Festival Rebounds and Expandsby Wah Keung Chan
/ May 2, 2011
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“It all begins with love and passion,”
says Denis Brott, founder and artistic director of the Montreal Chamber
Music Festival, now entering its 16th season. Like many arts
groups, the MCMF faced large deficits in 2008 and 2009 during the heart
of the financial crisis. “We had to make lean and mean cuts,” said
Brott, who attributed support from artists and partners for weathering
the financial squeeze. Tough times or not, Brott said he always strove
to present the best possible chamber music at the Festival.
This year the MCMF's annual Gala fundraiser—held
in April and featuring Karina Gauvin and Michael McMahon—attracted
230 paying guests and netted $150,000, double last year’s total. The
Festival was able to wipe its deficit clean and push forward its plans
According to Brott, the secret to organizing
a successful fundraiser is to choose a strong honorary president and
to have an active honorary committee. Thanks to Brott’s passion and
vision, the MCMF has been able to attract some heavy hitters. Last year’s
event was shepherded by Sylvie Demers, VP of TD Waterhouse, and this
year’s Gala was presided over by John Paul MacDonald, Senior Vice
President, Human Resources and Public Affairs of Bombardier. In addition
to MacDonald and Demers, the 2011 Gala committee included John Rae of
Power Corporation, while the honorary committee included John Parisella,
David Azrieli, Christine Marchildon, Lynn Jeanniot and Peter MacAuslan.
As co-hosts of the Gala, the MacDonald-Demers duo brought prestige,
confidence and flair to the successful evening.
In addition to the ticket revenue, half
of the proceeds came from a highly successful silent auction of such
diverse luxuries as rare wines and a week’s stay in the Turks and
Caicos. “This year, the value of the items was triple the previous
year’s auction,” said Davis Joachim, the festival’s administrator.
“The secret is just getting the right objects for your crowd and getting
the right buyers. Each auction item must be presented properly and to
the right people.”
With a bit of financial cushion, Brott
plans to expand the festival to include winter season concerts in Montreal.
Further, following a successful private concert in New York this past
March, he plans New York events next season that promote Canadian talent
and promising young artists. “We’ve had a five-year plan to expand,
which was always postponed due to lack of funds,” said Brott. “Now
we can move on it.”
This year’s MCMF will be presented
at a new venue, the downtown St. Georges Church at the corner of Peel
and de la Gauchetière. It is expected that 13.5% of concertgoers will
be tourists. The Festival's 18+ concerts will reach millions in the
US via National Public Radio.
May 5 to 28 www.festivalmontreal.org