When Dina Gilbert takes to the podium as the masterful conductor of Les Grands Ballets Orchestra during The Nutcracker performances, she will also bring her contagious good energy and appetite to the occasion. “Each day is a dream,” she says. “It’s an incredible opportunity.”
A native of St-Georges-de-Beauce, Gilbert was honing her musical skills from an early age, though she never had the occasion to see The Nutcracker live on stage as a child. Les Grands Ballets’ seasonal classic is her debut performance with the company. She is excited to be part of this “fantastic evening. It’s such a huge production in musical terms, but the dancing and sets and costumes too. It is a masterpiece.”
Gilbert’s background is varied and accomplished, whether serving as Music Director and conductor of the Orchestre symphonique de l'Estuaire, and the Kamloops Symphony, as well as founder and artistic director of the Ensemble Arkea, a Montreal-based professional chamber orchestra that presents innovative interpretations of orchestral music, or leading the 2th edition of Hip Hop Symphonic with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. She says her notable three years, from 2013 to 2016, as assistant conductor of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra under Maestro Kent Nagano, with its rehearsals, concerts, recordings and tours, as well as assisting guest conductors, took her “out of her comfort zone.”
Multi-tasking is Gilbert’s middle name, but this new role at LGBCM “is a special project,” she reveals. She pulls out the hefty Tchaikovsky score for The Nutcracker, full of her own sticky notes, to show me other conductors’ notations written into the margins. “You can sense the experience and the legacy of the production in these pages,” she says.
Her main preoccupation now is immersing herself in Tchaikovsky’s lyrical score and the rhythm and structure of Fernand Nault’s ballet, readying everyone for this Olympian marathon.
“I have to be in service to the musicians, of course, but also to the dancers. We have to breathe with them.”
- Dina Gilbert