ACREQ / Elektra

Elektra is a leading-edge showcase of digital culture. The Montreal-based festival presents artists and works that combine innovative electronic music and creative imagery derived from new technologies (animation, installations and robotics). Elektra is a nexus where the latest in digital technology meets diverse mediums, such as music, video, cinema, design, gaming and sound/interactive installations. Artists from diverse backgrounds—composition, performance, dance, visual arts, etc.—are brought together by the festival, united by a shared keen interest in applying new digital technologies to art. At Elektra, they explore the melding of sound and image in all its various guises. While the event attracts avant-garde artists from around the world, it also shines the spotlight on home-grown talent, positioning Montreal as one of the North American hub for the electronic arts.

ACREQ (Association pour la création et la recherche électroacoustiques du Québec) was established in 1978. Since 1999, ACREQ has combined the various events it formerly presented throughout the year into a single event called Elektra, a digital arts festival. This has reinforced the association’s place in Montreal’s cultural landscape and provided invited artists with an exceptional framework in which to work. ACREQ continues to promote digital artists locally and internationally on a year-round basis.

Conservatoire de musique de Montréal

Founded in 1943 as a direct result of the same law that created the Conservatoire de musique et d’art dramatique du Québec, the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal is one of a network of nine such establishments found throughout Québec, and was first directed by Wilfrid Pelletier. The educational mission of the Conservatoire is to train professional performers and composers. The institution boasts more than sixty teachers, all of whom figure among the most respected musicians in the nation, and are active contributors to musical life in this province and beyond. Currently enrolment stands at about 250 students, chosen by competition for five different levels of training in performance and composition, for studies ranging from the preparatory to the graduate. The Conservatoire has nurtured some of the most outstanding contemporary music composers and performers in Quebec, several of whom have earned an international reputation.

École secondaire Joseph-François-Perrault

The Joseph-François-Perrault high school opened its doors in 1966. But it was only in 1978 that commissioners for the then-Catholic school board (CECM) ratified the concentration in music. In the years that followed, Raymond Grignet was appointed artistic superintendent and given a mandate to coordinate activities in music education. In February of 1981, a collaborative agreement was signed between the CECM and the Conservatoire de musique du Québec à Montréal, giving rise to the production of joint concerts and the institution of music student-monitors in schools. As a result, each year a dozen or so monitors from the Conservatoire work, either individually or in groups, with students experiencing technical problems specific to their instruments.

In 1983 the programme’s Orchestre symphonique de la Concentration gave a performance at the international congress on youth, held at the Olympic Velodrome, where it was conducted by the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal’s permanent conductor, at the time, Charles Dutoit. Since then, the orchestra has appeared under the direction of Raymond Grignet in concerts held at the Notre-Dame basilica, Place des Arts’s Théâtre Maisonneuve, Salle Claude-Champagne, and the Palais des Congrès. In 1988, and at the request of the Quebec education ministry, the CECM created the concentration in music programme at the École Joseph-François-Perrault, which would serve as a model for some fifteen school boards across the province. The orchestra undertook its first tour in 1990, and to France. Five subsequent tours to Europe (summers of 1992, 1994, 1996, 1999, and 2003), organized by Jean-Marc Bisaillon provide ample testimony of the international calibre of this music-educational project. In the course of these tours, more than sixty concerts were given in over forty different cities in France, Italy, Switzerland, and Spain.

The music department recently experienced unprecedented expansion of its teaching personnel, which has enabled an increase in services offered to the Saint Michel community. Some 750 students are currently enrolled in the music concentration and option programmes.

Benoit Bussière, Director; André Grenier, Associate Director; Richard Charron, Musical Director.

Espaces sonores illimités

In 1990, as part of an «open house» day at the University of Montreal faculty of music, Michel Gonneville worked with four other composers (Pierre Desrochers, André Hamel, Alain Lalonde and Alain Dauphinais) in creating the Sonoguide event. Part of the performance consisted of the audience walking through a «guided tour» of the building at 200 Vincent d’Indy Street, given form and voice by the five composers. Following on their successful Sonoguide experience, they were keen to explore the emplacement of instrumental music, calling into question the form and presentation of the traditional concert. In 1992 three of the composers (Alain Lalonde, André Hamel and Alain Dauphinais) decided to establish Espaces sonores illimités (ESI).

The first presentation by Espaces sonores illimités took place on May 19, 1984 with the creation of a collective piece entitled Musiques en espace sacré. This large-scale event marked the official opening of the 11th edition of the International Festival of Contemporary Music in Victoriaville, Quebec (FIMAV). The concert was co-produced by Espaces sonores illimités, FIMAV and the Radio-Canada FM network and presented in St. Victoire church, where it was performed by 24 musicians of the Ensemble contemporain de Montréal and two multi-instrumentalists specialized in ancient music and folk music.

In Montreal’s St. Jean Baptiste church on May 29, 1996 their piece Cadavre presqu’exquis was performed by 26 musicians of the Ensemble contemporain de Montréal. The work had been commissioned by the Radio-Canada cultural channel.

As part of the Pointe-à-Callière 1998 harbour symphonies, on March 1 and 8, 1998 ESI produced the Airs libres event for 9 brass instruments and 4 percussions arranged in the spaces near and around the warehouses in the Old Port of Montreal and the Pointe-à-Callière Museum. For the occasion, ESI commissioned works by composers Marie Pelletier and Diane Labrosse. The presentation was co-produced by the Pointe-à-Callière Museum and the Old Port of Montreal.

As part of the millennium celebrations, Espaces sonores illimités collaborated with a team of 19 composers brought together by the Contemporary Music Society of Quebec to create a millennium symphony. This unique event involved the participation of 300 musicians. Some 40,000 people were in attendance when it was presented in Montreal on June 3, 2000.

McGill University, Faculty of Music and the McGill Contemporary Music Ensemble (CME)

Founded in 1920, few years later than the Conservatorium of Music (1904), the Faculty of Music has enjoyed steady growth from a handful of students to its present position as the largest music school in Canada. The reputation of its professors attracts some 700 students annually from around the world. Staff and students present some 450 concerts and events each year in Pollack Hall, Redpath Hall and Clara Lichtenstein Recital Hall. Its researchers are among the most dynamic in their field. The Faculty of Music is housed in the impressive and historic Strathcona Music Building (formerly the Royal Victoria College), named for the Right Honourable Donald A. Smith, Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal, Chancellor of McGill from 1889-1913.

McGill ensembles have earned praise from critics and audiences for their performances and recordings. One of them, the McGill Contemporary Music Ensemble, created in September 1970, has been directed successively by Richard Lawton, Eugene Plawutsky and Bruce Mather. It is dedicated to the musical repertoire of the past hundred years and pays special attention to the performance of new music. The ensemble is made up of a flexible group of about thirty young musicians who give five concerts a year under the direction of composer and conductor Denys Bouliane, their present musical director. Every year the ensemble performs 10 to 15 new works by young composers at McGill. It is an indispensable laboratory for the training of these composers and encourages communication with young performers.

During the past few years, the CME has rapidly become one of the most dynamic student ensembles in Canada. It has given distinguished performances of such works as the Chamber Concerto, op. 9 and Pierrot Lunaire by Schönberg (with soprano Ingrid Schmithüsen), Concertos for Piano and Violin by Ligeti (with Marc Couroux, piano and Jonathan Crow, violin), the Chamber Concerto, op. 8 by Berg (with Brigitte Poulin, piano and Clemens Merkel, violin), Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen by Mahler (in the arrangement by Schönberg for chamber orchestra, with mezzo soprano Michèle Losier), as well as works by Janacek, Stravinsky, Ives, Antheil, Mossolov, Copland, Barber, Varèse, Scelsi, Berio, Ustvolskaya, Messiaen, Carter, Feldman, Crumb, Takemitsu, Xenakis, Kagel, Kancheli, Denissov, Andriessen, Reich, Grisey, Vivier, Adams, A. Huber, Lindberg, Höller and Raskatov. In the fall of 2001, composer and conductor Walter Boudreau also led the CME in brilliant performances of Darius Milhaud’s La Création du monde and Olivier Messiaen’s Oiseaux exotiques (with Kyoko Hashimoto, piano).

Works by the following faculty and student composers at McGill have also been performed: Alcides Lanza, Brian Cherney, John Rea, Jean Lesage, James Harley, Sean Ferguson, Jason Jestadt, Elisabeth Dehler, Andriy Talpash, Ayal Adler, Anne Nikitin, Jason Pan, Nicole Lizée, Matthew Rizzuto, Scott Godin, Rose Bolton, Niklas Kambeitz, Justin Christensen, Justin Mariner, Eli-Eri Moura, Paul Frehner, Andrew Svoboda, Erik Nye, Patrick Levesque, John McCallum, Darren Fung, Christien Ledroit and Geoff Holbrook.

Concerts performed at Music November 1998 and Music October 1999 were broadcast on the CBC and Radio-Canada.

Montreal Symphony Orchestra (OSM)

Founded in 1934, the Montreal symphony orchestra is one of the major cultural organizations in the city whose name it bears with pride. From Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, located in the heart of the city, the OSM shines throughout Quebec and Canada. Through its international tours and recordings, it has also become a cultural ambassador, making an important contribution to the spread of culture and artistic exchanges.

Music directors who have contributed to the artistic growth of the OSM include Wilfrid Pelletier, Désiré Defauw, Igor Markevitch, Zubin Mehta, Franz-Paul Decker, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos and, from 1977 to 2002, Charles Dutoit. The excellence of the OSM has been amply proven in the course of 37 national and international tours.

The OSM made 88 recordings, of which more than 76 have been on the London/Decca label. Others have been for EMI, Philips and CBC. The OSM has received 47 awards for its recordings, of which 24 are international awards. In December of 1984, the OSM became the first Canadian ensemble to achieve Platinum status for its recording of Ravel’s Bolero.

The recognition of the OSM’s artistic excellence still continues. In April 2003, the OSM and violinist James Ehnes under the direction of Mario Bernardi received a Juno in the category: “Best Classical Album: Large Ensemble or Soloist(s) with Larger Ensemble Accompaniment”. A few months later, the same recording was awarded a Felix. It is to be noted that the previous recording of the OSM and James Ehnes had received a Juno Award in April 2002 in the same category.

Kent Nagano will become the Orchestra’s next Music Director starting in 2006. In the meantime, Mr. Nagano will act as Music Advisor and will conduct four concerts during the 2004-2005 season.

National Arts Centre

The Festival Montréal/Nouvelles Musiques is very proud to count amongst its collaborators exceptional performers from the National Arts Centre Orchestra from Ottawa.

Consistent praise has followed this vibrant, classical-sized orchestra throughout its history of touring both nationally and internationally, recording and commissioning Canadian works. The world-renowned conductor/violinist/violist Pinchas Zukerman was named Music Director of the Orchestra in March 1998. The National Arts Centre Orchestra was founded in 1969 as the resident orchestra of the newly opened National Arts Centre (NAC) in Ottawa.


Acousmatic concert organization founded in 1991 by Jean-François Denis, Gilles Gobeil and Robert Normandeau, Réseaux produces the on-going Rien à voir concerts series. Réseaux wins the 2002 Presenter of the year Opus Prize (awarded by the Conseil québécois de la musique).

Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ)

With concerts in Montreal, a youth-music programme, the MNM international festival, radio broadcasts, North American and European tours, a competition for composers, and more than twenty full-length recordings, the work of the SMCQ has resulted in a fertile breeding ground for new works of art, commissions, and masterful of contemporary music.

Founded in 1966 by a group of prominent Montreal musicians and composers, including Serge Garant and Maryvonne Kendergi, the SMCQ is managed by composers for composers and has been led by three different artistic directors to date: composers Serge Garant (1966-89), Gilles Tremblay (1986-88) and Walter Boudreau (1988-2003). With the Ensemble, the SMCQ has continued to bring a wide gamut of contemporary music to the listening public. Currently conducted by Walter Boudreau, the Ensemble forms the core of most of the season’s concerts, with performances of works by Boulez, Kagel, Stockhausen, Varèse, Xenakis, Garant, Vivier, Tremblay, Cage, Rea, Andriessen, Grisey, Boudreau, Messiaen, Bouliane, Scelsi, Reich ou Penderecki. For the past several years, the SMCQ has taken a number of soloists and ensembles under its wing, and has established a residence programme for fledgling ensembles. The SMCQ plays host to prestigious and rising stars each year, including renown soloists. The SMCQ was the force behind a number of major artistic events, on its own and in collaboration with a number of leading organizations involved with the creation of new art in Quebec. The organization has commissioned, premiered and recorded a number of works that are fundamental to the contemporary repertoire, by artists from our own nation and abroad. One unforgettable example is the Symphonie du Millénaire, a collective work by nineteen composers. Since 1997, the SMCQ has developed a “youth” sector, and five musical children stories have been brought to life.