Will the Place des Festivals become the Place Oscar-Peterson?

The opposition to Montreal’s city hall proposes that the Place des Festivals in downtown Montreal be renamed after the Montreal pianist and composer Oscar Peterson, who died in 2007.

Ensemble Montréal will make the recommendation at the next municipal council meeting on October 19, with the tabling of a motion to this effect.

Born in Montreal in 1925, Oscar Peterson grew up in Little Burgundy and had an international career. The opposition believes that the Place des Festivals represents a place of high symbolic value to honor the memory of Oscar Peterson since this space inaugurated in 2009 has become the “epicenter” of the Montreal International Jazz Festival, a major event. world which celebrated its 40th anniversary last year.

“Oscar Peterson is believed to deserve recognition commensurate with his accomplishments and talent. He is considered one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time, “told the Duty the conductor of Ensemble Montreal, Lionel Perez.

Since 2009, a park in the Sud-Ouest borough has been named after the famous jazz musician (formerly known as Campbell-Center Park), but according to Mr. Perez, this gesture does not do justice to the talent and achievements of Oscar Peterson. In addition, he adds, the current name of the Place des Festivals is “generic”. “We have to try to have a more diverse toponymy here in Montreal,” he says. It would also be recognition of the black community and its contribution to Montreal. “

Lionel Perez specifies that his party has the support of Oscar Peterson’s widow in this project, just like that of Naveed Hussain, the instigator of the petition who, last June, asked that the Lionel-Groulx metro station , located in Little Burgundy, be renamed in honor of the musician. Although this petition collected more than 27,000 signatures, the City of Montreal and the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) had argued that this wish was unlikely to come true due to the moratorium on name changes imposed in France. 2006.

Lionel Perez considers that the proposal to change the name of the Place des Festival is less likely to create controversy than the proposal to change the name of the Lionel-Groulx metro station. “While there were good intentions with this petition, it was immediately seen that it became a debate that divided Lionel Groulx’s supporters and those of Oscar Peterson,” agreed the elected official.

For his part, Naveed Hussain now sits behind the proposal to change the name of the Place des Festivals. “The petition was not against Lionel Groulx,” he says. But I think it’s a good compromise to choose the Place des Festivals, which is an important place for the city of Montreal and which makes jazz music shine. “

In 1999, the concert hall at Concordia University was renamed in memory of the composer. And in 1989, the Montreal International Jazz Festival created the Oscar-Peterson Prize in honor of the musician.

At the office of Mayor Valérie Plante, they say they want to take the time to analyze the proposal before making a decision.

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