Turmoil and tears at I Musici de Montreal

Turmoil and tears at I Musici de Montreal


norman lebrecht

December 09, 2020

The Montreal ensemble is in seeming disarray.

Conductor Jean-Marie Zeitouni (pictured) has left abruptly after ten years, apparently not of his own free will.

An interim ‘adviser’ has been installed.

Here’s the press release:

The Montreal Chamber Orchestre I Musici is pleased to announce the appointment of conductor Jean-Francois Rivest as musical advisor and first guest conductor. Mr. Rivest will take up his duties as of January 1, 2021 and will plan the upcoming seasons and conduct the orchestra as the first guest conductor.
′′ We are very pleased to welcome Jean-Francois Rivest to the team,’ stressed Louise Vaillancourt, chairman of the board of directors.

Jean-Francois Rivest is a well-known and appreciated figure in Quebec’s classical environment. Trained at the Montreal Conservatory and Juilliard School in New York, he was Conductor-in-Residence at the Montreal Symphony Orchestre, Artistic Director of the Laval Symphony Orchestre and Thirteen String Ensemble d ‘Ottawa and Artistic Director of the Centre d’ Orford arts. Since 1992, he has been teaching orchestra conducting at the Université de Montréal, provides various advanced interpretation courses and conducts the UDM (OUM) orchestra he founded.

I Musici would like to warmly thank the conductor Jean-Marie Zeitouni who has been at the helm of the orchestra for more than ten years. His passage will have been noticed by his innovation and professionalism. He will have kept the whole set at a high professional level. The musical legacy he leaves behind will remain a very valuable achievement for the orchestra. 


L’Orchestre de chambre I Musici de Montréal est heureux d’annoncer la nomination du chef d’orchestre Jean-François Rivest à titre de conseiller musical et premier chef invité. Monsieur Rivest entrera en fonction à compter du 1er janvier 2021 et assurera la programmation des prochaines saisons et la direction de l’orchestre à titre de premier chef invité.
“Nous sommes très heureux d’accueillir Jean-François Rivest au sein de l’équipe” de souligner Louise Vaillancourt, présidente du conseil d’administration.
Jean-François Rivest est une figure connue et appréciée du milieu classique québécois. Formé au Conservatoire de musique de Montréal et à la Juilliard School de New York, il a été chef en résidence à l’Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, directeur artistique de l’Orchestre symphonique de Laval et du Thirteen strings Ensemble d’Ottawa puis directeur artistique du Centre d’arts Orford. Depuis 1992, il enseigne la direction d’orchestre à l’Université de Montréal, assure divers cours d’interprétation avancés et dirige l’orchestre de l’UDM (OUM) qu’il a fondé.
I Musici tient à remercier chaleureusement le chef Jean-Marie Zeitouni qui aura été à la barre de l’orchestre pendant plus de dix ans. Son passage aura été remarqué par son innovation et son professionnalisme. Il aura su garder l’ensemble à un niveau professionnel élevé. L’héritage musical qu’il laissera derrière lui demeurera un acquis très précieux pour l’orchestre.


  • Herr Doktor says:

    We happened to be in Montreal during an I Musici de Montreal concert and went, and were pleasantly surprised by what we heard. This was during the era when Yuli Turlovsky, the founder, was still at the helm, and his wife was still playing too (they’ve both since passed away). They were dedicated, musical, and engaged, and the concert was very enjoyable. While the orchestra may not have a footprint in the U.S., at that time we thought it was a first-rate local orchestra that would have been a credit to any city or country’s musical life. It’s sad to hear that the orchestra may have hit hard times. Hopefully it will endure and at the level of quality that certainly existed when its founder was still in the picture.

  • Herr Doktor says:

    Oops…my apologies, it’s Yuli Turovsky, not Yuli Turlovsky.

    • David K. Nelson says:

      This is the first I knew that Yuli Turovsky and his wife were both deceased. Sad to learn it as they were fine artists. Turovsky and I Musici de Montréal made a marvelous recording for Chandos of the string orchestra arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s sextet, Souvenir de Florence.

  • Edgar Self says:

    Yuli Turovsky is also remembered as cellist of the Borodin Trio with Rostislav Dubinsky and Luba Edlina. I saw them play Tchaiovsky’s trio in Chicago and talked to them afterward. He died in 2013, Dubinsky in 1997.

    In his book “Stormy Applause” Dubinsky wrote the history of the Borodin Quartet, which he had founded in 1946 as a student at Moscow Conservatory. Dubinsky left Russia after Shostakovich’s death in 1975, having premiered or played the second performances of Shostakovich quartets after the Beethoven Quartet, who had premiered all but the first and last, the fifteenth, with its echoes of Haydn’s “Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross”. Shostakovich called them “you know, the young ones”, and there are vivid scenes with him in “Stormy Applause”, especially of their first reading with him of the new eighth quartet.