Our History

The Orchestre classique de Montréal (OCM) is the new name adapted in 2019 for what was previously known as the McGill Chamber Orchestra. It is one of Canada’s oldest and most established chamber orchestras and was founded in 1939 by Artistic Director, conductor and composer Alexander Brott and his wife, Lotte Brott, cellist and General Manager until 1998.

Founded in 1939, the McGill String Quartet grew into an orchestra which had as its members principal teachers of the McGill Conservatory of Music and eventually principal players in the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, where Alexander Brott served as Concertmaster and Lotte played in the cello section. The orchestra was quickly recognized as an ensemble of international standing and welcomed the first female Concertmaster for many decades, Yaëla Hertz. Today, the orchestra’s Concertmaster is the acclaimed violinist Marc Djokic.

In 1989, Boris Brott joined the orchestra as Associate Conductor and, in 2000, was appointed co-conductor. Upon the death of his father in 2005, he was appointed Artistic Director of the OCM.

Some of the greatest artists of this century 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, and Jan Lisiecki.

The OCM has recorded regularly for commercial labels such as Analekta and CBC Records, and appeared regularly on television. Of particular note, from the 1970’s to the early 90’s, were its annual tours in North and South America as well as Europe, and Asia. In the fall of 2019, on the Analekta label, the OCM issued a recording of new compositions awarded by the Azrieli Music Prizes.

In its 81 years of existence and predating the arts councils, the OCM commissioned and presented more Quebec new works than any other orchestra. It has given life to an impressive amount of new repertoire from composers such as Pierre Mercure, Claude Champagne, Jacques Hétu, Jean Vallerand, Alexander Brott, Walter Boudreau, Albert Chamberland, Jean Papineau-Couture, François Morel, Nicole Lizée, Maxime Goulet, André Prévost, Alcides Lanza and several others.

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

Looking Foward

Today, the orchestra is a vibrant ensemble consisting of the city’s best professional musicians and presents concerts throughout the year in the finest halls of Montreal such as Maison symphonique, Bourgie Hall, Salle Pierre-Mercure, Oscar Peterson Hall, and St-Joseph’s Oratory, among others. Starting in 2020, the OCM is proud to be in residence at the acoustically superior, 800 seat theatre, Salle Pierre-Mercure of the Centre Pierre-Péladeau in downtown Montreal.

The OCM prides itself on being one of the most collaborative organizations in the city. It regularly joins forces with Montreal’s finest organizations such as the Concours Musical International de Montréal, Jeunesses Musicales du Canada, Concours international d’orgue du Canada, Petits chanteurs du Mont-Royal, Festival Classica, Opera McGill, Pro Musica, and l’Atelier Lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal.

The OCM is most grateful for the continuing support of the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, the Conseil des arts de Montréal, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Government of Canada and all of its donors and sponsors.

The OCM is a not-for-profit organisation with a charitable status registered with the Federal Government: 104010830RR0001

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