MusiMarch 2004

Press release

A week of concerts and encounters

Montréal, Monday, December 15, 2003 — From March 1st to March 6th 2004, during winter break for most Montreal universities and schools, McGill University’s Pollack Hall will once again resonate with the sounds of MusiMarch. Established in tandem by the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ) and McGill University’s Faculty of Music, and this year in collaboration with the National Arts Centre (NAC), this contemporary music event will take place during the thick of winter in Montreal. The week of concerts, lectures and masterclasses will center around French composer Philippe Hurel and Canadian composer Howard Bashaw. The program will feature a rich sampling from the repertoire of French “spectral” music as well as forbears of this style, emphasizing its musical heritage, both actual and potential. Accordingly, the festival will include works by Olivier Messiaen, Gérard Grisey, Philippe Hurel and Claude Vivier. As well, the program will usher audiences into the worlds of three Canadian composers: Denys Bouliane, John Rea and the young composer Stephen Rogers.

Composer and conductor Denys Bouliane, also a professor at McGill University and co-artistic director, along with Walter Boudreau, of the Montreal/New Music festival, is the artistic coordinator of MusiMarch. La Chaîne culturelle de Radio-Canada, a crucial partner, will broadcast some of the concerts, allowing musical amateurs and adventurers alike to take part in this “must-hear” event!

Four concerts, five evenings

The National Arts Centre Ensemble, under the direction of Denys Bouliane, will launch the festival’s concert series on Tuesday March 2nd with a program of intimate works by Grisey, Messiaen, Bashaw and Bouliane, highlighting soloists Jethro Marks, violist, clarinetist Lori Freedman and pianist Kyoko Hashimoto. These guests will be joined by soprano Ingrid Schmithüsen, who will perform again on Thursday March 4th with the Ensemble de la SMCQ and Walter Boudreau, in the much anticipated Trois Airs pour un opéra imaginaire by Vivier. The same SMCQ concert will feature the latest composition by Howard Bashaw, Double Entente, with soloists Louise-Andrée Baril, pianist, Alain Trudel, trombonist and Yan Salafrank, tuba player, as well as the compelling works Figures Libres by Hurel and Modulations by Grisey.

For its part, the McGill Contemporary Music Ensemble (CME), directed by Denys Bouliane, will perform on March 3rd, with soloists Brigitte Poulin, pianist, and percussionist D’Arcy Gray, in a virtuosic program comprised of Tombeau in memoriam Gérard Grisey and Leçon de chose by Hurel, a display of technical prowess that applies cutting edge digital technology to the properties of acoustic instruments. Finally, under the direction of Alexis Hauser, the McGill Symphony Orchestra (MGSO) will perform on the 5th and 6th of March, with invited guests the McGill Percussion Ensemble, under the direction of D’Arcy Gray. This two-night program features Orion by Vivier and Messiaen’s grand opus L’Ascension.

Spectral music: from microcosm to macrocosm

MusiMars 2004 will pay homage to composer Gerard Grisey, who passed away before his time in 1998, and who was a leader within the school of spectral music. The spectral compositional technique, first conceived by Tristan Murail and Gérard Grisey – who speculated on the nature of cosmic sound – employs a microscopic analysis of the sound spectrum which is then applied to music on a larger scale.

These works, characterized by special inaudible sounds, fuse timbre and harmoy in a radically new way. Grisey’s cycle Les espaces acoustiques, a spectral music monument, comprises five pieces and an epilogue. MusiMarch will present four pieces from the cycle, with a nightly increase in performing forces. From the solitary viola of Prologue, to the seven players in Périodes, to the 18 instrumentalists in Partiels, to the 33-strong ensemble of Modulations, performers and audiences alike will journey into the interior of sound itself.

Distinguished guests: a tradition in the making

Amongst the dozens of guests featured during past festival years are German composers Nicolaus A. Huber and Moritz Eggert for MusiNovember 1998, Dutch composer Louis Andriessen for MusiOctobre 1999, and Chinese composer Tan Dun for MusiMars 2002. This year, MusiMars 2004 welcomes French composer Philippe Hurel, artistic director of l’Ensemble Court-circuit, and Canadian composer Howard Bashaw, a lone structuralist “cowboy” and professor at the University of Alberta.

Faithful as always to its pedagogical objectives, MusiMars 2004 will present four lectures as well as masterclasses with both Philippe Hurel and Howard Bashaw. Hurel will discuss, among other issues, the current state of spectral music, and Patrick Levesque will present his new research on the musical language of Vivier.

The fruits of a productive partnership

The collaboration between McGill’s Faculty of Music and the SMCQ is exemplary in its solidity. Henceforth, MusiMarch, a week of activities centered on one (or several) internationally renowned composers, will be held in March (as the name indicates) every two years in alternation with the international festival Montréal/Nouvelles Musiques. These inspired ventures aim to foster support for the local community of contemporary composers by recognizing the accomplishments and imaginings of colleagues on the international scene. You’ve not heard the last from us!

All activities take place at McGill University Faculty of Music and all concerts are at 8 pm. To all wishing to attend, tickets are available at the Pollack Hall box office, which can be reached by phone at 514.398.4547. Ticket prices vary from$5 to$24, depending on the night, as well as age and status (student or non-student) of audience members. For more information on the whole schedule, please consult the Web site at

Partners for MusiMarch
SMCQ, McGill University, Faculty of Music, National Art Centre, Chaîne culturelle de Radio-Canada (100,7 FM), CBC Radio Two (93.5), Canadian Heritage, Canada Art Council, Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, Conseil des arts de Montréal, Ville de Montréal, Socan Foundation, Fonds de Consolidation et de Stabilisation pour les arts et la culture du Québec, Bayer Healthcare Inc.

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Source: SMCQ.
Relations de presse:
Natalie Bibeau
T: 514-524-1471
C: 514-803-1471
F: 514-522-6001