The musicians of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra will swap their fine clothes for Canadiens, Alouettes and CF Montreal jerseys during the concert Sportissimo!, from February 4 to 8. Conductor Adam Johnson invites members of the public to wear the colors of their favorite team, while the OSM will highlight the links between high musical and sporting performance.
The relationship between the OSM and the sports community is not new. On April 2, 2009, the orchestra celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Canadian at the Bell Center. Three years earlier, he presented a charity concert at Percival-Molson Stadium, at the invitation of the Alouettes.
He was also inspired by Mylène Paquette’s solo Atlantic crossing to develop a concert. Not forgetting the friendly baseball match played between the musicians and some Expos players in 1986.
Less than six months before the Paris Summer Olympics (July 26 to August 11, 2024), the orchestra invites music lovers to discover the high physical performance of… musicians.
Indeed, the latter not only have to carry certain very heavy instruments (tuba, double bass, baritone saxophone, timpani, etc.) and adopt good posture to avoid injuries, but they also impose a lot on their body by playing at this level. .
“Like athletes, musicians seek the balance between training and rest so as not to push their muscles and tendons to the point of developing tendinitis,” explains Adam Johnson. For example, a first violinist at the OSM has thousands of notes to play in each concert, and he goes on stage every week. »
At a very young age, the conductor already drew parallels between sport and music by attending his first symphony concert.
“I was an alpine ski athlete, I was passionate about sports and when I heard the 5e Symphony of Beethoven, I recognized a physical aspect in the speed and virtuosity of the music, in addition to being impressed by the synchronicity of the bowing. It really attracted me to the classical world. »
Marrying music and sport
Even today, the maestro uses music to motivate his strides. “Some majestic symphonies give a lot of energy. When I ski in the mountains, it is both an exercise and an activity of contemplation. I find that classical music also combines movement and beauty. »
He adds that the general public is much more exposed to symphonic music than they imagine. In addition to the presence of national anthems during sporting events, it is impossible not to think of the organ in hockey.
It’s part of the personality of the sport. Besides, we start our concert with a solo on the organ.
The concert Sportissimo! will open with the organ version of Citius, Altius, Fortius that the composer Maxime Goulet created in an orchestral version to celebrate the holding of the Olympic Games in Vancouver in 2010. “It’s music full of energy that aims to surpass oneself,” says Adam Johnson.
We will also be able to hear an extract from Javelin, a piece commissioned from composer Michael Torke in anticipation of the opening ceremony of the 1996 Atlanta Games. “We will perform it while screening a snowboarding video that Indigenous athlete Liam Gill first created with hip-hop music. »
In the evening’s repertoire, we also note a work by the great John Williams (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Home Alone), Olympic Fanfare and Theme, which he composed for the Los Angeles Games in 1984. A piece by Joseph Bologne, composer and fencing champion. And an amalgam of basketball music and sounds that will illustrate the excitement of the last two minutes of a game.
All these creations will be directed by Adam Johnson, who is responsible for making the soloists shine, avoiding the hockey equivalent of “puck eaters”.
“With 80 musicians on stage, my job is to balance everything so that the musicians who have a more important role in terms of melody are well heard, while the others play the accompaniment, so that the music is well understood. If everyone plays their part as if it were the most important, it will not produce a harmonious result. »
Having trained for decades, all the musicians have the talent to shine solo and the listening skills to propel the orchestra. “It’s very important when we play as a team to know how to listen and understand our place in relation to others,” says Johnson. Like in sports training. »
The concert Sportissimo! from February 4 is offered to the general public, while the performances from February 5 to 8 are reserved for school groups.