Magical. Moving. Mesmerizing. Aura, Moment Factory’s immersive experience created exclusively for Montréal’s majestic Notre-Dame Basilica, is the stuff of bucket lists, those unique experiences that words cannot fully describe.
“Aura evokes the senses. You feel something different. It revives the spirit of the basilica and offers a new and innovative way to experience its beauty,” says Marie-Pier Veilleux, director of public affairs and international relations for Moment Factory.
Launched in 2017 to celebrate the 375th anniversary of Montréal, Aura is an artistic and technical marvel that weaves music in with luminescent scenes displayed on the gilded vaulted ceiling, intricate woodwork, sculptures and original stained-glass windows of the 193-year-old Gothic-style basilica in Old Montréal.
The goal was to create a sense of collective wonder and connection. Since its inception, Aura has garnered international attention and is resonating with people of all ages and backgrounds, attracting more than 715,000 visitors from 45 countries.
This year, visitors will enjoy an elevated Aura experience with new paintings and exciting visual effects. A highlight of the renewed show is the powerful musical score composed by Marc Bell and Gabriel Thibaudeau of Montréal-based Troublemakers, a creative hub specializing in audio production and musical composition.
“We chose Troublemakers because of their expertise with orchestral music and their ability to be open and creative in how they adapt classical music to a new entertainment experience,” Veilleux says.
The musical masterpiece is performed by 30 musicians, 20 choristers and the talented Pierre Grandmaison, titular organist for the basilica since 1973. Built by Casavant Frères in Québec in 1891, the organ boasts 7,000 pipes, 92 stops on four manual keyboards of 61 notes and a pedalboard of 32 notes.
“During the show you can hear those pipes; it is so deep and striking. It really is the moment where people feel touched. There is a kind of poetry in it,” Veilleux says.
Moment Factory is no stranger to creating memorable and moving experiences. Founded in 2001, Moment Factory has produced more than 450 unique projects worldwide, including the award-winning Lumina Night Walk series, an immersive nature-based night walk experience now offered in 14 locations across Canada, Japan, Singapore and France. In March, Fast Company published its highly anticipated list of The World’s Most Innovative Companies, an annual ranking of firms that have made the biggest impact on industries including media, travel and music. Moment Factory was ranked No. 1 in the category of Most Innovative Live Event Company.
Yet even with all this experience, Veilleux admits Aura has been one of the company’s most challenging projects.
“We have worked extensively with heritage buildings, but Aura is definitely of the most complex experiences we’ve had the opportunity to create,” she says. “From mapping virtual paintings on the colourful and textured ceilings and walls to ensuring we respected the site’s heritage, it has been a major undertaking. The production involved more than 100 staff with various skill sets and specialties. We took great care to ensure that you won’t see wires and cables. It’s seamless.”
It took 90 days to install the 21 projectors, 140 lights, four lasers and 20 mirrors required for the show.
Veilleux is excited for people to experience Aura, which is now open to visitors. “I believe people want to feel touched; they want to gather and share emotion,” she says.
“We have spent so much in time in front of our screens and I think people want to feel a sense of belonging to something bigger. Aura is a way for people to engage with art on a deeper level. When you experience the show, you really feel like you’re connected to something extraordinary.”
Moment Factory will also be launching a second, all-new Aura experience in Paris in December. “It’s a testament to the success and universal appeal of Aura Montréal,” Veilleux says.
Guests can book a self-guided tour of the historic Notre Dame Basilica in Montréal to explore and learn about its unique architecture. Built between 1824 and 1829, the Notre-Dame Basilica was the first Gothic Revival church in Canada. It was promoted to a Minor Basilica in 1982 and became a National Historic Site of Canada in 1989. Nearly 1 million visitors a year come to see the impressive sanctuary.
In Old Montréal, visitors can continue a journey of discovery along the winding cobblestone streets, vibrant arts scene and bustling shops and cafes with outside terraces. Many of the city’s historic buildings and spaces are evolving into living canvases, offering a rare opportunity to commune with architecture and art in its various forms.
“Old Montréal is like an open sky museum with its rich architecture, famous galleries and museums, and amazing food that is a distinct part of the region’s culture,” Veilleux says.
Tickets for Aura can be booked online now at www.aurabasiliquemontreal.com or by calling Ticketpro at 514-790-1111 or toll-free at 1-866-908-9090.
Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.