Credit : Geneviève Bigué

The Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ) presents five major concerts for the Montreal/New Musics (MNM) international festival. This 11th edition will take place from February 23 to March 5, 2023 under the theme “Music and Spirituality.” MNM 2023 is a 10-day celebration of contemporary music, bringing together innovative artists from different musical backgrounds from the local, national and international scenes.

“Music and Spirituality is broad and open, evoking the search for meaning, hope and liberation within the challenges of our world. Today we unveil five major concerts with diverse musical influences ranging from Aboriginal voices to Walter Boudreau‘s “Golgot(h)a”, which revisits his impressive work based on poems by Raôul Duguay, as well as the daring French ensemble Court-Circuit and a composer who powerfully embodies spirituality: Olivier Messiaen,” notes SMCQ Artistic Director Ana Sokolovic.

The 11th edition marks the return of this indoor event. After four years, music lovers will be able to enjoy a variety of concerts based on a theme that is universal and current.

MNM will open with a creation by Katia Makdissi-Warren who has worked with Inuit (Lydia Etok and Nina Segalowitz) and Breton (Marthe Vassallo and Nolùen le Buhé) throat singers. This work of encounter and merging will be performed by the Ensemble Obiora and the Ensemble de la SMCQ, conducted by Cristian Gort, which will also perform These Words… by Arvo Pärt. Notinikew (Va-t-en-guerre), by Andrew Balfour, a large-scale concert at the Maison Symphonique is a masterful anti-war work, by this Saskatchewan composer of Cree origin I Musici de Montréal with the Ensemble de la SMCQ and a women’s choir under the direction of Jean-François Rivest, will present one of Messiaen’s major liturgical works. On the same programme, Louise Bessette will perform one of the most famous pieces for piano in the contemporary repertoire by the same composer.

Tickets for the five main concerts are available for pre-sale today until January 8, 2023 with a 20% discount off regular prices, as well as for students and seniors. Information:

The complete MNM program will be released in January 2023. Some twenty concerts will highlight the festival along with youth activities and events. Professional conferences and an international symposium on music and post-humanism will complete the programme.

Five concerts, five visions

1- Voix du nord: Nunavik – Brittany

Thursday, February 23, 2023 at 6 pm, Salle Pierre-Mercure

An unlikely musical encounter through time and space.

Works by Arvo Pärt, Alexis Savelief and Katia Makdissi-Warren performed by the Ensemble Obiora and the Ensemble de la SMCQ with soloists Lydia Etok, Nina Segalowitz (throat singing), Marthe Vassallo and Nolùen le Buhé (Breton singing) under the direction of Cristian Gort (SMCQ principal conductor).

The voices of Inuit and Breton singers rise above the ocean in Katia Makdissi-Warren’s highly anticipated creation. The composer, a master in the art of building bridges between cultures, merges two thousand-year-old traditions in a work for orchestra and four voices. Led by Allyson Migeon and Brandyn Lewis, Ensemble Obiora, which promotes musicians from different cultural backgrounds in order to increase their representation in concert music, joins the Ensemble de la SMCQ in this merged creation. Katia Makdissi-Warren was the composer honoured by the SMCQ in 2019-20 and received the prestigious Betty Webster Prize awarded by Orchestras Canada in 2022.

2- Notinikew

Friday, February 24 at 7 pm, Maison Symphonique

A moving musical work by an essential Indigenous composer.

Works by Andrew Balfour performed by Dead of Winter (formerly Camerata Nova) with six singers from the Winnipeg Boys Choir, Robert Falcon Ouellette (narration), Cory Campbell (Ojibway songkeeper), Leanne Zacharias (cello) Nolan Kehler (tenor), John Anderson (bass) under the direction of Mel Braun.

One of the great Indigenous voices! The music of Andrew Balfour, a composer of Cree origin, is at the heart of this concert, which takes us on a moving spiritual journey. His choral works invite us to commune, as in Vision Chant, inspired by an Indigenous singing style that reaches the heights of tranquillity and intensity. The powerful lament of Notinikew, an anti-war mini-opera, forcefully echoes the words and woes of a community and destiny too rarely heard about. Notinikew tells the story of indigenous soldiers who fought for Canada in the First World War and were denied the right to return home.

3- Golgot(h)a

Sunday, February 26, 2023 at 3 pm, Salle Pierre-Mercure

One of Walter Boudreau’s major works on poems by his great accomplice and friend Raôul Duguay, created when he arrived at the SMCQ, reinvented when he left.

Works by Walter Boudreau (poems by Raôul Duguay), Tomas Luis Da Vittoria and Claude Vivier performed by Ensemble de la SMCQ with the Choir of St-Andrew and St-Paul, featuring soloists Sébastien Croteau (baryton-basse), Virginie Mongeau (soprano), Marie-Annick Béliveau (mezzo-soprano) and Jean-Willy Kunz (organ), conducted by Walter Boudreau.

The tragic passionate universe set to music by Walter Boudreau, based on poems by Raôul Duguay. Golgot(h)a takes us on the Way of the Cross, represented by some fifteen tableaux and performed by a large ensemble of brass, percussion, organ and 16 voices a large ensemble and 16 voices. Winner of the Grand prix Paul Gilson from Community of French-Language Radio Broadcasters, this piece is based on a motet for four voices by composer Tomas Luis Da Vittoria, also on the programme. The organ piece Les Communiantes by Claude Vivier completes this exceptional concert, which recalls the hold of the Catholic religion before the Quiet Revolution and its influence on the lives of the two creators.

4- Postlude à l’épais – Ensemble Court-circuit (France)

Sunday, February 26, 2023 at 7 pm, Salle Pierre-Mercure

Among the best European ensembles and recognized for their exceptional quality of performance, Court-circuit returns to MNM with an eclectic program that introduces us to some of the most outstanding current composers.

Works by David Hudry, Philippe Leroux, Anthony Cheung, Sky Macklay, Walter Boudreau and Edith Canat de Chizy performed by l’Ensemble Court-Circuit (France), Jean Deroyer, conductor.

Contemporary music in its many forms! The French ensemble Court-Circuit is renowned in Europe for risk-taking and virtuosity. We are invited to discover several works from different generations of French, Canadian and American composers, reflecting a spirit of freedom. A programme marked by contrasting sound and atmosphere, taking us on a journey through the fragmented aesthetics of creative music.

5- Messiaen en deux temps

Thursday, March 2, 2023 7 pm, Salle Pierre-Mercure

An inspired composer. Two exhilarating works. A passionate pianist. Virtuoso musicians. An exceptional concert.

Works by Olivier Messiaen performed by I Musici de Montréal orchestra with the Ensemble de la SMCQ, soloists Louise Bessette (piano) and Estelle Lemire (ondes Martenot) and a women’s choir, Jean-François Rivest, conductor.

Profoundly imbued with spirituality, Messiaen’s music is also distinguished by its universality. To open the concert, Louise Bessette invites us to share a rare moment of eternity with four of the Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus, a masterpiece abounding with the composer’s pianistic discoveries. The shimmering colours which illustrate the richness of her repertoire then unfold in Trois Petites Liturgies de la Présence Divine. This music, suffused with the purity of the large unison women’s choir and the celestial sound of the ondes Martenot, is further enhanced by the forty performers assembled to perform the work. It evokes the same sense of wonder that one experiences when entering a majestic cathedral.

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