Guido Molinari, Hommage à Barnett Newman, 1970. 231 x 292 cm, acrylic on canvas. From the collection of the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal

Boudreau, Walter, Le grand méridien (2002)

Commissioned by the Molinari Quartet

Premiered by the Bozzini Quartet on Jnury 17 2006 Squaring the circle, Redpath Hall - McGill University, Montreal (Quebec)

In 1988, I composed the music of a documentary by Marie Décary; it was about the presence of two Canadian artists at the Venice Biennial, in this case Roland Brener of Vancouver and Michel Goulet of Montréal.

Fascinated by the images of the filmmaker, depicting «contemporary» works parachuted into a Renaissance decor, overflowing with history, I chose to use a basic material that was inspired by this era while «updating» it thanks to transformation techniques patiently developed over the years. I finally chose one of the 46 motets of the Spanish composer Tomas Luis de Victoria (1548-1611) who lived in Venise (!!!) and whose four voices responsory «Tradiderunt Me In Manus Impiorum»(«They have delivered me into the hands of the ungodly») immediately charmed me. Later, I decided to orchestrate certain elements of this film soundtrack and to develop it independently.

What followed were six works, all based on the motet of Tomas Luis de Victoria for different instrumental ensembles, from a grand orchestra with soloist and choir (Le Voyage) to a string quartet (Le Grand Méridien), also including organ, narrator and percussions (Golgot(h)a). We find then, in chronological order:

  1. Tradiderunt Me In Manus Impiorum 1 (1990)
  2. Golgot(h)a (1991)
  3. Encore ces questions sans réponse… (1991)
  4. Encore ces questions sans réponse… (1991)
  5. Le Voyage (1999-2002)
  6. Le Grand Méridien (2002)
  7.  

Le Grand MéridienLe Grand Méridien, (the grand central «nerve»…) closes (for now?) in a way this cycle of «baroque» works, through a process of «extreme» decantation where form and content not only join, but blend beyond the kaleidoscopic prism of historical references and psychedelic intoxication of pure invention, to create an unusual object, itself the carrier of a new «message» and that still remains to be decrypted.

Given this perspective, the «hard-core/heavy-metal» instrumental formation of the string quartet might have served me as an ideal distillation to «boil» all of this rich alchemical concoction, in the hope of finding Radium, or Nirvana, or Redemption.

To be continued…

Walter Boudreau, January 33 2006
English translation : Oliver Haeffly

Score available at the Canadian Music centre, Quebec region, Montreal office

https://cmcquebec.ca/

Boudreau, Walter

Born in Montreal in 1947, composer and conductor Walter Boudreau is one of the leading figures in Canadian contemporary music. Since April 1988, as Artistic Director and conductor of the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec, he has made this organization a leading cultural institution, recognized on the international scene. To date, he has written some sixty-five works for orchestra, various ensembles and soloists, as well as some fifteen film, theatre and two ballet scores, many reflecting his fascination with science and spirituality. Early on, he studied piano and later, saxophone in his teens. At 19, he led his own jazz quartet, and recorded his first album. In 1968, he founded “with poet Raôul Duguay, an experimental group that fell somewhere between rock, happenings, jazz, contemporary music and multimedia. l’Infonie gave some 200 concerts, recorded four albums, published a book and was the subject of the film L'Infonie inachevée by director-producer Roger Frappier.

He has received several grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and has studied in Canada, Europe and the United States, notably with Bruce Mather, Gilles Tremblay, Serge Garant, Mauricio Kagel, Karlheinz Stockhausen, György Ligeti, Olivier Messiaen, Iannis Xenakis and Pierre Boulez. He has also conducted numerous prestigious ensembles and orchestras in contemporary music performances. Among other distinctions, in 1990 he was chosen as the first composer-in-residence with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, for a three-year term. Boudreau was Co-Artistic Director with Denys Bouliane of the Orchestre symphonique de Québec's contemporary music festival Musiques au présent (1998-2000), and continued this partnership for the Symphonie du Millénaire (2000) and the first three editions of the Montréal/Nouvelles Musiques international festival (MNM) - which he has continued to lead on his own since 2009. Jointly they garnered several Opus Awards for "Musical Event of the Year in Quebec" (1999-2000-2003-2008). The Symphonie du Millénaire, a collective work by 19 composers for 333 musicians and 2,000 hand bell-ringers, is a grand participatory and unifying event. Boudreau rewrote it for large orchestra for the 2017 edition of MNM in a concert held at Saint Joseph's Oratory. He also serves as Artistic Director of the SMCQ's Homage Series.

Among other honors, Walter Boudreau was awarded the Opus Prize for "Composer of the Year" in Quebec (1998), the Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prize (2003), and the Prix Denise-Pelletier (Prix du Québec) for the performing arts (2004). In 2013 Boudreau was appointed as Chevalier de l'Ordre national du Québec and in 2014 named as a Member of the Order of Canada. In 2015 he received the Governor General's Performing Arts Award. In 2016 he received the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec's Career Grant for the Performing and Multidisciplinary Arts, recognizing his commitment and exceptional contribution to the discipline, and allowing him to finalize his vast and ambitious project, the five orchestral Berliner Momente, composed over a period of 20 years (1988-2008). In February 2018, his Concerto de l’asile for piano and orchestra was recorded on disc by ANALEKTA with Alain Lefèvre and the National Arts Centre Orchestra conducted by Alexander Shelley. In 2019 Boudreau was appointed as Chevalier de l'Ordre de Montréal.
Boudreau-Walter-quatuor

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