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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 17, No. 2


by Wah Keung Chan / October 1, 2011

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Flash version here.

Last month’s tenth anniversary of 9/11 re-awakened my memories of La Scena Musicale’s fifth anniversary gala, which was held on September 12, 2001 at the Centre Pierre-Péladeau. On the morning of 9/11, as the news went from bad to worse, we were confronted with the decision of whether or not to hold the concert the following day. In the afternoon, I met with several of the musicians during the dress rehearsal, and the unanimous feeling was that we should proceed and let music pave the way to some measure of peace by dedicating the concert to the the victims. Those who were at the gala, 444 people in all, shared a unique experience.

That gala concert five years ago was also noteworthy for several firsts. It was the first public’s choice concert: the repertoire was selected by an online vote. Many of Canada’s top musicians performed, including Denis Brott, Donna Brown, Stéphane Lemelin, Nathalie Paulin and Daniel Taylor—who inaugurated his new ensemble, Theatre of Early Music, at the gala. It was also the first time the young pianist Yannick Nézet-Séguin teamed up with rising mezzo Marie-Nicole Lemieux; how nicely things have turned out for both Yannick and Marie-Nicole over the years. A review of the gala concert in Le Devoir criticized Lemieux’s Invitation au voyage by Henri Duparc, but I treasure that performance because I know how much Marie-Nicole was moved by the tragic event of the previous day.

The Gala also saw the birth of the Bring a Teen Outreach Program, which offers teenagers free entrance to classical music concerts when accompanied by an adult (e.g., parent, sibling or teacher). After an absence of seven years, we are happy to re-launch the program in partnership with the Federation of Quebec Music Educators.

Rather than organize another gala this autumn, we are marking LSM’s 15th birthday by embarking on an exciting new venture, The Next Great Art Song, which will culminate in a public choice gala concert in the autumn of 2012.

As I look back over our 15 years of promoting music and the arts, the sum total of our efforts has resulted in much more than just 190 issues reaching 10 million readers in print, 25 million readers online through La Scena Musicale and its sister publications, The Music Scene, La SCENA and scena.org. We have fulfilled our continuing mission to support concert music in Canada, especially in Quebec; in the first two years alone, we covered the rise of tenor Ben Heppner, introduced you to the wonderful soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian after her win at the Met Auditons, and presented Bernard Labadie and Les Violons du Roy to the public. Last month, we doubled our distribution to 50,000 copies by replacing the previously semi-bilingual magazine with individual English and French editions; based on the positive feedback, it looks like we’ve made a good decision.

Each day at LSM is a labour of love, but 15 years has flown by too quickly. At the same time, it seems like so long ago when I became the 30-year old ‘father’ of the magazine, which was initially christened La Scena Vocale. After 15 years, I am now dealing with a ‘teenager’—one that has been adopted not only by my loving wife, Lilian, but also by my family, friends, a dedicated team of staff and volunteers, board members, LSM ambassadors, advertisers, donors, subscribers and you our readers. Thank you.

To another 15 years!

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