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 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.
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
a wonderful facility in an exceptionally beautiful
a spirit of vital engagement in the health
Violist of the Orford
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
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.
[Translated by Deborah Kramer]