Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival / Festival international de musique de chambre d'Ottawa
Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival (OICMF) / Festival international de musique de chamber d'Ottawa. A midsummer series of concerts held in downtown Ottawa venues, the festival was founded in 1994 as the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival. Acknowledging its stature as a major international presenter, it changed its name in 2001. It is administered by the Ottawa Chamber Music Society (OCMS), which was incorporated in 1995.
The OICMF was the brainchild of its artistic and executive director, Julian Armour. Armour was seeking to make classical music a more popular leisure activity by presenting musicians interacting with each other and with the audience in an intimate setting. Programs have featured a broad range of styles and have spanned all periods from early music to contemporary. The first festival featured 22 concerts over 10 days in two Ottawa churches. It was so successful that the number of concerts was increased to 48 for the second festival in 1995, and it has grown steadily since. By 1999 the OCMF was considered the largest festival of its kind in the world, at 84 concerts over 14 days in 14 venues, with audiences of about 40,000. In 2005, 120 concerts were performed in a 15-day period in 16 venues, attended by 62,000 concert-goers.
Ottawa Chamber Music Society
In its early years the Ottawa Chamber Music Society presented occasional concerts during the main season as part of its fundraising mandate. In 2000 it inaugurated a 10-concert winter series featuring some artists who do not tour in the summer.
While many of the world's leading performers of chamber music have appeared, often several times, at the festival and during the winter series, the OCMS strongly promotes Canadian performers, relying to a great extent upon musicians from the Ottawa area. Performers have included singers Nancy Argenta, Russell Braun, Donna Brown, Gerald Finley, Maureen Forrester, Emma Kirkby, Suzie LeBlanc, Richard Margison, Julie Nesrallah, Gino Quilico, Daniel Taylor, Monica Whicher; pianists Janina Fialkowska, Marc-André Hamelin, Angela Hewitt, Stephen Hough, Anton Kuerti, Stéphane Lemelin, Louis Lortie, Garrick Ohlsson, Jamie Parker, Jon Kimura Parker, Andrew Tunis; violinists Martin Beaver, Jonathan Crow, Andrew Dawes, Philippe Djokic, James Ehnes, Ida Haendel, Cho-Liang Lin, Gil Shaham; violist Steven Dann; cellists Desmond Hoebig, Steven Isserlis, Janos Starker; bassists Joel Quarrington, Murielle Bruneau; clarinetist James Campbell; flutists Robert Cram, Joanna G'froerer; harpist Judy Loman; guitarist Daniel Bolshoy; trombonist Alain Trudel; the Juilliard, Tokyo, Kronos, Penderecki, Hagen, Shanghai, Emerson, Leipzig, Borodin and St Lawrence string quartets; and Tafelmusik, P.D.Q. Bach, the King's Singers, the Arion Ensemble, Répercussion, Aradia Ensemble, Rideau Lakes Brass Quintet, Canadian Brass, Beaux Arts Trio, Quartetto Gelato, Vienna Piano Trio, Theatre of Early Music, Bel Canto Wind Quintet and the Gryphon Trio.
Contemporary music has featured prominently in both the summer festival and winter series. Programs have been devoted to the music of individual Canadian composers including Violet Archer, Patrick Cardy, Stephen Chatman, Jean Coulthard, Glenn Gould, Jacques Hétu, Jan Jarvlepp, Sir Ernest MacMillan, Jocelyn Morlock, Marjan Mozetich, Kelly-Marie Murphy, Clermont Pépin, Eldon Rathburn, R. Murray Schafer and Healey Willan. In 2002 a festival of chamber music by women composers was presented in partnership with the Association of Canadian Women Composers. By 2006, 1007 works by 304 Canadian composers had been presented at OICMF and OCMS concerts. A substantial number of these were world premieres of pieces commissioned by the organization.
In 2001 the Ottawa Chamber Music Society launched its record label, CMS Classics, and established a core group of performers to tour and record. Known as the Chamber Players of Canada, the ensemble varies in size as required and has recorded on the CBC Records and ATMA labels as well as CMS Classics.
The Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival owes much of its success to innovative fundraising and partnerships undertaken by the Ottawa Chamber Music Society. Since 2004 much of this activity has been focused on a project to build a world class concert hall in Ottawa. Capacity audiences and strong community support can be attributed to audience development (especially of young people) through the annual Family Music Fair, a low-cost pass system to concerts, the presentation of high-calibre chamber artists, and a national profile achieved through CBC broadcasts of the concerts. A television taping in 2004 of an OCMS performance of Haydn's The Seven Last Words of Christ provided international exposure on the EWTN, PBS and Vision TV networks.
The Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival and the Ottawa Chamber Music Society received the Ontario Lieutenant Governor's Award for the Arts seven times 1996-2003, more than any other arts organization. They have also been recipients of Ottawa Tourism Awards for New Company/Product (1996), Event of the Year (2003) and Small Company of the Year (2004); and the University of Toronto School of Business Award for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the Arts (1999). Several additional awards have been received by Armour.