Here are my choice Montreal arts and culture highlights for September 2017:
CLASSICAL MUSIC & OPERA
In his 12th year at the helm of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, Maestro Kent Nagano launches the 2017-2018 season with Mahler’s sweeping Symphony of a Thousand. With more than 350 people on stage – including the OSM Chorus, mezzo-sopranos Allyson McHardy and Marie-Nicole Lemieux, and baritone Russell Braun – this symphony was described by Mahler as “the whole universe beginning to ring and resound.” Two performances, on September 19 and 21. Suggested dress code: black and white.
Maestro Simon Leclerc, meanwhile, is back to conduct the OSM for the orchestra’s hugely popular OSM Pop series, which will reinterpret the works of Montreal indie rock band Half-Moon Run, who will join the OSM onstage on September 26 and 27.
Over at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Salle Bourgie kicks off its 2017-2018 season with the Man and His World musical tribute to Expo 67 with The Quatuor Arthur-LeBlanc and Les Violons du Roy on September 15.
Salle Bourgie will also host the McGill Chamber Orchestra, which launches its new season with a special concert, Revolution, a tie-in with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts exhibition of the same name. With Maestro Boris Brott at the helm, legendary Canadian fiddler Ashley Mclsaac will perform orchestral arrangements of hits from the iconic Beatles’ album Sgt. Pepper, on September 27.
The Opéra de Montréal opens its 2017-2018 season with an all-new production of Puccini’s masterpiece, Tosca, starring American soprano Melody Moore, one of the finest classical singers of her generation. Moore was last seen in Montreal starring as Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly in 2015. Tosca runs at Salle Wilfred-Pelletier from September 16 to 23. Running time: 2 hours, 40 minutes, including two intermissions.
There are two plays of note this month at Mainline Theatre, the home of indie theatre in Montreal.
Back by popular demand, Montreal-based In the Wings Promotions presents its 50th anniversary production of the iconic Tony-winning rock musical Hair. Set in 1967, Hair is the musical story of a group of hippies who celebrate peace and love in the shadow of the Vietnam War. This production to September 9.
Also at Mainline Theatre, The History of Sexuality is an intimate examination of sex and power from a queer perspective. Five students take a graduate seminar studying the work of revolutionary French philosopher Michel Foucault. As they argue over issues of sexuality, gender, oppression and free will, these theories begin to rupture and spill out into their own lives. The characters expose the complexities of sexuality as it collides with kink, BDSM, disability, gender, and sex work. The play runs from September 21 to 30.
Over at the Theatre du Nouveau Monde, do not miss what is shaping up to be the musical of the season, a revival of Michel Tremblay’s sensational Demain matin, Montréal m’attend, directed by none other René Richard Cyr. A preview run of the musical at this summer’s FrancoFolies was a big hit.
I also love that Montreal pianist Chris Barillaro – who made a name for himself with English-language theatre companies – is the production’s musical director and arranger. Bravo, Chris! Demain matin, Montréal m’attend runs from September 19 to October 22.
Montreal’s top dance series, Danse Danse, opens its 2017-2018 season with much-anticipated works by the Compagnie Marie Chouinard, lead by brilliant choreographer Marie Chouinard. The company will perform two pieces, Le Cri du monde and Soft virtuosity, still humid, on the edge, on September 26 and 27 at Theatre Maisonneuve; followed by Chouinard’s bold tribute to The Garden of Earthly Delights, the hallucinatory triptych by Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch, in Jérôme Bosch : Le Jardin des délices, also at Theatre Maisonneuve, three performances from September 28 to 30 (see photo at top of page).
Montreal’s electronic music scene is renowned worldwide thanks in no small part to Piknic Électronik Montréal, the outdoor electronic music event held every Sunday from May to September at Parc Jean-Drapeau, showcasing local and international DJs. This year’s 15th edition winds down on September 24,
“When it comes to Piknic, I would say explore the grounds, especially this year since it is a new site,” Piknic Électronik Montréal festival programming coordinator Patrick Meloche recently told me. “It’s not just, ‘Have a drink, dance and leave.’ Piknic is more about living the experience, the kind of environment where you can sit down and have a picnic during a relaxing Sunday afternoon!”
For more info about DJs and to purchase tickets, visit piknicelectronik.com.
ART AND MUSEUMS
The Montréal Museum of Fine Arts hugely popular Love Is Love by Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition showcasing Gaultier-designed wedding gowns has already drawn over 50,000 museum-goers. The exhibition features 30 creations—some being displayed for the first time—and underscores love and diversity by celebrating straight, gay, intercultural and interracial unions. Love Is Love runs to October 22.
Also at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts is the massive blockbuster Revolution exhibition which explores the ideals of the late 1960s as expressed in music, film, fashion and design, and how it all came together during this era of heightened activism. The exhibition title refers to the words of the Beatles’ song Revolution, composed by John Lennon in 1968 in response to violent political protests that year, including the May 68 protests in Paris, and is anchored by a greatest-hits musical soundtrack of the era. The must-see exhibition runs to October 9.
Over at the Grévin Montreal wax museum, baseball fans will wax emotional when they see a superb replica of Montreal Expos icon Gary Carter, the centrepiece of a fantastic new, immersive 2,000 square foot environment, Montreal, City of Baseball which runs to September 24. The exhibition features tons of Montreal Expos memorabilia on loan from the private collection of Montrealer Perry Giannias.
World Press Photo is one of the world’s top professional photojournalism competitions. The 2017 edition of World Press Photo Montréal offers a visual panorama of the past year’s major news events, as well as a number of complementary exhibitions, including photographs taken by young Syrians aged 13 to 17 who’ve recently moved to Montréal, as well as the fifth edition of Regards d’Oxfam-Québec, dedicated to fighting inequalities women face in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. World Press Photo Montréal runs to October 1 at Bonsecours Market in Old Montréal.
FILM AND TV
Over at Cinéma du Parc, check out their loving throwback to the 1970s midnight movie screening, with their Minuit au Parc (Parc at Midnight) series which will screen film classics at 11:30 pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, including An American Werewolf in London (September 15-17), Duel (September 22-24) and Rosemary’s Baby (September 29 to October 1).
Also at Cinéma du Parc, do not miss the 2017 Sundance Film Festival award-winning documentary RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World, directed by Catherine Bainbridge and co-directed by Alfonso Maiorana, both Montrealers.
RUMBLE has a long list of music artists, historians, family members and experts participating in the film, including Martin Scorsese, Quincy Jones, Tony Bennett, Slash and Matt Sorum (both of Guns N’ Roses), Steven Tyler (Aerosmith), Jackson Browne, Iggy Pop, Marky Ramone, Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys), Robert Trujillo (Metallica), Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters), Wayne Kramer (MC5), Steven Van Zandt, Buddy Guy, George Clinton, Taj Mahal, Ivan and Cyril Neville, Derek Trucks, Charlie Sexton, Robbie Robertson and many more.
Says George Clinton, “One can’t help but notice the rhythms of—or the pulse that was here, that is here; been here. The feel of Native American is in a lot of rock ‘n’ roll.”
RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World opens on September 8.
For full listings, visit cinemaduparc.com.
The Bell Centre has booked some blockbuster acts to kick off September, notably Lady Gaga (September 4), Depeche Mode (September 5), and Arcade Fire performing in the round (September 6). Pop queen Kate Perry also headlines the Bell Centre on September 19.
Montreal can now support two arenas: the Cirque du Soleil inaugurates the new Place Bell in Laval with their bug-themed travelling show Ovo (September 13-17) and German heavy metal icons Scorpions will raise the roof with opening act Megadeth on September 19.
Over at Metropolis, headliners include Montreal homeboys Simple Plan (September 18), American rock band Boyce Avenue (September 20), Australian singer-songwriter Nick Murphy, a.k.a. former pop phenom Chet Faker (September 23), and Boston alt-rock legends The Pixies (September 27).
Other notable shows this month include The Afghan Whigs at the Fairmount Theatre (September 18); Apocalyptica (September 13) and prog-rockers Yes (September 19), both at Théatre St-Denis; Detroit rockers Electric Six play an intimate show at L’Escogriffe (September 25); and Canadian folk icon Bruce Cockburn headlines Club Soda (September 19).
Also, if you enjoyed the handsome Christo Graham steal the show as Jerry Lee Lewis in the smash-hit musical Million Dollar Quartet at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts last season, the charismatic performer is back for one night only, performing with his band at the Segal on September 10.
Montreal summer ends with a big bang with two music festivals: the brand new Mile Ex End Musique Montréal features, among others, City and Colour, Kid Koala, Suzanne Vega, Patrick Watson, Godspeed You! Black Emperor (September 2-3) performing under the Van Horne underpass; while POP Montreal returns for its Sweet 16 edition from September 13-17.
My top POP Montreal choices include DJ Lady Kier (Groove is in the Heart) at two events (September 14), including a public Q&A at the Never Apart arts centre in Mile Ex; a late-night show by legendary Jamaican reggae harmony trio Mighty Diamonds (September 15) in the Piccolo cabaret in the Rialto Theatre; The Dears at La Tulipe (September 15); and rising Montreal star Pierre Kwenders sophomore album concert launch at the PHI Centre (September 13).
Last but not least, Canadian pop icon k.d. lang headlines Salle Wilfred-Pelletier on September 2 to mark the 25th anniversary of her commercial breakthrough album Ingénue and her huge hit Constant Craving, which made her a star around the world. She will also sing hits from her 2004 album Hymns of the 49th Parallel, including her definitive rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.
Lang gives few interviews today but when she started out she sure knew how to raise eyebrows. Canadians still remember when the butch performer accepted her 1985 Juno Award for Most Promising Female Vocalist wearing a wedding dress!
“I think being queer was an asset,” lang told me some years ago. “Being very alternative was my secret weapon prior to coming out.”
Renowned Montreal writers H. Nigel Thomas and Maguy Métellus co-host Lectures Logos Readings (formerly Lectures Kola 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, September 11 from 7 to 9 pm. Their readers include award-winning authors and beginning writers. The event is free, but a small donation is welcome.
From extreme weather to extreme violence, 2017 has been a tough year for many. We could all use few a few good laughs and who better to deliver them than Montreal’s King of Comedy, Joey Elias and the Comedy All-Stars, at Club Soda on September 28. This 6th edition continues a proud legacy of support for On Our Own (O3), the Montreal-based organization that provides affordable transitional housing and critical life skills for young, at-risk families wishing to live independently in our community.
Don’t miss the big-hearted and always funny Montreal drag troupe House of Laureen headline at Cleopatra’s on The Main on September 9 at 10 pm in an all-new show called Back To The Disco! The show is offered on a Pay What You Can basis with a suggested donation of $12.
Last but not least: For those who experienced Expo 67, as well as younger generations who’ve heard of Expo 67 but never had the opportunity to see it, the National Film Board of Canada presents Expo 67 Live, an innovative multi-screen installation by artist Karine Lanoie-Brien consisting entirely of colourful archival material projected onto giant screens installed on the exteriors of the Maison Symphonique and Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier at Place des Arts. Six screens form a cube at the centre of the site and make up the narrative aspect of the experience, while the seven surrounding large-scale projections immerse us in the environment and add context to the story.
Made to measure for the Place des Arts complex, the project—which is up to 15 metres high—invites visitors into some of Expo 67’s venues to relive the atmosphere of the pavilions and the anecdotes behind them. The completely immersive, one-of-a-kind experience offers four 30-minute screenings nightly (8 pm / 8:45 pm / 9:30 pm / 10:15 pm) from September 18 to 30. Free admission.