Our History

The Orchestre classique de Montréal (OCM), previously known as the McGill Chamber Orchestra, is one of Canada’s oldest and most reputable professional ensembles. Founded in 1939 by the composer and conductor Alexander Brott and principal cellist and first manager Lotte Brott, the OCM prides itself on making high quality musical experiences accessible, intimate, and enjoyable to in-person and virtual audiences in Montréal and beyond. 

The OCM performs a wonderfully eclectic repertoire of traditional, rare, and contemporary works while championing Québécois, Indigenous, and Canadian music and talent. The OCM is committed to inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility for all and believes fervently in the power of music to unite and inspire people of all ages and backgrounds. 

The McGill String Quartet quickly grew into the McGill Chamber Orchestra whose members included many of the principal teachers of the McGill Conservatory of Music as well as many of the principal players in the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, where Alexander Brott served as Concertmaster and Lotte played in the cello section. The McGill Chamber Orchestra was quickly recognized as an ensemble of international standing. 

Under Lotte Brott’s administrative leadership for nearly 50 years, the Orchestra was the first cultural organization in Quebec to initiate corporate sponsorships of cultural organizations. The Orchestra frequently presented concerts on the summit of Mont-Royal and gave free community concerts in the Maurice Richard Arena. Today, the OCM continues its community engagement through its Music for Everyone initiative, as well as with its quartet concerts in hospitals and retirement centres throughout the city. 

The OCM has a vast discography for commercial labels such as ATMA, Analekta and CBC Records, and appeared regularly on television. In Autumn 2019, on the Analekta label, the OCM issued a recording of new compositions awarded by the Azrieli Music Prizes.  In January 2023, the ATMA Classique label released a recording of the OCM in a compilation of works by Maxime Goulet including the Ice Storm Symphony

Of particular note, from the 1970s through to the early 1990s, the OCM undertook annual tours in North and South America as well as Europe, and Asia, visiting a total of seventeen countries on five continents.

In 1989, Maestro Boris Brott, the elder son of Alexander and Lotte, joined the Orchestra as Associate Conductor and, in 2000, was appointed Co-Principal Director. Upon the death of his father in 2005, he was appointed Artistic Director of the OCM, and remained in that position until his own death in April 2022. 

For many decades, the McGill Chamber Orchestra had Yaëla Hertz as its concertmaster, one of the first female concertmasters in Canada. Today, the Orchestra’s concertmaster is the acclaimed violinist Marc Djokic.

The OCM is a leader in the championing of Québécois, Indigenous, and Canadian talent and music. In particular, the OCM has commissioned and premiered more new Québécois works than any other orchestra. This world premiere repertoire includes works by Pierre Mercure, Claude Champagne, Jacques Hétu, Maxime Goulet, Barbara Assiginaak, Larysa Kuzmenko, Carmen Braden, Jaap Nico Hamburger, Alcides Lanza, Kevork Andonian, Jean Vallerand, Walter Boudreau, Albert Chamberland, Jean Papineau-Couture, François Morel, Nicole Lizée, André Prévost, Alexander Brott, and many others.

Some of the greatest artists of the past 80 years have appeared with the OCM. They include: Yo-Yo Ma, David Oïstrakh, Lili Kraus, The Beaux Arts Trio, Mstislav Rostropovitch, Isaac Stern, Ida Haendel, Peter Serkin, Marilyn Horne, Maureen Forrester, Victoria de los Angeles, Yehudi Menuhin, Glenn Gould, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Sondra Radvanovsky, Richard Stoltzman, Marc Hervieux, Stéphane Tétreault, Alexandre da Costa, Karina Gauvin, Rihab Chaieb, and Jan Lisiecki.

In the summer 2023, maestro Jacques Lacombe becomes OCM’s 3rd Artistic Director. 

Discover who Alexander Brott was through his son, Boris Brott. A special moment generously sponsored by the Azrieli Foundation.

Jacques Lacombe
Maestro Jacques Lacombe

Looking Foward

Today, the OCM collaborates with a variety of other cultural organizations such as: Jeunesses Musicales Canada, Les Rugissants, Ensemble Caprice, Festival Classica, the Schulich School of Music, the Atelier lyrique of the Opéra de Montréal, and Les Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal, to name but a few. 

Since Winter 2021, the OCM has been in residence at the Salle Pierre-Mercure of the Pierre-Péladeau Center, a concert hall in the heart of downtown with excellent acoustics and a capacity of 800 seats. The OCM also presents concerts in other venues around Montréal, most notably an annual performance of Handel’s Messiah at Saint Joseph’s Oratory.

Additionally, the OCM is grateful to all of its sponsors and donors that ensure the accessibility of music in, as well as beyond, the concert hall.

The OCM is excited to welcome it’s new Artistic Director, maestro Jacques Lacombe in the summer of 2023. 

The OCM is a not-for-profit organization with a charitable status registered with the federal government: 104010830RR0001

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