When I speak of my town with people who do not live in it, I paint Québec City as a city of culture. There are many opportunities to discover free artistic endeavours, for all ages. In the summer, events mainly take place outside in the various parks. When the cool season arrives, we can benefit from pop-up spots or indoor cultural activities.
My favourite art forms are indisputably music, theatre and visual arts. But I must admit, music is present in my daily life, and it has been for quite a while now. The taste—the genuine interest—for arts develops at a very young age. And when it has been tasted, it’s hard to remain indifferent. But we do have to live cultural experiences to understand all their richness.
Québec City has us covered with a diversified offer (mainly during summer) including many free opportunities (e.g. the Edwin-Bélanger bandstand, events such as neighbourhood parties, and the FEQ (Québec Summer Festival), with its cœur du FEQ section. Place d’Youville is also a good spot to visit several times a year, allowing for the discovery of awesome artists. The benefit of free events is that they often showcase pleasant and surprising musical encounters. Open-mindedness helps to get caught off guard, without any expectation. It’s often times under such circumstances that I come out dazzled.
I occasionally challenge myself to live experiences out of the box. I tried opera, among other things. I’ll confess, it was not love at first sight but I would like to try again in a few years. This desire to step out of my comfort zone has once pushed me to give modern dance a try. What I learned resulted in a better understanding of this art discipline, which now shines another light on this type of dance.
Let’s not forget that, only a few years ago, major symphony orchestras (Orchestre Symphonique de Québec and Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal) mounted a charming campaign aimed at a younger audience. It proved so successful that to this day, their concerts with guest musicians make me rush to the venues. I think of OSQ concerts with guest musician Richard Desjardins, or Cowboys Fringants, of which I cherish fond memories.
As you might have guessed, I am a big fan of FEQ since our affiliated hotel—Hôtel Château Laurier Québec—vibrates to the rhythm of that festival, quite literally. My love of FEQ started at a very young age. At around five years old, my parents would take my little sister and I to the festival to experience the particular realities of a concert. Our initiation into shows before live audiences has been done at a fairly early stage in life.
One memorable concert for me was Les Colocs at the Havre-aux-Maisons civic centre in Îles-de-la-Madeleine, in 1995. I had become fully aware of the close relationship artists maintain with their audience. In addition to the words and melodies sung by both the assistance and the band, I felt a strong connection that could only last for one night. You have to be there, at that very moment, to grasp it. Just like when we say to others, “I was there myself!”
More recent events have marked my life:
The Cat Empire’s 2013 concert in Montreal: I love to dance, get carried away, live life to its fullest during the show. And at that particular moment, I could not help but let the party get to me.
Florence and the Machine at the Osheaga Festival in 2015: the lead singer runs across the stage, gives all she can, and abandons herself to an act of communion with the audience. It inspires me: this mutual respect between the artist and the assistance.
To me, attending a concert, a show or a popular event such as these is worth the cost. I see it as an investment into a unique experience that will fill me with happiness. I must admit, I plan my budget accordingly so I can attend a certain number of concerts in a year.
Gabrielle Shonk is a favourite of mine that still surprises me to this day. While I enjoy her vocal versatility, I rediscovered her under a new light, during the Québec Jazz Festival last June. Boasting a jazz voice training, she had all it took to join six other extraordinary singers (including the great Sheila Jordan) and give us seven generations of jazz singers. I have seen this show and my heart is still filled with emotion. I recently went back to see her at the Imperial and, once again, she managed to impress the audience. This time with several new songs and creative collaborations with various guest musicians such as Matt Holubowski. I express a small pride in knowing that, like me, she is from Québec City.
When I am not the one discovering new artists, friends sometimes ask me to join them to see a musician or a band, known or yet to be. My favourite artists vary depending on the findings. I always had a little something for world music (those who know me know my fondness for Latin rhythms). I also like francophone music, but not exclusively that which adheres to the conventions of our beautiful language. I love pluriculturalism. I enjoy hearing a Charlotte Cardin who goes from song to song alternating between French and English. I like a Loud who intersperses his prose with present-day expressions and idioms. The Festival d’été de Québec and Osheaga Festival allow me to quench my thirst for emerging music, and to discover new artists and sounds.
I like to keep an open mind in regards to different musical genres: each of them carries the intensity of the performer/audience relationship. Besides, it pays to open up to the musical tastes of peers. At Hôtel Château Bellevue, we grant considerable freedom to guests regarding the musical atmosphere. We thus customize the experience for both those who enjoy their stay and those who work here on a daily basis. Next time you pay us a visit, lend your ear and try to recognize the song playing upon entering the hall. If you are curious, you might as well try to guess whose special request it was. The reception clerk’s? The housekeeping attendant’s? The guests who enjoy a drink in the hall, in awe before Old Québec’s autumn scenery? Who knows…?
In the end, I hope I have instilled the desire to share your musical favourites—those that inspire you in both your personal and professional lives. For my part, autumn is tinted with culture! In a next post, I will share my impressions on the brand new Le Diamant venue, which recently opened in Old Québec.