This Spring, Scotland Takes the Spotlight at Place des Arts

*As of publishing, Place des Arts has only cancelled events up to and including April 13, 2020. Please use link at bottom of article to keep up to date as to whether this is going on.

Ten Days of Shows and Free Activities Showcasing Scotland’s Dynamic

Cultural Scene and Links with Quebec

Place des Arts unveiled the full line-up of programming for Printemps écossais (Scottish Spring), a major artistic event created in collaboration with several partners in the cultural milieu and the Scottish community of Montreal. From April 16 to 26, 2020, Printemps écossais will offer shows and free activities featuring contemporary artists at various Place des Arts venues and public spaces, enabling attendees to discover the country’s creative vitality. With shows, youth programming, a digital experience, a literary interview, public discussions and workshops open to everyone providing an introduction to Scottish singing and dancing, it promises to be an artistic experience that will delight Montrealers with the wonders of this remarkable culture.

“The Scots and their descendants contributed to the evolution of Montreal, Quebec and Canada, leaving their stamp in several different fields. Today, the Montreal community remains strong, vibrant and proud. Place des Arts is committed to showcasing artistic diversity in all its forms and to fostering greater access to culture for all audiences. The idea for this major cultural celebration therefore stemmed from a desire to shine a spotlight on Scotland through the arts and give all audiences an opportunity to explore the country’s cultural scene, rich history and the ties that bind it with Quebec,” states Marie-Josée Desrochers, President and CEO of Place des Arts.

“The Printemps écossais is an opportunity to delve into this prime artistic destination renowned for its incomparable music festivals and the diversity of its local music scene featuring avant-garde, folk and traditional sounds. Many of its musicians perform around the world, and we are delighted to invite the general public to discover these talented artists here at Place des Arts. Over the course of 10 days,  Montrealers will be able to truly immerse themselves in Scottish culture by attending a variety of shows in our performance halls as well as participating in a series of free activities,” says Clothilde Cardinal, Programming Director at Place des Arts.

Shows for the General Public

Music will be in the spotlight with the meeting of two leading groups on the traditional and folk music scene: Le Vent du Nord, from Quebec, and Breabach, from Scotland. Having toured together 10 years ago, the Scottish band and Québécois group are coming together once again for a unique double-bill—for one night only!

As for Le Vent du Nord, not only is the group considered to be an outstanding ambassador of francophone culture, it is also a driving force in Quebec’s traditional music revival movement. Since it was founded in 2002, Le Vent du Nord has enjoyed a meteoric rise and never ceases to amaze! The group has given over 2,000 concerts on four continents, released 10 albums, and received several prestigious awards including a Grand Prix du disque Charles-Cros in France, two Junos and a Félix from the ADISQ. The group performs songs from the traditional repertoire as well as its own compositions. The members have just returned from Denmark where they gave a series of shows. Right before that, they were invited to tread the boards at Carnegie Hall in New York and were also guests of the Celtic Connections festival, where they won over Scottish audiences.

Breabach is a Scottish folk music group formed in 2005. Their great virtuosity on the bagpipes, fiddle, bass and guitar combined with Gaelic vocals and step dancing has won them fans around the globeOver the last few years, their albums have been nominated for multiple awards, with the group notably named Scottish Folk Band of the Year in 2012.

Saturday, April 18, 8 p.m., Théâtre Maisonneuve

Another double bill focused on discovery will bring together two emerging Scottish folk music groups, RURA and Talisk. Plunge into the world of 21st-century folk music!

With three albums to its credit, RURA is a multiple award-winning act, including a prize at Glasgow’s Celtic Connections and one of Scotland’s most popular folk bands. At once fiery, rugged, refined and progressive, the band’s instrumental pieces—featuring fiddle, Highland pipes, flute, guitar, keyboards, and bodhran—have propelled them to the forefront of the international scene.

With the infectious energy of its explosive yet artfully woven sound, Scottish group Talisk has stacked up a number of major awards, including the Belhaven Bursary for Innovation in 2018 and the 2017 Folk Band of the Year award at the BBC Alba Scots Trad Music Awards. The band seamlessly melds concertina, fiddle and guitar to create an enthralling, multi-faceted signature sound that has captivated audiences in America, Australia and the U.K.

Wednesday, April 22, 8 p.m., Théâtre Maisonneuve

De Loch Lomond à Montréal

(From Loch Lomond to Montreal)

Performance by the Choir of the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul

From Scotland to England, by way of France, New France, and Quebec, the Choir of the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul, one of Canada’s most advanced choral ensembles, will take the public on a musical journey across various eras and lands, right here on April 17. In just forty minutes, the choir’s musical program will encompass a rich facet of Montreal’s cultural history. Friday, April 17, 7 pm, in the large indoor public space at Place des Arts.

A highly anticipated literary interview will see Place des Arts welcome none other than celebrated Scottish author and playwright Irvine Welsh (Trainspotting, The Blade Artist, Dead Men’s Trousers). Irvine Welsh has written a dozen novels and several collections of short stories, as well as works for the stage. Five of his novels have been adapted for the screen, the most well-known being the critical and commercial success Trainspotting (1996), directed by Danny Boyle. This conversation about the background, career, inspirations and upcoming projects of this fascinating writer is not to be missed!

Friday, April 24, 8 p.m., Salle Claude-Léveillée

Family Programming

Two original works from Scotland will delight the entire family with their originality and high-calibre production quality.

Four Go Wild in Wellies is a dance work by Indepen-dance 4. This leading Scottish company with a growing reputation is known for its inclusive and innovative productions. The quartet takes a playful and whimsical look at the way in which friendships are built, broken and mended.

Saturday and Sunday, April 19 and 20, two performances per day (9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.), Cinquième Salle

Stick By Me is a beautifully crafted production about friendship, play and the importance of treasuring little things. With comedy, mime and a spellbinding musical soundscape, discover how worlds can be created from a simple object and a lot of imagination.

Sunday, April 26, two performances (11 a.m. and 2 p.m.), Cinquième Salle

big family celebration featuring several free activities will take place on Sunday, April 26, in Place des Arts’ large indoor public space. The program features a Scottish dance workshop; film screenings focusing on the work of an artist today considered to be the father of Canadian animated film, Norman McLaren; an exceptional musical performance by the bagpipers of the Black Watch, flagbearers of Scottish culture. Completing the day’s activities will be a workshop dedicated to making coat-of-arms, with reference to tartan, the famous plaid fabric which symbolizes Scotland and its clans, who proudly sport it on their kilts.

Free Activities

Public Discussions

·      Art inclusif : modèles et pratiques au Québec et en Écosse

(Inclusive Art: Models and Practices in Quebec and in Scotland)

Guests France Geoffroy, a pioneer of integrated dance in Quebec, Jean Horvais, professor in the Department of Education and Specialized Training at UQAM, Karen Anderson, Artistic Director of the Scottish company Indepen-dance, Neil Price, Indepen-dance artist, and James Mackenzie-Blackman, General Director of the Eden Court Theatre, all devote their practice to projects involving people with special needs. They will discuss their experiences during this conversation moderated by Montreal artist-mediator Marco Pronovost, who regularly works with Place des Arts.

Saturday, April 18, 5 p.m., Salon urbain at Place des Arts

    Les Écossais à Montréal au 19e siècle

(The Scots in 19th-Century Montreal)

Guests Joanne Burgess, Director of the Montreal History and Heritage Lab and a professor in the Department of History at UQAM, Heather McNabb, archivist at the McCord Museum’s Archives and Documentation Centre, and Alexander Redford, historian and Director of the Redford Gardens, will take a look at the history, contributions and traditions of Scottish immigrants and their descendants in Quebec. This conversation will be moderated by Jacques Beauchamp, host of the Radio-Canada program Aujourd’hui l’histoire.

Thursday, April 23, 5 p.m., Salon urbain at Place des Arts


Two gatherings celebrating Scottish music and dance in the indoor public space.

Initiation à la danse écossaise « cèilidh », Saturday, April 18, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

(Introduction to Scottish Cèilidh Dancing)

With the group Boussaroque

This activity will introduce the public to the world of the “cèilidh”—similar to our traditional evening celebrations. No experience required! Led by two instructors and with accompanying live music, you will learn a few fun and simple dance steps like the Gay Gordon, Strip the Willow, the Dashing White Sergeant, the Canadian Barn Dance and the St. Bernard Waltz. Historical and cultural background will be provided for each dance. The activity will conclude with a performance by the group Boussaroque.

Initiation à la musique écossaise, Saturday, April 25, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

(Introduction to Scottish Song)

Whether it be ballads, his love poems or his comedic verse, people have been reciting the words of Robert Burns for over 200 years. This workshop will showcase the poetry of Scotland’s “National Bard,” a true cultural icon of the country, and give participants an opportunity to sing some of this songs, which are among the world’s best-known. The activity will also feature a powerful artistic exchange with Seán Dagher, founder and artistic director of Skye Consort, who will also perform at the end of the activity.

Black Watch Performances

The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) is the oldest Scottish regiment in Canada. Its bagpipes and drums are always in high demand, both in Montreal and across North America and Europe. This is an ideal opportunity to see them perform at the Place des Arts Esplanade at the launch of Printemps écossais, on April 16 at 12:10 p.m., as well as at various other times during the event.

Paysages de Montréal : le grand héritage des Écossais – photo exhibit

(Montreal Landscapes: The Great Scottish Heritage)

An exhibition of photos that chart the Scots’ great contribution to Montreal since the 18th century.

Learn about the important role these first- and second-generation immigrants played in the city’s development—as merchants, financiers, and industrialists. The Scots also made contributions in the fields of science and education and became deeply committed to several philanthropic initiatives—a commitment that continues today, to the benefit of their fellow citizens.

The Scottish games and curling are but two examples of the cultural traditions they brought with them across the Atlantic.

Place des Arts Exhibition Room. Free admission.

Digital Experience

Nearer Future by Heather Lander

Nearer Future is a work that uses projection and sound to create a mesmerizing installation of abstract moving images inspired by the wild Scottish coast. Played on a Swedish nyckelharpa (a violin whose sounds resemble the resonant drones of the bagpipes), the music accompanying the projections is strong and powerful.

16-minute immersive work, presented every 30 minutes

L’invention de Brewster

(Brewster’s Invention)

Digital Work

custom-made work for our screen mosaic, paying tribute to the great Scottish inventor Sir David Brewster and his kaleidoscope, consisting of a tube containing mirrors and pieces of colored glass, whose reflections produce changing patterns.

April 16 to 26, looped playback on the screen mosaic in the Espace culturel Georges-Émile-Lapalme

To reserve tickets for shows and for complete details on the Printemps écossais at Place des Arts, please see

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