The Montreal Bach Festival launched its first edition in 2005 with guests such as the legendary Musica Antiqua Köln and artistic director Reinhard Goebel as well as Frieder Bernius and Klaus Mertens. The Bach Festival's goal was to celebrate perhaps the most important composer of our times, Johann Sebastian Bach, by inviting year after year outstanding artists and ensembles from Canada and abroad, thus paving the way to some of the city's most sought after musical events. The Montreal public responded with attentive attendance and enthusiastic applause, and so it is with great pleasure that we look forward to the 10th edition of the Festival in 2016.
We are so lucky have so many exceptional artists and ensembles in Canada on which to draw! Just to mention a few: the Arion Baroque Orchestra, the Theatre of Early Music, Ensemble Masque, the McGill Chamber Orchestra, Les Violons du Roy, also Suzie LeBlanc, Daniel Taylor and Luc Beauséjour, all of whom were regular guests over the years.
Kent Nagano and the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal are official partners of the Festival, and the honorary patron is Ton Koopman. A few highlights from past seasons are concerts with the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin at the Notre Dame Basilica, and performances by the Belgian ensemble il Gardellino and The English Concert with David Daniels. We also invited the pianists Evgeni Koroliov and Martin Stadtfeld and the harpsichordist Leon Berben to Montreal to interpret their versions of the Goldberg Variations. Huge successes were Red Bull Flying Bach, the break dancing event based on the Well-Tempered Clavier, as well as the performances of New York jazz pianists Uri Caine in 2011 and Steve Kuhn in 2012. A memorable concert was without a doubt the closing concert of our 2010 edition with cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras who performed all of Bach's solo cello suites in one evening, as well as the violinist Isabelle Faust's programme of Bach's works for solo violin at Bourgie Hall. The remarkable La Risonanza (Italy) with Fabio Bonizoni opened the 2012 Festival, which closed with an exceptional rendering of all 6 Cantatas of the Christmas Oratorio with Collegium Vocale Gent and Philippe Herreweghe. In 2013, the festival was thrilled to welcome The Thomaner, Bach's very own choir. Other highlights from the 7th edition of the festival included performances by Concerto Köln, pianist Alexandre Tharaud, and a stunning recital by guitarist Göran Söllscher.
In 2014 we had the honour of welcoming the Freiburger Barockorchester to perform the opening concert of the festival. Also acclaimed pianist Sergei Babayan interpreted the first book of the Well-tempered piano and Avi Avital, mandoline, performed a most memorable concert at the Church of St. John the Evangelist. The legendary ensemble I Musici di Roma visited the festival as well as Trevor Pinnock, who conducted Les Violons du Roy with the Chapelle de Quebec. As closing concert the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and Maestro Masaaki Suzuki mesmerized the audience with a performance of the Magnificat.
To welcome back Akademie fuer alte Musik Berlin in 2015 was a special treat. The chinese pianist Zhu-Xiao Mei was heard in 3 spectacular performances of the Goldberg Variations and Kristian Bezuidenhouts fortepiano recital was a huge success as well. The festival was delighted to welcome Isang Enders to perform 3 cello suites in a sold out hall. Unforgettable as well our 2015 prelude concert with Fabio Biondi and Europa Galante, they surely will be back soon.
For the opening concert of our 10th anniversary edition in 2016 we were thrilled to welcome again pianist Sergei Babayan with the Goldberg Variations. The French ensemble Café Zimmermann from Aix-en-Provence shared their passion in two different concerts, featuring baritone Benoît Arnould in one of them. One of the festival’s highlights was without doubt the performance of the B-minor Mass with the choir of Trinity Wall Street under the artistic direction of Julian Wachner. Pianist Konstantin Lifschitz was present in a program of the Partitas as well as the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal with the St. Matthew’s Passion, featuring Julian Prégardien as evangelist. Yo-Yo Ma was our star at the sublime 10th anniversary Gala Concert in a concert of Solo Suites for cello.