We’ve got your Bach in the Quartier des Spectacles
November 28, 2018
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Did you know that Montreal is North America’s top destination for those who love the music of Johann Sebastian Bach? Until December 7, the Montreal Bach Festival celebrates the composer’s genius with a series of 35 concerts, along with plenty of talks and workshops. More than ever, Montreal is the place to celebrate Bach’s timeless work, whether you’re a listener or a musician.
Alexandra Scheibler, the festival’s artistic director, spoke with us about the dynamism that still makes Bach special, and gave us some pointers on how best to enjoy the exciting 12th annual Montreal Bach Festival.
WHY IS BACK’S MUSIC STILL SO ALIVE, EVEN AFTER 250 YEARS?
Johann Sebastian Bach is truly a timeless composer. Everyone can find something to enjoy in his music. I’d also say he remains a towering figure because he’s an essential part of the education of every contemporary composer. And looking at his harmonies, melodies and compositional structures, he’s a very important part of music history – all music, not just classical. In other words, Johann Sebastian Bach is a key part of our thinking about music. The history of music can be divided into before Bach, and after Bach.
HOW HAS THE MONTREAL BACH FESTIVAL SO QUICKLY BECOME AN ESSENTIAL EVENT FOR MUSIC LOVERS?
Since the beginning we’ve been working hard to keep the festival running and thriving. In 2005, there was almost no Bach music being performed in Montreal. So we were starting essentially from scratch. Fortunately, Montreal has many passionate music lovers, and they helped us spread the word about our event. We quickly realized that people were very interested in hearing some live Bach in Montreal. We started out holding our festival every two years, and it became an annual event in 2009. Since then, the audience has kept on growing! Now the festival lasts 21 days, with 35 concerts and other events like master classes and lectures. And, as I was saying, given that Bach is such a towering figure in music, the festival attracts serious interest because of his truly exceptional work.
WHAT’S UNIQUE ABOUT THE MONTREAL BACH FESTIVAL?
I would say our eclectic and balanced programming are important to our identity. It isn’t easy to attract international artists, but we’re proud of our balance of local and visiting musicians. People appreciate seeing both local and visiting artists on stage. And the festival is not aimed only at die-hard fans; we also cater to people looking for an introduction to Bach’s music. To do that, we highlight the things that Montreal has to offer for festivalgoers. Attending a concert at the Bach Festival is also a way to see the city in a new light. We’ve come to the realization that Montreal really is the ideal city for celebrating Bach!
Les improvisations jazz by Mino Cinelu
WHAT ARE THIS YEAR’S MUST-SEE CONCERTS?
I’d start with a curiosity: Les improvisations jazz with the Mino Cinelu Trio, on November 30 at the Astral. It’s a very original way to listen to and explore Bach’s music. Cinelu is a self-taught multi-instrumentalist who will be performing in Montreal for the first time.
And of course there’s the closing concert starring the famous cellist Yo Yo Ma, at the Maison symphonique de Montréal, which will be the only Canadian stop on his world tour for The Six Cello Suites. The concert is sold out, but there will be a big-screen simulcast at St. James United Church. Don't miss your chance!
For the second time, in partnership with the Pro Musica Society, Les Jeunesse Musicales Canada and Place des Arts, the Mélodînes. This is a series of eight lunchtime concerts featuring young musicians from Quebec, playing Bach. From December 3 to 6, people will be able to bring their lunch to Salle Claude-Léveillée and spend 40 minutes enjoying some Bach. Among the young talents featured is the superb pianist Guillaume Martineau.
Montreal Bach Festival
November 22 to December 7
Yo-Yo Ma in concert - live on big-screen:
December 7, at 8:30 p.m. at St. James United Church - Dawson Hall