Ode to Joy – Kent Nagano’s last season at the OSM

By Imane Chafi

The soft sound of the flute rings in your ears, slowly transforming into waves of violins clashing with the deep sound of the trombones. A sole conductor, illuminated by a bright blinding light, stands at the base of the dias and guides the ocean of sounds into an elaborate performance. This experience is shared by many as they witness the Montreal Symphonic Orchestra (MSO) in action, with their renowned musical director, Kent Nagano, leading them forward. To musicians, a conductor is more than simply a helping hand that guides you through the intonations of the music score, but rather a force of nature that represents the orchestra itself. A good conductor can bring forth the best in musicians, while keeping the audience entranced and excited for what’s to come. To commemorate Kent Nagano’s last season at the MSO, we decided to dedicate this article to his accomplishments that helped bring Montreal into the international music scene.


Kent Nagano joined the MSO in September 2006, after achieving acclaim in the music world for his work in the LA Opera as the principal conductor and musical director. From Beethoven to Zemlinsky and Mahler, Kent Nagano performed numerous musical recordings with orchestras from around the world and even produced a great discograĥy of his best orchestra recordings. As the musical director of the MSO, he introduced the orchestra to the public by hosting free summer concerts for the Montreal community. This helped make the orchestra more popular as it was not only a phenomenal way to enjoy the music but also to experience it as well. He therefore created the campaign “Come See the Music” for the orchestra, an ode to the way they not only played music, but performed it, as would an actor in a theater. Under his direction, he was able to inaugurate the Maison Symphonique, an enormous concert hall that became one of Montreal’s landmarks. To make the MSO grow internationally, Kent Nagano increased the programs’ scope and made world tours possible with the experience he obtained from working in Europe as a conductor for the London Symphony Orchestra. An inspiration to many, he kept shaping the orchestra into this amazing ensemble, engaging with the youth and promoting music as a way to bring people together while sharing his passion for creativity. If you have ever been to one of the Symphonic Orchestra’s performances, you would know that Kent Nagano’s presence and the Maison Symphoniques’ warm, wooden architecture make it seem as though the orchestra is playing just for you.


For his last season in the MSO, Kent Nagago will perform Mahler’s Symphony No.2, the Resurrection Symphony, which fits perfectly with the idea of the new beginning Kent Nagano will entail as he leaves the MSO. The first presentation of this piece is scheduled for June 2nd, 2020. The Montreal community would not be what it is today without his efforts in promoting and providing a musical space for musicians. If you have never been to one of the MSO’s performances, and you would like to know what it’s all about, I would highly encourage you to go before Kent Nagano leaves, so that you might be able to experience “seeing the music”.