The year 2000 motion picture Gladiator, starring Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix, won five Academy Awards. This included Best Picture and Best Actor (Crowe). The storyline revolves around Crowe's fictional character, loyal Roman general Maximus Decimus Meridius. He is betrayed when the emperor Marcus Aurelius's ambitious son, Commodus, murders his father and seizes the throne. Reduced to slavery, Maximus rises through the ranks of the gladiatorial arena to avenge the murder of his family and his emperor.
Now Montrealers can look forward to seeing this movie at the Place des Arts on Saturday, February 21 and Sunday, February 22 (8 p.m.) in a very unique and entertaining way. It will be projected on a giant HD screen and brought to life by an orchestra of 82 musicians and the St. Lawrence Choir, under the direction of Justin Freer.
The music by Hans Zimmer remains one of his best known and praised scores with millions of copies sold. Zimmer also composed memorable music for numerous Oscar winning films such as 12 Years a Slave, Thelma and Louise, Inception, The Dark Knight Rises and The Lion King.
American conductor/composer Freer, also well-known as a record producer, oversees an organization called CineConcerts which is dedicated to the preservation and conservation of musical scores for cinema and television by combining images to live music as in Gladiator Live.
The St. Lawrence Choir is a 70-strong, mixed-voice ensemble that performs music from the classical choral repertoire as well as contemporary works by Canadian and other composers. Established in 1972 by Iwan Edwards and a group of singers residing on the West Island of Montreal, concerts were presented in Lachine until 1983 when the Choir relocated to downtown Montreal.
Phillippe Bourque, the new choir master, conductor, pianist, pedagogue and music director of the St. Lawrence Choir, says he is proud to be part of an amateur group which performs at a professional level. "Gladiator is a unique gig for us," said the Laval resident, who by day teaches music at Vanier College. "When I was told about this opportunity I said 'we have to do it.' This will also be great publicity for us."
Bourque has been in touch with Freer. "We spoke on the phone and he asked me how many singers there would be for this show," he explained. "I told him 60 and he sent me 60 vocal scores very well written. We have been rehearsing now for two months. Justin will meet with the choir twice before the first concert. It is an honour to work with him. He travels all over the world."
Tickets range in price from $54.50 to $157. For more information go to www.placedesarts.com or call 514-842-2112.