A musical trip to the land of the Djinns

I was invited with a friend of mine to shoot the Fall concert of the Orchestre Symphonique de l’Isle. The OSI is a Montreal based orchestra founded 11 years ago and under the artistic direction of Maestro Cristian Gort since 2004.

More info about the OSI can be found at:

Orchestre Symphonique de l’Isle homepage

The program of the evening comprised essentially three parts: the overture to Die Zauberflöte from Mozart, four pieces with young soloists winners of the IIIrd solo competition from the OSI and finally, the symphonic suite Scheherazade composed by Rimsky-Korsakov.

It was a great musical experience particularly because I am very partial to Scheherazade and its well-known themes for the Sultan and the Scheherazade herself. The suite was introduced by Maestro Cristian Gort who dedicated the concert to cellist Thierry Groblewski, an ex-president and long-time member of the orchestra who passed away suddenly just before the start of the Fall season. This led to an impromptu minute of silence before the orchestra attacked Scheherazade with fervor with Thierry in mind.

The performance of all the young soloists was most impressive by their poise and virtuosity at such a tender age. They certainly all have a bright future in the field of classical music.

Photographically speaking, shooting a concert at the Oscar-Peterson Hall at Concordia Loyola campus is somewhat of a workout as it involves a lot of running around.  The room is well-suited for photography as it offers a variety of vantage points including easy backstage access to shoot from the scene exit doors. Scheherazade was more challenging because it involves a lot of very soft passages and the mirror slap noise from a DSLR can be distracting. I used a variety of lenses all used wide open since the lighting is barely enough at very high ISO settings. I even used a Lensbaby Muse for a single shot. Can you spot it?

What I like about shooting large ensembles such as an orchestra is to spot patterns within the seating arrangement. I had shot the same orchestra last year in the same room and just small changes in the way musicians are arranged on the scene made it so some of my favorite shots could not be reproduced. I had to find new angles to shoot from. Photographing almost everything with medium to long telephoto lenses wide open means the depth of field is very shallow so often the patterns appear in the out of focus regions. I included a gallery of my preferred shots from the concert.


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Die Zauberflöte: Overture


Antonio Vivaldi

Concerto for two cellos in G minor (1st movement)

Soloists: Vincent Dorion-Thériault and Emmanuel Madsen

Johann Sebastian Bach

Concerto for violin in A minor (1st movement)

Soloist: Alexandre Sheasby

Joseph Haydn

Divertimento for piano in C major (1st movement)

Soloist: Devon Packer

Ludwig van Beethoven

Concerto for piano No. 3 in A minor (3rd movement)

Soloist: Katia Houle


Nikolaï Rimsky-Korsakov



Equipment: Canon DSLR 5D Mk II, Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L fisheye lens, Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L lens, Lensbaby Muse, Sigma 85mm f/1.4 EX lens, Canon 135mm f/2L lens, Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 EX OS lens


5 thoughts on “A musical trip to the land of the Djinns

  1. Nice photos here! I like the lens baby shot in particular! Well done. I well understand the struggles of concert photography and I’m still learning new things about it every time i get the chance to shoot one.

    • Thanx Kate for your kind words! I really like the Lensbaby shot too. I do not know what happened but at the intermission, the whole string section was empty except for the lone cellist… Yes, shooting a concert is never quite routine so I definitely learn something new every time. Thanx for stopping by!

      • Great photos! My son was performing a solo at the concert. Is there any way some photos could be made available?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: