Celebrating Alexander Brott’s 100th anniversary

Under the direction of Boris Brott, recently made an Officer of the Order of Quebec, the McGill Chamber Orchestra will present the concert Poetry in Music on February 24 at 7:30 pm., as part of the Montreal en Lumière festival. The evening commemorates the 100th anniversary of the birth of Canadian composer, violinist and conductor Alexander Brott (1915-2005).

Alexander Brott founded, in 1939, the McGill String Quartet which soon thereafter became the McGill Chamber Orchestra. He was the MCO’s Artistic Director until 2000. Trained at the Juilliard School of Music and at the McGill Conservatory, he led a successful career as a violinist, composer and professor at McGill University. For several years, he served as concertmaster and assistant conductor for the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal.

On this same evening, the French version of Alexander Brott’s biography will be launched. The translation was done by Leonard Rosemarin.

Poetry in Music

This concert, bringing together poetry and music, will feature Mini Minus and Sept for Seven, both works by Alexander Brott, and Histoire de Soldat by Igor Stravinsky. The texts for Brott’s pieces will be read by renowned actor Jean Marchand, who will also be playing both parts in Histoire de Soldat. A graduate of the Conservatoire de musique et d’art dramatique du Québec, actor and pianist Jean Marchand enjoys a successful acting career on television (Unité 9) and on the big screen.

Sept for Seven (Alexander Brott, 1915-2005). Composed in 1955 for the celebration of McGill Conservatory of Music’s 50th anniversary, this piece was written for seven instrumentalists and holds seven movements, including five of which set the texts of Canadian poets to music. A prelude and a fugal postlude round off the piece, and a rhythmic narration of the poems is a key part of this work.

Mini Minus (Alexander Brott). This piece was created as a complement to Stravinsky’s Histoire du Soldat which is contrasting in style yet is arranged for the same instruments (violin, double bass, clarinet, bassoon, cornet, trombone and percussion). Both works make a perfect complement to each other yet the edgy and sensitive music of Mini Minus makes it also contrasting to Stravinsky’s work.

Histoire du Soldat (Igor Stravinsky, 1882-1971). In 1917, Stravinsky composed Histoire du Soldat in Switzerland, where he had taken refuge following the outbreak of World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution. Along with poet Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz, he began composing a theatrical work for seven instruments and three actors. Drawing it’s inspiration from jazz and the travelling circus, the piece is easily performed in many different locations. This Faustian tale relates the story of a soldier who sells his soul to the devil.

This unique concert will take place on February 24, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. at Bourgie Hall, as part of the 16th edition of the Montreal en Lumière festival. A pre-concert discussion with Maestro Boris Brott will take place one hour before the performance. Tickets range between $14 and $53 and can be purchased by calling (514) 285-2000 ext 4.

For more information about the McGill Chamber Orchestra 2014-2015 season, please visit www.ocm-mco.org.

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