Travel Blog

7 Aug

La Virée Classique: Symphony Under the Stars

The world-renowned Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal kicks off its fifth annual OSM Couche‐Tard Classical Spree festival with its big free outdoor concert for tens of thousands of classical-music lovers on the esplanade outside Olympic Stadium on August 10.

This outdoor concert is a unique Montréal tradition that, says OSM conductor and music director Kent Nagano, unites people from “across all socio-economic classes, all cultural and racial backgrounds, all nationalities and all generations.”

The OSM’s Classical Spree festival – known locally as La Virée Classique OSM – will also feature three additional free outdoor concerts at the Quartier des Spectacles, as well as a series of 30 ticketed indoor concerts at Place des Arts, from Aug. 10 to 13.

OSm-vireeclassiqueThe opening Galaxy of Heroes concert at the Parc Olympique on Aug. 10 will celebrate the 40th anniversary of Montréal’s 1976 Summer Olympic Games and the athletes who left their mark on the global Olympic movement. The Olympics is also the theme for the OSM’s Chariots of Fire indoor concert at the Maison symphonique on Aug. 12.

“People associate this music with the film Chariots of Fire, a great film about the Olympics,” says the California-born Nagano. “We wanted to carry on the excitement of the Montréal Olympics with the opening of the Virée Classique.”

gregory-charlesOther much-anticipated shows include Gregory Charles Virtuose: The Concert, which will feature 13-to-16-years-old performing in the Maison symphonique on Aug. 13, and A Ramble with Ravel featuring the OSM and Quebec soprano Marianne Fiset, also at the Maison symphonique on Aug. 13.

“Marianne, myself and the OSM have collaborated many times in the past,” says Nagano. “She is a star and it’s always a pleasure for the OSM to welcome home one of our own.”

The Grammy-winning Nagano – who has worked with many stars, such as Björk, Sting and Paul McCartney, as well as Sophia Loren, Bill Clinton and Mikhail Gorbachev – is truly a rock star of the classical world. He is a disciple of Beethoven, and during La Virée Classique will conduct the OSM in two performances of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, at the Maison symphonique on Aug. 12 and 13.

OSM-classique“There are very few pieces of music that I can think of that are more pertinent for the complicated and nearly incomprehensible times we live in today,” says Nagano. “This is why we really need Beethoven and everything he represents, means and symbolizes. The Ninth Symphony is special because it has those famous Schiller words (from Friedrich Schiller’s poem Ode to Joy), ‘All men become brothers.’ Most people in the audience will have heard the Ninth Symphony before, so why come back for 50th time? Because people need to hear that message, and hope to hear one moment of meaning that never occurred to them before. That’s what masterpieces are.”

Meanwhile, the free outdoor program on the parterre of the Quartier des Spectacles will feature the Organ and the Silver Screen…Under the Stars on Aug. 11, Mozart’s Magic Flute opera on Aug. 12, and the Spotlight on Youth on Aug. 13 starting at 10:30 a.m. and featuring four young‐artist orchestras.

osm-viree-classique-2“This combination of many generations should be very dynamic and we have great hopes it will be artistically provocative,” says Nagano, who joined the OSM in 2006.

About his time in Montréal, Maestro Nagano happily says, “There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t take half a step back and look in admiration at what Montréal has become, how deep and visionary the culture here is. Of course, I am not naive, we have our problems, like all cities. But the chance – the privilege – to be a part of this is very exciting.”

OSM-viree-classique-3The Classical Spree / La Virée Classique runs from Aug. 10 to 13. For more information and tickets, visit

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