In the past few decades, our musical life has experienced considerable expansion and generated and extraordinary level of public excitement. It is stimulating to realize that the world of musical production or creation accounts for a great deal of this dynamism. A number of composers have developed original styles and musical languages, and more and more highly skilled performers are taking active part in the performance and dissemination of the music of our time. From the point of view of diversity and volume of activity in contemporary music, Montreal has become an important centre for production and interpretation, set apart by its open mindedness and congenial nature.
In spite of its dynamism, the nation’s musical life continues to function in relative obscurity, mainly for lack of tools to distribute and promote its activities. It is this situation that promoted us to create a new meeting ground, and with it a natural opportunity to create new works, the value of which could then be highlighted and placed in perspective.
The creation of the MNM festival follows in the path taken in the milieus of theatre, dance and film--artistic sectors that have been able to create beacon events and forums for exchange that have greatly contributed to the evolution of their respective disciplines. Major festivals play a significant role in the development and cultural valuation of art, not only within specific milieus, but by the larger social network. They assure a wide dissemination of new works and create venues for their exchange and reception that is vital to their development.
The MNM Festival is part of a larger wave of recent musical events that have contributed to energizing the new music scene by combining many individually driving creative forces in powerful partnerships. Here we are speaking in particular of Quebec’s participation in Radio France’s Présences 1999 Festival, of the Musiques-au-Présent festival hosted by the Orchestre Symphonique de Québec, of the Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville, of the international Forum for young composers and the biennial festival of the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, of the Festival Elektra, and finally of the monumental collective effort that was the Symphonie du Millénaire. All of these events provided, each in their own time and in their own way, the opportunity to bring new music production to the fore, and give it a level of visibility far beyond degree it usually receives.
This creative energy is at the root of a proliferation of styles, approaches and tendencies that are as diverse as they are complementary, that bring both an uncommon richness and abundance to the new music scene. As a testament to this new reality, the MNM Festival has brought together composers, soloists, and ensembles for a series of events that will lead listeners down different paths, with different consequences, across the fascinating universe of contemporary music.
From the mathematical orchestral delirium of Michel Longtin’s Quaternions, through the unbridled world of R. Murray Schafer’s musical theatre, atop the wave of Georg Frederich Hass’s excessive vigour, around the revisited madrigals of Cornelis de Bondt, passing by the Jean ’s twisted historical references to the New York urban aroma of Yannick Plamondon, music will emerge in various guises, from works sagely improvised on demented themes as in the case of Klas Torstensson, to the delivery of extreme psycho-sensory experiences by PurForm and dizzying silences by Morton Feldman. These varied means and styles have all been brought together for a highly stimulating, near explosive, programme that is destined to raise public interest.
The artistic committee of the SMCQ, made up of composers Walter Boudreau, Denys Bouliane, Yves Daoust, Louis Dufort, Sean Ferguson, Michel Gonneville, André Hamel, Jean Lesage, Isabelle Panneton, Marie Pelletier, Serge Provost and John Rea, was responsible for sifting through the numerous and daunting proposals for repertoire for this first edition of the MNM Festival and for putting together a programme based on a selection of significant works, liable not only to draw attention but also to draw in and captivate a large audience.
Be it a large orchestra or string quartet, from low tech to the latest in digital means, the MNM Festival showcases the musical works first and foremost, their workmanship, meaning, and place in our society, and the eventual impact. Discussions, forum and round tables will accompany the scheduled concerts on a daily basis. This will be a unique occasion for the public to both discover and appreciate the work of artists and artisans of today. In all, thirty-three events, including nineteen concerts that are not to be missed.
The Montreal New Music Festival is a production of the SMCQ in partnership with McGill Unversity’s Faculty of Music, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Radio Canada’s Chaîne Culturelle, and CBC Radio Two, and grateful for the generous support of government institutions dedicated to the production of culture. We would like to emphasize these many sources of support, and mention in particular the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and Canadian Heritage.
The Montreal New Music Festival is poised to play a major role in the development and consolidation of an original musical identity, solidly anchored in the geographic realities of North America but categorically and resolutely facing outward to the world.
Warning: Music Ahead!
Walter Boudreau and Denys Bouliane, Montreal New Music Festival, Artistic Directors