Pianist-composer Alain Lefèvre and the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal kick off the festivities of the 35th edition of the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal on June 26 at 8 p.m. in the Maison symphonique de Montréal, with The Gershwin Legacy, a concert dedicated to the famous composer. Not only does this kickoff celebrate the Festival’s 35th birthday, it also spotlights the 80th season of the OSM and the 90th anniversary of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, the first work to bring jazz into the world’s most prestigious concert halls.
This evening promises to be a memorable one, both in Festival history and in Alain Lefèvre’s career, as he surrounds himself with old friends and musical accomplices for the occasion. First, two leading figures on the Montreal jazz scene, double bassist Michel Donato and drummer Paul Brochu, will reconnect with Lefèvre to play pieces they recorded together: Philip Black Blue, Cool Cole, Ville Émard la Belle and Dis-moi tout. Next, Jean-François Rivest conducts the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal to launch the evening proper with the first of three works by Gershwin, the torrid Cuban Overture.
Alain Lefèvre will of course play as soloist in the epochal Rhapsody in Blue, the grand finale of the first portion of the concert. The evening reaches its zenith with the astonishing Concerto en Fa, the final tribute to the immortal composer, whose musical legacy we are honoured to celebrate in such high style. Symphonic Dances, taken from legendary musical West Side Story, the most celebrated of works by flamboyant composer Leonard Bernstein, the jazziest of conductors, completes this jazz-classical hybrid.This is not the first time the Festival has paid tribute to George Gershwin, whom it celebrated in 1998 with a magnificent silkscreen created by Frédéric Bach, entitled Rhapsody in Blue.
Finally, the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal would like to recognize the talent and commitment of Alain Lefèvre, who will perform the works of André Mathieu in New York’s Carnegie Hall this coming December 10, marking the 70th anniversary of then-13-year-old Mathieu’s performance in that legendary concert hall.
We remind you that this will be Alain Lefèvre’s only concert in Montreal this year.