Université de Montréal Big Band
Under the direction of João Lenhari
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.
For 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.
The very last album, Intemporel, was released in December 2022. The Big Band plays a selection of pieces created by students in the composition and arrangement classes of Jean-Nicolas Trottier and John Roney. The album also features the UdeM Jazz Chamber Orchestra in a Fred Stride arrangement of Kind of Blue.
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.
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, Lorraine Desmarais and Hilario Durán
- 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
- Trombonist Elliot Mason
- Singers Carol Welsman, Ranee Lee, Ginette Reno and Sofija Knezevic
- 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.