A hundred concerts, fifty guest artists, the celebrations of the 10th anniversary of the Grand Orgue Pierre-Béique, the return of the Christmas story by Fred Pellerin and Kent Nagano: the 2023-2024 season of the Orchester symphonique de Montréal ( OSM), which will celebrate its 90th anniversary in 2024, promises to be abundant.

The music director of the OSM, Rafael Payare, revealed Tuesday the details of his second season at the head of the Montreal orchestra. “It’s important for me to share the OSM DNA with the repertoire I want to do,” he explained.

The hardest part will certainly have been sorting through all his ideas, says the fiery chef. “It was heartbreaking. The OSM’s senior director of the artistic sector, Marianne Perron, confirms that each choice was like “tearing out an arm”, but that it is a question of finding a balance through the seasons to come.

“The focus this year was on the pillars of the 20th century, which was a great period of upheaval,” she explains. Because we find in the last century echoes of what is happening at the moment. »

The Venezuelan conductor, who is also musical director of the San Diego Symphony, will open the season in September 2023 with a concert entitled The Rite of Spring by Rafael Payare, during which the OSM will perform Stravinsky’s legendary work, as well as the Glagolitic Mass by Janáček.

A piece that is one of the OSM classics and the highlighting of another that has not been played by the orchestra for 30 years: this first concert is a bit like this season during which the OSM will wander through time and space, between Germanic, French and South American repertoires… and much more, as much with the German Romantic composer Emilie Mayer as with Shostakovich and his Symphony No. 8, via Messiaen, Bach, Ravel, Bruckner and Auerbach.

Rafael Payare will conduct a good thirty concerts out of the hundred that have been programmed. Among other things, it will continue the Mahler cycle begun last season, this time with the Symphony Titan and Symphony No. 7. Faithful to its desire to integrate works of Latin origin, it also offers Voyage sud-Américain with Rafael Payare and Javier Perianes, in which works by Ginastera and Villa-Lobos will be presented.

The conductor will close the season in May 2024 with a concert entitled Organ and Orchestra: Perfect Harmony, during which four organists will perform great pieces for organ, such as Barber’s Toccata festiva, but also a composition by Denis Gougeon.

The 10th anniversary of the spectacular Grand Orgue Pierre-Béique of the Maison symphonique was in fact a pretext to organize a whole program around this instrument, with around fifteen concerts spread over the season, and around ten guest organists.

“We wanted to show that the organ is also an orchestral instrument”, explains Jean-Willy Kunz, organist in residence for 10 years who has collaborated closely in the choice of the various programs. “There are at least 500 pieces for organ and orchestra… Of course, there is Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No. 3, but there are also 499 others! »

About fifty artists responded to the invitation to come and play with the OSM. Among others, there will be the great soprano and conductor Barbara Hannigan, who will be in residence, but we will be able to see at work conductors such as Eun Sun Kim and Christoph Eschenbach and a host of soloists, including trumpeter Lucienne Renaudin Vary , pianists Maria João Pires and Louis Lortie, cellist Alisa Weilerstein and violinists Augustin Hadelich and Blake Pouliot.

OSM conductor emeritus Kent Nagano will also be back for two concerts, first with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, as well as for a sixth collaboration with Fred Pellerin, in a Christmas tale called Polichignon’s Secret. .

“It’s a unique association and they wanted to work together again,” explains Marianne Perron, who points out that the OSM’s 90th anniversary did not really guide the programming, but that in the post-pandemic context, this anniversary rather made the team want to brew the soup.

As for popular music, Luce Dufault and the trio formed by Marie Denise Pelletier, Marie Carmen and Joe Bocan will end their tours as part of the OSM Pop series. We will also be able to see a tribute to Patrick Norman, as well as the French rap group IAM, which will give the concert initially scheduled for April 2020, after three successive postponements.

Rafael Payare, for his part, experienced the rigors of the Quebec winter for the second year. He seems to have a lasting memory of the recent ice storm – “yes, yes, three days without electricity in Outremont…” – and especially has the impression that the Quebec public has adopted him. “I feel at home,” he said. He confirms that other recordings and other tours are to come for the OSM. What does he see when he watches his new lineup?

“I see a full menu. A few small canapes, appetizers, hearty main courses. It’s well balanced. »