Here are my choice Montreal arts and culture highlights for December 2017:
ART AND MUSEUMS
The new exhibition Passion: Hockey is an entertaining look at the fascinating world of our national winter sport, and also marks the centenary of the National Hockey League and the 125th anniversary of the Stanley Cup.
It was in Montreal, in November 1917, that a group of hockey team owners from Quebec and Ontario came together to form the NHL. Going back even further, 125 years ago, then-Governor General of Canada Lord Stanley first awarded the cup that would bear his name to Canada’s hockey champions.
“Our city has always had a special relationship with hockey, and this year, the centenary of the NHL, is a perfect opportunity to explore the history of the sport,” says Pointe-à-Callière executive director Francine Lelièvre. “The Montréal Canadiens play a starring role in Passion: Hockey, of course – we couldn’t have an exhibition on this topic without focusing on our legendary team!”
The Pointe-à-Callière museum exhibition (I love the official exhibition photo above) features more than 500 items, including Jacques Plante’s famous goalie mask, Hayley Wickenheiser’s skates, Maurice Richard’s and Vincent Damphousse’s Hall of Fame and Stanley Cup rings, a wax statue of Maurice Richard on loan from the Grévin Montréal wax museum, plus more than 1,200 hockey trading cards!
Passion: Hockey runs at Pointe-à-Callière, the Montréal Archaeology and History Complex, to March 11, 2018. Click here for more details.
As I first mentioned here last month, the Galerie Corno, formerly the Galerie AKA, is currently hosting the must-see exhibition CORNO & WARHOL, honouring Corno and Warhol’s influence on the larger-than-life artist. Discover some 20 original works by Corno, some of which have never been shown, that clearly reflect Warhol’s influence on her art. Some of the works are from the estate collection, but selected works will be on sale. There are also 27 Warhol exhibition posters, including the one featuring a Campbell’s soup tin (his first and the rarest in this collection), and four self-portraits. Some 40 record sleeves are also be on display, some from such famous artists as John Lennon, Diana Ross and Aretha Franklin. The record sleeves are available for purchase by lots. The CORNO & WARHOL exhibition at the Galerie Corno (51 Rue Saint-Paul W.) runs until December 23, Monday to Friday, 10 am to 6 pm, and Sundays from noon to 6 pm. Free admission. The public is invited to contact gallery personnel for further information at 514-847-9539.
Orchestre Metropolitain Maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin – the Montréal homeboy who will become music director of the Metropolitan Opera in New York beginning in 2020 – will conduct Handel’s Messiah with the OM for the first time, with the collaboration of the Chœur Métropolitain and star soloists Carolyn Sampson, Christophe Dumaux, Pascal Charbonneau and Andrew Foster-Williams, on December 22 and 23 at the Maison symphonique de Montréal.
The McGill Chamber Orchestra presents their Christmas With Hervieux concert with Maestro Boris Brott and starring Quebec’s Prince of Tenors, Marc Hervieux, on December 20 at Notre-Dame Basilica in Old Montreal.
And magic and mystery mingle the night before Christmas in Le Diable en canot d’écorce: A Christmas Story by Michel Tremblay, a Quebec folk tale revisited by Quebecois literary icon Michel Tremblay in an Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal commission directed by René Richard Cyr, at the Maison symphonique de Montréal from December 19 to 21. Grammy-winning Maestro Kent Nagano will conduct the OSM.
The hugely popular A Charlie Brown Christmas concert with the Taurey Butler Trio will perform the classic Peanuts album live, in two one-hour concerts, December 14 at 6 and 8:30 pm, with special guest, Canadian jazz legend Ranee Lee, at Salle Bourgie over at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts.
The really fun annual Andy Kim Christmas Concert returns to the Corona Theatre on December 16, with proceeds benefitting the Starlight Children’s Foundation. This year Kim – who was born and raised in Montréal, and whose mega-hits include Rock Me Gently and the iconic Sugar, Sugar for The Archies – welcomes musical guests Sam Roberts, Ron Sexsmith, Hawksley Workman, Platinum Blonde, rock legend Michel Pagliaro and others. Showtime is 8 pm.
Other notable shows this month include Montreal’s King of Funk Fredy V and The Foundation who will raise the roof at Bootlegger L’Authentique on The Main (December 6); Mogwai (December 6) and extreme metal band Belphegor (December 8), both at the Corona Theatre; American rapper and actress Azealia Banks at the Olympia (December 7); The National headline two nights (December 7 and 8) at MTELUS (formerly Metropolis); 1980s Canadian hitmakers Glass Tiger play at L’Astral on December 9; American saxman Kenny G headlines Théatre St-Denis (December 11); American-Jamaican singer-rapper Sean Kingston plays at Club Soda (December 12); Montreal indie rockers Elephant Stone rock the Fairmont Theatre on December 16; and Canadian Irish punk band The Mahones will tear up Piranha Bar (December 23).
Last but not least, check out the pretty cool New Constellations concert at L’Astral on December 8, a nation(s)-wide tour of music and arts, featuring a star-studded lineup of Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists: Sam Roberts, Stars, Lido Pimienta, Elisapie, Heather O’Neill, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Jason Collett, Jeremy Dutcher and La Force.
The 11th edition of Centaur Theatre’s Urban Tales is called Immigrant Song: First Xmas in Montreal, a storytelling series of holiday yarns curated and directed by Montreal playwright and director Harry Standjofski. Some of Montreal’s best writers with roots in Haiti (Order of Quebec and Order of Canada and member de l’Académie Française novelist Dany Laferrière), the Philippines (Marie Barlizo), Italy (Michaela Di Cesare), Lebanon (Pascale Rafie), Turkey (Harry Standjofski), and rural Quebec (Urban Tales co-founder, Yvan Bienvenue) will share their stories in 5 shows, from December 7 to 16 at 8 pm nightly. Click here for more details and to purchase tickets.
Some of Montreal’s most accomplished and celebrated law, business and media personalities will perform onstage in the annual Geordie Gala Fundraiser Production of A Christmas Carol, three performances of the Charles Dickens classic on December 8 and 9 at the gorgeous downtown D.B. Clark Theatre. All performances will be followed by a cocktail and food receptions including silent auctions with all proceeds helping Geordie Productions continue its annual children’s theatre tours to schools across Eastern Canada.
Montreal’s top dance series, Danse Danse, continues its 2017-2018 season with the world premiere of internationally-renowned Montreal dance company BJM – Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal’s much-anticipated new production Dance Me, a brand new multidisciplinary piece inspired by the work of the late singer–songwriter Leonard Cohen. In fact, before his death in 2016, Cohen gave this new production his blessing. Cohen’s timeless, transcendent music and poetry are given new resonance in Dance Me, which runs at Théatre Maisonneuve for six performances, December 5 to 9. Click here for more info and tickets.
Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal’s timeless adaptation of The Nutcracker by Quebec choreographer Fernand Nault returns to Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier for the 54th year. This two-act ballet based on E.T.A. Hoffmann’s classic tale is set to the music of Tchaikovsky and brings together more than 100 dancers, plus the Orchestre des Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal under the baton of Dina Gilbert. If you have never seen it, this famed production is a must. The Nutcracker runs from December 14 to 30 with 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. performances.
FILM AND TV
The CANNES LIONS are back! Established in 1954, the Cannes Advertising Film Festival is the largest annual gathering of international advertising, where the most prestigious advertising awards are handed out. The competition is judged by creative talent from the best agencies on the international scene. Beginning December 3 at Cinéma du Parc, you too can watch the winners, everyuthing from the profane to the hilarious.
Renowned Montreal writers H. Nigel Thomas, Horace Goddard and Maguy Métellus co-host Lectures Logos Readings, the monthly bilingual reading series of poetry, fiction and spoken word at the Universal Negro Improvement Association (U.N.I.A. Hall at 2741 Notre Dame St. W.) in Little Burgundy, December 11 from 7 to 9 pm. Their readers include award-winning authors and beginning writers. Confirmed readers so far this month are Marilou Craft, James Olwell, Janet Singleton, Deanna Radford, Aldyth Harrison and Jean-Claude Koralen Martineau, followed by an open mic. The event is free, but a small donation is welcome.
If you’re looking for a good laugh, look no further than Concordia University’s Alumni Holiday Comedy Night at the Comedy Nest (in the old Montreal Forum) on December 4. All professional comics, alumni performing are Alo Azimov, Leighland Beckman, Kirsten Finch, Thomas Leblanc, Walter Lyng, Nancy Webb and headliner Mike Paterson. Admission: $10. Organizers will also pass the hat to collect donations for Concordia’s Student Emergency and Food Fund. Click here for more info.
Last but not least, a couple of really fun monthly shows at the historic Cleopatra’s (a showbar since 1893) on The Main:
The big-hearted and always funny Montreal drag troup House of Laureen headline Cleopatra’s on December 9 with 100% of the proceeds going to ASTTeQ Montréal, a trans health and advocacy organization. The show stars House of Laureen’s kickass drag queens Anaconda LaSabrosa, Connie Lingua, Dot Dot Dot, Uma Gahd and Drag-moi recruits Aleera Verushka, Verona Verushka and V. Valentine. The show is offered on a Pay What You Can basis with a suggested donation of $12.
Also at Cleo’s, the Candyass Club Cabaret on December 15 stars Nat King Pole, Damiana Dolce, Diane Labelle, Roxie Hardon, Tommy Toxic, Vivian Nawrocki (Vancouver), Dawn Ford as Prudence the Librarian, Lili Lolipop, Trixie Cups and Montreal burlesque legend Velma Candyass.
NEW YEAR’S EVE
Part of the official program for Montreal’s 375th anniversary celebrations is a 100% free admission all-ages New Year’s Eve Party on the Jacques-Cartier Pier and Place Jacques-Cartier on December 31 from 6 pm to 2 am. Performers on the Old Port’s grand outdoor stage (beginning at 9 pm) are the reunited Mes Aïeux, Daniel Bélanger, Vincent Vallières, Pierre Kwenders, Laurence Nerbonne, Les Deuxluxes and DJ KXO, all hosted by Garou.
The Countdown to 2018 will be celebrated with an all-new lightshow on the Jacques-Cartier Bridge (at 11:45 pm), choreographed to a typically Montréal soundtrack, played live under the musical direction of Gabriel Gratton, which will be followed by a countdown and midnight fireworks show.
Following the fireworks, Champion et ses G-Strings will perform a live concert until 2 am. The Jacques-Cartier Pier will be transformed into a giant dancefloor, illuminated for the occasion, also until 2 am.
Happy New Year!