Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Philippe Couillard are expected to attend a Nov. 6 concert celebrating Leonard Cohen’s legacy on the first anniversary of his death, to be held at the Bell Centre.
Presented by the late singer-songwriter’s family, Tower of Song: A Memorial Tribute to Leonard Cohen features a lengthy roster of international artists, including Elvis Costello, Sting, Philip Glass, k.d. lang, and his son Adam Cohen, who is also co-producing the show. Others are expected to pay homage that evening.
“My father left me with a list of instructions before he passed,” the younger Cohen said. “ ‘Put me in a pine box next to my mother and father. Have a small memorial for close friends and family in Los Angeles…and if you want a public event, do it in Montreal’.
“I see this concert as a fulfillment of my duties to my father that we gather in Montreal to ring the bells that still can ring.”
The Montreal-born Cohen died at his Los Angeles home on Nov. 7, 2016 at age 82. He was buried beside his parents at the Congregation Shaar Hashomayim cemetery on Mount Royal.
The concert, produced by Hall Willner, will be filmed for a future documentary special.
“Leonard Cohen is a literary and musical icon of word-craft,” said Willner. “On the first anniversary of his passing, we will endeavour to present a tribute to an artist who is universally acknowledged as one of the great poets and songwriters of all time.”
Proceeds will benefit the Canada Council for the Arts, the Council of Arts and Letters of Quebec, and the Montreal Arts Council. “Leonard often mentioned the arts councils, whom he credited as providing essential support in the early days of his career,” said his manager Robert Kory.
The concert commences a week of events honouring Cohen in Montreal. The other major tribute is the multidisciplinary exhibition “Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything” at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, which opens to the public on Nov. 9.
Approved by Cohen before his death, the exhibition, which will continue until April 9, will feature the work of 40 artists from 10 countries.
Among them will be 18 commissioned new works inspired by the themes of Cohen’s writings and life to be shown at the museum and off-site.
Among them is American artist Jenny Holzer’s laser projection of a selection of Cohen’s lyrics and poems on Silo No. 5 at the Old Port over five nights.
A series of concerts and other programming will complement the exhibition.
The huge mural of Cohen on a 20-storey apartment building on Crescent Street is to be dedicated on Nov. 8. The City of Montreal contributed $200,000 to this project, overseen by the non-profit organization MU and painted by local artist Gene Pendon and the American El Mec.
The mural has been widely criticized as inappropriate because of its scale (it will cover 8,500 square feet) and its location. Crescent, one of the city’s liveliest streets with its bars and restaurants, was not one of Cohen’s regular haunts.
However, the project was approved by Cohen’s family. Another mural of Cohen, nine storeys in height, was completed this summer on the Cooper Building on St-Laurent Boulevard, also under the auspices of MU. It’s near the home Cohen maintained in the Plateau until his death.
A much more modest homage to Cohen continues at the Museum of Jewish Montreal, 4040 St-Laurent Blvd., with an exhibition called “Leonard Cohen: Rituals of Absence.”
Artist Morgane Clément-Gagnon took photos of the impromptu memorial outside Cohen’s home that sprang up upon the news of his passing. Admirers left flowers, candles and even tea and oranges on the doorstep as they congregated to celebrate a Montreal icon.