On September 21st and September 22nd, Manitoba will have a taste of the French city of Marseille. Winnipeg’s foremost new music organization GroundSwell, will welcome to the Province Ensemble Télémaque the acclaimed ensemble from Marseille, France. They will be performing at 7:30pm on Wednesday, September 21st at Theatre Circle Moliere here in Winnipeg and at 7:30pm Thursday, September 22nd at Brandon University’s Lorne Watson Recital Hall.

Founded by Artistic Director Raoul Lay in 1994, Ensemble Télémaque’s mission has been to connect Marseille and the Ensemble with composers and audiences around the world via international performances.

In the process the ensemble has become one of the most esteemed new music ensembles in the world, premiering many compositions written especially for the amazing musicians of the ensemble, and exposing audiences to incredible new sounds.

The concerts on the September 21st and 22nd are part of an exchange program that is in the process of taking place between Ensemble Télémaque and GroundSwell. Back in 2017 concert curator Jim Hiscott talked with the director of Ensemble Télémaque Raoul Lay about the possibility of having new compositions by Canadian composers performed in Marseille. Then once again here in Winnipeg. The idea being that Ensemble Télémaque would make the trip to perform these pieces for Manitoba audiences.

The concert in Marseille took place in 2019 and was a huge success, but then the pandemic hit, and the performances of these new works here in Manitoba needed to be postponed until travel restrictions were lifted. As Jim Hiscott explains, “We were unable to do part two, where they came to Canada…it was supposed to have happened back in 2020. So here we are in 2022… finally we are able to do that. We are really excited about that. We are really excited that they are going to be here, and we are very happy to be hosting them in Manitoba.”

There are three events that the Ensemble Télémaque will take part in while they are in Manitoba. There will be a private performance for students at Collège Louis Riel on Tuesday the 20th. Then there are two performances that will be open to the public. The Concert on Wednesday, September 21st at 7:30pm at Théâtre Cercle Molière in Winnipeg, and then a second concert on Thursday, September 22nd at 7:30pm at Brandon University’s Lorne Watson Recital Hall.

The four Canadian composers on the program are Bekah Simms from Toronto, James O’Callaghan from Montreal, Rita Ueda from Vancouver, and Jim Hiscott from Winnipeg. “We tried to get a different range of styles of music, but also different ages of composers and diversity,” says Hiscott.

Ensemble Télémaque chose other pieces that would complement the four Canadian compositions on the program. There are three pieces by French composers Jaques Rebotier, Pascal Dusapin, and Georges Aperghis, and one piece by American composer Max Lifchitz. Ensemble Télémaque takes all of the compositions and creates a theatrical presentation. As Hiscott explains, “They (Ensemble Télémaque) have a stage director too… Olivier Pauls…who constructed a scenario. So the show has music in the foreground…but as the audience will discover when they come, there is a theatrical dimension as well.”

“Marseille in Manitoba” has been a long time coming, but it is sure to be well worth the wait! All of the music, mixed in with Ensemble Télémaque’s theatrical and often very humorous presentation is sure to engage and completely entertain audiences.

For tickets you can go to GroundSwell’s Eventbrite webpage, or tickets will be available at the door. The price is pay-what-you-can how-you-can, so there is no financial barrier to seeing this phenomenal group from France. What a great wat to start out GroundSwell’s 2022-23 season!