May 9, 2014

Organ inauguration - free recitals

Photo by Gregor Hohenberg

On May 31, 2014, the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal will inaugurate their new pipe organ, the Grand Orgue Pierre-Béique, with a series of free recitals. The concerts will take place in the Espace Milos on the Corbeille level of the Maison Symphonique de Montréal (métro Place-des-Arts - ligne verte). The theme is the organ in the city.

To book your free tickets (2 per person, delivered by email), visit the OSM website. Choose from among the following:

Carnival of the Animals - Recital 1, 11:00 a.m.
     Jean-Willy Kunz, organ
     Patrice Bélanger, actor
Saint-Saëns (arr. Kunz), Carnival of the Animals

Cultural Encounters - Recital 2, 12:30 p.m.
     Christian Lane, organ
Cook, Fanfare
Denis Bédard, Masque
L. Couperin, Chaconne in G minor
Bossi, Intermezzo
Schütz, Dance with Me
Widor, Symphony No. 6, Op. 42, No. 2, “Allegro”

City Music - Recital 3, 2:00 p.m.
     Régis Rousseau, organ
Bach (arr. Guilmant), Cantata Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir, BWV 29, “Sinfonia”
Anonymus, Livre d’orgue de Montréal, Four Pieces in F, Nos. 59 to 62
Bovet, Hamburg Prelude No. 1, “Salamanca”
Vierne, Fantasy Piece, Op. 54, No. 6, “Carillon de Westminster”  

Architecture Through the Ages - Recital 4, 3:30 p.m.
     Hans-Ola Ericsson, organ
Messiaen, Apparition de l’église éternelle (Apparition of the Eternal Church)
Bach, The Musical Offering, BWV 1079, “Ricercare a 6 voci”
Richard P. Scott, Frozen Fountain - Premiere
Mussorgsky (trans. K. John), Pictures at an Exhibition, “The Great Gate of Kiev”

The Church and Mysticism - Recital 5, 5:30 p.m.
     Mireille Lagacé, organ
Bach, Fantasia in G minor, BWV 542
Buxtehude, Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, BuxWV 196
Buxtehude, In dulci jubilo, BuxWV 197
Buxtehude, Lobt Gott, ihr Christen, allzugleich, BuxWV 202
Bach, Prelude and Fugue in B minor, BWV 544

Music and Film - Recital 6, 7:00 p.m.
     Philippe Bélanger, organ
H. Lloyd, Never Weaken (1921)
Film accompanied by organ improvisation

The Rite of Spring on the organ - Recital 7, 8:30 p.m.
     Olivier Latry, organ
     Shin-Young Lee, organ
Stravinsky (trans. Latry), The Rite of Spring (organ four hands)

Bonne écoute !

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May 5, 2014

Indie coffee passport

Photo: Harald Hoyer

26 cafes. 25 dollars. 7 months. 1 passport.

This is the Montréal incarnation of the Indie Coffee Passport, new to the city this year after successful beginnings in Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa. Valid from May 1 to November 30, 2014, passport holders can choose one of five coffee, tea or espresso drinks from each particpating café. At a dollar per drink, the ICP is a great way to discover some great independent and "third wave" coffee spots for less than you'd pay at Tim Horton's (and WAY less than Starbucks).

My personal favourite latté in the city is made by the folks at Café Odessa (65 Beaubien est, métro Beaubien - ligne orange) but I've also had my eye on Le Brûloir (343 Fleury ouest, métro Sauvé - ligne orange) and the famous-for-its-donuts Chez Boris (5252 ave du Parc, bus #80 from métro Parc - ligne bleue).

For all the details, visit

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May 2, 2014

La fête du croissant


Buttery, flaky, crisp, melt-in-your-mouth. What could be a better start to a Saturday morning than a croissant? In the greater Montréal and greater Québec city areas, you can enjoy said croissant for just $1 on Saturday, May 3, 2014 as part of la fête du croissant.

To qualify as an artisanal croissant, the pastry must be rolled by hand and baked on site by an artisan-baker, be made with real butter, and sold fresh on the day it is made.

Some of the boulangeries participating in la fête du croissant are:

• Fous Desserts, 809 rue Laurier est, corner St-Hubert (Montréal)
• Arhoma, corner rue Ontario and Place Simon-Valois (Montréal)
• Marius et Fanny, rue St-Denis (Montréal), rue Piché (Lachine) and Blvd. Samson (Laval)
• Les Co'Pains D'abord, ave. Mont-Royal, rue Rachel Est and rue Masson (Montréal)
• La petite Boulangerie, rue Fleury Est (Montréal)
• Mamie Clafoutis, corner rue St-Denis et ave. Van Horne (Montréal), ch. de la Pointe-Nord (Verdun)
• Boulangerie Pàtisserie Bernillon, rte. du Président Kennedy (Lévis)

Find the full list and a map at this link. The official website of la fête du croissant is here. Bon appétit !

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April 28, 2014

Win a trip to the Montreal Jazz Festival

Want to hear Aretha Franklin, B.B. King, Charlie Haden, Diana Ross, Elvis Costello, or the rest of the alphabet at the 2014 Festival International de Jazz de Montréal?

Right now, Tourisme Montréal has a contest open to residents of Canada and the U.S. The winner receives:

• Airfare for two people to Montréal during the festival de jazz
• Two nights in a hotel near the festival
• Two tickets to one of the jazz festival shows
• Dinner for two at La Societé Bistro

Enter the contest at on or before May 18, 2014.

Looking forward to seeing you at the festival!

April 16, 2014

BIXI season in Montréal

photo by Justine Cotton - BIXI photo contest

It snowed yesterday but that will not stop Mr. Montréal from heading out bright and early on Saturday morning for his first BIXI bike ride of the season. BIXI is a bike share service where any adult with a credit card can borrow a bike in 30-minute increments over 24 hours, 72 hours ... or, if you're an addict like my husband, the whole April 15 - November 15 season.

The bikes are mostly available downtown, near the Plateau, in Rosemont Petite-Patrie and NDG. In this region you will be able to find a station every couple of blocks. This covers all of the tourist areas and most of the student zones for the major universities. If you are west of the Decarie (A15), north of the Métropolitaine (A40) or east of Viau, stations are few and far between. Check the map at for details.

Sample itineraries:

(1) Bike "the Main" (St-Laurent) in Little Italy from Beaubien moving north. Stop for coffee or have breakfast at Le Vieux Vélo (59, Beaubien est), visit the Jean-Talon Market to pick up a picnic lunch, then head north to Parc Jarry to enjoy your picnic.

(2) From Parc or St-Denis, head east on Rachel. Explore Parc Lafontaine before continuing east to Parc Maisonneuve and the museums clustered around the Olympic Park (Biodome, Insectarium, Jardin Botanique, etc.)

(3) Explore the wide, treed streets of Mile End and Outremont. There is a BIXI station right outside St-Viateur Bagel (263, St-Viateur ouest). Hint, hint, nudge, nudge.

BYO helmet and be sure to check the tire pressure before choosing your bike (thanks, Stu, for the tip). You don't need a lock because you will be parking your bike at the BIXI station closest to your destination. And if you are planning a bike expedition that will take you out of the BIXI zone, here's a handy list of bike rental companies in Montréal (courtesy of BIXI).

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A note on comments:  You will find the comment box more easily if you click on the title of the post. I'm working on making it more visible from the blog homepage but so far I'm not having much luck. My apologies for the inconvenience.

March 26, 2014

Baseball returns (for two games)

Hey there, Expos fans! Baseball returns to Montréal this weekend when the Toronto Blue Jays host the New York Mets for two spring training games.

Professional baseball had been a part of Montréal life since the Montreal Royals were founded in 1897. Don Drysdale, Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente all played here when the Royals were the farm team for the Brooklyn Dodgers. In 1969, the Montreal Expos became the first non-U.S. team in Major League Baseball. All of Canada was furious when the players' strike in 1994 brought an end to the Expos' best season ever. I was at their last home game in 2004 -- a sad day.

The group Montreal Baseball Project, led by former Expo Warren "Cro" Cromartie, is seeking to bring a MLB team back to Montreal, so head on over to their website if you're passionate about baseball.

Ticket prices for the Jays versus the Mets range from $22 to $80 (yikes!) including TicketMaster service charges. The games will be played on Friday, March 28th at 7:05 p.m. and Saturday, March 29th at 1:05 p.m. at Olympic Stadium (métro Pie-IX - ligne verte). I'm going to try to convince Mr. Montréal that we should go. Maybe if I agree to go to a soccer game with him this summer.

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A note on comments:  You will find the comment box more easily if you click on the title of the post. I'm working on making it more visible from the blog homepage but so far I'm not having much luck. My apologies for the inconvenience.