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Université de Montréal Big Band

Under the direction of Ron Di Lauro

The Université de Montréal Big Band is made up of about twenty musicians who bring passion and energy to their exploration of the repertoire of jazz classics by the greatest composers and arrangers, as well as Latin, fusion and current music.

A talent making itself heard

The many Gold mentions earned by the ensemble at the JazzFest des jeunes du Québec are brilliant testimony to the talent of these young musicians and their leader, well-known trumpeter Ron Di Lauro. Besides the concerts presented every year at Salle Claude-Champagne, the Université de Montréal Big Band has also performed at Maison de la culture Claude-Léveillée.

Three albums to their name

After recording a first album in the fall of 2008, the Université de Montréal Big Band released its second album, Transit, in autumn 2013.

The recording Chrome, meanwhile, a third opus that appeared in 2020 and is available online, highlights compositions and arrangements by Faculty of Music students.

In order to encourage research-creation, the Big Band regularly performs compositions and arrangements by students from the composition and sound creation programs, who do residencies with Faculty of Music ensembles. 

Ambitious projects

In the last few years, the Université de Montréal Big Band has collaborated with the École supérieure de ballet du Québec and choreographer Anne Dryburgh on a number of projects:

  • The Nutcracker Suite by Duke Ellington (2013, 2016 and 2019)
  • Time Out by Dave Brubeck (2010)
  • The overture from Strike Up the Band by George Gershwin (2008)

Also, in November 2018 a concert was dedicated entirely to the music of George Gershwin and featured pianist John Roney, professor at the Faculty of Music, performing Rhapsody in Blue with the Big Band and Ron Di Lauro.

Internationally recognized guest artists

Over the years, the Université de Montréal Big Band’s concert guests have included:

  • Pianists Oliver Jones and Lorraine Desmarais
  • Composers Michel Legrand, Maria Schneider and Michael Abene
  • Saxophonists David Liebman, Donny McCaslin, David Binney, Samuel Blais, Jean-Pierre Zanella, Rémi Bolduc and Chris Potter
  • Trumpeters Randy Brecker, Ingrid Jensen and Tim Hagans
  • Bassists Dave Holland and Alain Caron
  • Clarinetist André Moisan
  • Cuban drummers Giraldo Piloto and Ignacio Berroa
  • Singers Carol Welsman, Ranee Lee and Ginette Reno
  • Artists Gregory Charles and Breen Lebœuf

Sophie Desmarais, Université de Montréal Big Band ambassador

Since 2007, the Université de Montréal Big Band has benefited from the generous support of Sophie Desmarais, the ensemble’s ambassador.

Thanks to the “Fonds Sophie Desmarais pour le Big Band de l’Université de Montréal,” scholarships are awarded to students doing a bachelor’s and a master’s in jazz performance. That important charitable fund also contributes to inviting recognized masters and to promoting the Big Band.

Sophie Desmarais additionally created the “Prix de l’ambassadrice du Big Band de l’Université de Montréal pour fin d’études (1er cycle),” which allows for the awarding of scholarships each year to students who have stood out through their exceptional talent and their exemplary participation in the ensemble.

The Faculty of Music thanks Sophie Desmarais for her unwavering support as it pursues its mission of excellence.

For everything there is to know about Université de Montréal Big Band concerts, consult our calendar.

Resource people

Ron Di Lauro, music director
Samuel St-Hilaire, manager