Festival Review Music

POP Montréal International Music Festival is approaching

What to expect at the 22nd edition of the non-profit festival.

Who said music festivals were only for the summertime? Even if the weather isn’t as warm, the music scene in Montreal remains vibrant year-round. POP Montréal will be taking place from Sept. 27 to Oct. 1—the annual event has been encouraging artistic independence since 2002. 

As indicated on their website, POP MTL came to life from the collective eagerness of friends and colleagues to establish a major cultural event at the core of the city. Its 22nd year is kickstarting this week and represents “more than ever an essential event on the Montreal festival circuit and the international music scene,” as the organizers of the event state on the web. Over the last two decades, the event has amassed more than 400 artists and 60,000 festival attendees.

Since the festival is based in Montreal, putting forward local artists is a no-brainer, but the word “International” is in the title for a reason. The team offers a lineup from both emerging artists and renowned names from around the world. The festival’s initiative and impact on the overall art scene also lies in its extensive program, aiming to include diverse art forms as part of its activities, including art exhibitions, film screenings, a sale from local artisans, events for kids, and “long-lasting parties until the end of the night.” 

POP Symposium will be your time if you are into panel discussions, creative workshops, artist talks and networking events. Better yet, it will be free and open to all. 

The panels will tackle the “big questions around music, communities, and the forces that shape our cultural engagement, encouraging new connections between local and international artists, industry and fans” according to the POP Symposium page

Performing artists to check out ~

From its impressive lineup, here are my top picks for you to keep an eye out for. Previously seen at the Jazz Music Festival this summer, Annahstasia is back from California—get ready to get shivers from her powerful and stunning vocals. We can expect the upcoming performance of her folk-rooted album Revival to showcase her renewed love for music, which she shares was found “after a period of uncertainty, and facilitated a potent resurgence of self.” 

Next up is Montreal-born Gayance, who is now based in Amsterdam after spending her time growing up between Bruxelles, São Paulo and Montreal. If you’re into “jazzy-house with Brazilian spices” and you feel like journeying through Black history with flares of Afro-Latin jazz, Caribbean, West-African and electronic music, make sure to not miss this show! 

Interested? You can pick from three kinds of passes. But if you’re looking for a cheaper fare, check out their Student pass, which is available with a valid student ID to encourage student participation. Locals and students wanting to get involved are also welcome to volunteer! In tune with the Montreal music scene, this local event promises a fun and stimulating time.


Moves by Montreal

Bouge d’ici / Press photo

In case you weren’t aware, January in Montreal signals the launch of the upcoming theatre season, in all of its glory, as well as an impressive amount of performing arts festivals. On deck this week is Bouge d’ici, a local contemporary dance festival that is being hosted at MainLine Theatre from Jan. 11 to Jan. 19.

Amy Blackmore, the artistic director of the festival, an ex-Concordia student and one of the founders of the festival, explained that back in 2008, while she was still a dance student at the university, she was frustrated with the lack of opportunities being offered to students to showcase their work. As a result, she and eight of her choreographer friends set out to make opportunities of their own.

“A lot of us, when we started the festival, were being told we couldn’t be accepted. That’s when we decided to make a path for ourselves, to take our fate into our own hands.”

The first edition of the festival was held at Ctrl Lab, the tiny (yet infamous, considering how many Montreal artists have débuted there) gallery space on St-Laurent St. that closed down last year. That first year there was barely enough seating space for 35 people and it was a Concordia-centric event. Three years later, Bouge d’ici is on to its fourth edition and is welcoming participants from a variety of institutions, such as UQÀM, École supérieure de ballet du Québec and Tangente.

The choice of venue is not a coincidence. Blackmore explains that they were looking for a venue that wouldn’t be so “institutional-like,” a more relaxed atmosphere than the one that traditionally accompanies the kind of dance show that you might see at Place des Arts, for example. “We want people to come and enjoy a show that’s affordable. Come to MainLine, have a beer, relax and just have a good time,” said Blackmore.

Bouge d’ici’s most popular show is Common Space and it’s the very core of the festival. The premise of the show is to pair together mentor choreographers and dancers, rendering the festival not only an opportunity to showcase potential, but also an opportunity to grow and learn. This year’s edition will showcase 11 choreographers, with 10 minutes allocated to each one’s performance. Last year Common Space sold out at all four showings. They’ve decided to add a fifth show this year and in doing so, they hope to increase their turn out.

Bouge d’ici is anchored on clear and explicit principles: accessibility, mentoring, development, facilitation and creation. Blackmore is hopeful for the future of the festival: “The people we work with move on and do great things. We hope to be the stepping stone for them.”

Choreographers participating in Common Space are: Kerwin Barrington, Laura Jayne Battcock, Audrey Bergeron, Patricia Gagnon, Marie-Andrée Gelac, Michaela Gerussi, Heather Lynn Macdonald, Axelle Munezero et Martine Bruneau, Auja Ragnarsdottir, et Julie Tymchuk.

Mentors: David Albert-Toth, Amy Blackmore, Jacques Brochu, Allison Elizabeth Burns, Emily Gaultieri, holly Greco, Jody Hegel, Robin Henderson, Kelly Keenan, Lara Kramer, Tim Rodrigues, Maria Simone et Lael Stellick.
The Associate Artistic Producer responsible for Common Space is Allison Burns

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