Only in Montreal: “There’s stuff actually moving in there!”

by Laura Gullett

The Harvard Organ Society’s European Study Trip has begun! We are already having a fantastic time and have heard some marvelous music.

We all assembled in Montreal on Friday evening — some of us drove up from Boston, some flew in from home, and some took long train and bus rides to meet us. Thomas Leslie, the Executive Director of the CIOC (Canadian International Organ Competition, which Chris won in 2011), hosted us at his stylish apartment for a great dinner, where we felt wholly welcomed and became friends with MTL organists, such as McGill students.

 Dinner chez Thomas Leslie

Dinner chez Thomas Leslie

Saturday’s activities revolved around the inauguration of the Pierre-Béique Organ at La Maison Symphonique of the OSM (Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal). To celebrate the new Opus 3900 Casavant-Frères organ of 83 stops, the OSM hosted an open house with seven organ concerts! The first one we saw was by the one and only Christian Lane. The line to get into the concert snaked around the entire building — we were amazed at the organ’s appeal within the Montreal artistic community. His concert, entitled “Cultural Encounters,” brought the crowd to its feet after his marvelous performance of pieces such as John Cook’s Fanfare, Widor’s Allegro from Symphony 6, and “Dance with Me” by Michael Schütz.

 Can you believe the line? It continues for ages inside.

Can you believe the line? It continues for ages inside.

Throughout the day, we saw a total of five concerts, including fabulous improvisation to the silent film “Never Weaken” Phillipe Bélanger and a four-hands interpretation of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring by Olivier Latry and Shin-Young Lee. We left the concert hall after the final concert amazed by the organ’s versatility and spectacle.

 Christian Lane performs on the Grand Orgue Pierre-Béique at La Maison Symphonique

Christian Lane performs on the Grand Orgue Pierre-Béique at La Maison Symphonique

 Olivier Latry and Shin-Young Lee perform Stravinsky Rite of Spring

Olivier Latry and Shin-Young Lee perform Stravinsky Rite of Spring

Interspersed throughout the concerts, we had fun by attending an EDM concert for fifteen minutes and riding swings that sang various pitches to you as you swung.

The day concluded by a pleasant evening walk to Old Montreal, a district of historic European architecture, cobblestone streets, and art dealers galore. We had a wonderful dinner at an Italian restaurant before heading home to crash after a long day.

Today (Sunday), we are off to see organs in MTL before our late-night flight to Paris. We cannot wait for the adventures in the weeks to come!

 

Christian Lane