The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra will travel north this summer to perform two dates at the Lanaudiere Festival near Montreal. Music director Manfred Honeck will conduct the outdoor concerts July 23-24 in the Festival’s amphitheatre.
The first program will be Beethoven’s “Coriolan” Overture, Symphony No. 7 and Piano Concerto No. 5, “Emperor” (pianist TBA). The second will be Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, Wagner’s Prelude to Act 1 of “Lohengrin” and Strauss’ “Don Juan.”
Here is some history on the Festival from its Web site:
A FOURTH DECADE
Origin of the Festival
In 1975 there were many musical organizations active in Joliette, a cultural centre that supported the city’s concert activity, numerous music schools, three youth orchestras, a regional music competition and several choruses. But into this musical setting something more was waiting to happen. That something more was the Festival de Lanaudière, which was born in 1977. That summer, Father Fernand Lindsay, Clerc de Saint Viateur and Director of the Centre culturel de Joliette, invited the Montreal Symphony to give three concerts in the Joliette cathedral. Father Lindsay could not have know in advance if the effort would be a success, but Joliette’s music lovers were enthusiastic. Remembering European festivals he had visited a few years earlier, Father Lindsay began to think that perhaps now was the time to realize his dream.
The early years
The Festival officially began in 1978, offering eight concerts with the 150th anniversary of Schubert’s death as its main theme and thrusting into stardom a young Quebec musician, sixteen-year-old violinist Angèle Dubeau. The following year the Festival expanded, offering many of its 35 concerts outside Joliette, including at the Camp musical de Lanaudière at Lake Priscault in Saint Côme and in some of the beautiful churches in the Lanaudière region. In 1979 the Festival attained legal status and formed its first board of directors. Father Lindsay and the Festival’s collaborators and administration (notably Marcel Masse, René Charette and Paul Dupont-Hébert) began to look towards international recognition on a level enjoyed by other great music festivals. They envisioned “a place where a large audience can listen to beautiful music performed by the greatest musicians.” The following years saw performances by world-renowned soloists and ensembles. Music lovers came in increasing numbers from all corners of the world to a place where music is celebrated.
The Festival increased in brilliance and impact during the following years, earning praise from critics and music lovers alike. It was not long before Father Lindsay could write: “The Festival has truly become international.” By this time Marilyn Horne, Frederica von Stade and Rudolf Nureyev had already performed in Joliette!
The Festival had by now become Quebec’s most important music festival, ranking with the finest festivals of similar nature in Europe and the United States. Its summertime season provided artistic and cultural energy for the province. In 1987, the media reported that thousands of music lovers were attending the Festival’s many events, which generated 15% more ticket sales than expected. The Festival reached even greater heights in 1988. Audiences arrived in ever-increasing numbers. “If one wants to hear great music during the summer,” noted Father Lindsay, “one must come to Joliette.”
In the 1990s, with the appointment of the new General Manager François Bédard, the Festival built further on its past achievements: the continually rising quality of the performances, larger audiences, and a reputation that grew stronger each summer. The Festival de Lanaudière has found an original and enviable niche for itself, one that classical music aficionados can not afford to ignore. In 1997 the Festival presented its 500th concert. This was also the year of its 20th anniversary. Lanaudière is now one of the main stops for artists on the summer festival circuit in North America. Like beautiful music, the Festival never stops growing in stature.