MONTREAL — The Montreal/New Music Festival highlights the best of contemporary music with its sixth edition beginning today.
This year’s theme, “Voice and Percussion,” is showcased in more than 50 musical events through Sunday, March 3. The biennial event began in 2003 under the auspices of Walter Boudreau, the current artistic director of the Societe de Musique Contemporaine du Quebec, or SMCQ.
“The first 20 years of the SMCQ was establishing a savoir faire — a repertoire, a forum — to invite musicians from around the world to perform in Quebec and showcase our own talent,” Boudreau said. “And Montreal slowly put itself on the international map as a place for contemporary music.”
But a bigger showcase was necessary.
“It was like having a warehouse full of musical artifacts,” Boudreau said. “But the warehouse was piling up.”
Europe hosted quite successful, larger-scale events in the contemporary-music world, Boudreau said.
“We were right by Interstate 87, but we had no ramp. You just drove by. So we built the ramp — in the form of a festival.”
In 2003, the Montreal/New Music Festival was born, and international and local musicians — and highly satisfied audiences — have been attending ever since. The goal of the fest is to bridge the contemporary-music scene between Europe and North America.
“And we aim to show a variety of what that is,” Boudreau said.
There’s a little, unique something for everyone.
The program includes an original concert staging of the Leonard Bernstein classic “West Side Story” presented by Percussions Claviers de Lyon. The version replaces dancers with a “percussion ballet” and also includes a cast of four singers and urban-style animated projections. It’s presented Saturday, Feb. 23, at Salle Pierre-Mercure of Centre Pierre-Peladeau, 300 de Maisonneuve Blvd. E. Tickets cost $30 for adults, $20 for those over 50, and $15 for students.