Fanfare de l'Île Roams Montreal Streets Playing New Orleans Jazz

No, it's not your imagination. You might actually be hearing the echoes of New Orleans jazz through the streets of Montreal.

That's thanks to the Fanfare de l'Île, a group of local musicians who in the last year have organized spontaneous marching bands through the city, spreading joy to pandemic-weary Montrealers along the way.

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Fanfare de l'Île is back again in 2021.

Here's what you need to know about the group.

How did the Fanfare de l'Île begin?

Blanche Méthé, a cornet player with Fanfare de l'Île, told MTL Blog that the initiative began like many others in the spring of 2020: with a desire to bring some happiness to the city.

"With the arrival of the warm weather after the first lockdown, we were looking for a safe and legal way to play together and share our music with the public to brighten up this difficult time and contribute to the community," Méthé said.

The group took inspiration from the famous marching bands of New Orleans and "quickly noticed that passers-by and residents were very enthusiastic and appreciated our initiative," Méthé continued.

"Every week, we met in new neighbourhoods of Montreal, more and more out of the way, to offer this moment of music and sharing to the corners most affected by the pandemic, by walking through their streets."

About 30 artists have participated in the Fanfare de l'Île, according to the cornet player.

What is Fanfare de l'Île's objective now?

Méthé called it art survivant — survival art.

"As non-essential workers, we believe we have an important role to play in society."

"We want to contribute to the collective well-being by offering a moment of sharing, surprise and joy, which energizes neighbourhoods, brightens up daily life and allows us to evacuate the stress of this difficult period."

Fanfare de l'Île is continuing its marches this year, but is "also looking for contracts from municipalities, boroughs and other neighbourhood organizations, so that this project is viable in the long term."

Keep your eyes and ears open for jazz in the streets of Montreal.