Editor’s Note: In our April issue, we provided a complete schedule of the performances The Montreal Chamber Musical Festival. This month, we’re adding more information about the Festival the kicks off Montreal’s internationally famous season of festivals. Beethoven Chez Nous marks the 24th Anniversary of the festival. Its reputation is such that PBS Radio broadcasts selections of the festival to their audiences in the United States.   

The Montreal Chamber Music Festival opens its 2019 season with a spectacular concert event: a one-man show by the incredible Gregory Charles!  In its Montreal premiere, L’Air du Temps takes a bilingual look back upon the past 250 years of western music, from Baroque to hip-hop and from the French Revolution to the digital revolution. This one-of-a-kind evening, featuring the most passionate troubadour of our time, takes place at Pollack Hall on Friday, June 7 at 8 pm.

Chamber Music Festival

Gregory Charles will open the festival with a premier of his new show L’Aire du temps on Friday, June 7

Following the show’s debut in Quebec City, Le Soleil’s Normand Provencher called Gregory Charles’ talent ”breathtaking,” commenting: ” Let it be said, Gregory Charles is not a human being.  He is a pure creature of artificial intelligence, a cyborg to which scientists have grafted a processor allowing it to play the piano and sing the entire history of music, a state-of-the-art replicator also able to make laugh and move.” That evening’s completely improvised show, fueled by audience requests, included everything from Beethoven to Édith Piaf to Coldplay.

From his Carnegie Hall debut at age 11 as a classical pianist to his star turns as an actor, singer, and television and radio host, to showcasing and mentoring the next generation, Gregory Charles has carved out a spectacular career. His live improvisation-driven shows have been experienced by over two million people worldwide, including his 2015 Vintage tour, which appeared at New York’s Pier 97 for a critically-acclaimed string of 30 shows.  Among his initiatives for youth and music education are the Gregory Charles Foundation and Gregory’s Academy, which has reached thousands of new pianists, guitarists and singers from 5 to 94 years of age.

Gregory Charles L’Air du Temps opens the 24th anniversary season of the Montreal Chamber Music Festival on Friday, June 7th, 8 pm in Pollack Hall, McGill University, 555 Sherbrooke Street West. $50 Regular and $20 Students. VIP tickets at $85 include a reception with Gregory Charles following the concert. For tickets please call 514-489-7444 or online:  www.festivalmontreal.org


The Complete Beethoven Violin Sonatas with James Ehnes & Andrew Armstrong

Chamber Music Festival

James Ehnes will perform the complete
Beethoven Violin Sonatas with
long-time accompanist Paul Armstrong
Photo: © Benjamin Ealovega

The Festival is very happy to welcome back star violinist James Ehnes, who first performed at the Festival at age 17, to perform the Beethoven Violin Sonatas with his long-time musical partner, pianist Andrew Armstrong. Ehnes is the 2019 winner of a Grammy Award for Best Classical Recording. Over the course of three evenings at Salle Bourgie (June 13, 14 and 15 at 8 p.m.), the duo will perform all ten of Beethoven’s magnificent violin sonatas. Reviewing their recording of Sonatas No. 6 & 9 for Onyx Classics, The Guardian praised their “light touch and searing focus … [the] generosity of this duo speaks volumes …” and Gramophone, in an Editor’s Choice review said, “Ehnes and Armstrong are stunningly responsive in the finale, with a sense of propulsion, yet without overlooking its moments of delicacy…  A compelling addition to Ehnes and Armstrong’s remarkable discography.”

The Complete Beethoven Symphonies transcribed for Piano by Franz Liszt

Chamber Music Festival

Wonny Song (left) and David Jalbert
will perform a duet of
Beethoven’s 9th symphony
Photo: ©Michael Slobodian

The genius of Franz Liszt, the greatest piano virtuoso of the 19th century, has allowed us to experience the Beethoven Symphonies in a completely new way. Liszt’s astonishing transcriptions, among the most technically demanding piano music ever written, give pianists the opportunity to reproduce the texture and grandeur of Beethoven’s unique symphonic works.

Chamber Music Festival

Jocelyne Lai will perform in the Beethoven piano series

In a Montreal premiere, the Festival presents the complete nine symphonies over five late-afternoon concerts at Salle Bourgie, June 11 through 15. The Festival is thrilled to present six outstanding pianists over the five concerts: Alexander Ullman, First Prize winner of the 2017 Liszt International Piano Competition; Jocelyn Lai; Carlos Avila; Richard Raymond; and David Jalbert and Wonny Song in a duo piano performance of Beethoven’s 9th symphony.  All concerts take place at 5 pm and include a complimentary glass of wine.

Metropolitan Opera Tenor Joseph Kaiser in Two Programmes

Chamber Music Festival

Quatuor Danel from France
will make their Festival premiere
Photo: Marco Borggreve

The Festival welcomes home tenor Joseph Kaiser, internationally-acclaimed for his beauty of tone and musical intelligence, who appears in two superb evenings of chamber music at Salle Bourgie. Masters in Performance on Tuesday, June 11 at 8 p.m. features Kaiser with Martin Beaver, former first violinist of the Tokyo Quartet; cellist Denis Brott; Israeli pianist Alon Goldstein, a returning Festival favourite; and the brilliant Quatuor Danel from France, making their Festival premiere.

Chamber Music Festival

Jeanne Ireland

Repertoire includes Beethoven’s Folk Songs for tenor and piano trio, the quintet for piano by Dvořák, and the rarely-heard Weinberg String Quartet No. 5. This evening also includes an extraordinary discovery: the Canadian premiere of a new composition revealed in 2018 among a collection of manuscripts untouched since the war found at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum. University of Michigan music professor Patricia Hall unearthed the heartbreakingly titled “The Most Beautiful Time of Life” (Die Schönste Zeit des Lebens) by Franz Grothe (1908-1982). Hall believes the piece, a popular fox trot of the day, was performed circa 1942 by prisoners in front of the commandant’s villa for Sunday concerts for the Auschwitz garrison.

The Festival’s tribute to vocal art continues on Wednesday, June 12 at 8 p.m., with Viva Voce featuring music by Brahms, Respighi, Richard Strauss, Chausson, and Barber. Joseph Kaiser is joined by mezzosoprano Jeanne Ireland, violinist Martin Beaver, pianist Alexander Ullman and the Quatuor Danel.

Free Noon-hour Concerts: BMO’s Hottest Classical Artists Under 30!

Chamber Music Festival

Amy Hillis is one of BMO’s Hottest Classical Artists
Under 30!

In 2019 the Festival continues its tradition of featuring Canada’s best emerging talent. Entitled BMO’s Hottest Classical Artists Under 30!, the Festival presents a new series of five admission-free noon hour concerts, June 11 through 15 at Salle Bourgie. The brilliant, emerging artists include pianist Alexander Ullman; cellists Cameron Crozman and Bruno Tobon; and violinists Christina Bouey, Byungchan Lee and Emmanuel Vukovich. Music includes works by Handel, Ravel, Stravinsky, Bach, Beethoven, and more. In addition, courtesy of Metro Inc., a complimentary snack will be offered!

“Tchaïkovski, je vous aime” – Hommage à Albert Millaire

Quebec’s legendary actor and playwright Albert Millaire is the subject of an homage inspiring the closing concert on Sunday afternoon, June 16 at 3:30 p.m. Entitled “Tchaïkovski, je vous aime”, the concert pays tribute to the life of the late actor Albert Millaire (1935-2018) through the performance of Millaire’s unique script commissioned by the Festival in 2011. This re-enactment of Tchaikovsky’s intimate letters with his patron Nadezhda von Meck is a fantastic synthesis of words and music performed in French and English by extraordinary Quebec actors Jean Marchand, Monique Miller, Frédéric Millaire Zouvi, and Stéphanie Germain. In what has become a Festival tradition, this concert highlights the extraordinary winners of the 2018 Canada Council for the Arts Musical Instrument Bank Competition, this year led by the outstanding Canadian violinist Martin Beaver.

2019 Ticket Prices
(service fee and taxes in addition)

Gregory Charles (Pollack Hall)
Regular ticket: $50 VIP ticket: $85
Students: $20

5 p.m. – Beethoven Nine Symphonies in five concerts
Regular: $25 Students: $10
Includes a complimentary glass of wine

8 p.m. – Masters in Performance, Viva Voce & Complete Beethoven Violin Sonatas
1 ticket: $50 2 tickets: $87.50 4 tickets: $112.50 (+1 free ticket)
Multi-ticket discount available for Masters in Performance & Viva Voce only

Festival Pass – Valid for ALL 17 concerts
1 Festival Pass: $300

Festival Tickets & Information: 514.489.7444 or [email protected]