Festival Classica: Biscuits, tempêtes et mélodies

by Rédaction PAN M 360

Spectacle pour enfants (5 à 9 ans) – Bienvenue à toute la famille!

Simone s’ennuie; sa mère lui a confisqué sa tablette. Elle n’est vraiment pas contente! Mais tout à coup, les sons qui viennent de sa fenêtre semblent prendre vie. Grâce à son imagination débordante, des mondes musicaux inspirés de délicieux biscuits, de décoiffantes tempêtes et de célestes mélodies se déploieront sous ses yeux et dans ses oreilles!

Biscuits, tempêtes et mélodies est une ode à l’imaginaire et au merveilleux pouvoir de la musique grâce à laquelle nous ne sommes jamais seuls.

Children’s show (ages 5 to 9) – The whole family is welcome!
Simone is bored; her mother has confiscated her tablet. She’s really not happy! But suddenly, the sounds coming from her window seem to come to life. Thanks to her overflowing imagination, musical worlds inspired by delicious cookies, breathtaking storms and heavenly melodies will unfold before her eyes and in her ears!

Cookies, Storms and Melodies is an ode to the imagination and the wonderful power of music, which means we’re never alone.


Ce contenu provient du Festival Classica et est adapté par PAN M 360.


Mozart’s Requiem at the Maison symphonique

by Rédaction PAN M 360

Relive the splendour and desolation of Mozart’s Requiem, brought to life by the brilliant Ensemble Caprice and Ensemble ArtChoral. Often thought to have been composed for his own funeral, Mozart’s final masterpiece is a hauntingly beautiful testament to the composer’s genius. Also on the program, Mozart’s Symphony No. 41 (the “Jupiter Symphony”) and Ave Verum Corpus.

Vous pourrez revivre la splendeur et la désolation du Requiem de Mozart, ravivé par le brillant Ensemble Caprice et l’Ensemble ArtChoral. Souvent considéré comme ayant été composé pour ses propres funérailles, l’ultime chef-d’œuvre de Mozart est un témoignage d’une beauté envoûtante du génie de son compositeur. Également au programme, la Symphonie n° 41 (la « Symphonie Jupiter ») et l’Ave Verum Corpus de Mozart.

W.A. MOZART, Ave verum, K.618

W.A. MOZART, Symphony no. 41 Jupiter, K. 551


W.A. MOZART, Requiem, K. 626


This content comes from the Place des Arts and is adapted by PAN M 360.

classique persan / Contemporary / musique contemporaine / Persian Classical

Bahar Harandi’s feminist Iran

by Frédéric Cardin

On 2 April, a concert of discoveries and feminist affirmation took place in Salle Bourgie at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Iranian-born Montreal soprano Bahar Harandi was accompanied by Amir Eslami on ney (a traditional Iranian flute), Saba Yousefi on violin and Hooshyar Khayam on piano. Through a repertoire of contemporary works written by as many Iranian-Canadian women composers, we were presented with a whole universe inspired by Persian roots and its rich history. The concert began with a number of traditional pieces arranged for ney and piano, immersing the audience in an exotic soundscape that was also relatively close to the music of Gurdjieff/Hartmann from the early 20th century. The other pieces on the programme, by Parisa Sabet (born in 1980), Aida Shirazi (born in 1987) and Mina Arissian (born in 1979) demonstrated a very high level of skill, ranging from the consonant music of Sabet to the more demanding expressionism of Shirazi, before returning to the Scriabinian inspirations of Arissian.

The texts, many of them by the great poet Rumi, were used symbolically in the context of this concert, even if their initial premise had no such intention. For example, Parisa Sabet’s Be still (based on a text by Rumi) says:

Sit, be still and listen,

because you’re drunk

and we’re at the edge of the sky

It came as no surprise that the expressive force given to the voice was concentrated on the first stanza. Bahar Harandi put a lot of intensity into it and it was impossible to think of anything other than a man ordering a woman to do this in modern Iran (or indeed anywhere else). There were, in fact, several moments of powerful dramatic force throughout a programme that was quite varied in terms of musical texture, rhythm and atmosphere.

Harandi sang with a beautiful and very well-balanced voice, combining technical mastery with plenty of emotional character. The soprano also demonstrated good dramatic range, accentuating certain passages with bite, cynicism or gentleness.

Classical / Contemporary / South African traditional music / West African traditional music

Abel Selaocoe: the wind that blows away

by Frédéric Cardin

The sirocco is a warm and vast current of air exchanged between North Africa and Southern Europe. It’s also the symbol that South African cellist Abel Selaocoe uses to inspire a spirit of musical exchange between Africa and Europe in a concert programme that he and his friends from the Manchester Collective are taking on a major North American tour, including a stop in Montreal last Thursday.

The artist is as solid in Beethoven and Debussy as he is in arrangements of traditional pan-African pieces or even his own compositions. The Sirocco concert, given in front of a Bourgie hall electrified by his charismatic stage presence, left a little room for the European classics (very brief Haydn, Berio, Hans Abrahamsen and Scandinavian folklore), but gave most of it to the sounds and technical particularities of Africa (Mali, South Africa). More than commercial crossover, although it sometimes sounded a bit like it, Selaocoe offered an intercultural vision of chamber music, where a Haydn quartet had the resonance of an anti-Apartheid spiritual song from South Africa, and percussive techniques thrown at the strings or the cello body were matched by surprising, even impressive vocal inflections. These led the versatile musician to navigate deftly from delicate high notes to rumbling lows reminiscent of Tibetan throat singing. It seems that, between Africa and East Asia, age-old traditions have managed to forge a permanent cultural path.

Selaocoe and the musicians of the Manchester Collective (two violins, a viola, a percussionist and an electric bass) injected an infectious energy that earned them a long and warm ovation. The purists of another era would have hated this kind of programme, but Selaocoe is the bearer of a new future for classical music, and his message of intercultural renewal is clearly reaching a large and, above all, quite young audience.

Photo credits : Anna Kaiava

alt-rock / Blues / expérimental / contemporain / Jazz

Anti Jazz Police festival – Day 4

by Frédéric Cardin

Since everything, even the best, must come to an end, the fourth and final evening of the Montreal Anti Jazz Police Festival at Ursa took place yesterday in an atmosphere of complete satisfaction. The small venue on Avenue du Parc was packed to the rafters with a colourful, happy, attentive, multilingual and warm audience. Totally Mile-End-ian.

Listen to my interview (in French) with Martha Wainwright about the Montreal Anti-Jazz Police Festival

This final session of musical bliss began with the Martian dreams of harpist Sarah Pagé, who presented material that will feature on her forthcoming album Utopia Planitia. The great plain recently visited by a NASA rover served as levitating inspiration for the evocation of strange landscapes, to which layers of arpeggios and ethereal echoes added a touch of more earthly colour. Saxophonist Charlotte Greve followed, and she too won us over with her symbolic, spiritually-inflected minimalism, on which she deploys some beautiful, floating and inspiring vocal lines. Greve’s tenor expresses itself with a beautiful roundness that reminds us of Garbarek at ECM. Somewhere in the ⅔ of the performance, the rhythm was activated to give a more pop finish to the whole, to which the excellent Sarah Rossy has come to add her own touch of vocalism. An impeccable dynamic and stylistic progression that set the table for the second act of the evening. 

The latter took the shape and sound of Oren Bloedown, singer, guitarist and bassist from New York, known for Elysian Fields, but also with the Lounge Lizards, Bruce Springsteen, Meshell Ndegeocello… The guy knows the Ursa genre quite well: he owns and skilfully manages The Owl Music Parlor, a great little place that supports good local music in Brooklyn. Bloedown does jazz with a rock, pop, blues and R’n’B twist, or vice-versa. Effective riffs and an engaging music mastered by his friends of the moment, Rémi-Jean Leblanc on bass and Samuel Joly on drums, superb. Martha, always there, came to give us her usual song… Wait, no: two! What an honour, but this was the final, so a little give away bonus is understandable. Joel Zifkin on violin and then Charlotte Greve added a not inconsiderable layer of complementary colours. The feeling was great, and the evening was only half over.

The penultimate set of this eventful conclusion was held by Unessential Oils, the latest incarnation of Warren Spicer (Plants and Animal). He was joined by Tommy Crane, Sergio D’Isanto and Claire Devlin, among others. Unessential Oils is nothing but feel-good groove, dynamic but not rushed, with a sunny character and a beautiful fullness of sound, and enwrapping emotions. Devlin’s lyrical, choral-like sax lines are like flights of fancy that carry us along with them. What we heard will be available on the band’s eponymous debut album, on sale on 24 May. Reserve your copy now!

The grand finale of the Montreal Anti-Jazz Police Festival seems to have been designed for the ‘Jazz Police’ of fame, the snobs and purists to whom few flowers have been thrown in these four days of very, very broad music, heart and style. The Nashville duo Concurrence, made up of Paul Horton on piano (Alabama Shakes) and Greg Bryant on bass (with the addition of Tommy Crane on drums) gave us the most ‘authentically’ jazz set of the whole festival. And what a great hour it was! A very high level of improvisation, mutual listening, rhythmic versatility and technical quality. Original compositions tinged with social commentary and a few well-launched standards/homages like Bird’s Now’s the Time, completely and brilliantly reinvented. 

A perfect finish that will perpetuate in the minds of music lovers the image of an event of the highest quality, despite its good-natured and somewhat spontaneous side, which, in truth, is exactly the reason for its success. Montreal DIY in all its splendour and honesty, even its occasional mistakes. Everyone present, a panorama of the city’s beauty and diversity, felt the festival’s friendly, family-like atmosphere. Well done! 

No promises have been made about a potential second edition. We certainly hope there will be one. But, just in case, we’ll hold on to these superb memories.

Thank you Martha, thank you Tommy Crane, thank you Ursa team and thank you to the large and enthusiastic audience. Mission accomplished.

Avant-Garde / Avant-Rock / Contemporary Jazz / Experimental / Contemporary / Free Improvisation / Indie Rock / Jazz / Post-Rock

Montreal Anti Jazz Police Festival – Day 3

by Frédéric Cardin

Yesterday was the third day of the Anti Jazz Police Festival at Ursa here in Montreal. We came away less satisfied than the previous evenings, not so much for reasons of musical quality, but rather of overall coherence and preparation, due to unforeseen absences. I’ll come back to that later. That said, it was not without its moments of ecstasy, thank you.

Listen to the interview I did (in French) with Martha Wainwright about the Montreal Anti-Jazz Police Festival

It was the artistic excellence of Montreal bassist Rémi-Jean Leblanc that launched this third opus from the new festival. Leblanc, in top form and supported by Jonathan Cayer on keyboards, Nicolas Perron on guitar and Kevin Warren on drums, took us on a journey of sound adventures with a rock bent, both prog and post in certain rhythmic-harmonic details, or McLaughlin-style fusion elsewhere. Also invited to the stylistic party were a few funk wiggles and even a brief extravagance that I felt was a nod to punk. On top of all that, Erika Angell, masterful, allowed herself a series of vocal outbursts as she knows how to propel them, at once modern, astonishing and lyrical. It was a good start, in front of a more sparse audience than on previous evenings. A pity, because RJ Leblanc is one of the great musicians of his generation.

Bellbird at Ursa photo :Pierre Langlois

The second act of Day 3 showed us the surprising experimental tendencies of Liam O’Neil (Suuns) on drums (and other percussion). He was replacing at the last minute Parker Shper (sick?) That explains why the set was so very short, but not why it started somewhere around the same time as the soundcheck ended. As the boundary between the two proved non-existent, and above all very imprecise, the performance was perhaps already half over when we realised he was playing for real! Felt weird, but hey, good cover up anyway. Besides, O’Neil creates new colours by tapping his tools in all sorts of ways, and even dares to do so with a microphone, thanks to which he collects the resonances induced to create feedback that he transforms live into so many new colours and atmospheres. Avant-garde at the highest level. 

This was followed in the same second act by the Montreal quartet Bellbird, who play modern jazz/free jazz/scholarly contemporary music/American minimalism. I couldn’t wait to hear them live. Unfortunately, it was a trio that turned up, as (spectacular) saxophonist Allison Burik was home sick. Another absence. It happens, of course, and we don’t blame them (neither do we the Festival, of course), but the result, while excellent, didn’t reach the high polyphonic levels found elsewhere, and also on their album Root in Tandem, released in 2023 (read my review HERE). But hats off to Claire (Devlin) on tenor sax, Eli (Davidovici) on double bass and Mili (Hong) on drums, for pulling out all the stops and giving us a quality set that would be the envy, albeit diminished, of any other band. 

Simon Angell at Ursa – photo : Pierre Langlois

The third act was reserved for a duo we’d been hoping for for a long time: Simon Angell on guitar (and lots of electronic tampering) and Tommy Crane on drums. We’d been promised guests, and after a fine duet of atonal mischief, contemplative abstractions and bursts of rhythmic energy, Greg Bryant from Concurrence (performing tonight on Day 4) took to the stage with his purring bass. Suddenly, the whole set was spiced up. Then the other guy from Concurence, pianist Paul Horton, came in to add a layer. He’s a good pianist, yes, but he also plays the melodica at the same time! Wow. It’s a solid performance, and the room is lifted by a lightning energy and doped by an explosive adrenalin boost. But wait, that wasn’t the end of it: as if out of the blue, saxophonist David Binney and singer Sarah Rossy turn this four-piece trip into an ecstatic six-piece sound orgy. It doesn’t last long enough, but we’re well fed up all the same. 

It was an uneven evening, to be sure, but one that ended with great satisfaction. If the important thing is to get off to a good start and finish well, Day 3 has proved that the Anti Jazz Police festival is very good at getting its priorities right. 

See you tonight for the final.



String Instruments Concert at Salle Serge-Garant

by Rédaction PAN M 360


This content comes from the Faculté de musique de l’Université de Montréal and is adaptes by PAN M 360.

Alt Folk / Alt-Pop / Contemporary / Contemporary Jazz / Dream Pop / Experimental Folk / Indie Folk / Indie Rock / Jazz / Post-Rock

Montreal Anti Jazz Police Festival – Day 2

by Frédéric Cardin

Day two (or rather, evening) of Montreal’s newest music festival, and almost the same result. Once again, three well-crafted and complementary acts follow on from one another at the Ursa  music club on Avenue du Parc. 

Listen to my interview (in French) with Martha Wainwright about the Montreal Anti-Jazz Police Festival

Martha Wainwright sings an intro song before giving way to the soothing, gentle, melodic folk-pop of harpist/vocalist Émilie Kahn (ex Emilie & Ogden), in duet with Thanya Iyer on pastel synth sounds (a Yamaha’s Reface CS for the techno-curious). We’re settling in quietly to keep us going until past midnight. If we want to! After all, you can arrive and leave whenever you like. Then came Ivy Boxall’s quintet (Christopher Edmonson for real), playing keyboard and sax. Piano, bass/guitar, trumpet and drums are combined in an expansive, epic sound panorama interspersed with calmer, atmospheric pauses. In terms of musical technique, it’s very good. The ensemble clearly has excellent potential, and can build something solid. That said, I have to give a bad mark for the stage attitude of the leader, who rarely seemed satisfied with what he was doing and cut short certain ideas by announcing that the product “isn’t ready yet”, and that it’s a “work in progress”. Unease. If you’re not ready, my friend, you need to rethink your working methods. Music lovers didn’t buy tickets to come and see a rehearsal (unless it was advertised as such!). Or get on with it, improvise a proper finish and don’t spend your set sulking and making us feel it. We call that professionalism. But, I repeat, the potential is great and only needs to be better presented.

Sarah Rossy – photo : Pierre Langlois

The second act begins with New Yorker Claire Dickson, whose dream-pop is steeped in strangeness and seasoned with experimental alt-folk. Claire sings with a beautiful voice, the full range of which you can only guess at as she generally uses it in sighing, sussing and whispering lines, which she is quick to manipulate, stretch and butcher in all sorts of ways thanks to her digital lutherie. A few minor problems with the logistics of her equipment made my friend Monique Savoie (from SAT), who was present and knows a thing or two about this field, cringe. Personally, I rather liked the result. The other artist on the programme for this 8.30pm set was Sarah Rossy. Sarah sang a duet with Eugénie Jobin the day before, and it was superb. This time, all the attention was on her (and her musicians, who were all excellent), and it’s easy to see why she’s considered one of the rising stars of the alt/indie scene. The young Montrealer packs an emotional punch thanks to a versatile and malleable voice, as well as being beautiful and tonally assured. But it’s how she uses it, and the music that supports it, that really impress. Her compositions take us back to aesthetic sources as rich as Zappa, Radiohead, Björk and maybe even (did I dream?) Prince, occasionally. I’m just mentioning names to give you an idea, but Sarah Rossy is much more than that. She has a strong musical personality, and a beautiful psychological transparency that gives her an irresistible charm on stage. Her rise has only just begun, believe me.

This second day of festivities concludes with the third act, at 11pm, performed by the Little Animal quartet (pedal steel, bass, drums, trumpet). Sensory power, slow but irrevocable musical constructions and epic cathartic climaxes make us hesitate to describe them: Post-Rock with Jazz colours or Jazz with Post-Rock accents? Whatever, it’s pretty trippy and contemporary, the way Bad Plus is, but in a visceral Montreal spirit. I said quartet, but yesterday it was a quintet, because alongside Tommy (Crane), Joe (Grass), Morgan (Moore) and Lex (French), we were lucky enough to find David (Binney) on sax, who added his touch of swirling flamboyance to this already pretty strong ensemble. Binney is spending the week in Montreal, both for the festival and for the launch of his album In The Arms Of Light (read my review HERE), which takes place at the O Patro Vys bar on Saturday 30 March. 

See you on Day 3, Thursday (what? That’s already today!). On the programme: Rémi-Jean Leblanc at 5.30pm, Bellbird and Parker Shper at 8.30pm, then Tommy Crane and Simon Angell with guests (surprises). And as always, the incomparable ambience of Ursa, a Martha’s song, and her home cooking made with love. 

See you later.



Vivaldi’s Four Seasons at the Maison symphonique

by Rédaction PAN M 360

Violinist Isabella d’Éloize Perron returns for a North American tour that will take her to Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, New York, Philadelphia, Boston and more. The flamboyant virtuoso is sure to impress in another exciting series of concerts, including her debut at Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage. Performed by the FILMharmonic Orchestra, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons will be carried by a breath of youth, while Astor Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires will plunge us into the sensual world of Argentine tango.

La violoniste Isabella d’Éloize Perron est de retour pour une tournée nord-américaine qui la mènera à Montréal, Toronto, Vancouver, New York, Philadelphie, Boston et bien d’autres. La flamboyante virtuose ne manquera pas d’impressionner lors d’une nouvelle série de concerts passionnants, dont ses débuts au Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage du Carnegie Hall. Interprété par l’Orchestre FILMharmonique, Les Quatre Saisons de Vivaldi sera porté par un souffle de jeunesse, alors que Les Quatre Saisons de Buenos Aires, signé Astor Piazzolla, nous plongera dans l’univers sensuel du tango argentin.


This content comes from the Place des Arts and is adapted by PAN M 360.

Alt Folk / Ambient / Americana / Avant Folk / Contemporary / Experimental / Contemporary / Folk / Free Jazz / indie / Indie Folk / Jazz

Montreal Anti-Jazz Police Festival at URSA – Day 1

by Frédéric Cardin

We were promised a festival without blinkers, free from the uptight purism of the ‘Jazz Police’ (the snobs of the genre). A promise made, a promise kept. The first night of the inaugural edition of the new jazz festival founded by Martha Wainwright, with the invaluable help of drummer Tommy Crane and the entire Ursa team, is sure to be a success that will make music lovers happy and confident. 

Listen to my interview (in French) with Martha Wainwright about the Montreal Anti-Jazz Police Festival

The evening, like all the others to come at the festival, is divided into three acts. The first concert takes place at around 5.30pm (approx, because we’re all about the fluidity of experience here. No stopwatch…), the second at around 8.30pm, and the third at 11pm. Three acts, then, and three dissimilar universes, only the second of which can be linked fairly directly to the world of jazz.

It all kicks off with Montreal’s Edwin de Goeij, who gets the festivities off to a gentle start with a soaring instrumental sound supported by a combination of lo-fi (background music generated by a 4-track cassette, as they used to say in the old days) and hi-fi with modern synthetic equipment. A cosmic keyboard floats above it all. It’s a neo-kitsch ambience, with no big surprises, but a very pleasant one. After this chill intro, Erika Angell introduces herself and reprises some of what she gave us at the launch of her album The Obsession with Her Voice at Ausgang Plaza two weeks ago. Against de Goeij’s rather placid interstellar cloud, Erika’s music is a fascinating extra-dimensional nebula of sound. The originality perceived on listening to the album and the launch show is confirmed beyond any doubt. Here is a proposal of ferociously new and impressive artistic uniqueness and audacity that deserves to make the rounds of the world of the most advanced indie music of our time.

When the break comes, we order tacos made and served by Martha Wainwright herself! If you want to live the experience, you’ve got three nights left! The second concert is by Californian saxophonist David Binney, a musical UFO who can combine avant-garde dazzle with Musakian levitation or tight post-bop. After an intro with Martha on guitar (she’s promised to sing one of her songs every night, so be there for the next ones), Binney sets off in a muscular quartet, accompanied by a double bass (Morgan Moore, an amazing virtuoso) and two… drumsets! Yes, TWO drumsets, one held by Tommy Crane and the other by Andrew Barr. The groove, which is totally acoustic but packs a punch of power and square decibels, is simply thrilling. You’re swept off your feet by the sheer force of the sound, and Biney’s free-flowing, stratospheric flights are as exciting as they come. A few calmer pauses balanced out a memorable show (split into two sets) that will live long in the memory. OMG, that was some seriously good shit!

11pm arrives and we’re ready to continue the adventure, although our tushes are a little grumpy (the benches and chairs are a little ‘hard’ for such long sessions, the only downside to this excellent first impression). This time, we’re back to less exalted feelings, with a surprising trio: two beautiful voices (Sarah Rossy and Eugénie Jobim) and drums/percussion (Aaron Dolman). We find ourselves immersed in a post/avant-folk with ghostly softness and unexpected melodic lines, at times almost atonal. You could almost imagine the Boulay Sisters (famous Quebec folk singers) singing Schoenberg! The choice was well thought out, for this first evening ends in calm, serenity and intellectual and emotional nourishment that satiate us, just enough to look forward to the second evening. 

I’m talking about a qualitative success here, but it’s also worth noting the quantitative success of this first evening of the brand new festival. The hall was full, from quite so to packed tight, for every concert! That’s very encouraging. 



Semaine du Neuf | Collectif9 : musical hero for everyone

by Frédéric Cardin

On Friday 15 March, collectif9, supported by two composers/videographers (Myriam Boucher and Pierre-Luc Lecours), gave the North American premiere of Héros, a work first performed in France in 2020, but which has never been able to travel since because of the pandemic crisis. It was a sort of second Première for this five-movement piece, written for the ensemble’s nine instrumentalists (4 violins, 2 violas, 2 cellos and 1 double bass) and two live video artists. 

Thibault Bertin-Maghit, founder and general/artistic director of collectif9, explains the process of musical creation in the interview he gave me, which I encourage you to listen to here: 

I’ll just give you a brief summary: starting with Beethoven’s music (2020 was the 250th anniversary of his birth), Boucher and Lecours, who are used to working with electronics, wove a digital musical framework in which Beethoven becomes difficult to recognise, which they then transcribed for the Montreal acoustic ensemble!

From acoustic to digital and back to acoustic again, the rather original approach promised some surprising moments. In truth, this was not the case, which is not to say that it was not good. It’s just that I was expecting some technically virtuosic instrumental passages, spectacularly drawn with millimetric pointillism. I was imagining something perhaps experimental.

Instead, Héros is draped in the hyper-seductive garb of repetitive American minimalism. The five movements develop in slow-fast-slow-fast alternation with a mixed finale. The overall effect is far more ‘pleasant’ than the original premise suggests, and results in a product whose ‘exportable’ potential for touring outside the usual circles of creative music is very interesting.

The video projections animated live by Boucher and Lecours move back and forth between abstraction and natural scenes (lots of birds) filtered by effects of transparency and chromatic color changes. Beethoven’s relationship with nature is probably what most reminds us of his presence in the background, as we search in vain for some melodic reference to the composer (apart from a few chords here and there). In any case, the interest lies not in finding familiar quotations, but rather in the sensory, audio-visual journey on offer. 

I found the fourth movement to be the most exciting and absorbing. Against a backdrop of vertical stripes of varying widths and speeds, the highly rhythmic, even nervous music creates a hypnotic trance effect. Certain geometric bands appear in perfect synchronicity with the attacks of the instrumentalists. A fine example of live video creation truly integrated with a musical score. 

The final movement offers an almost lyrical synthesis in its elegiac amplitude, touching and much appreciated by the audience.

The Espace Orange at the Wilder was filled to capacity, confirming another success for the Semaine du Neuf contemporary music festival. 

As I mentioned, the export potential of Héros is undeniable. I can see this contemporary creation, which is by all accounts fairly user-friendly, being very well received throughout Quebec and elsewhere, in venues not used to the repertoire normally offered by Le Vivier contemporary music hub. Where Andréa Streliski and Jean-Michel Blais draw in the crowds, the Montreal ensemble should be able to pull its weight with Héros

Another fine coup by collectif9.


Semaine du Neuf | Afghanistan, looking back at us

by Frédéric Cardin

One of the highlights of the Semaine du Neuf festival, organised by le Vivier in collaboration with Innovations in concert, was the musico-video-cinematic-theatrical adventure concocted by Montreal composer and instrumentalist Sam Shalabi and Ontario writer-actor Shaista Latif. For more details on this work, whose starting point is an old Afghan film partly projected on screen during the evening, listen to the interview I conducted with the main protagonists of the creation (it’s here!!).

This intriguing proposal came to fruition on Wednesday evening, 13 March, at La chapelle scènes contemporaines in front of a packed house. On stage, a string quartet plus Shalabi himself on oud and electric guitar, and Shaista Latif standing up, narrating her own text, superimposed on the film images and music. 

Shalabi’s music has a fine modal classical feel, with appropriate but not overdone oriental hues. There are rare moments of more chromatic exploration, and sparse atonal touches, as in the section where Latif’s text refers to the attacks of 9/11 2001. Here, for the only time in the show, the guitar shrieks and unleashes a strident energy that is fully in keeping with the reprise of a speech by a certain American president by a Latif oozing sarcasm. On the screen, a young girl dreaming of modernity sees planes flying overhead. She is filled with pride, but the contrast is heartbreaking with the revenge-filled speech swollen with aggressive nationalism recited by Latif. Other planes will fly over the skies of Afghanistan many years after the film, but with far less noble results for the country. One patriotism follows another, but in the end the Afghans themselves are just spectators. A beautiful reversal of direction, and probably the most powerful moment of the show.

Through the character of the young girl in the film who dreams of the city and its modernity, Latif recounts her own questions about identity. The images are as much a pictorial backdrop as they are symbolic and psychological projections of a revealed intimacy. And above all, she also questions our relationship with patriotism and nationalism. Afghanistan (through the eyes of the young girl) and its shattered dreams of modernity hold up a mirror to our own shattered dreams. In relation to that country, we have “succeeded”, but to do what exactly? It’s not a question of denying anything about our way of life, but of reevaluating and reframing it in a context where we absolutely must question the values that will drive this still young 21st century, in order to get through it and come out better than when we started. Maybe.

I’d like to point out one detail of the staging (for future performances): two vertical veilsof silvery hues bordered the screen. However, where I was sitting, one of these strips obscured part of my view of the film because of the lighting reflections that accumulated on it. We’ll have to think of something else…

That said, at barely forty minutes long, the show has no time to bore and we come away satisfied with a discovery (I’d never, ever heard of this film) as well as having been moved to think soberly about some burning issues. 

The original film Like Eagles (”Mānand-e ‘Oqāb” in the original language) is available for free online : 

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