Da Costa Playing 2 2022 copie

Alexandre Da Costa: An Electrifying Conductor!

Music could not find a more eloquent ambassador than Alexandre Da Costa. A free thinker, the internationally renowned violinist and conductor plies his art with tremendous skill, verve, and passion.

Alexandre Da Costa is not an introvert. Both flamboyant and commanding, he animatedly talks about the music within him, his projects, and his ambitions. Armed with years of training, knowledge, and experience, he now serves as Conductor of the Orchestre symphonique de Longueuil and Artistic Director of the Festival Stradivaria. Having played the violin for audiences around the world, this musical prodigy known for his talent and passion has chosen to settle down, at least for a while, in order to share his musical vision. “As a proponent of artistic freedom, I’m trying to demystify classical music and hoping to encourage those with a stranglehold on the classical music industry to develop a more flexible mindset. Before joining the two artistic institutions I run, I warned them that it would be difficult to control me.”


Although the pandemic did put the brakes on some of his plans in the last two years, it also gave him time to reflect on the importance of culture in our society, validate some of his instincts, and better define his priorities. “The pandemic has been catastrophic for arts and culture,” he notes. “Artists have had to reinvent themselves, which is nothing new because artists have been reinventing themselves for millennia. We have to change attitudes about art and the perception that art is meant only to entertain—that art is not essential.” For Da Costa, music is a valuable tool that helps people cope with life’s difficulties. He observed the benefits for himself at concerts during lockdown. “We saw its therapeutic effect on people experiencing physical and mental problems. Music is not something frivolous.”

Thinking differently seems to come very naturally to Da Costa who, long before the world entered quarantine, tried to promote a more inclusive vision of culture in general and music in particular. “Three years ago when I presented my vision of a more universally accessible world of classical music that would be closer to the public and offer easy access to a joyful, unpretentious environment, my message was more or less well received. This approach is much more accepted today. Classical music has had to change tack. The industry can no longer remain disconnected from the rest of the world. It has to think differently.” Although concerts streamed on social media helped democratize classical music somewhat and facilitate its dissemination, Da Costa emphasizes that such events cannot replace live performance and the connection with the audience. While he salutes the efforts of governments and institutions to help bring culture online, he remains a fervent champion of in-person shows because he believes there is no substitute for the real thing. “Attending a concert in person is more powerful than watching it on a screen. No virtual concert can convey the realities of the stage.”

Maison Lipari

Da Costa was right. The upheaval of the past few years has confirmed his instincts regarding the need to democratize classical music and the importance of making live concerts more accessible. However, now that he is at the head of two musical institutions, he has other ways of popularizing his art and making his voice heard. “In my career as a solo violinist, I’ve often felt that I was being treated like a tool. People wanted me to play well, play fast, be a virtuoso, but were not necessarily interested in giving me my own artistic voice. A conductor spends a week with an orchestra before a concert, talking and discussing with the musicians. A long, intense process, it’s exactly what I was missing as a solo violinist. I want to be creative with music, offer an experience, and put together programs with different elements in a different way.” Although classically trained, Da Costa feels there are only two types of music—good and bad—and does not hesitate to revisit the works of the great composers and mix jazz, rock, and Mozart. “Music is a lot more adaptable than people think. I don’t believe that composers like Tchaïkovsky wrote symphonies and concertos with the idea that there was only one way to play them. Everything is negotiable. Musical technique has also evolved a lot, concert halls are bigger than they used to be. Everything has changed! The season I programmed for Festival Stradivaria is a very good reflection of who I am. Of the 15 concerts, half are composed of classical music while the other half combines classical with other genres. This summer, audiences can hear Isabelle Boulay and Beethoven. Music fans can enjoy both concerts.”

Da Costa now has the chance to program the music he wants to hear, conduct the works that are close to his heart, and still maintain his career as a soloist. With the world finally opening up, he intends to recharge his batteries with some travel so he may better serve both the Orchestre symphonique de Longueuil and the Festival Stradivaria, who have entrusted him to lead them. “The more popular the concerts, the better. My mission is to help generate good ideas and enable music to be played.”

alexandredacosta.com, osdl.ca and festivalstradivaria.ca

Share this article

You will also like

0N8A6838Finale copie
David Usher | Nicolas Massey: AI-Influenced Art
John Faratro_Headshot copie
The Agency Montreal | John M. Faratro
Tony Merulla 1 copie
Antonio Merulla : A Man Of Taste
Richard Petit | The Heart And Soul Of KébecSon