Thứ Ba, 20 tháng 9, 2011

Montreal's Maison Symphonique greeted with Ode to Joy


Montreal`s new symphony hall had a jubilant welcome into the world Wednesday night. It seemed to end with an explosion of sound, a celebratory crescendo that vibrated through the curved wooden walls and boxes.
Members of the acclaimed Montreal Symphony Orchestra (who just struck a four-year deal with management AND got a brand new world-class symphony hall) put their hearts and souls into the beautifully frenzied ending to Beethoven`s 9th Symphony and the combined forces of the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir and the OSM chorus made me think I was having a religious experience. It was certainly an Ode to Joy, especially for the musicians, opera singers and their conductor, Kent Nagano, who was given at least four standing ovations. I lost count while watching the crowd go crazy.
The hall was packed with some of Quebec`s biggest writers (Dany Laferrière), actors (Michel Côté, Janine Sutto, singer Louise Forestier)and political stars, including three premiers (Jean Charest, Lucien Bouchard and Pierre-Marc Johnson). There was also a free party going on outside.The performance was projected onto the east wall of the hall`s glass façade while the Cirque Eloise performed across the street in a new parkette (all part of the city`s new Quartier des Spectacles).
La Maison Symphonique has been a dream and a temporary promise in Montreal for almost 30 years. The musicians played at Salle Wilfrid Pelletier, where they sometimes found it difficult to hear each other play. No longer. As Jean Charest declared, the hall is now the diamond of the new Quartier, a jewel for all the world to see.
But the hall also has its detractors. One of Montreal`s most esteemed architects, Phyllis Bronfman Lambert, was overheard telling someone as she was leaving that the building is not good looking and its sound is just OK. It`s not the first criticism and it won`t be the last. Initial reviews on the acoustics are mixed, but the acoustics expert says it will take months to adjust the room and adjust the symphony's playing to the room.
Still, the completion of the hall is a huge sign that Montreal and Quebec understand the importance of culture and the cultural economy and are prepared to invest in it.
-- Margo Kelly Quebec premier Jean Charest, (front centre) and conductor Kent Nagano (front left) at opening night of the new MSO concert hall. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

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