Wednesday night, trail-blazing Montreal maestro Kent Nagano will lift his baton to conduct what is perhaps the world’s first symphonic ode to hockey. Meant to transport Montrealers back to the glory days of the Canadiens and the Montreal Forum, the Hockey Legends concert features an original score, Les Glorieux, punctuated by organ music, a jarring period buzz or two and some spoken-word performances by none other than hockey stars Alex Kovalev, Saku Koivu, Guy Lafleur and Henri (Pocket Rocket) Richard. Nagano commissioned Quebec composer François Dompierre and writer Georges-Hébert Germain to create the piece, which will be performed by the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal at Places des Arts concert hall….
Now, there have been a fair amount of baseball-themed symphonic pieces (including Robert Russell Bennett’s “Dodger Symphony,” with a cameo at the premiere by Red Barber himself), but this is the first I’ve heard of an ode to hockey in the concert hall. California native explained that it all came about as part of his ongoing effort to Get To Know His New Country:
Nagano began to immerse himself in hockey culture shortly after arriving to head the OSM in September, 2006, studying televised games and reading the biographies of legendary National Hockey League greats. But the conductor didn’t really get Canada’s hockey addiction until he attended his first live game: “It was so exciting to be in a jam-packed arena,” Nagano recalls. “I was impressed by the ferocity of the crowd’s emotions. There was such a personal investment and identification with the players. And the mood can change very, very quickly.”
Seems Nagano’s idea hit a responsive chord with the home-town crowd…Not only did they sell all 3,000 seats to the concert; the demand was so great that they also opened up the dress rehearsal to the public. The rest of the program? First Period: Richard Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben ( A Hero’s Life) Second Period: Erik Satie’s Sports et divertissements ( Sports and Entertainment). Third Period: Dompierre’s Les Glorieux. No word on whether the Zamboni came out between pieces at the Place des Arts….
PS. Maybe there’s not a lot of symphonic music devoted to hockey, but there’s an entire site (Canadian, natch) devoted to music for hockey games….