Orchestre symphonique de Québec (OSQ; English, Quebec Symphony Orchestra) is a Canadian symphony orchestra based in Quebec City. Founded in 1902, the OSQ is the oldest active Canadian orchestra. Joseph Vézina was the OSQ's first music director, from 1902 to 1924.
Recognized as one of the primary engines of musical activity in the Quebec City region, the OSQ plays before more than 200,000 people each year. Fully committed to its environment, the OSQ has created numerous pieces by Quebec, Canadian and foreign composers. It has also participated in several national and international events, including Quebec City’s tercentennial celebrations in 1908, the Congrès de la langue française in 1937, the Sommet de la francophonie in 1987 and the Summit of the Americas in 2001. The OSQ was also retained for the official inauguration of the Théâtre Capitole in 1903, the Palais Montcalm in 1932 and the Grand Théâtre de Québec in 1971.
Involved in contributing to the cultural development of future generations, the OSQ set up its first educational matinees in 1936. Today the Symphonic Matinées and Family Concerts continue to give children the opportunity to learn about the classical repertoire. In fact, the OSQ has been awarded a “Jeune public” “Production de l’année - jeune public” Opus Prize for its Family Concert Planète Baobab, based on Antoine de Saint Exupéry’s The Little Prince, presented in collaboration with the Arsenal à musique in 2000.
Also, to pursue its mission to support future generations, in the 1940's the OSQ regularly collaborates with the Conservatoire de musique de Québec and Université Laval’s Faculty of Music.
The OSQ series programs and promotional concerts, the various one-time events that it participates in, as well as its collaboration with the Opéra de Québec and the Grands Ballets Canadiens, highlight the versatility and knowledge of its 66 permanent musicians. The OSQ’s summer program gives the population the opportunity to discover the OSQ during more rural-based popular activities produced by various organizations, including the Festival d'été de Québec, the Festival de Lanaudière and the Festival international du Domaine Forget de Charlevoix.
During the 2009 Festival d’été de Québec, the OSQ had the chance to play with one of the biggest tenors of the world, Plácido Domingo, accompanied by the soprano Virginia Tola and the conductor Israel Gursky. This unique concert gathered 100, 000 people on the Plains of Abraham.
OSQ concerts are regularly picked up to be broadcast on Société Radio-Canada radio and television. The OSQ now has 19 recordings in its discography, which greatly contributes to its international outreach. This aspect of the OSQ’s activities became more prolific with the arrival of Maestro Yoav Talmi, in 1998, as he has made not less than eight recordings on his own. His recording efforts have paid off, since each one has outsold the previous one or been nominated by various organizations. For example, the "Concert français" with violinist James Ehnes obtained five diapasons from Diapason magazine - a perfect mark - and was named “Record of the Month” in Répertoire. He has also been nominated for Juno awards and won the Félix award for “Best Classical Album of the Year” in 2002. His "100 ans de danse" was nominated at the ADISQ Gala in 2003. The recording made with pianist Alain Lefèvre, which contains André Mathieu’s Concerto de Québec, obtained the Félix for “Album of the year - Classical / Orchestra and large ensemble” in 2004. The album "Extase" with soprano Measha Brueggergosman was awarded the prize for “Best Classical Recording” at the 19th East Coast Music Awards, in Halifax in 2007, in addition to being nominated for a Juno in the “Classical Album of the Year: Vocal or Choral Performance” category. Finally, the OSQ’s unanimously critically acclaimed "Bach Métamorphoses" (orchestrated by Leopold Stokowski, Anton Webern, Ottorino Respighi, and Yoav Talmi) was released in 2008 and has been nominated for Juno awards 2009 and received a JOKER from the Crescendo magazine.
Recording is not the only field in which the OSQ has stood out since its foundation. In March 2006, it won the Opus Prize for “Concert of the Year - Quebec”, 2005-2006 season, for its moving interpretation of Ottorino Respighi’s Symphony No. 3 “Kaddish”. Other prestigious awards have also recognized the OSQ’s significant contribution to the development of Canadian musical life.
The OSQ has always been intimately linked to the events that have marked the history of the Quebec City region. It has played an active role in the festivities surrounding the 400th anniversary of the foundation of Quebec City in 2008, by performing, on March 15, 2008, Gustav Mahler’s spectacular 8th Symphony, the “Symphony of a Thousand”. It has been interpreted by over 1,000 musical performers, including a 750-voice choir, a choir of 100 children, an orchestra made up of 150 musicians (including those from the Orchestre symphonique de Trois-Rivières, the Université Laval Faculty of Music and the Conservatoire de musique de Québec), eight solo singers and a conductor. Presented for the first time in Quebec City before an audience of 12 425 people, this outstanding piece is most appropriate and takes its place among the entire range of the great composer’s symphonies that Yoav Talmi and the OSQ began a few years ago. On August 25, 2008, it was with great pride that OSQ presented Tchaikovsky’s percussive 1812 Overture and Orff’s Carmina Burana to an audience of 60,000 people in a performance that brought over 300 artists together on stage. Soloists Aline Kutan, Nathaniel Watson, and Matthew White, the OSQ musicians and choir, the Rhapsodes choir, Maîtrise des Petits chanteurs de Québec, the brass and percussion sections of the Royal 22nd Regiment Band, and members of the 5th Light Artillery Regiment of Canada gathered on stage to mark the end of the last big weekend of 400th anniversary celebrations with this colourful concert.