Kahnawake born violinist steps to the front of the stage with Montreal orchestra

Kahnawake-born violinist Tara-Louise Montour was recently the soloist with the Classical Orchestra of Montreal for a performance of Quebec composer Louis Babin’s violin concerto Phoenix when it made its premiere with the orchestra.

“It’s definitely an honour to be asked to play solo with the orchestra,” Montour told APTN News ahead of the concert on Feb. 27. “It’s a role that I have had the pleasure and honour of playing several times in the past as well. So, it’s kind of feels a little bit like a homecoming in that sense,” Montour said during an interview before the concert.

Montour joined the orchestra in 2019 after serving as a substitute violinist for 15 years.

However, this concerto, performed only once in France in 2015, presented a challenge – there was no recording.

“When I got the score, I was working from scratch and just having to figure out the whole thing, and definitely it’s a process,” she said. “A slow rather steep learning curve to make my way through the music.”

She added that being able to discuss the musical score with Babin made the process easier.

“We had our first rehearsal a coupler of days ago with the orchestra and it was the first time that I had heard it all together. So that was an amazing experience because a lot made sense all of a sudden. And there were a few surprises too.”

The story of Phoenix is one of death and rebirth which Babin believes most people can relate to.

“I’ve had a lot of changes of direction in my life, and I think that affects a lot of people. Not everyone will get cancer, but a lot of people will have to change jobs or location. So, for me, that’s what Phoenix represents,” Babin said.

Moreover, he said that he was grateful that the orchestra agreed to present the concert as part of its programming, especially considering the lack of recording.

Taras Kulish, the director general of the orchestra, said that the story and music complement each other and really draw people in.

“It’s part of our mission to present Indigenous artists, composers and authors at least once a year. This year we’ve chosen Tara-Louise,” Kulish said.

Many of Montour’s community members from Kahnawake attended the concert.

“I am very happy to have the support from the community because yes it has been a long road of concerts leading up to this type of event. It warms my heart,” she said.

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