Home     Content     Articles      La Scena Musicale     Search   

La Scena Musicale - Vol. 6, No. 7


by Lucie Renaud / April 1, 2001

Version française...

When Orford is mentioned to non-music lovers, the images that come immediately to mind are the exhilarating skiing, scenic camping, and welcoming inns. When it is mentioned to musicians, however, images swell up straight from the heart. Inevitably, the first thing they mention is the atmosphere of the Art Centre. They refer time and again to the extraordinary friendships and strong ties established there, the quality of the teaching, the concerts and the endless nights spent sharing thoughts about music. Sure, memories are plentiful, but affection, consistency, and loyalty stand out. From the campers of the 50s right down those of recent years, a season at Orford is never forgotten!

Founded in 1951 by les Jeunesses Musicales du Canada, the music camp was the fruition of what started out as a slightly crazy dream by founders Anaïs Allard-Rousseau, Laurette Desruisseaux-Boisvert, Reverend Joseph-Hector Lemieux, and Gilles Lefebvre, who managed the Centre from 1951 to 1972. Mr. Serge Carreau, a flute intern in 1954, alternately held the position of assistant to Gilles Lefebvre, the architectural consultant during the construction of the concert hall, and has sat on the board of directors since 1990. He refers to Gilles Lefebvre as incredibly dynamic, hard to follow, and as demanding of himself as he was of others. "He had a unique sense of organization that transformed the dream into reality, and never threw in the towel, regardless of the problem. He knew how to be persuasive and could generate enough enthusiasm to bring people around to his ideas."

In 1974, the first baroque concerts and workshops were presented. At the time of one such workshop, Luc Beauséjour became enchanted with the harpsichord. "I was 17 then," he reminisces. "Bernard and Mireille Lagacé suggested that the pianists try Bach’s Preludes and Fugues on the harpsichord. I jumped at the chance, and I fell head over heels in love with the instrument. The next year, to my piano teacher’s complete chagrin, I decided to sign up for the camp’s organ and harpsichord program. After the internship, I was totally converted by the repertoire and I enrolled at the conservatory in organ and harpsichord."

The Orford Arts Centre has -- and continuies to
have -- a constant and extremely musical life.
We, as the Orford Quartet, became part of
Gilles Lefebvre's vision in the summer of 1965
and carried that name, Orford, for the next
twenty-six years. It is a place and a quality,
a wonderful facility in an exceptionally beautiful
setting, a spirit of vital engagement in the health
of music.

Terence Helmer ,
Violist of the Orford String Quartet

The revelation of this calling at the Arts Centre is not unusual. On the contrary. Several distinguished artists have also explored this inspiring place during their years of advanced studies. The Centre has almost become a right of passage for many, in large part due to the internationally renowned teachers that it hosts. Among the loyal teachers who come back frequently, one must mention Lorand Fenyves (since 1965), Terence Helmer (member of the Orford Quartet), Janos Starker, Menahem Pressler, and Yuval Yaron (all three of whom lead international careers and teach at the prestigious University of Indiana at Bloomington), Marc Durand (guest professor for 20 years), André Laplante (soloist and professor at the Glenn Gould School of Music) and most of the MSO wind section’s first chairs. For the artistic director, Agnes Grossmann, it is imperative to bring the masters to Orford rather than see the best musicians find fulfilment elsewhere.

Since the beginning, the concerts given at Orford have been of exceptional quality, regularly showcasing the talents of the professors. They have also included other artists of international calibre, such as singers Pierrette Alarie and Léopold Simoneau who performed in1960, the first year the hall was built. Without a doubt, though, the ever-popular music brunches held on the Centre grounds and performances by the interns have been audience favourites. "The touring school," which performs in the Salle Gilles-Lefebvre, as well as throughout the region, celebrated its 10th anniversary in 1999. Mrs. Marthe Gaudette has been attending concerts at the Centre since 1963. She so adored the place that when it was time for her to retire, she moved there. "I go four or five times a week. If you love music, this is the best you can find around here. The quality of the playing improves each year ," she says.

Years go by but the magic remains: souvenirs linger, dreams arise and careers continue to flourish, the best testimony to the vitality of the Orford Arts Centre.

Have you or your friends been students at the Orford Arts Centre? Don’t miss the reunion on August 4, 2001. Food, fun and, of course, music will be on the agenda. For information, call 1-800-567-6155.

E-mail: arts.orford@sympatico.ca

[Translated by Deborah Kramer]

Version française...

(c) La Scena Musicale