The final concert was in many ways a testimonial to the growth and continued vigor of experimental and improvised music in Quebec: In parallel with this festival, which began in 1983, the Montréal-based collective Ensemble SuperMusique was established by three women at a time when avant-garde music was male-dominated. It was launched by Joane Hétu (alto sax, voice), Diane Labrosse, (sampler), and Danielle Palardy Roger (percussion, voice).
They were among the 16 musicians on stage to perform four new compositions that are part of Le fleuve, in tribute to the majestic St. Laurent River that flows through Quebec to the Atlantic Ocean. One piece featured prose declaring that empowering women could make the world a better place. Of the four compositions, saxophonist Jean Derome’s was the most musically rich and complex. The final work by Joane Hétu, which she directed and narrated, was her most accomplished in a long career of pushing musical boundaries — operatic in scope with unexpected instrumental flourishes and shifts, and a fitting end to this year’s impressive lineup.