Thursday, January 4, 2018

Leonard Cohen

January 2018 - Montreal QC

We are in Montreal for a few days and happened upon this new (to us) museum and knew we had to see this exhibit.

Italics from the museum's website.

Presented by CBC/Radio-Canada, Leonard Cohen : Une brèche en toute chose/A Crack in Everything is part of the official program for Montréal’s 375th anniversary celebrations. The exhibition is inspired by the world of Leonard Cohen and the great themes of his life and work. This major exhibition is the first to be entirely devoted to the imagination and legacy of this great singer/songwriter, man of letters and global icon from Montréal.

Called I Heard There Was a Secret Chord, it asks users to engage in a unique act of community and harmony: the collecting humming of Cohen’s iconic song Hallelujah.

“We were curious about the international reach of Cohen’s work,” says Mouna Andros, who designed the project with her colleague Melissa Mongiat. “We wanted to offer a scientific-mystical experiment created from data, and our choice turned naturally to Hallelujah, which is Cohen’s most popular song on the Internet, and also most often, to understand the impact and scope of the artist.”

Click here to hear the experience at

Using seven microphones suspended in what Mouna and Melissa dubbed a “recollection space”, each visitor can hum Cohen’s hymn, superimposing their voice alongside hundreds of pre-recorded people and six Montreal choirs. Once inside the space, the number of people actively listening to Hallelujah from around the world begins to affect the experience.

The room also displays the number of listeners playing Hallelujah on YouTube and Spotify in real time. “This number is of great importance because it shows all the individuals we connect to when we listen to the song,” Mouna adds. It represents the collective experience that we potentially live with the entire planet.”

Musicians have been invited to record an exclusive cover of a Cohen song, which will play at the Museum in an installation titled Listening to Leonard. They are:
Ariane Moffatt, with l’Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, Aurora, Brad Barr, Basia Bulat, Chilly Gonzales and Jarvis Cocker with The Kaiser Quartett, Dear Criminals, Douglas Dare, Feist, Half Moon Run, Julia Holter, Leif Vollebekk, Li’l Andy & Joe Grass, Little Scream, Lou Doillon, Mélanie De Biasio, Moby, The National with Sufjan Stevens, Richard Reed Parry and Ragnar Kjartansson, Socalled.

You could sit here and listen to all these renditions in this darkened room.

This was the most incredible display, an immersive multi-screen environment highlighting five decades of Cohen’s concert performances and a brilliant multi-screen exploration of his thoughts and the workings of his mind in an installation concentrating on Cohen in interview and in his own speaking voice. Needless to say, Leonard Cohen was seldom banal, and always a joy to behold and listen to.

It was quite emotional to see the young Cohen singing ‘Suzanne’ and the (82-year-old) Cohen, sometimes on a split screen, singing the same song.

Click here for I'm Your Man!!!
South African artist Candice Breitz focused on the themes of masculinity and fandom by asking 18 male Cohen fans over the age of 65 to sing the artist’s 1988 comeback album, I’m Your Man.

Tucked away in a corner was a display of his office with Leonard turning his chair to look at you!


  1. ...WOW, this would be something to see!

  2. Jackie, this is amazing, thank you so much for this post. I have read about this exhibition before but not in such detail. I’m not ashamed to say the humming brought tears to my eyes. I feel the necessity to plan a trip to Montreal before August as I would love to visit this, also see the large murals which have been created in homage to Leonard.

    1. Anabel, I believe the exhibit is only here until April.

    2. *Sad face*. I thought I read August somewhere. Oh well, I will have to make do with your lovely post.

  3. I caught the tribute concert on CBC the other night. Would love to see this exhibit.

  4. Excellent. I"m about to look up the story behind his phrase, "How the Light Gets In," because I've used it in making pottery lanterns.


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