Montreal - Summer has come to Montreal, and this excitable francophone city is exploding with life: street fairs choke the Vieux-Ville, outdoor art and music abounds in the Latin Quartier, bars spill out onto the sidewalk all along Boulevard Saint-Laurent.
But when the weather gets warm, Montreal is known above all else for its festivals. (See here for highlights from my first visit in 2009.) According to the city's official website, there are over 100 festivals each year held in Montreal, with the majority happening from May-September. Some, such as the Montreal Jazz Festival and MUTEK (which goes off this week) have worldwide reputations that draw thousands of tourists to town. Others, such as the avant-jazz/experimental fest Suoni Per Il Popolo, are more homegrown, programming a mix of local and international performers over several weeks to give locals a sense of the larger musical world outside this medium-sized city.
Such is the raison d'etre of the Montreal Chamber Music Festival, now in it's 17th year. (The festival, which began with a series of free outdoor performances on May 10, continues through June 2.) As with other events in a town known for it's fluid festival programming, the MCMF takes a broad view of "chamber music," incorporating not just classical music but jazz, world music, even dance into it's programming.