This past Wednesday evening, Hill auditorium hosted the Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal as part of the group’s 2019 United States tour.

According to the program, Orchestre Métropolitain began in 1981 with a mission “to share its passion for symphonic music and make it accessible to all.” Today, the Orchestre Métropolitain is the premier orchestra in Quebec and regularly tours to parade their musical capacity. The Orchestre Métropolitain visited the University Musical Society at a key point in the group’s history, as they will embark on their 40th season in 2020.

Hill Auditorium was packed wall-to-wall with appreciators of classical music. Despite the impressive turnout, I did not see many students in the seats.

The performance from Orchestre Métropolitain and Joyce DiDonato was a showcase of pure musical talent at the classical, refined level. The Orchestre Métropolitain is an example of career orchestral musicians, and I believe it is beneficial for students to see the results of that kind of musical passion in the form of a beautiful performance from groups like the Orchestre Métropolitain.

The Orchestre Métropolitain were joined by multiple Grammy Award winner Joyce DiDonato. In the past, DiDonato has held residencies at Carnegie Hall and the Barbican Centre in London (an artist-in-residence is someone who is recruited by a particular institution to produce creative work for them on a regular basis). DiDonato treated Hill Auditorium to her sought-after vocals, absolutely sweeping the Ann Arbor audience off of their feet, yielding many a rose upon the stage at the end of her performance of excerpts from Mozart’s “La Clemenza di Tito, K. 621.”

The orchestra was led by Maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin, who has an extensive track record as far as musical directorship goes. Nézet-Séguin has been the conductor of the Orchestre Métropolitain since 2000 and has directed music at the Metropolitan Opera, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra.

One aspect of Nézet-Séguin’s work that caught my eye was his level of comfort with being at the center of the stage. Nézet-Séguin cracked smiles, embraced DiDonato and found ways to make the audience laugh. The conductor is a position that would seem to carry immense pressure and duress, but I saw genuine joy from Nézet-Séguin as he guided the orchestra. It was apparent that Nézet-Séguin truly enjoyed the music he was cultivating, and it was heartwarming to see real passion at the root of this masterful directorship.

It was a remarkable experience to watch the combination of masterful conductorship and pure vocal talent with a robust orchestra to back it all up.

After leaving Ann Arbor, the Orchestre Métropolitain will continue their tour in New York and Philadelphia.


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