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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 19, No. 2

For the Glory of Venice

by Caroline Rodgers / October 1, 2013

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The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) and the Arte Musica Foundation are taking multidisciplinary events to new heights with Splendore a Venezia. The event presents an overview of musical life in Venice from the Renaissance to the Baroque period through a number of works of art and concerts.

Isolde Lagacé, general and artistic director of the Fondation, has been meticulously programming the music of the show for the past five years.

“It’s a beautiful story that ties in with the establishment of the Arte Musica Foundation,” she said. “When Pierre Bourgie and I first approached the MMFA with the goal of transforming the church into a concert hall, the museum was already working on a show dedicated to Venice and music. That’s when we came up with the idea of a concert series on the same theme that would be presented in the future concert hall,” she said. “For me, this event epitomizes our original idea. All of the works presented allow us to discover the place of music throughout Venice, in the private and public sectors, at church, in the streets, in the squares and in all the social strata.”

The event will feature a total of 120 elements. Many of the paintings, drawings and prints represent Venetian musicians or instances of musical life in Venice such as concerts, balls and operas. A number of period instruments will also be showcased: sackbuts, violas da gamba, flutes and cornets, as well as century-old scores, such as one of the original copies of the first edition of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.

“This show is a gold mine for music enthusiasts,” said Lagacé. “The music will be presented differently in each room, either recorded or sometimes played by live musicians.”

Visitors will be able to discover the show in several ways. Three musical guided tours with early music specialist François Filiatrault, and three musical strolls with lutenist Sylvain Bergeron will be offered. Duo visits are also available, in which the visitor will be shown around by a guide and accompanied by a musician.

All of this is topped off by a number of film screenings and conferences, such as Mathieu Roy’s documentary Mort à Venise: voyage musical avec Louis Lortie. What’s more, renowned musicologist Gilles Cantagruel will give a lecture on Bach and Italy.

Concerts at Bourgie Hall

A Venetian theme is a dream come true for Montreal, an extremely prolific city when it comes to early music.

“I wanted the program to paint a very complete picture of music in Venice,” said Isolde Lagacé, the director of Arte Musica. “There is vocal, instrumental, sacred, secular, popular and early music by significant composers. If someone were to attend all twenty concerts, they would essentially be receiving an accelerated course on Venetian music over a few centuries.”

Obviously, Vivaldi has a place of privilege in the program. “It would be impossible to pass him by. I think very few composers are as tied to a city as Vivaldi was to Venice. The work, the man and the city are inseparable,” she explained.

Although the art exhibition ends with the Baroque era, the music continues until the 21st century, all the while maintaining a link to Venice and its major themes such as water and love.

“For example, the history of George Sand and Alfred de Musset, both of whom had a turbulent relationship in Venice and exchanged significant correspondence, will serve as the backdrop for the concert Les Amants de Venise,” Lagacé said. “We have created a concert that blends literature and period music with works by Chopin, Mendelssohn and Liszt.”

Many musical ensembles and Montreal-based soloists included in the program will present a concert featured in their regular season program. These include the Arion Baroque Orchestra, Les Boréades, the Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal, the Ensemble Caprice, Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, Luc Beauséjour, Geneviève Soly and OSM musicians.

Also performing will be many highly reputed foreign ensembles and musicians. Some of them will be visiting Canada or even North America for the first time. Among these are ensembles such as the Cambini-Paris Quartet, the vocal ensemble Profeti della Quinta, the Accordone ensemble and the Orchester Jakobsplatz Munchen.

Some concerts worth mentioning: Italy’s most beautiful concertos transcribed for organ, with Geneviève Soly, November 24. Le Chat et le gondolier, a musical children’s tale presented by La Nef and the Théâtre sans fil, a creation featuring giant marionettes, on January 12. Finally, the Ensemble Caprice performs the Montreal premiere of Vivaldi’s oratorio Juditha Triumphans, on January 18.


Translation: Catherine Hine

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