Michelle Cormierby Caroline Rodgers
/ October 1, 2011
Flash version here.
This May, Michelle
Cormier was honoured with the very first Business Volunteer award at
the 2010 Prix Arts-Affaires (Arts and Business Awards) for her commitment
to the Orchestre Métropolitain, where she has been Chair of the Board
for five years.
Awarded by the Montreal
Arts Council in collaboration with the Board of Trade of Metropolitan
Montreal, the Prix Arts-Affaires promotes volunteerism in the Arts and
encourages businesses to contribute to Montreal’s arts community.
The Business Volunteer award, new this year, specifically recognizes
an individual who has used his or her expertise to enrich the arts community.
Cormier is the Vice
President and Chief Financial Officer at TNG Corporation. She also serves
on the boards of several other companies. Since becoming Chair of the
OM Board in 2006, she has played a major role in revitalizing the orchestra.
Cormier shares her
thoughts on music and her volunteer work for the OM.
What role does
music play in your life?
At home, we listen to almost all types of music: classical, rock, country
and pop. Music is omnipresent. We listen while we go about our daily
activities, such as when we’re cooking. Music crosses all cultures
and I find that extraordinary. I think it’s important to listen to
a bit of everything.
Classical music is
the basis for all music. I had often attended concerts and benefits,
but it’s through working with the OM that I really discovered the
passion for classical music, transmitted to me by the conductor and
the musicians. When you leave a concert, I notice that you always have
a sense of calm and joy.
Music brings a lot
to people throughout their entire lives. When kids are small, parents
often play soft music in their rooms to help them fall asleep. We grow
up with music, and it’s also there at the end of our lives. I will
never forget how before her death, my mother was in the hospital and
didn’t want to read or watch TV; she only wanted to listen to music!
you to volunteer for the Orchestre Métropolitain?
It’s amazing to watch these talented musicians who are so devoted
to their craft. They work hard and bring so much to the audience that
you can’t help but want to support them. Five years ago, the OM went
through a difficult time financially, and they asked my boss to help
with the recovery. I worked with him and we organized a fundraiser and
made changes to the Board. I found myself on the Board and from there,
I discovered an extraordinary organization. Today, the OM is financially
When I look at the
progress the OM has made, not only financially but also musically and
in its programming, it motivates me to keep working. Yannick Nézet-Séguin
is amazingly talented and has brought the orchestra with him on his
journey to excellence.
I go to all of their
concerts unless I’m out of the country. I also try to attend concerts
in the boroughs; it’s a different experience because the audience
comes from the surrounding community, people from all walks of life.
The OM plays an important role in the community by offering concerts
that everyone can afford.
It’s not always
as easy to find funds to support cultural activities as it is for health
or education. In Quebec, we have philanthropists like Jacqueline Desmarais
and Richard Renaud who give their time and money. These people remain
behind the scenes but I think we should celebrate their work more openly.
This will spread the word that there are great things to be done in
the arts field.
are not necessarily easy; we need to help them. They work hard to do
what they love. They are a great example of the importance of pursuing
This article introduces a new column recognizing volunteers, philanthropists and businesses who have contributed to music and the arts.