Mundial Montréal at the Centre des musiciens du monde | From North, East and West

by Frédéric Cardin

Last Friday, November 17, the Centre des musiciens du monde in Montreal (CMM) hosted a concert in partnership with the Mundial Montréal festival. This is the second year for this relationship between the CMM and the showcase event, and it has already proved its worth. Firstly, the exceptional quality of the artists invited to perform at Mile End’s Saint-Enfant Jésus church (the venue for most CMM concerts), and secondly, the delightful difference in the type of music offered at these concerts compared to those at Mundial.

At CMM, the artists offer us intercultural encounters (this is the Centre’s basic principle), the result of which is often of a new, more learned and refined intellectual and musical nature than at Mundial. Whereas Mundial favours groups with an energy and scope closer to pop (without conforming to this style), CMM seeks to transcend differences with musical proposals that are often based on advanced research.

For example, in the first half of Friday’s concert, the duo of traditional singers Maling Thunell (from Sweden) and Jessica Paradis (from Quebec) presented the result of a creative residency during which the two artists compared and then brought together songs with similar resonances from the two folkloric terroirs. On stage, the two young ladies accompany each other on harp, harmonium and accordion, all the while singing and exchanging parts of melodies and texts with similar roots. From Sweden to Quebec, the attentive audience was treated to an enjoyable ethnology lesson in Folklore 101. The voices of the two artists are superb, on the order of classical ancient music singing. Above all, they overlap in a complementary way, Thunell’s a beautiful, luminous soprano and Paradis’s closer to a mezzo. Often, the versions of the songs (the Swedish and the Quebecois) embraced each other in a rich, perfectly balanced counterpoint. The encounter entitled Paysages nordiques (Nordic Landscapes) deserves to be presented everywhere in Quebec and in Sweden, of course. Beautiful, touching and enriching. Something to remember.

Maling Thunell solo :

Jessica Paradis : 

The second part of the concert featured the CelloGayageum duo. Cello for cello, of course (played by an Austrian of Korean origin, Sol Daniel Kim), and gayageum for the Korean instrument of the same name, a cousin of the Japanese koto (played by Korea’s Dayoung Yoon). The encounter here is between traditional Korean musical art and Western classical art, in a set of original pieces (the existing repertoire for this type of instrument being non-existent) that offer quite accessible, and above all playful, sonic adventures. The character expressed here is decidedly less learned and sophisticated than that of Paysages nordiques, but the encounter nonetheless succeeds in creating beautiful sparks and pleasing the audience in abundance. 

Mundial Montréal constantly offers us great discoveries in globalized world music, with a view to the festival market and large-scale gatherings. What the Centre des musiciens du monde brings to this dynamic is a more niche market orientation, but one that is so important and essential to our collective intercultural enrichment.

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