When it comes to edgy, it doesn’t get more musically adventurous than the annual three-week Suoni Per Il Popolo festival, June 4-22. The now 15-year-old brainchild (brainteen?) of the founders of leading indie music scene venues Casa del Popolo and Sala Rossa, Suoni Per Il Popolo presents approximately 50 concerts featuring an eclectic range of experimental and avant-garde music and sound (think free jazz, musique actuelle, avant-rock, noise, etc.) that pushes boundaries into places where no boundaries should ever be. Operating under the very a propos motto “It’s classical… it’s cool, ” the Montreal Chamber Music Festival (June 6-21) turns a very respectable 20 years old this year. From humble beginnings (the first concert, in 1995, was performed in the chalet atop Mount Royal) the much-expanded fest featuring several differently themed series now occupies many of the top concert halls in the city, including Place des Arts.
When the Montreal Folk Festival on the Canal was born in 2008, it was a one-day event that drew approximately 500 folk faithful. The event was such a hit, with its picturesque park placement alongside Montréal’s historic Lachine Canal, that it now draws close to 10, 000 for five days of folk, roots and bluegrass featuring both emerging artists and folk royalty. This year’s fest takes place June 17-21.
It’s also the time for some of Montréal’s biggest music fest hitters to take their turn at bat, beginning with Les Francofolies de Montréal which will be knocking French songs out of the linguistic park from June 11 to 20 downtown at the Quartier des Spectacles. With close to 70 indoor and 180 free outdoor shows featuring a magnifique selection of local and international francophone artists, the Francos are your passport to the wide world of French pop, rock, blues, jazz and more. Less than a week later, the Francos’ big sister steps up to the plate. The Montréal International Jazz Festival, from June 26 to July 5, needs little introduction, but heck, we’ll do it anyway: the planet’s greatest, grandest jazz fest turns 36 this year with hundreds of concerts representing numerous genres including some 300 free outdoor shows that inundate downtown Montréal with a flood of music-loving merriment.
If the big city scene isn’t necessarily to your summertime tastes, treat yourself to a scenic, 45-minute drive to St-André-d’Argenteuil. The town’s historic Carillon Park will play host to a brand beatin’ new electronic music fest with the catchy acronym AIM (i.e., “Art Innovation Movement”) from June 26 to 28. Promising an immersive experience for all electronic music fans in the shadow of the massive, monolithic monuments marking the location of the Battle of Long Sault, the AIM Festival offers a literal breath of fresh air when it comes to the electro-fest experience. Some 50 top-tier EDM artists are on tap for the non-stop, 32-hour dance party, and camping onsite is encouraged.
Occupying roughly the same time slot, though not the same brain space, is the 13th edition of the Montréal Baroque Festival, June 25-28, taking place at McGill University downtown. In their own words: “Earth to ether, alcohol to flames, tobacco to smoke and terrestrial to celestial; transformations will inspire the 2015 Montreal Baroque Festival!” If the imaginative titles of the many concerts are any indication – In Bach’s Orbit, Vivaldi and the Gypsies, and The Angelic Virgin, for example – this will be an inspired affair indeed.