Travel and tourism
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Port Symphony A Hoot!
Quebecers tend to be a hardy lot, willing to go out in just about any kind of weather to listen to a free concert, so when
the 2007 edition of the Port Symphony took place on a mild Sunday afternoon in early March, several hundred people turned out
to enjoy it. This was the 13th annual Port Symphony, held on the waterfront of Montreal’s Old Port, and organized by the
Pointe-à-Callière Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History. Every year this event features a new composition incorporating
the sounds of ships’ horns, train whistles and church bells.
The ships that take part in the symphony are lakers – vessels that in summer carry cargo on the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence
Seaway and St. Lawrence River. Several lakers always spend the winter in the Old Port, locked in ice beside the piers.
Besides the ships, two blue locomotives were parked on the railroad tracks that run through the
port, ready to play their parts in the performance.
| Percussionist Merlin Ettore|
The opening act was a lively percussion piece, played on green metal drums, cymbals and a large sheet of aluminum.
Montreal composer and drummer Merlin Ettore performed his original work with percussionist Joannie Labelle. The musicians,
dressed in white jackets and pants and with their faces covered behind white ski masks, blended in with the snowy surroundings,
but their beats were reminiscent of tropical, tribal lands.
Composer André Duchesne’s specially commissioned work featured an electric guitar in dialogue with the horns
and whistles. On stage, guitarist Bernard Falaise made his instrument transmit a twangy morse code message, “Hello, New York,
Montreal here. Come in, please!” The ships and locomotives across the street responded.
never know just how this concert will turn out. The music may be blown
away by the wind, or it may echo between
the surrounding buildings. If you stand near the ships, you will have a
very different experience than if you are close to the stage.
And you may be comfortable or cold, depending on whether you are in the
sun or exposed to the wind. Never mind, that’s all part
of the fun!
Copyright Janice Hamilton 2007