Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (OSM) presents

The Majestic Organ Symphony by Saint-Saëns

The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal will bring its 90th season to a thrilling conclusion with this masterful evening event.

Four renowned organists take turns at the helm of the Grand Orgue Pierre-Béique: Shin-Young Lee shines brilliantly in Barber’s Toccata festiva, while Isabelle Demers summons the full scope of her artistry in Jongen’s Symphonie concertante. Jean-Willy Kunz gives the premiere of a work with orchestra by Quebec composer Denis Gougeon, while Olivier Latry joins the Orchestra in Saint-Saëns’ Symphony no. 3, a crown jewel of the repertoire.

Rafael Payare, conductor

Rafael Payare’s prodigious musicianship, technical brilliance and charismatic presence on the podium have made him one of the world’s most sought-after conductors. A graduate of the celebrated El Sistema music education program in Venezuela, Mr. Payare began his formal conducting studies in 2004 with José Antonio Abreu. Since winning the prestigious Malko International Competition for Young Conductors in Denmark in 2012, Maestro Payare’s career has advanced rapidly. Since 2015, he has served as Principal Conductor of the Castleton Festival, founded by his mentor the late Lorin Maazel. He was Chief Conductor and Music Director of the Ulster Orchestra from 2014 to 2019 and in 2019, took up the position of Music Director of the San Diego Symphony.

In recent years, Rafael Payare has conducted many of the world’s most prestigious orchestras, including those of New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Zurich, Berlin, Vienna, London, Munich, Chicago and Paris. He has also made important opera debuts at the Glyndebourne Festival, Stockholm’s Royal Swedish Opera, the Royal Danish Opera, and most recently at London’s Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. In the 2022-2023 season, Payare became the ninth Music Director in the history of the OSM.

Shin-Young Lee, organ

Through her concerts, Shin-Young Lee always seduces the audience by her strong spiritual and musical commitment, and by the originality of her programs which combine both the organ repertoire and transcriptions.

She has performed on five continents in many concert halls (Philharmonie de Paris, Berlin Philharmonie, Madrid Auditorio Nacional, Auditorium de Radio France, Los Angeles Walt Disney Hall, Moscow Zaryadye, Maison symphonique de Montréal, Stavanger Concert Hall, Auditorium de Lyon, Dortmund Concert Hall, Seoul Sejong Art Concert Hall, Dallas Meyerson Symphony Center, Gulanyu Organ Museum of China), and in prestigious places such as Notre Dame de Paris, Oratoire Saint Joseph de Montréal, Geneva Cathedral, University of Pretoria…

She appeared in many festivals: Lahti Organ Festival, Festival Musica, Bødø Festival, Festival International de Chartres, Festival of Sacred Arts (Reykjavik), Festival Bach de Montréal, Haarlem Festival, Festival « Toulouse les orgues ».

Based in Paris, Shin-Young LEE was born in South Korea, from a family of musicians. She started playing the piano at the age of four and the organ with Dong-Lim Min. She then improved her organ studies with Tong-Soon Kwak, Jean-Paul Imbert, Michel Bouvard, Olivier Latry and Jean Guillou.

Isabelle Demers, organ

With playing described as having “bracing virtuosity” (Chicago Classical Review) and being “fearless and extraordinary” (Amarillo-Globe News), Isabelle Demers has enraptured critics, presenters, and audience members around the globe.

She has appeared in recital throughout Europe, Oman, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and Canada, including at the Cathedrals of Cologne and Regensburg (Germany); the ElbPhilharmonie (Hamburg); the Royal Festival Hall, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Cathedral, and Westminster Abbey (London); City Hall (Stockholm); the Royal Opera House of Muscat (Oman); the Forbidden City Concert Hall (Beijing, China); Victoria Hall (Singapore); Melbourne Town Hall (Australia); Auckland Town Hall (New Zealand); Disney Hall (Los Angeles), Davies Hall (San Francisco), the Meyerson Symphony Center (Dallas), the Kimmel Center, and the Wanamaker Organ at Macy’s (Philadelphia); and the Maison Symphonique (Montréal).

Dr. Demers is in continual high demand by her colleagues as witnessed by performances for numerous regional and national conventions of the American Guild of Organists, the Institute of Organ Builders and International Society of Organbuilders, the Royal Canadian College of Organists, and the Organ Historical Society. She has released multiple CD recordings on the Acis and Pro Organo labels. Her latest CD, recorded at Chicago’s Rockefeller Chapel, was released in January 2020, and includes works of Reger, Laurin, Dupré, Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, and Macmillan.

A native of Québec and a doctoral graduate of the Juilliard School, Dr. Demers was recently appointed Associate Professor of Organ at McGill University (Montréal, Québec). She was formerly the Joyce Bowden Chair in Organ and Head of the Organ Program at Baylor University (Waco, Texas).

Jean-Willy Kunz, OSM organist-in-residence

Jean-Willy Kunz is the first Organist-in-Residence of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. In addition to performances with the Orchestra and as a soloist in recital, he supervises the development and showcasing of the OSM’s Grand Orgue Pierre-Béique at the Maison symphonique de Montréal. His most recent performances include concerts with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, Orchestre symphonique de Québec, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Violons du Roy, with saxophonist Branford Marsalis, and with singer-songwriters Pierre Lapointe, Rufus Wainwright and Martha Wainwright.

A significant portion of his discography reflects multiple musical influences: Symphonie et créations pour orgue et orchestre, with the OSM (2016 Juno Award-winning album) ; Impressions for organ, clarinet, saxophone, trombone, double bass and percussions; Punkt, with Pierre Lapointe, and André Gagnon Baroque, for harpsichord and symphony orchestra. Jean-Willy Kunz is Professor of Organ at the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal and Artistic Director of the Canadian International Organ Competition.

Olivier Latry, OSM organist emeritus

Acclaimed as an eminent international ambassador of the organ, Olivier Latry has performed in countless prestigious venues and been a guest of many prominent orchestras led by renowned conductors. He has numerous recordings on major labels and an impressive number of premieres of new works to his credit. Appointed titular organist of the grandes orgues of Notre-Dame de Paris at only 23 years of age and Organist Emeritus of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal since 2012, Latry is a versatile, ingenious, and daring artist who explores all the resources of which his instrument is capable. He is also endowed with exceptional improvisational gifts.

In March 2019, Olivier entered into collaboration with La Dolce Volta label, launching his initial album Bach to the Future. In 2021, he released Inspirations, featuring works by Liszt on the organ of the Philharmonie de Paris.

Olivier Latry was Organist-in-residence with the Dresden Philharmonic for the 2021–2022 season and is currently the William T. Kemper Artist-in-Residence at the University Kansas in Lawrence.


BARBER, Toccata festiva, for organ and orchestra, op. 36
JONGEN, Symphonie concertante, for organ and orchestra, op. 81 (33 min.)
Denis GOUGEON, Work for organ and orchestra, world premiere – OSM commission (10 min.)
SAINT-SAËNS, Symphony no. 3 in C minor, op. 78, “Organ Symphony” (36 min.)

Pre-concert talk at 6:30pm: a concert talk will take place before the May 28 concert. All ticket holders are welcome! (duration: 30 minutes)

Maison symphonique
Tuesday, May 28, 2024 at 7:30pm
Wednesday, May 29, 2024 at 7:30pm
Thursday, May 30, 2024 at 7:30pm

To purchase your tickets visit: www.placedesarts.com