Orchestre Métropolitain, founded in 1981 by graduates of Québec's Conservatoire and of other faculties of music as the Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand-Montréal, is Montréal's second permanent symphony orchestra after the MONTREAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA. The orchestra, which changed its name to Orchestre Métropolitain in 1986, supports the careers of artists from Québec and the rest of Canada by inviting young soloists to perform at their concerts. Numbering some 65 professional musicians, the OM presents classical, contemporary and popular concerts, provides added exposure for Québec instrumentalists, composers and singers, and fills various other needs, particularly where ballet, opera and recordings are concerned. Some of its other activities have involved concerts in subway stations, free school concerts (since 1992) and mixed-media presentations (since 1998).
Over the years, conductors of the OM have included Marc Bélanger (1981), Agnès GROSSMAN (1986), Joseph Rescigno (1995) and Yannic Nézet-Séguin (2000), who took over the position at the age of 25.
The orchestra performs an average of 30 concerts per year at the Théâtre Maisonneuve in PLACE DES ARTS and at other venues on Montréal boroughs. In addition to its regular season of assorted programming, the OM serves the MONTREAL INTERNATIONAL MUSIC COMPETITION, and has appeared in several productions of Opéra Montréal at the Festival international de Lanaudière, at the Orford Centre for the Arts, and the Concours international de la Société Radio-Canada. Since 1993, the OM has given free summer concerts in parks on the island of Montréal.
Orchestre Métropolitain's mandate is to make music accessible to a wide public. This is achieved through its pre-concert talks, mid-concert commentary, and classical music and opera courses.
It recruits most of its soloists and guest conductors in Canada and has featured Angèle DUBEAU, Louis LORTIE, Anton KUERTI, Michel Legrand, Marie-Josée Simard, André Jobin, Marie-Danielle Parent, Raffi Armenian, Franz-Paul Decker, and Diane DUFRESNE, among others. The OM has premiered several Canadian works, including Éternité by Denis GOUGEON (1986), Autour d'Ainola by Michel LONGTIN, Over Time by John REA (1987) and Élan by Linda BOUCHARD (1990). The orchestra has recorded more than 16 albums to date.
Orchestre Métropolitain received an Opus Prize in 2003 for the recording Rota and two more in 2004 for Mahler 4. The CD Boris Godounov de Moussorgsky was recognized with a Félix Award in 2000, as was the recent album Diane Dufresne chante Kurt Weill (2005). The 2005-2006 season marked the OM's 25th anniversary.