3

Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville 2017

Mike Chamberlain By

Sign in to view read count
Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville
Victoriaville, Quebec, Canada
May 18-21, 2017

In Canada, the Monday closest to May 24, the birthday of Queen Victoria, is a public holiday (in Quebec it has two names: Journée des Patriotes or Fête du Dollard—it's complicated), and the Victoria Day long weekend is the unofficial start of Canada's summer. The Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville (FIMAV), held from the Thursday to Sunday of the Victoria Day weekend, can similarly be seen as an unofficial kickoff to the summer festival season. The 2017 Victo was the 33rd, and as the years move along, the festival has developed traditions (both formal and informal) of its own, among which is the ability to continue to evolve and surprise.

As usual the weather was changeable and frequently quite cool at night. The opening evening started at a humid +30C and ended a good 20 degrees celsius colder just a few hours later at 1:00 a.m. The pertinent information for this review is that, in those few hours, the collision of the cold and warm fronts caused a windstorm that resulted in a brief power outage during Colin Stetson's set. Apart from that, the weather was spring jacket friendly, ending in a gloriously sunny final day on Sunday. In a way, the weather matched the levels of the performances as the weekend went along, culminating in the shining brilliance of Anthony Braxton's solo performance on Sunday evening.

This edition of the festival, more than any before it, featured performances that employed visual images as an integral part of the presentation. In the regular program were Karl Lemieux and BJ Nilsen, Novi_Sad, and Michaela Gril with Maia Osijnik and Matija Schellander. Outside of the concert program were three films by Bruce Conner with soundtracks Terry Riley and short films by Alexandre Larose and Daïchi Saïto, which were presented in the Carré 150 cultural centre's black box room on an actual 35mm projector. The films were shown at times that did not interfere with the concert schedule, and this may be the beginning of a new thing. As FIMAV's artistic director Michel Levasseur said at his end of festival press conference, incorporating a film festival into the larger festival has long been a dream of his. With the facilities of the city of Victoriaville's new cultural centre, Carré 150, Levasseur has the most flexibility in terms of performance spaces that he has ever had to choose from, and he is taking good advantage of the available options.

A most successful series was the 1 p.m. acoustic concerts on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, thanks to the concordance between performers and space, Église Sainte-Christophe d'Arthabaska, a historic greystone structure from the 1870s, with a beautifully decorated interior and impeccable acoustics. It is the church where Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Canada's prime minister from 1896 to 1911, attended services during his holidays from government duties in Ottawa, and it was from Laurier's pew that I took in the performance of Tristan Honsinger (cello), Josh Zubot (violin), and Nicolas Caloia (contrebasse) on Friday. The three are all well-known to the Victo audience, but this concert was their first appearance as a unit at FIMAV. Comprised of compositions byall three members that were recorded in Vienna last fall but not yet released, the set was tight and detailed, intelligent and playful, full of romance, the arco playing resulting in beautifully layered overtones.

I have to admit that the idea of a tenor saxophone quartet is not so appealing to me on the face of it, but Battle Trance, who played Sainte-Christophe on Saturday, showed that such a configuration need not be monochromatic. The compositions of Travis Laplante are full of surprising twists and turns, and the playing was totally on top of the challenge. Again, the acoustics of the church allowed the quartet to fill the room with sound. Finally, on Sunday, Jean-Luc Guionnet, better-known as an alto saxophonist, totally demolished all standard preconceptions of what a church organ can do. Guionnet used a range of extended techniques to make the organ do things its makers or current caretakers certainly never envisioned and might not have been happy with, but which was totally enthralling in its power and joyful play of musician, instrument, and space.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Diane Schuur at Birdland Live Reviews Diane Schuur at Birdland
by Tyran Grillo
Published: November 20, 2017
Read Pat Metheny at Belfast Waterfront Live Reviews Pat Metheny at Belfast Waterfront
by Ian Patterson
Published: November 19, 2017
Read Crosscurrents at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor Live Reviews Crosscurrents at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: November 15, 2017
Read "Panama Jazz Festival 2017" Live Reviews Panama Jazz Festival 2017
by Mark Holston
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "Lloyd Gregory And Tony Lindsay at Biscuits & Blues" Live Reviews Lloyd Gregory And Tony Lindsay at Biscuits & Blues
by Walter Atkins
Published: December 22, 2016
Read "Jazzkaar 2017" Live Reviews Jazzkaar 2017
by Martin Longley
Published: May 29, 2017
Read "Balé Folclórico de Bahia at Zellerbach Hall" Live Reviews Balé Folclórico de Bahia at Zellerbach Hall
by Harry S. Pariser
Published: March 19, 2017
Read "Mat Maneri and Lucian Ban at Barbès" Live Reviews Mat Maneri and Lucian Ban at Barbès
by Tyran Grillo
Published: August 7, 2017
Read "Kim Nalley's Tribute to Nina Simone" Live Reviews Kim Nalley's Tribute to Nina Simone
by Walter Atkins
Published: March 31, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Please support out sponsor