At last the Festival, at last Lanaudière! It will be the first time since 2019—since my inaugural season—that we are once again in a position to present an event of truly international scope, faithful to Fernand Lindsay’s vision and true to our mission of reaching out and taking root in the community. Nevertheless, the world around us is no longer quite the same: for almost two years now, music has been muted and our movements restricted as never before. This has endowed the notions of freedom and solidarity with an immediacy and a new urgency—and, as I am writing this, the peace and stability of Europe have been disrupted, showing us that well-established certainties can crumble, anywhere on the planet.
In this world of upheaval, music is humanity’s refuge. It is a channel for tremendous dialogue with the world and with oneself, composers and their works acting as artefacts or witnesses of a past capable of illuminating the present. It is an inextinguishable source from which to replenish; it is transmission and historical continuity.
The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and its new Music Director, Rafael Payare, open our 45th edition with a fabulous double bill: repertoire between late Romanticism and flourishing Impressionism, while their third and final concert of the summer at Lanadière delivers the power of myth and legend. If Prometheus, punished for having stolen the fire of knowledge from the gods, raises the burning question of our relationship with technological progress—one thinks only of the dizzying development of artificial intelligence—Daphnis and Chloe send back to us the image of a veritable “leisure society,” carefree and hedonistic.
Yannick Nézet-Séguin, who continues on his stellar career path and whose future accomplishments can barely be imagined, delivers an unmissable operatic event. Leading the Orchestre Métropolitain and a world-class vocal cast, he restores Wagner’s tragic power before reuniting with the sublime Hélène Grimaud, who performs at Lanaudière for the first time.
The question of our relationship with Nature is the second thread that runs through this season. At a time when the world is dismayed by environmental destruction and the threat of climate change, Olivier Messiaen’s Catalogue d’oiseaux stands out as a sanctuary of music that resonates with an ever-expanding audience. Two centuries earlier, George Frideric Handel might have dreamed of our Amphithéâtre to present his pastoral ode L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, after John Milton—a masterpiece that speaks of the “good life,” and about wisdom as ancient philosophers saw it. Finally, the twice-postponed debut at Lanaudière of William Christie and Les Arts Florissants will constitute another supreme event in a summer that features so many.
In the same spirit, Beethoven’s enduring humanist message comes to the fore once again at this year’s Festival, notably during three exceptional concerts by the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, one of the most prominent German orchestras in the world, here for an exclusive North American engagement. Then, there is the simple pleasure of gathering and of new friendships: whether it’s Bernard Labadie and Les Violons du Roy, Marc-André Hamelin and Charles Richard-Hamelin, Hilary Hahn, Alisa Weilerstein, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Samy Moussa, Inon Barnatan, Michael Spyres and Lawrence Brownlee, Matthias Goerne and Alexandre Kantorow … not to mention Canadian Brass or the Orchestre symphonique des jeunes de Joliette: they will all be here with us.
History is freedom’s school, as Marguerite Yourcenar reportedly said. Like the basic notes of the scale, its raw material is always the same, but the possibilities of recomposition are infinite. For one does not find oneself in the works of art, but rather a reflection of the same human problems and of solutions which our predecessors sought or attempted.
Our Festival is a plea for living music, for pleasure and human warmth, for the senses, for lucidity, and against inertia. It is a plea for rebirth through culture and beauty, for a resurgence of the values of dignity and benevolence through timeless art. If the unprecedented trials through which the world is going upset the balance of power and change modes of perception, music still stands as an unshakeable haven of authenticity. Artists and artisans, we bid you to take your place in this unique constellation, driven as we are by the absolute and unshakeable conviction that peace is possible.
Enjoy the Festival!
Renaud Loranger, Artistic Director