Concert features plenty of 'Pictures'

I Musici de Montreal has some explaining to do.

The Montreal-based chamber string orchestra will feature Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" during its concert Saturday in Rochester. But this is no ordinary concert performance — and that's where the explanations come into play.

Mussorgsky's piece was inspired, of course, by paintings at an exhibition by Russian artist Viktor Hartmann. Mussorgsky had been quite taken with Hartmann's work, and when the artist died in 1873, the composer helped arrange a retrospective exhibition of Hartmann's work. He then composed a 10-movement piece inspired by some of the paintings. It became perhaps Mussorgsky's best-known composition.

Fast forward to 2010 and I Musici de Montreal. The orchestra, directed by Russian native Yuli Turovsky, will perform Mussorgsky's composition while paintings inspired by the music are projected on a large screen behind the stage. Portions of the paintings are animated, and are choreographed to match the music.

The ground-breaking presentation fits with the forward-looking style of I Musici de Montreal, which has developed a reputation for energetic and imaginative ways of bringing the classics to new audiences.


The orchestra was founded in 1983 by Turovsky, who was born in Moscow and began playing cello at the age of 7. In 1969, he won the Soviet Union cello competition, and within a few years immigrated to Canada. There, he played in trios and as a guest soloist with orchestras before forming I Musici de Montreal.

The orchestra performs about 100 concerts a year, and has appeared not only across North America, but also in Europe. The ensemble won a Canadian Juno Award for Best Classical Album in 1997, and received a 2010 Juno nomination for the album "Tchaikovsky: Souvenir de Florence."

I Musici de Montreal is a family affair for Turovsky. His wife, Eleonora, is concert master for the orchestra, and his daughter, Natasha Turovsky, plays in the orchestra and choreographed the film for the Mussorgsky music.

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