Da Costa on tour with his Stradivarius team in Colombia and Brazil

BOGOTA, Colombia – Alexandre da Costa thinks big. Artistic director and regular conductor of the Longueuil Symphony Orchestra has dreamed, imagined and planned a ten-day tour of South America, which will begin with a first concert in Bogota on Thursday. This is the first tour outside Canada for the symphony orchestra conducted by the world-renowned conductor since 2019.


Members of the Longueuil Symphony Orchestra at the top of the Monserrate, one of the most visited places in Bogotá, at an altitude of 3,152 metres.

Photo courtesy Marc Dussault

Members of the Longueuil Symphony Orchestra at the top of the Monserrate, one of the most visited places in Bogotá, at an altitude of 3,152 metres.

Originally scheduled to take place in 2020, the Longueuil Symphony Orchestra’s first international tour was postponed due to the pandemic. However, it will be in the same famous theaters and the same first cities of Colombia and Brazil where Alexandre da Costa and 33 musicians from his band (which generally includes 52 musicians) will play this week. The maestro and violinist will play there, as usual, with Stradivarius, who is worth more than $5 million (See other text below).


Alexandre da Costa, his wife Martin Carinal and their son Matenzo, 8 years old atop Montserrat.

Photo courtesy Marc Dussault

Alexandre da Costa, his wife Martin Carinal and their son Matenzo, 8 years old atop Montserrat.

If the soloist and conductor chose to travel back to settle in Quebec (having lived 14 years in Spain and 4 years in Australia where his son Matenzo was born) and take charge of the Longueuil Symphony Orchestra, the challenge was very motivating for him.

“Everything had to be built,” explains the Montreal-born musician. I have experienced many things in my life as an artist such as being an international soloist, teaching and being the leader of special projects. I wanted to try another challenge, but this time in Quebec. A unique project that I can build from scratch. »

Da Costa benefited from a break from the past that the passing of the former conductor, Mark David (after 25 years in management), found sympathetic ears within the Longueuil Symphony Orchestra.

“I needed people to be willing to take risks and accept the new approaches,” he continues. I told them I wanted to tour, record and create something unique in our country and in the world. We spoke the same language. »

Go off the beaten track


Ukrainian cellist Katerina Bragina joined the Longueuil Symphony Orchestra a year ago.  Here on a plane to Bogota with his machines.

Photo courtesy Katerina Bragina

Ukrainian cellist Katerina Bragina joined the Longueuil Symphony Orchestra a year ago. Here on a plane to Bogota with his machines.

Why South America? For adventure, the joy of getting off the beaten path of the traditional in classical music, the Spanish that da Costa speaks perfectly, the amazing musical culture and the journey dear to the 42-year-old conductor. For relationships too, while working with Damien Rovner his agent in South America for ten years.


Musicians from the Longueuil Symphony Orchestra on tour in Colombia and then Brazil.

Photo courtesy Marc Dussault

Musicians from the Longueuil Symphony Orchestra on tour in Colombia and then Brazil.

“Travel pushes us to be proactive and to outdo ourselves as artists, far from our slippers,” he says. This awakens something in musicians. They can’t beat being in South America! I wanted to change the mission of the orchestra through travel, among other things. »

Action on the violin

Known for his “cage-shaking” of classical music lovers with his unconventional methods of working and thinking, Alexandre da Costa is also one of the world’s four violin-handling conductors. And not just any: Stradivarius (*see other text)! He practices a performance style called “steiger” (“standing violinist” in German).

If the program he envisioned for this tour in Colombia and Brazil is less extravagant than what he offers in Quebec, it is because the invitation comes from a series of international concerts in a more classic style. However, da Costa promises a very small wink that would make some purists shrug; Including a final piece directed by… his 8-year-old son!

“I want to build, make changes, take smart risks and have a long-term impact on the orchestra that I want to see grow and develop by the end of my tenure. [prévu pour 2029]. Above all, I want to assert ourselves, because the task of the arts is to create feelings! »

Longueuil Symphony Orchestra

  • Founding year: 1986, in the name of Orchester symphonique de la Montérégie
  • Founder: Captain Jean-Pierre Brunet
  • First party: In the spring of 1986 in the church of St-Pierre-Apôtre
  • 2003: Orchester symphonique de la Montérégie changed its name to Orchester symphonique de Longueuil
  • 2019: Alexandre da Costa succeeds Mark David who was the band’s leader for 25 years from 1994. Da Costa is the artistic director and regular leader.
  • Important events: The Orchester symphonique de Longueuil is the fourth largest orchestra by annual budget in Quebec.
  • 2020: In 2020 and 2021, Alexandre da Costa and members of his orchestra led Symphonic Balconies, an initiative of 120 performances presented before CHSLDs in Quebec.

Tour Concerts in South America

  • Thursday, August 11th at the Mayor Julio Mario Santo Domingo Theater in Bogota, Colombia
  • Friday, August 12 at the Metropolitan Theater in Medellin, Colombia
  • Sunday 14 August at the Teatro do Sesi in Porto Alegre, Brazil
  • Monday, August 15 at the Municipal Theater in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Wednesday, August 17 at the B32 Theater in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Traveling with a tool worth over $5 million

On the tour, Alexandre da Costa never leaves without Stradivarius. “I know my machine as the back of my hand,” he explains, “and when I’m in motion, I never take my eyes off it.”

It’s been four years since the conductor received this amazing loan from Quebec pastor Guy Defoe. The rare gadget is valued at “more than $5 million” and has its own insurance that covers all of its travels around the world (representing 0.2% of its value).

Is it stressful for da Costa to travel with this artwork on the violin? “Not much, because I am used to it, and it would be impossible to forget such a machine,” he says. There is also no real resale market or an extremely rare black market – should it be stolen. »

Plane ticket for violin


. Hard Travel Bag is worth

Photo courtesy Marc Dussault

Alexandre da Costa’s “Stradivarius” hard luggage is worth a few thousand dollars.

By plane, Stradivarius travels in a special case — solid and worth a few thousand dollars — in the cabin with the conductor.

To identify the rare thing, in addition to its unique sound, you can look inside to discover the label that mentions the year of manufacture and the name of the famous Italian Lothier Antonio Stradivari (better known as Stradivarius).

As for the other instruments traveling during this tour with the Longueuil Symphony Orchestra musicians, they all function as a handbag. Cellos only need their tickets, as they need their own seats on the plane.

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