Contemporary music, living and live at the Gesù

January 29, 2018

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Since 2015, Le Vivier, an association dedicated to contemporary music, has been transforming the Gesù into a hive of artistic activity. Each day, musicians compose, play and create in the space. When they're done, they open the magnificent church's doors and welcome the public to discover their latest music through workshops and concerts.

Recently, the organization held an open house. We took the opportunity to put a few questions to Emmanuelle Lizière, who's in charge of outreach activities.

What is Le Vivier?

It's a federation of around 40 organizations focusing on contemporary music, including ensembles, promoters, and Circuit, a contemporary-music magazine. The partners got together 12 years ago, for strength in numbers. Le Vivier is also a venue: the Gesù church and theatre, where we've presented concerts year round for the last three years.

Is the name inspired by the composer Claude Vivier?

Yes, he was a great composer and an important figure in contemporary music in Quebec and across Canada. We wanted a play on words, so Le Vivier is a reference to a great artist and the richness of his internationally acclaimed body of work. And, in French, a vivier is a breeding-ground - a metaphor for this place where we can all get together and create something new.

How is "contemporary music" defined?

It's music that's created today, by today's artists and composers. These are pieces that have never been heard before. It's also part of the genre known as art music. It includes formally composed new music, as well as improvised music, closer to jazz, and electronic music - a very dynamic branch of the contemporary-music family.

Why did you decide to work together despite coming from very diverse traditions?

Contemporary music is very diverse, and we work in different spheres. Getting together helps us get to know each other better, find common ground and break down silos separating different kinds of music. We're even developing joint projects in our shared space. Before Le Vivier moved into the Gesù, there was no dedicated space for contemporary music in Montreal. Now, artists have access to performance venues, as well as workspaces for creative residencies. For example, this year we hosted a three-week creative residency for young musicians, which culminated in a show. That never would have been possible without this arrangement.

Do you work with international contemporary-music artists?

Yes, and we've even launched our own international initiative. This June we'll have the fourth annual New Music Cartel gathering, an international conference for curators and artistic directors specializing in new music. We see it as an opportunity to get locally made music out there, and the same is true of our residencies abroad. Working with the Goethe Institut, a composer from Montreal can spend two months in Dresden, Germany, and in return we'll host one of their composers, and the two work together on a new project. We also host a residency for composer-performers during the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.

the Le Vivier Concerts

February 8, In Extensio presents BacKpacK MusiQue, a multimedia concert inspired by movement and time between tour stops, with Louise Campbell on clarinet and Barah Héon-Morissette on percussion.

For a glimpse of contemporary music's future, check out Vivier InterUniversitaire, a concert developed and produced by students, composers and performers from McGill University, the Université de Montréal and the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal.

And keep an ear open for the famous VivierMix, held several times a year and bringing together multiple artists on the same stage.

Le Gesù

This creativity center is a creation and performance space where art is eye-opening, revelatory and exploratory. The space is the only one of its kind in North America. As a francophone cultural venue, its mission is to advance the cause of human dignity through art. It is a multi-disciplinary space that contributes actively to the city's cultural life by nurturing the bond between art and spirituality.

The Gesù theatre is one of Montreal's oldest performance venues. Each year more than 50,000 people attend some 300 cultural activities there, including music, theatre, dance, comedy and storytelling. The Gesù church also presents concerts.

(Source : Le Gesù)