Press Room

MD Rafael Payare & OSM Anchor 10th “Virée classique” Festival (Aug 16–20) & Perform Mahler’s “Titan” Symphony (Sep 21–23), Following Success of Mahler 5 Album & Tour

(July 2023) — It is less than a year since Venezuelan conductor Rafael Payare first inaugurated his tenure as Music Director of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (Montreal Symphony Orchestra/OSM). In that short time, however, he and the orchestra have already demonstrated the strength and promise of their partnership, not least in the music of Mahler. Their live account of the composer’s Fifth Symphony testifies to their “tangible chemistry” (Classical Review), while their recording of the work was named an editor’s choice by both Gramophone and BBC Music Magazine, whose five-star review declared: “Hand on heart, it’s a long while since I’ve enjoyed a new Mahler Five as much as this.” Next season, which marks the orchestra’s landmark 90th anniversary, Payare and OSM continue their immersion in Mahler’s music with performances of his First Symphony, “Titan” (Sep 21–23), on a fall lineup that also includes major works by Stravinsky, Janáček and Messiaen. Meanwhile, to complete the current season, Payare and the orchestra anchor the tenth annual “Virée classique” festival, where their highlights include a festive Opening Night collaboration with Isabel Leonard and Bomsori (Aug 16), an evening of Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky (Aug 18) and performances of Orff’s Carmina Burana (Aug 19 & 20).

“La Virée classique” (Aug 16–20)

Founded to strengthen community ties, promote musical discovery and encourage emerging artists, “La Virée classique” (“Classical Spree”) celebrates its tenth anniversary with 26 indoor concerts and almost 100 free, family-friendly events, exploring music ranging from the classical canon to jazz, film and the sounds of Bali, the Balkans and the Middle East (Aug 16–20).

Under Payare’s leadership, the festival’s Opening Night concert is an open-air program presenting Grammy-winning mezzo Isabel Leonard in a selection of operatic favorites; South Korean violinist Bomsori – “one of today’s most dynamic and exciting violinists” (NDR, Germany) – in Waxman’s virtuosic Carmen Fantasie; and Mussorgsky’s beloved Pictures at an Exhibition in the orchestral arrangement by Ravel (Aug 16). The Music Director’s subsequent festival highlights include a pairing of Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme, featuring Gramophone Award-winning cellist Nicolas Altstaedt, with Mendelssohn’s sparkling “Italian” Symphony (Aug 18). “La Virée classique” concludes with two performances of Orff’s dramatic cantata Carmina Burana, for which Payare and OSM will be joined by 2022 Concours Musical International de Montréal-winning soprano Sarah Dufresne, countertenor Nicholas Burns, baritone Elliot Madore, the OSM Chorus and Les Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal (Aug 19 & 20).

Fall highlights: Mahler, Marsalis, Messiaen and more

To kick off the orchestra’s 90th anniversary season, and his second as its Music Director, Payare leads Opening Night concerts coupling two 20th-century masterpieces: Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass. The mass will feature vocal soloists Camilla Tilling, Rose Naggar-Tremblay, Ladislav Elgr and Matthew Rose, with OSM organist-in-residence Jean-Willy Kunz performing on OSM’s organ, the Grand Orgue Pierre-Béique, now celebrating its own tenth anniversary (Sep 12–14). Later in the fall, the Music Director and orchestra offer their interpretation of Messiaen’s monumental Turangalîla-Symphonie. French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, whose honors include a Victoire d’Honneur and induction into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame, undertakes the virtuosic piano role (Dec 5 & 6).

These programs bookend the continuation of Payare and OSM’s ongoing, multi-season immersion in Mahler’s music. On a late September program that also includes Lera Auerbach’s Icarus and Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto, featuring pianist Alexander Malofeev, they perform the Bohemian composer’s First Symphony, the “Titan” (Sep 21–23). Initially presented by Mahler as a symphonic poem, the work has been called “one of the most game-changing (and mind-blowing) first symphonies by any composer” (NPR).

Payare comments:

“We are thrilled with the reception that our recording of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony has received, and we look forward to sharing more of Mahler’s incomparable works with our audiences this season. And we’re especially excited by the wonderful palette of repertoire we have programmed in Montreal this season. The orchestra has the extraordinary ability to play the widest range of music with the appropriate style and passion. In our summer and fall programs alone we will explore the explosive rhythms and color of Stravinsky’s Firebird and Rite of Spring ballets, the rarely played Glagolitic Mass by Janáček, and the Canadian premieres of contemporary works such as Wynton Marsalis’s Trumpet Concerto, as well as Fauré’s sublimely beautiful Requiem and the ecstatic celebration of life and love that is Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie, to name a few. I am so proud of what we have achieved together in the first year of our partnership, and I couldn’t be more excited about the future.”

Praise for Mahler 5 album and tour

Payare and OSM have already won widespread international acclaim for their Mahler. Released this past March by Pentatone, their recording of the composer’s Fifth Symphony drew a fanfare of applause. Hailing the album as “a real marker in their ongoing partnership,” Gramophone concluded: “This is a Fifth that sparkles.” Classic Review affirmed:

“OSM sounds resplendent, with a vast array of color and power at their command. … Moreover, there is tangible chemistry between Payare and the orchestra that adds an extra shot of adrenaline and vibrancy to this performance. … An auspicious start for this partnership.”

Under Payare’s baton, OSM’s Mahler has drawn similar praise in live performance. After inaugurating their partnership with a season-opening account of the “Resurrection” Symphony that “will be remembered as a major milestone in the history of the OSM” (Le Devoir, Canada), they showcased their interpretation of the Fifth on high-profile tours of Europe and North America. Austria’s Wiener Zeitung likened them to “an organism whose voice groups interact as smoothly as the muscles in the body of a top athlete,” and their Carnegie Hall concert prompted the New York Classical Review to marvel:

“The collaborative feeling between conductor and orchestra in the Mahler symphony was that of a seasoned relationship. … This was, first and last, a superlative Mahler performance with the type of energy and spirit that caresses and screams with the same commitment, and moves easily between the two qualities. … Beyond Payare’s in-the-moment direction, his preparation came through in the excellent pace, dynamics, and balances within and through the orchestra.”

About the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (OSM)

Founded in 1934 by Wilfrid Pelletier, Antonia Nantel and Athanase David, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal is a distinguished leader of Canadian musical life and an essential cultural ambassador. Under the leadership of Venezuelan Music Director Rafael Payare, the orchestra continues its commitment to far-reaching projects and international tours, as well as to its superb discography and long history of community engagement. Firmly anchored in today’s world, OSM’s innovative approach to artistic programming brings modern-day relevance to the symphonic repertoire, both live and on disc, while strengthening the orchestra’s place at the heart of its Quebec metropolis home. Over the years, OSM has toured throughout Canada as well as to the United States, South America, Europe and Asia. Totaling more than a hundred recordings on the Decca, Analekta, CBC Records, ECM, EMI, Philips and Sony labels, OSM’s discography has been recognized with 110 national and international awards.

High-resolution photos are available here.

Orchestre symphonique de Montréal: upcoming engagements
Except where noted, all concerts will be conducted by Rafael Payare at the Maison Symphonique de Montréal.

Aug 4
Quebec, Canada
Lanaudière Festival
STRAVINSKY: The Firebird
GLIÈRE: Harp Concerto in E-flat (with Xavier de Maistre, harp)

Aug 5
Quebec, Canada
Lanaudière Festival
SCHUMANN: Symphony No. 2
WAGNER: Wesendonck-Lieder (with Karen Cargill, mezzo-soprano)

Aug 16–20
OSM’s “La Virée classique”
Montreal, Canada
Select performances:

Aug 16
Olympic Park’s Esplanade
Excerpts from well-known operas (with Isabel Leonard, mezzo-soprano)
WAXMAN: Carmen Fantasie for violin and orchestra (with Bomsori, violin)
MUSSORGSKY (orch. Ravel): Pictures at an Exhibition

Aug 18
Sofia GUBAIDULINA: Fairytale Poem
MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 25 in C (with Jeremy Denk, piano)

Aug 18
TCHAIKOVSKY: Variations on a Rococo Theme (with Nicolas Altstaedt, cello)
MENDELSSOHN: Symphony No. 4, “Italian”

Aug 19 (11:30am)
DEBUSSY: Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune
Roberto SIERRA: Carnaval
STRAVINSKY: “Lullaby” and “Finale” from The Firebird Suite

Aug 19 (1:15pm)
José EVANGELISTA: Accelerando
Wynton MARSALIS: Trumpet Concerto (Canadian premiere; with Paul Merkelo, trumpet)

Aug 19 (4:15pm)
With Ensemble Obiora
MOZART: A Little Night Music
BOLOGNE: Symphonie concertante in G (with Andrew Wan & Tanya Charles Iveniuk, violins)
GRIEG: Holberg Suite

Aug 19 & 20 (8pm)
ORFF: Carmina Burana (with Sarah Dufresne, soprano; Nicholas Burns, countertenor; Elliot Madore,
baritone; OSM Chorus / Andrew Megill, chorusmaster; Les Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal / Andrew
Gray, chorusmaster)

Aug 20 (11:30am)
FAURÉ: Requiem (with Société Chorale du Plateau-Mont-Royal; Société Chorale de Saint-Lambert;
Ensemble À ContreVoix; Jean-Willy Kunz, organ; Andrew Megill, OSM chorusmaster)

Sep 12–14
2023-24 season: Opening Night
JANÁČEK: Glagolitic Mass (with Camilla Tilling, soprano; Rose Naggar-Tremblay, alto; Ladislav Elgr, tenor; Matthew Rose, bass; Jean-Willy Kunz, organ; OSM Chorus / Andrew Megill, chorusmaster)
STRAVINSKY: The Rite of Spring

Sep 21–23
Lera AUERBACH: Icarus
PROKOFIEV: Piano Concerto No. 3 (with Alexander Malofeev, piano)
MAHLER: Symphony No. 1, “Titan”

Sep 27–Oct 1
Gemma New, guest conductor
Nicole LIZÉE: Blurr is the Colour of My True Love’s Eyes (Canadian premiere; with Colin Currie, percussion; OSM Chorus / Andrew Megill, chorusmaster)
HOLST: The Planets

Oct 12–14
Roderick Cox, guest conductor
TCHAIKOVSKY: The Tempest, Fantasia for Orchestra
BARBER: Violin Concerto (with Blake Pouliot, violin)
DAWSON: Negro Folk Symphony

Oct 25 & 26
J. S. BACH (arr. Webern): “Ricercar a 6” from The Musical Offering
MOZART: Symphony No. 35, “Haffner”
WEBERN: Passacaglia
BEETHOVEN: Violin Concerto in D (with Andrew Wan, violin)

Nov 8 & 9
Christoph Eschenbach, guest conductor
BERG: Three Pieces for Orchestra
BERG: Violin Concerto, “To the Memory of an Angel” (with Augustin Hadelich, violin)
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 7

Nov 11
Tomáš Netopil, guest conductor
Finalists of the OSM Competition
Program TBA

Nov 22 & 23
GINASTERA: Variaciones concertantes
Jimmy LÓPEZ BELLIDO: Ephemerae (with Javier Perianes, piano)
VILLA-LOBOS: Bachianas brasileiras No. 8
RAVEL: Boléro

Dec 5 & 6,
MESSIAEN: Turangalîla-Symphonie (with Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano)

# # #

© 21C Media Group, July 2023


Return to Press Room