Founded by Joseph Vézina in 1902, the Orchestre symphonique de Québec, the oldest active orchestra in Canada, has always been intimately connected with the events that mark the history of Quebec City. Proud of its French heritage, the orchestra is a staunch advocate of Canadian repertoire. Without abandoning its love for the great European and American orchestral repertoire, it has commissioned many new Canadian works. Thanks to this mix of interests and its versatility, the orchestra’s sound has often been identified as that of French America.
This unique sonic color was inherited from and shaped by several artistic directors such as Wilfrid Pelletier, Pierre Dervaux, James DePreist, Simon Streatfeild, and Yoav Talmi, and it has been further refined since 2012, when Fabien Gabel stepped up to the orchestra’s podium. As musical director, Fabien Gabel is exploring more of the French repertoire, also presenting major symphonic works such as Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No. 3, Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, and Strauss’ Alpine Symphony, as well as Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. Over the course of the years, the orchestra has invited a number of prestigious guest conductors and soloists, including Joseph Rouleau, Pierre Monteux, Sergiù Celibidache, Jon Vickers, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Murray Perahia, Maureen Forrester, Radu Lupu, Claudio Arrau, Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Mstislav Rostropovitch, Renata Scotto, Cecilia Bartoli, José van Dam, Plácido Domingo, and Jessye Norman.
Today, renowned artists such as Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Karina Gauvin, Jennifer Larmore, Emanuel Ax, Marc-André Hamelin, André Laplante, Charles Richard-Hamelin, Louis Lortie, Alain Lefèvre, Midori, Maxim Vengerov, James Ehnes, and Renaud Capuçon continue to perform frequently with the orchestra. A leader in cultural education and public outreach, the Orchestre symphonique de Québec contributes to the democratization of symphonic music with innovative projects such as Zoo musical® and the online educational platform la Galerie symphonique. The orchestra’s discography now includes 25 prize-winning titles (Diapason, Félix, Juno, etc.).