Au rythme de la guitare

A. Prévost: Scherzo
F. M. Torroba: Interludio I y II, pour guitare et cordes
J. Turina: La óracion del torrero, suite pour cordes, op. 34
J. Hétu: Concerto pour guitare et cordes
O. Respighi: Antiche danze ed arie (Ancient Airs and Dances), suite n° 3

Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor
Jérôme Ducharme, guitar

Since winning first prize at the Guitar Foundation of America international competition in 2005, earning him his first and critically acclaimed CD (Naxos 8.570189), guitarist Jérôme Ducharme has lead a double career as a world-traveling virtuoso and professor at McGill University’s Schulich School of Music. It’s in a seductive version for guitar and strings of Moreno Torroba’s Interludio I y II and in Jacques Hétu’s poetic concerto for guitar and strings that I Musici intends to introduce you this highly versatile Quebec guitarist.

Photo credits: Marie Vallières


Das Lied von der Erde

G. Mahler: Das Lied von der Erde
L.V. Beethoven: Quatuor n°16 en fa majeur, opus 135

Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor
Michèle Losier, soprano
Richard Cox, tenor

Two end-of-life masterpieces, two glorious invitations to reflect on our finiteness in the face of nature’s three eternal cycles: Every day the sun, every month the moon and every year the earth seems to die so that it may return better than before. “The firmament is forever blue, and the earth will long remain and bloom in spring, but you, man, how long will you live?” asks the tenor in the drinking song that opens Mahler’s The Song of the Earth. “My heart is calm and awaits its hour” is the response from the contralto at the end of The Farewell concluding it. And above the final movement of his sixteenth string quartet, which was to be his final composition, Beethoven wrote, “Muss es sein? Es muss sein!” — “Must it be? It must be!”

Photo credits: Michael Slobodian, Sean Tury

Mozart : l’apothéose

Mozart: l’apothéose
W. A. Mozart: Symphonie no 39
W. A. Mozart: Symphonie no 40
W. A. Mozart: Symphonie no 41

Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor

In less than two months during the summer of 1788, Mozart composed what would be his last three symphonies. We do know whether they originated from a commission, nor have any traces of their creation during his lifetime been discovered. Mozart died before his time three years later. These three symphonies appear to have been designed as a whole — a vast triptych by which the composer desired to bring the symphonic genre to new heights. They undoubtedly represent its crowning glory, and hearing them one after the other, right up to the final explosion that is the grand fugue in the last (and aptly named) Jupiter Symphony, is certain to be a memorable experience.

Au-delà des frontières

A. Pärt: Orient & Occident
K. Makdissi-Warren: Concerto pour kanoun (création)
A. Rozankovic: Andalous Shoes
G. Evangelista: Méditerrania
K. Makdissi-Warren, G. Cabili: Orient-Tango

Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor
OktoEcho, guest ensemble
Didem Basar, kanoun

As part of the Festival Séfarad de Montréal and in collaboration with OktoEcho, I Musici invites you to a summit of different cultural, esthetic and musical currents: between East and West, classic and popular, tradition and renewal. Virtuosos from varying backgrounds will unite to tear down the borders that divide us, encouraging us instead to come together in a new socio-musical space. Among others, a jazz pianist, a multidisciplinary percussionist and three masters of traditional Arabic instruments will take part in the performance of a cooperative piece by the founder of the OktoEcho ensemble, composer Katia Makdissi-Waren, that blends their dissimilar traditions into a new and refreshing language.

In collaboration with Festival Séfarad.

Photo credits: Tshi

Oratorio de Noël

J. S. Bach: Oratorio de Noël, BWV 248 (Cantates IV, V et VI)

Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor
Dominique Labelle, soprano
Mireille Lebel, alto
Thomas Cooley, tenor
Stephen Hegedus, bass
Chœur du Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal

Last year, for its first ever appearance in the Arte Musica Foundation’s production of the Complete Cantatas of J.S. Bach, I Musici was invited to perform the three first parts of the Christmas Oratorio: magnificent musical commentaries on the Nativity that feature the shepherds. Now come the final three cantatas — equally lavish and jubilant — in which the Three Wise Men lay their gifts of gold, incense and myrrh at the foot of the newborn’s cradle. What could these presents possibly symbolize? Bach’s oratorio offers the simplest and most beautiful of answers as a choir of the faithful sings, “Heart, soul and mind, take all to thee, and let it serve thy pleasure!”

Presented as part of the Arte Musica Foundation’s Complete Cantatas of J. S. Bach

Photo credits: Lino Alvarez, Pierre-Etienne Bergeron, Paul Foster-Williams, Helen Tansey

Bach et la trompette

G. Torelli: Symphonie pour trompette*
J.-S. Bach: Passacaille et fugue en do mineur (orch. B. Labadie)
R. Mudge: Concerto pour trompette no 1*
J.-S. Bach: Concerto brandebourgeois no 3
G. Tartini: Concerto pour trompette*

Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor
Benjamin Raymond, trumpet*

After hearing Quebec’s own Benjamin Raymond at Palais Montcalm, the critic from Le Soleil noted of the trumpet player, “Forget the image of the red-faced horn blower with cheeks seemingly about to explode — even the highest notes flow from his bell in a legato so smooth you would think it came from a clarinet.” After a performance at Carnegie Hall, the New York Times critic spoke of a “trumpet tour de force by Benjamin Raymond.” With an intrinsically Baroque program, bookended by two famous pieces by the great Bach, I Musici invites you to experience for yourself the sublime subtleties of this homegrown player.

Distant Light

P. I. Tchaïkovski: Élégie en sol majeur pour cordes
P. Vasks: Distant Light pour violon et cordes*
D. Shostakovich: Quatuor no 2 (orch. JMZ)

Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor
Vadim Gluzman, violin*

I Musici’s next contribution to the Montréal en lumière festival will not be without emotion as it presents a program of Slavic music for strings, thereby reconnecting with the ensemble’s origins and those of its founding conductor, Yuli Turovsky. It is said that the Slavic soul is fundamentally dark and nostalgic, but through works representing three generations, from Romanticism to present day, Tchaïkovski to Chostakovitch and Vasks, I Musici and guest violinist Vadim Gluzman will demonstrate how irresistibly intoxicating and luminous this soul can also be.

In collaboration with the Arte Musica Foundation. Part of the Montréal en lumière festival.

Photo credits: Marco Borggreve

Gargantua et autres fantaisies

J. Françaix: The Inestimable Chronicles of the Good Giant Gargantua

TBD, guest conductor
Claude Prégent, comedian-narrator

In its latest collaboration with the Blue Metropolis Foundation, I Musici offers you the rare opportunity to hear The Inestimable Chronicles of the Good Giant Gargantua for narrator and strings by that worthy heir to the impressionists, Jean Françaix (1912-1997). With its 40 twist-filled minutes, this delicious slice of Romanesque musical is set to be the centrepiece of a program dedicated to French literature and music. “By putting these extracts from Gargantua to music, I hope to spark an interest in reading Rabelais,” said Françaix. We’re willing to bet that after hearing it, you won’t be able to resist the temptation…

In collaboration with the Blue Met Festival.

Photo credits: Marc-Antoine Zoueki

Le Bœuf sur le toit – Un portrait de Marc Chagall en musique

S. Prokofiev: Ouverture sur des thèmes juifs (orch. JMZ)
E. Bloch: Concerto grosso no 1*
D. Shostakovich: Quatuor no 2 (orch. JMZ)
I. Stravinsky: Danse russe de Pétrouchka* (réd. JMZ)
N. Gilbert: Création pour orchestre de chambre inspirée de Chagall
D. Milhaud: Le Bœuf sur le toit** (arr. JMZ)

Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor
Charles Richard-Hamelin, piano*
Julie Triquet, violin**

To mark the opening of the Chagall exhibit at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, I Musici has assembled a program of works that reflects the artist’s era and which is as varied as his many cultural connections. Like his pictorial universe, each piece is joyous, colourful and filled with imagery. First, Prokofiev’s Overture on Hebrew Themes, Ernst Bloch’s Concerto Grosso and excerpts of Petrouchka by Stravinski bring to mind the artist’s cross-cultural Russian and Jewish roots. Darius Milhaud’s The Ox on the Roof then evokes how Chagall chose France as his adoptive country. And, finally, acclaimed Quebec writer and composer Nicolas Gilbert will perform an I Musici-commissioned piece inspired by the iconographic treasures bequeathed by the painter who wondrously captured the joie de vivre.

In collaboration with the Arte Musica Foundation.

Photo credits: Elizabeth Delage, Roger Proulx