Orchestre Métropolitain | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Orchestre Métropolitain

Under music director Marc Bélanger (1981-6; artistic director 1986-7), the Orchestre Métropolitain first performed in various venues such as Île Notre-Dame, the Maurice Richard Arena, the Festival international d'été de Lanaudière, and the Concerts Lachine series.
Orchestre Métropolitain
Joseph Rescigno conducting.
Dessane, Antoine
Antoine Dessane (portrait by Théophile Hamel courtesy Musée du Québec). The music is an excerpt from his Ouverture of 1863 with the Orchestre Métropolitain, Gilles Auger conducting (courtesy CBC).

Orchestre Métropolitain

Orchestre Métropolitain (formerly named Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand-Montréal). Orchestra numbering some 65 professional musicians, founded in 1981 as the Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand-Montréal at the instigation of Hun Bang and Marc Bélanger. Its objectives are to contribute to the cultural life of Montreal and its suburbs through classical, contemporary and pop music concerts; to give exposure to instrumentalists, composers and singers from Quebec; and to prove that there is room in Montreal for a second professional orchestra, particularly for ballet, opera, and recordings.

Under music director Marc Bélanger (1981-6; artistic director 1986-7), the Orchestre Métropolitain first performed in various venues such as Île Notre-Dame, the Maurice Richard Arena, the Festival international d'été de Lanaudière, and the Concerts Lachine series. On 21 Oct 1985, at Théâtre Maisonneuve of Place des Arts, the Orchestre Métropolitain launched its first regular season, which offered three separate series, one of them dedicated to contemporary music from Quebec under the musical leadership of Serge Garant or Walter Boudreau. The Orchestre Métropolitain has mounted a variety of series, including classical, contemporary, pop, and educational.

In 1986, Agnes Grossmann was named music director (artistic director beginning in 1988) and principal conductor of the classical series that became the backbone of the following seasons. In 1986 the orchestra acquired a choir, conducted by Jacques Faubert during its first season. Grossmann replaced him the following year. Joseph Rescigno was the orchestra's director 1995-2000 and was succeeded by Yannick Nézet-Séguin in 2000. Presidents of the orchestra have been Robert Savoie (1981-5), Pierre Dupuis (1985-7), Pierre Péladeau (1987-98), Jean-Pierre Goyer (1998-2006), and Michelle Cormier (beginning in 2006.)

Some of the Canadian works premiered by the Orchestre Métropolitain have been Jesus Christus by Anne Lauber (1986), Éternité by Denis Gougeon (1986), Hiver dans l'âme by André Prévost (1986), Les Clartés de la nuit (orchestral version) and Symphonie concertante by Jacques Hétu (1987), Autour d'Ainola by Michel Longtin (1987), Over Time by John Rea (a commissioned work, 1987), and Siddhartha by Claude Vivier (1987); and afterwards, during the opening concert for the New Music America (Montréal musiques actuelles) festival in 1990, Élan by Linda Bouchard, Transfiguration by Brian Cherney, and À l'aventure! by Denis Gougeon.

The Orchestre Métropolitain has played in several productions by the Opéra de Montréal, and it is often featured at special events, such as the Montreal International Musical Competition and summer concerts sponsored by towns of the Montreal Urban Community. The orchestra also took part in the concert version of Boris Godunov (1988) and Nabucco (1990) with Joseph Rouleau and Louis Quilico respectively in the title roles. Recruiting most of its soloists and guest conductors in Canada, the orchestra has featured, for example, Angela Cheng, Angèle Dubeau, Karina Gauvin, André Jobin, Anton Kuerti, Louis Lortie, Marie-Danielle Parent, and Marie-Josée Simard; and conductors Raffi Armenian and Franz-Paul Decker.

Recordings and Awards

Under Nézet-Séguin, the Orchestre Métropolitain has produced a number of award-winning recordings. The orchestra was awarded the Prix Opus for the albums La Strada and Mahler 4 in 2003 and 2004 respectively; and received Félix Awards for Boris Godunov de Mussorgsky (2000), Diane Dufresne chante Kurt Weill (2005), and Camille Saint-Saëns Symphony No. 8 (2006). In 2010 the Orchestre Métropolitain was nominated for a Juno for Bruckner 8.

Selected Discography

J. Hétu Antinomie Opus 23 - Papineau-Couture Pièce concertante No 5 - O. Joachim. Lupien violin, Hamel violin, Lupien-Bang viola, Motard violoncello, Garant conductor. 1983. RCI 597, (Hétu) 4-ACM 31 (CD)

Vivier Lonely Child. M.-D. Parent soprano, Garant conductor. 1983. RCI 584/Centredisques CMC-1384

Saint-Saëns Le Carnaval des animaux. Vigeant narrator, Bouchard and Morisset piano, M. Bélanger conductor. 1984? CBC CH-002

Chants traditionnels de Noël: G. Bélanger tenor, Boky soprano, Corbeil bass, M.-D. Parent soprano, Rouleau bass, Morency Quartet, Quebec Woodwind Quintet, Orchestre métropolitain Choir, M. Bélanger conductor. 1986. Orchestre métropolitain OM-001

Kabalevsky - Ibert - Martin - and others. A.-G. Duchemin flute, M. Duchemin p, B. Jean conductor. 1986. Kébec-Disc KD-639/Pavane ADW-7197

Cusson - Matton. L. Lavigueur conductor. 1987-8. CBC SMCD-5090 (Mathieu) 4-ACM 32

Garant Offrande II. Garant conductor. (1987). RCI 626

J. Hétu Les Clartés de la nuit, Opus 20a. Boky soprano, Beaudry conductor. Missa pro trecentesimo anno, Opus 38. Ens vocal de la SRC, Chanteurs de Sainte-Thérèse, Grandmaison organ, Mueller conductor. (1988). 4-ACM 31 (CD)

Ostiguy Montréal Concerto. Ostiguy piano, Fontaine conductor. (1988). Justin Time JTR-8408-1

Rea Over Time - Longtin Autour d'Ainola - Vivier Siddhartha. Boudreau conductor. 1988. Centredisques CMC-CD-3188

Mendelssohn Midsummer Night's Dream; Symphony No 4 "Italian." Grossmann conductor. 1989. Orchestre métropolitain OMCD-002

Boudreau - Bouchard - Cherney - Gougeon - Vivier. Boudreau conductor. 1990. CBC SMCD-5106

Prokofiev Orchestral Music. Selections. Vigeant and Yaroshevskaya narrators, Grossmann conductor. 1992. CBC Records/Disques SRC SMCD 5117-2

Beethoven Sinfonia Eroica Opus 55, Egmont Opus 84 overture. Gauvin soprano, Rescigno conductor. 1997. Analekta Fleur de Lys FL 2 3105

Brahms Two Piano Concertos. Kuerti pianist, Rescigno conductor. 1998. Analekta Fleur de Lys AN 2 9205-7

Mendelssohn Two Violin Concertos. Dubeau violin, Rescigno conductor. 1998. Analekta Fleur de Lys FL 2 3098

Moussorgsky Boris Godunov de Moussorgsky. Létourneau chorus master, Rouleau bass, Vekshtein conductor. 1998-99. Riche Lieu 990301

Mozart Exultate, Jubilate K.165. Fortin soprano, Rescigno conductor. 1999. Analekta Fleur de Lys FL 2 3131

Joachim Hommage à Otto Joachim. Rescigno conductor. 2000. Riche Lieu

Rota La Strada. Swartz harp, Trudel trombone, Nézet-Séguin conductor. 2003. Atma Classique ACD 22294

Mahler Mahler 4. Gauvin soprano, Nézet-Séguin conductor. 2004. Atma Classique ACD 2 2306

Saint-Saëns Symphonie No 3. Nézet-Séguin conductor. 2005. Atma Classique SACD 2 2331

Weill Diane Dufresne chante Kurt Weill. Dufresne voice, Nézet-Séguin conductor. 2005. ACD 2 2324

Bruckner 7. Nézet-Séguin conductor. 2007. ATMA Classique SACD22512

La Mer - Debussy, Britten, Mercure. Nézet-Séguin conductor. 2007. ATMA Classique SACD22549

Pierre Lapointe en concert dans la forêt des mal-aimés. Lapointe, Nézet-Séguin conductor. 2007. Audiogram ADCD10219

Bruckner 9. Nézet-Séguin conductor. 2008. ATMA Classique SACD22514

Bruckner 8. Nézet-Séguin conductor. 2009. ATMA Classique ACD2 2513

Further Reading