The Orchestre Métropolitain is one of two major symphony orchestras in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, the other being the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal. The orchestra has gained international attention since conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin ascended the podium in the year 2000.
The Orchestre Métropolitain had its beginnings as an ensemble of recent Montreal conservatory graduates, called Les Variations, which was formed in 1980 as a house orchestra for a music series called Concerts Lachine. The following year, realizing that there was a need for their music-making, they renamed themselves the Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal; that was shortened to simply Orchestre Métropolitain in 1986, a year after the group mounted its first full concert season. The group's players state that they are "devoted to broadening the reach of classical music from home and afar," and indeed they have performed concerts not only at the Théâtre Maisonneuve at the city's Place des Arts, but also at many other venues around the Montreal area and beyond. Unlike at most symphony concerts, a speaker introduces the music before it is played on Orchestre Métropolitain programs. Marc Bélanger served as the orchestra's first music director, from 1981 to 1986; he was succeeded by Agnès Grossmann (1986-1995), Joseph Rescigno (1995¬2000), and Nézet-Séguin. By the time Nézet-Séguin began his tenure, the orchestra had already made several significant recordings including one for the CBC label exploring the musical heritage of French Canada. In 1997 the group began a long relationship with Canada's Analekta label, issuing a recording of Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 55 ("Eroica"). Since Nézet-Séguin's arrival, the Orchestre Métropolitain has stepped up its recording schedule, recording for Analekta and ATMA Classique, and gaining international appreciation for its work. Especially strongly acclaimed has been a cycle of Bruckner symphonies. In 2019, the Orchestre Métropolitain was heard with Russian bass Ildar Abdrazakov on his Deutsche Grammophon debut release, Verdi.