Press release for immediate distibution

Sun Life Financial Performing Arts Program

Éric Emmanuel Schmitt, Guy Bedos, Marie Chouinard, Pierre Lapointe, Intakto, Catherine Major, Alexandre Désilets, Rémi Bolduc, Agnès Bihl, Pacifika, Giorgia Fumanti, Thievery Corporation, the OSM, Angèle Dubeau & La Pietà, Daniel Taylor, I Musici, Arion, the Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain, the SFJAZZ Collective with Joe Lovano, tributes to Piaf and Léo Ferré and more.

Paris on the program for the 10th anniversary of the


Montreal, Wednesday, November 26, 2008 - For its 10th anniversary, the MONTREAL HIGH LIGHTS Festival celebrates with a delicious program worthy of a beautiful decade devoted to culture. With its cultural program, the Sun Life Financial Performing Arts-starring Paris as our featured city-the Festival is the place to be for anyone and everyone who loves the performing arts. This 10th edition, running from Thursday, February 19 to Sunday, March 1, 2009, offers performances by artists from every horizon, in popular and classical music, dance, the circus arts, comedy and song, presenting Festival fans with a winter harvest of original creations and grand premieres, new discoveries and much-loved veterans. Tickets for these shows go on sale this Saturday, November 29, at noon. Meanwhile, let us remember that the MONTREAL HIGH LIGHTS Festival also includes the flavours of the Air France Wine & Dine Experience presented by American Express (program coming on December 16), the wild Montreal All-Nighter, and the festive Celebration of Light (respective programs coming in early 2009).

Éric‑Emmanuel Schmitt
honorary president of the Sun Life Financial Performing Arts

This year, the honorary presidency of the Festival’s performing arts program is conferred upon the great French author Éric‑Emmanuel Schmitt. Writer and dramatist, this former philosophy lecturer at the Université de Savoie is one of today’s best-read francophone authors, translated into 40 languages, staged in 50 countries. Easy to understand, then, why the MONTREAL HIGH LIGHTS Festival invited Éric‑Emmanuel Schmitt to take the stage-with, among others, actor Benoît McGinnis and chamber music orchestra I Musici de Montréal-to read extracts from Ma vie avec Mozart, his autobiographical story of a man who fell in love with the music of the Austrian composer. Featuring soprano Pascale Racine, bass-baritone Olivier Laquerre, pianist Chen Zhengyu and clarinetist Mark Simons. With over 300,000 copies sold, it is a marriage of passions-for literature, theatre and classical music-in a show accessible to all, in the appealing image of the author himself! Thursday, February 26 and Friday, February 27, Théâtre Maisonneuve, Place des Arts. Presented by Air France.

Marie Chouinard opens the Festival!

Marie Chouinard returns to the Festival! Honourary co-president of our 7th edition in 2006, she now presents Orphée et Eurydice, an iconoclastic dance spectacle on the theme of humour and sexuality that reaches back to the very source of creation. Featuring all 14 dancers of her company, the piece relaunches a voyage of discovery; with the body as her landscape, in all its possibilities, including the most intimate, Chouinard renews a fascination with the form that has endured for 30 years. Opening performance, Wednesday, February 18, Théâtre Maisonneuve, Place des Arts. Presented by Hydro‑Québec in collaboration with Radio‑Canada Télévision.

Salut Paris!

To close out a 10th edition illuminated by the inspiration of the City of Light, the Festival salutes its featured city with Paris pour moi… Directed by Monique Giroux, the show unites homegrown and Parisian artists in honour of the French capital, drawing on their respective repertoires as well as the classics of French song. With Catherine Major, Agnès Bihl, Betty Bonifassi, Michel Fugain, Thomas Hellman, Nathalie Lhermitte… Visual design: Thien Vu Dang, alias VJ Pillow, and Yasuko Tadokoro, alias VJ Mademoiselle. Saturday, February 28, Théâtre Maisonneuve, Place des Arts.

Paris exposed!

For those who think they know everything about Paris, here’s an exhibition that shows off the City of Light from another perspective! Leading off with the issue of mutations, Paris - Design en mutation presents the work of 11 designers or collectives, precursors of the new generation of Parisian design, as well as the principal institutional actors that enabled them to learn and become known. Developed in collaboration with VIA (Valorisation de l’Innovation dans l’Ameublement) and the financial support of the City of Paris, Cultures France and the EDF Foundation. Commissioner: Michel Bouisson, VIA (Paris). From Friday, January 16 to Sunday, March 1, Centre de design de l’UQAM.

Dance, performance and circus arts

Guy Bedos, Hier, aujourd’hui, demain (Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow)

Certainly one of the major French humourists, Guy Bedos makes the first Montreal appearance of his career, underlining the gap between technological advances (internet, laptop) and human behaviour, which has remained in the Middle Ages. And as anyone familiar with Guy Bedos knows, he’s never been one to bite his tongue or hold back! Hunting down the farcical aspects of life, he’ll be here to “bring laughter from sadness” as only Bedos can. Thursday, February 19 and Friday, February 20, Théâtre Maisonneuve, Place des Arts.

Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain

Over the past 30 years, the Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain has presented close to 1,000 acts. The first of its kind, the event annually convenes artists from all cultures to share their experience, discover new forms and showcase fabulous feats. All the greats have passed through its portals, and the stars of the future are here as well. Exclusively for the Festival, here’s a selection of those who most impressed the jury! From Tuesday, February 17 to Saturday, February 28 (excluding Monday), TOHU, la Cité des arts du cirque.

Le Cabaret du 10e

It’s a passionate evening starring artists from Montreal’s burgeoning neo-burlesque and swing scenes! Take a trip back to the wild nights of ’50s and ’60s Montreal, with “erotic-retro-chic” striptease from Blue Light Burlesque, jazzy swing with the Moonlight Girls, canapés provided by Avocado Traiteur, and Franco-yéyés-a-gogo classics from Brigitte Bardot to Johnny Hallyday. Thursday, February 19, La Tulipe.

Te situes-tu dans l’in situ ? - Danse en appart

Te situes-tu dans l’in situ ? considers and reflects upon the performance space itself and rethinks the creative relationship with the public. In the first part, Danse en appart’, 13 artists unveil the project they created during five weeks of residence in a Montreal apartment… which will double as the venue! The second part unfolds in a discotheque during the Montreal All-Nighter. Conceived and produced by La 2e Porte à Gauche and staged by Tangente in collaboration with the MONTREAL HIGH LIGHTS Festival. From Wednesday, February 18 to Friday, February 27 (excluding Sunday and Monday), venue to be confirmed.

Les 7 Doigts de la Main, La Vie gourmande

Circus troupe Les 7 Doigts de la Main presents a gourmet adaptation of their show La Vie, featuring ingenious staging where the arts of circus and chef entwine. During a dinner orchestrated by Agnus Dei Traiteur, enjoy La Vie gourmande with a visit to a purgatory of the imagination, a sensual universe as wild as it is humorous, offering an utterly gourmet experience that’s out of this world. Featuring master of ceremonies Sébastien Soldevila, gold medalist (Prix de la Ville de Paris) at the Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain de Paris. Tuesday, February 24 to Thursday, February 26, Scena, Pavillon Jacques‑Cartier.

Popular music and jazz

Piaf, une vie en rose et noir

Only three people onstage, and yet together, they form a veritable musical biography of a towering figure: the great Piaf, as portrayed by Nathalie Lhermitte. She’ll be accompanied by Aurélien Noël (one-man-band) and narrator Jacques Plessis, author of this musical biography, which also portrays important figures who marked the life of the legendary Édith. Rubia Matignon directs this musical adventure sponsored by Alain Delon. Thursday, February 26 and Friday, February 27, Gesù - Centre de créativité.

Agnès Bihl, Demandez le programme

Agnès Bihl writes and sings like a fallen angel: insolent smile, bristling with mischief, she fires at anything that moves her… or moves, period. She writes with emotion, with joy, with wicked humour, but especially with meaning, a bitter realism and a lucid militancy that characterize this bombshell with an acid tongue and a heart of gold. She’s already charmed Paris with La terre est blonde, with her stage presence and joie de vivre. Better yet, Merci maman merci papa (2005) and Demandez le programme (2007) upped the ante even more. No surprise to see her win the 2006 Prix Félix‑Leclerc de la chanson-French category! Tuesday, February 24 and Wednesday, February 25, Studio-théâtre, Place des Arts.

F. - à Léo, Tribute to Léo Ferré, from an idea developped by Roberto Cipelli, with Roberto Cipelli, Attilio Zanchi, Philippe Garcia and the special participation of Gianmaria Testa and Paolo Fresu

If anyone thrilled Paris and the rest of the world with his poetry, it was Léo Ferré! Fifteen years after his death, his words and music still carry the ring of truth. With F. - à Léo, Hommage à Léo Ferré, five Italians share this universal language with Montreal: Roberto Cipelli (piano), Gianmaria Testa (vocals), Paolo Fresu (trumpet), Attilio Zanchi (double bass) and Philippe Garcia (drums). A stunning success at last summer’s Festival International de Jazz de Montréal! Wednesday, February 18, Métropolis.

Pierre Lapointe, Mutantès

Last summer, he absolutely electrified the 20th anniversary of Les FrancoFolies de Montréal and floored the critics! Much more than a concert, Mutantès is a multidisciplinary spectacle uniting musicians with a dozen singer-actors in a daring adventure accompanying a young mutant on a soul-searching quest for happiness. Poetic, dreamlike, an emotion-charged production boasting original songs, Pierre Lapointe’s show, directed by Claude Poissant, is sublime! Produced by Productions 3PM Inc. Friday, February 27 and Saturday, February 28, Salle Wilfrid‑Pelletier, Place des Arts. Presented by ARTV.

Catherine Major

With her first album, Par-dessus bord, heralded by the Académie Charles‑Cros in France in 2004, a Jutra for the music to the film Le Ring, multiple tours here and in France, and the 2008 Prix Félix‑Leclerc de la chanson 2008 (Quebec category), Catherine Major boasts a very impressive résumé. Ranked by critics alongside the likes of Yann Perreau, Daniel Bélanger and Pierre Lapointe, Major opened 2008 with the release of the sublime Rose sang, a mature, poetic and intimate album that drew unanimous praise. Last autumn, her appearance in a sold-out Club Soda left her audience breathless. Now it’s our turn! Wednesday, February 25, Théâtre Outremont.

SFJAZZ Collective with Joe Lovano, Dave Douglas, Miguel Zenón, Robin Eubanks, Renee Rosnes, Matt Penman and Eric Harland

Joe Lovano (saxophone), Dave Douglas (trumpet), Miguel Zenón (saxophone/flute), Robin Eubanks (trombone), Renee Rosnes (piano), Matt Penman (bass) and Eric Harland (drums) blend their own pieces with those by modern jazz composers. The work of McCoy Tyner has pride of place in this concert. A resolutely innovative jazz! Friday, February 27, Métropolis.


After winning a Félix for Musique du monde in 2003 and delivering a tremendous performance at last summer’s Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, Intakto return with their moving and exciting music! The duo-Alejandro Venegas (guitar/vocals) and Simon Claude (violin)-fill out into a sextet onstage. Navigating between tango and cancion, with the occasional nod to Piazzolla, they’ll present new songs from an album due in 2009. Saturday, February 21, Club Soda.

Alexandre Désilets, Escalader l’ivresse

Having racked up the debut prizes-Ma première Place des Arts, Petite-Vallée, Granby, Révélations Radio‑Canada Musique 2008-Alexandre Désilets is ready for his close-up. With an unclassifiably ethereal Brit/modern sound and a soaring, unique voice, Désilets delivers a seductive pop born of an original aesthetic. After his remarkable appearances at the 20th FrancoFolies de Montréal last summer, in a double bill with Pauline Croze and as part of the blowout marathon 20 ans dans les dents with Gatineau, Karkwa and Malajube, here he is headlining a full-on Montreal show! Thursday, February 26, Club Soda.


Three artists moving through an ocean of influences, a confluence of cultures and musical genres: Silvana Kane, Peruvian singer in love with flamenco and electronica; Adam Popowitz, Canadian guitarist leaning towards new wave, classical and pop; and Toby Peter, Canadian-born bassist raised in Barbados, with a jones for jazz, hip hop, metal and Caribbean rhythms. Result? Love at first listen to the Vancouver-based trio’s Asunción CD, named as one of the Revelations of 2008 by Radio-Canada Musique! Thursday, February 19, Savoy du Métropolis.

Rémi Bolduc, Quand les classiques s’en jazzent!

The Rémi Bolduc Jazz Ensemble, the Quatuor Alcan and the Ensemble Pentaèdre combine their talents to offer a colourful grand premiere concert. Enjoy an evening of music featuring Thelonius Monk classics (arranged by Rémi Bolduc) set off against pieces composed especially for the occasion by the talented Quebec saxophonist. Three renowned ensembles in a concert full of new musical discoveries-jazzing up the classics! Wednesday, February 25, Gesù - Centre de créativité.

Giorgia Fumanti, Je suis

After serenading the four corners of the globe (including a performance at the Beijing Olympic Games), the charismatic Quebec singer of Italian extraction offers us a concert warmed by the musical colours of the Mediterranean, sung in French, English and Italian. On the menu: songs from her recent From My Heart, pieces from the pop and classical repertoires, film music, and the debut performances of songs from Je suis, her first francophone album. Superb, exotic, transporting! Friday, February 27, Église Saint-Jean Baptiste.

Thievery Corporation (Live), RadioRetaliation Tour

Two-man electro gang Thievery Corporation are renowned both for their blend of downbeat, lounge, trip hop, dub, Brazilian jazz and world music, and for their engaged lyrics. That formula won Rob Garza and Eric Hilton a place on the soundtrack to cult film Garden State. With the politicized RadioRetaliation, released last September, the evidence is clear: they’re guilty of musical brilliance! Sunday, February 22, Métropolis.

MIMI 2009 (presented by AMIQ in collaboration with BangBang)

For its 12th edition, the MIMI (Montreal International Music Initiative) takes over the Saints Showbar during the famed Montreal All-Nighter! Join the party beginning at 7 p.m. for a cocktail gathering the cream of Montreal’s alternative and independent cultural communities, followed at 9 p.m. by short presentations from the year’s most promising new Montreal groups, with prizes awarded to support their future international careers. Then, at 11 p.m., it’s party time with the biggest breakout groups and musicians of 2008! Saturday, February 28, Saints Showbar.

Classical music

OSM, Menu à la française

The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal takes a musical trip to France! With conductor Jean‑Claude Casadesus and stunning pianist Nicolas Angelich, this musical evening spotlights three pieces by French composers. Le Carnaval romain by Hector Berlioz opens the evening, followed by Deuxième Concerto pour piano by Camille Saint‑Saëns-an audience favourite for over a century-and Troisième Symphonie with organ, by the same composer, one of the most popular works in the symphonic canon, at the heart of the OSM’s repertoire. Tuesday, February 24, Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Place des Arts.

Les Boeufs envahissent Paris!

On February 21, 1920, in Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, all of Paris discovered Darius Milhaud’s irreverent Le bœuf sur le toit, inspired by Jean Cocteau’s surrealist farces. Almost a century later, the MONTREAL HIGH LIGHTS Festival transforms itself into the Paris of that era to host this wild ballet-pantomime. In this visual as well as musical voyage, organized by director Alexandre Marine and maestro Yuli Turovsky, we are guided by the Orchestre de chambre I Musici to the very heart of the City of Light circa 1920. Mozart’s Symphonie de Paris and Bizet’s Suite de Carmen, revisited by Shchedrin in the company of the Ensemble à percussion Sixtrum, conclude this Parisian escapade. Wednesday, February 25, Théâtre Maisonneuve, Place des Arts.

Angèle Dubeau & La Pietà, Gargantua et autres plaisirs, with Albert Millaire

Angèle Dubeau, La Pietà and Albert Millaire (as narrator) present Les inestimables chroniques du bon Gargantua by Master François Rabelais, restored to their natural state by Jean Françaix, bourgeois decadent and neo-classical composer. The great spirits of the 16th and 20th centuries match up well together, don’t you think? Tuesday, February 24, Théâtre Maisonneuve, Place des Arts.

Arion, Au goût parisien!

Montreal’s baroque orchestra Arion transports us into the heart of 18th century Paris, then the centre of the musical world. There, French musicians like Leclair and Rameau crossed paths with those from abroad such as Telemann and Haydn. It’s an invitation to experience the effervescence of musical Paris, in the company of artistic director and flautist Claire Guimond, and leader and baroque violinist Daniel Cuiller of France. From Friday, February 27 to Sunday, March 1, Redpath Hall, McGill University.

Les jeunes solistes, Love Songs

Love Songs draws nothing but praise: daring and stunning, the performance exclusively features vocals in a hybrid creation of opera and concert music, melding ancient and modern madrigals, costumes and decor, onomatopoeia and humour, Debussy and Ravel! With his young professional singers, founder and director Rachid Safir explores the possibilities of the vocal arts, marrying polyphonic and solo work. Presented by the MONTREAL HIGH LIGHTS Festival and the international Montréal/New Music Festival (MNM). Saturday, February 28, Salle Pierre‑Mercure, Centre Pierre‑Péladeau.

Constantinople, La nuit aux 1000 oreilles

Montreal ensemble Constantinople, clarinet player Lori Freedman, singer Savina Yannatou and ney player Harris Lambrakis recreate the Night of a Thousand Ears depicted by Greek musician and poetess Sappho more than 2,500 years ago. Rereadings and improvisations inspired by ancient musical fragments and poetry await you! Presented in collaboration with Montreal/New Music (MNM). Monday, February 23, Salle Pierre-Mercure, Centre Pierre‑Péladeau.

Dame Emma Kirkby and Daniel Taylor, Sacred Duets of Handel

The superb voice of soprano Dame Emma Kirkby fuses with the countertenor of Canadian star Daniel Taylor in an unforgettable evening devoted to Handel’s sublime duets. Accompanied by the Theatre of Early Music, in the unique acoustic environment of the Grand Séminaire. Thursday, February 19, Grand Séminaire de Montréal.

Dido and Aeneas by Purcell with Daniel Taylor, Suzie Leblanc and Alexander Dobson

The Theatre of Early choir-directed by Canadian star countertenor Daniel Taylor and accompanied by moving soprano Suzie Leblanc and marvellous baritone Alexander Dobson-fill the magnificent chapel in the heart of Old Montreal with the tragic story of Dido and Aeneas. Thursday, February 26, Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours.

The complete program for the gastronomy and wine segment, the Air France Wine and Dine Experience presented by American Express, will be unveiled this coming December 16. The programs of the Celebration of Light and the Montreal All-Nighter will be unveiled in early 2009. The 10th edition of the MONTREAL HIGH LIGHTS Festival will be held from Thursday, February 19 to Sunday, March 1, 2009.

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