La Scena Musicale

Friday, 16 July 2010

The Montreal Symphony's Musical Masked Ball Raises One Million

by Naomi Gold

On a sultry summer night on May 26, 2010, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra welcomed some six hundred supporters to their 12th annual Midsummer Night's Ball. The soirée's leitmotif was movement. Herewith, the high notes from this year's 'Un Ballo in Maschera' gala, in five movements:

Andante -- Allegro con anima e con brio (chinotto)
Arriving attendees are amazed by an imaginative, labyrinthian entrance to Complexe Desjardins—disguised as an opulent Venetian ballroom—for the black tie, red carpet gala.  Enhancing the mystique are costumed hostesses and ushers who distribute masks to intrigued guests. Upstairs on level four, the Hyatt Regency Hotel hosts a highly animated, 'supertonic' cocktail reception.

Allegro vivace assai
Onstage at Complexe Desjardins' Grande Place, masked music director Kent Nagano conducts the MSO in a vivacious performance of Verdi's Preludio from Un Ballo in Maschera.  This is followed by Stravinsky's Fête populaire de la semaine grasse, an excerpt from Pétrouchka.

Andante molto mosso

Honorary ball co-chairs Monique F. Leroux, president/CEO of Mouvement Desjardins and Montreal Canadiens Hockey Club owner/board chairman Geoffrey Molson are introduced by emcee, actor Guy Nadon. Thanking sponsors and attendees, they make the melodious announcement that a cool million is raised. Desjardins Group's 110th anniversary is fêted  via video montage, and all applaud the Habs' awe-inspiring playoff action in their 101st year. The harmonious soirée seamlessly segues into a sumptuous symphony of taste orchestrated by Cornellier Traiteur.

Andantino grazioso - Tempo di valse

A polyphony of post-prandial performances is presented by MSO musicians under the baton of first assistant conductor Stéphane Laforest. Two waltzes by Johann Strauss II, An der schönen blauen Donau, and Frühlingstimmen, gracefully open the dance floor to guests. Maestro Laforest later conducts Frédéric Bégin's Créer l'avenir, which also features the FACE children's choir and solo violinist Alexandre Da Costa.

Finale:  Allegro con fuoco
A whopping $60,000 worth of prizes is drawn including two trips to Paris, London, Los Angeles or San Francisco, courtesy of Air Canada and Starwood Hotels.  Consistent with the gala's obbligato theme of movement, Gilles Caplan's band inspires guests to move 'n groove well into the finale.

The corporate gala sponsors were Desjardins Group, Club de Hockey Canadien, Fiera Capital, Aldo Group, Alimentation Couche-Tard, National Bank Financial Group, Bell Canada, BMO Financial Group, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, Cirque du Soleil, Ernst & Young, Garda, Hydro-Québec, La Coop fédérée, McKinsey & Company, PricewaterhouseCoopers, RBC Royal Bank, Samson Bélair Deloitte & Touche, Société des alcools du Québec and Solotech.

Next year will be the MSO's last at Place des Arts' Salle Wilfrid Pelletier, as their new concert hall is slated for delivery by September 2011. The 2010-2011 season starts in stentorian style with Carl Orff's monumental secular oratorio, Carmina Burana.  A plethora of world renowned artists will perform, including piano virtuoso Anton Kuerti, who will play Beethoven's Emperor concerto, while Sir Andrew Davis wields his baton in a program of Prokofiev and Rachmaninov.  A concert version of Wagner's magisterial masterpiece Das Rheingold will close the season. To consult the full calendar and order tickets, call 514-842-9951 or visit

PHOTO BY Déclik Communications
  Guests enjoy the MSO conducted by maestro Kent Nagano, amidst the magnificently decorated "Venetian grand salon" of Complexe Desjardins. An apropos piano keys motif appears on the sprawling dance floor.


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