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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 19, No. 2

Prix d’Europe: Ariane Brisson

by Jacqueline Vanasse / October 1, 2013

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Ariane BrissonThe Prix d’Europe, now in its 102nd edition, was carried off this year by Montreal flutist Ariane Brisson.  Brisson began playing the flute at age 7, and it was after her first orchestral experience at Joseph-François-Perreault High School that the young player knew that she wanted to make her passion into a career.  “Playing in an ensemble with 80 other musicians was such an enriching experience for me that a new passion for music immediately appeared," she explained.

After high school, Brisson entered the Montreal Conservatory of Music where she studied with Marie-Andrée Benny.  This fall, having just turned 22, the young musician began studies at DePaul University in Chicago in the class of the great French flutist Mathieu Dufour.  She remembers having heard Dufour for the first time on a recording that she listened to on a loop when she was a teenager.  Since that time, she had always dreamed of meeting the great musician.  The young flutist wanted to go abroad after passing her Conservatory exams.  Despite the great flute tradition that can be found in Europe – especially in France – she decided to study in Chicago.  “I wanted to do a lot of orchestra,” she said. “And the United States offered me every possible opportunity.  In the end it’s the best of both words since with my teacher I’ve found some of Europe within the United States!”

Brisson says she loves “playing music, regardless of the era.”  Nevertheless, she confesses an affinity for modern music – flute music par excellence.  She claims to love the Quebecois composer Jacques Hétu whose music combines a post-romantic musical language with a more modern compositional technique.  “We find in this music so many different elements, colours, textures.  At certain moments it makes me think of Debussy or Ravel, at others of Brahms, and sometimes of Mahler, Bruckner, or even Bartok.”  Having just arrived in Chicago, she blew everyone away by proposing to play the Jacques Hétu quintet at school.

Already the recipient of many prestigious prizes and scholarships, Brisson was overjoyed to receive the Prix d’Europe.  When she was younger, she saw other conservatory students participate and win and it has always been a goal for her to live that experience.  However, the young flutist clarified that it is not an end in itself, rather the opposite: “I believe that the Prix d’Europe is a springboard to a new chapter beginning in my life.  It’s like a pat on the back telling me to definitely not give up.”  As one of the last times that she will play for her friends, family and teacher for a while, her performance in the competition was an occasion to show her accomplishments over all her years at the Conservatory. “More than a competition program,” she said, “I really wanted to present a beautiful recital, play beautiful music, communicate my pleasure in making music with the people I love.  I really wanted a beautiful finish before leaving, and that gave the results that we see now!”

Translation: Rona Nadler

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