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Riopelle symphonique:
A musical and visual odyssey
through the artist’s works

Credit : Jean Paul Riopelle, Cap au nord, 1977

Oil on canvas, 200 x 301 cm. Collection - Huguette Vachon © Succession Jean Paul Riopelle / SOCAN (2022)

Montréal, January 31, 2023 – As part of the celebrations to mark the 100th anniversary of Jean Paul Riopelle’s birth, Riopelle symphonique takes audiences on a stunning multimedia odyssey through the artist’s works and inspirations. Set to original music by Serge Fiori and Blair Thomson, and featuring the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, the Chœur des Petits Chanteurs de Laval and the Temps Fort choir under conductor Adam Johnson, the concert brings some 140 musicians and chorists together onstage at Place des Arts’ Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier in Montréal. An experience in five movements Premiering on February 16, 17 and 18 amidst the festivities of Montréal en Lumière, Riopelle symphonique combines original musical composition with discovery as we revisit the works that marked the artist’s illustrious career. Together, the musical creation and visual environments evoke key periods in the artist’s life, from his early experimentations in Montréal to the closing chapter of his career—a time marked by his return to ‘the source’ (Isle-aux-Grues)—by way of post-war France, his encounters with Indigenous peoples and his deep connection with the Far North. Under artistic director Nicolas Lemieux, Riopelle symphonique’s visual concept and staging are by Marcella Grimaux (Noisy Head), who took the helm after personal reasons caused Gabriel Poirier-Galarneau to step down. An ingenious assembly of LED screens, whose varied sizes and configurations nod to the diverse formats of the master’s paintings, lets audiences both witness and be part of Riopelle’s creative gestures and inexhaustible capacity for reinvention. Inspired by the artist’s work and his fascination for wild geese, the costumes are by renowned designer Marie Saint Pierre, who knew Riopelle well. A deep dive into the world of an outstanding creator Riopelle symphonique is a multisensory experience that combines symphonic music with the visual and performing arts. “I felt as though I were transcribing a dream where, like a spirit, I inhabited both Riopelle’s inimitable aesthetic and fragments of Fiori’s music,” said composer and arranger Blair Thomson. “For me, the musicians and singers are in this sense sculptors, using their bodies to bring to life the music that is my expression of the dream.” He continued: “I had imagined Riopelle’s hands dispersing paint with metal objects, creating lines and patterns, working and twisting the metal and bronze. So I couldn’t help but see the orchestra as so many sculptors, hands moving all at once at different speeds, echoing the intensity of Riopelle’s creative fervour.” Thomson sees the audience as part of the creation each movement. “It’s my hope that those who experience Riopelle symphonique will feel the same sense of wonder, awe, uncertainty and purity of expression as I do when engaging with Riopelle’s work—that their reaction to the music will be deep and intuitive, much like mine when I see Riopelle’s paintings up close.” Joining the more typical symphonic arrangements are a steel drum, percussive stones and interlaced cables, referencing the materials Riopelle used to create his works.

Riopelle symphonique February 16, 17 and 18, 2023 Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Place des Arts Box office:

A second concert series is scheduled for September 8 and 9, 2023 at Salle Louis-Fréchette in the Grand Théâtre de Québec, this time featuring the Orchestre symphonique de Québec under Adam Johnson and the Chœurs des Petits Chanteurs de Laval.

  • Duration: 75 minutes (no intermission)

  • Artistic director: Nicolas Lemieux

  • Staging: Marcella Grimaux (Noisy Head)

  • Music: Blair Thomson and Serge Fiori

  • Orchestration and arrangements: Blair Thomson

  • Musicians: Orchestre symphonique de Montréal

  • Conductor: Adam Johnson

  • Choirs: Chœur des Petits Chanteurs de Laval, Temps Fort

  • Costume design: Marie Saint Pierre

About GSI Musique Founded in 1983, Québec’s oldest record label, GSI Musique, has since developed a unique expertise in terms of designing and producing major shows and multiplatform projects. The company, whose recent hits include Montréal symphonique, Bébé symphonique and Harmonium symphonique, is recognized for its bold, innovative and unifying productions that distill orchestral music, the visual arts and multimedia technology into spectacular immersive experiences for audiences of all ages.

Source: GSI Musique

Media relations: Marie-Noël Phaneuf, annexe | | 514 553-2570



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