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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 5, No. 1

Monteverdi's Vespers and the Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal

September 1, 1999

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Monteverdi's Vespers and the Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal The Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Artistic director Christopher Jackson's choice of the Vespers as the first work of the coming season is no accident. "In a way, it's our birthday party," says Jackson. "We're connected with this work, and I have a special affection for it." It was the Vespers that led him to ancient music in the early 1970s. Moreover, the Studio was virtually the first Montreal institution to perform Monteverdi's work in concert. Apart from a version performed in the 1940s, the Vespers were first heard in Montreal under the baton of Christopher Jackson in 1978 and twice in the 1980s. "It's an old friend, I know it well," says Jackson. Over the years, Jackson has had numerous opportunities to conduct the Vespers in Montreal and on tour. His interpretation has evolved and deepened in understanding with time, he explains. "One accumulates layers of sensitivity, understanding, and perception. Each time I conduct the Vespers, it changes. It's a difficult work. Some parts are more accessible, such as the Magnificat or the Sonata, but it's almost always in transition between two worlds. It's a musical language practically created for the occasion!" How does Jackson surmount these difficulties when working with his singers? "You have to try as much as possible to know what Monteverdi had in mind. Nothing is in the music by chance. I try to share my vision with the singers. I've worked with them for a long time and they know me well; they grasp what I'm trying to evoke with the music." Jackson regards the Vespers, which changed the course of his musical life, with profound respect. It will be performed September 26 at St. Leon de Westmount Church by SMAM. Soloists include Suzie LeBlanc, Nils Brown, and Michiel Schrey. - Dominique Olivier [Translation: Jane Brierley]
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