Festival International de Lanaudière

The Festival International de Lanaudière (formerly Festival d'été de Lanaudière) is an annual musical event that has occurred every summer since its inception in 1978. The idea for the festival was conceived of by Fernand Lindsay, Cleric of Saint-Viateur and director of the Centre Culturel de Joliette, who in 1977 invited the ORCHESTRE SYMPHONIQUE DE MONTRÉAL to perform in the Cathedral of Joliette, Québec, for 3 summer performances. The success of this event inspired Lindsay to establish a permanent summer festival, similar to those that he had attended in Europe a few years earlier.

The first Festival d'été de Lanaudière was organized in 1978 by Lindsay, Marcel Masse and René Charette and consisted of a series of 8 concerts celebrating the 150th anniversary of Schubert's death as its theme. In the same year, Marcel Masse was elected the first president of the festival. In 1979, the festival expanded to feature 35 concerts in venues outside Joliette, including several churches in the Lanaudière region, and the Camp musical de Lanaudière at Lake Priscault in Saint-Côme.

With the hope of garnering international recognition for the music festival, Father Fernand Lindsay and the festival's collaborators invited world-renowned ensembles and soloists such as Marilyn Horne, Frederica von Stade and Rudolf Nureyev. In 1987 it was certain that the Lanaudière Festival had become much more than a regional event. In 1989, in order to keep up with the growing popularity of the event, a large amphitheatre was built with a seating capacity of 10 000.

Since its inception the Festival International de Lanaudière has become an important venue for internationally acclaimed ensembles and artists such as June Anderson, Cecilia Bartoli, Angèle DUBEAU, Till Fellner, Marc-André HAMELIN, Ben HEPPNER, Angela HEWITT, Marilyn Horne, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Anton KUERTI, Alexandre Lagoya, Alicia de Larrocha, Louis LORTIE, Ewa Podles, Richard MARGISON, Itzhak Perlman, Mstislav Rostropovitch, Frederica von Stade, Maxim Vengerova, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonic, Charles Dutoit and the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, I MUSICI DE MONTRÉAL, Ivan Fisher and the Budapest Festival Orchestra, Neville Marriner and the Academy of St-Martin-in-the-Fields, Pinchas Zukerman with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, and the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra.

The festival has often created annual themes, including Schubert (1978), Beethoven (1979), Mozart (1980), "Mostly Bach" (1985), Tchaikovsky, César Franck, and Martinù (1990). In 1984 the festival began incorporating musical talent inclined toward popular genres, inviting performers such as the François Bourassa Trio, the Dave Brubeck Quartet, Francis Cabrel, Céline DION, Diane DUFRESNE, Michel Fugain, the Keith Jarrett Trio, Daniel Lavoie, Paul Piché, Michel Rivard, Oscar PETERSON, Fabienne Thibeault and Gilles VIGNEAULT. In 1986 the rock opera Starmania was performed. Several operas have been presented, including Faust and The Magic Flute (1986), Boris Godunov and The Pearl Fishers (1988), Prince Igor and Orpheus and Euridice (1989), Le Rossignol, Les Mamelles de Térésias (2000) and Iolanta (2002).

In addition to playing host to internationally acclaimed artists, the festival takes pride in showcasing young performers and local talent. June 2002 marked the 25th anniversary of the festival. To celebrate this occasion there was an inaugural anniversary concert on the amphitheatre stage, featuring a performance of Mahler's Eighth Symphony by eight soloists, an orchestra of 125 and a chorus of 300. The Festival International de Lanaudière has established itself internationally as one of Canada's leading venues for classical music in the summer months.