Youth and Music Canada/Jeunesses musicales of Canada | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Youth and Music Canada/Jeunesses musicales of Canada

Youth and Music Canada (YMC) 1984- / Jeunesses musicales du Canada (JMC) 1949-84. A non-profit organization created to encourage the pursuit of music among Canada's young people and to help talented performers and composers develop their careers in Canada and abroad.

Youth and Music Canada/Jeunesses musicales of Canada

Youth and Music Canada (YMC) 1984- / Jeunesses musicales du Canada (JMC) 1949-84. A non-profit organization created to encourage the pursuit of music among Canada's young people and to help talented performers and composers develop their careers in Canada and abroad.

Historical Review
The JMC was born 23 Aug 1949 following a meeting between Father J.H. Lemieux, Anaïs Allard-Rousseau, and Laurette Desruisseaux-Boisvert, who were brought together in St-Hyacinthe, Que, on the initiative of Gilles Lefebvre. Lefebvre suggested linking all the existing societies devoted to cultural activities among young people and submitted a plan of action calling for concert tours, new lines of administrative co-operation, scholarships, a summer camp, a permanent home, and exchanges between young performers. An association called Hélicon was founded, comprising the musical clubs of the Quebec towns of Grand-Mère, Mont-Laurier, St-Hyacinthe, Shawinigan, Sherbrooke, and Trois-Rivières. The committee of the Compagnons de l'Art of St-Hyacinthe organized the first tour for the 1949-50 season while Lefebvre took advantage of a study period in Europe to make contacts, notably with the JM. As proposed by Lefebvre, while a member of the French delegation at the Vienna congress of the JM (1950), the new Canadian organization became a member of the International Federation of the JM, succeeding the Amis de l'art, which had represented Canada for a short time 1949-50. The first national JMC congress was held in Trois-Rivières in 1950. On that occasion Lefebvre accepted the national presidency of the movement, becoming in 1953 its director general, a position he held until 1972. He was succeeded as director general by Gaston Germain 1972-6, Jean-Claude Picard 1976-87, Micheline Tessier interim, 1987-8. Claude Lafontaine 1988-90, Nicolas Desjardins 1990-98, Jacques Boucher 1998-2002, and Jacques Marquis in 2002. The national presidents have been Gaston Arel 1949-50, Gilles Lefebvre 1950-4, Anaïs Allard-Rousseau 1954-6, Sylvio Lacharité 1956-8, Victor Bouchard 1958-60, Raoul Jobin 1960-2, Sir Ernest MacMillan 1962-4, Léopold Simoneau 1964-7, Wilfrid Pelletier 1967-9, Clermont Pépin 1969-72, Maureen Forrester 1972-6, Gilles Potvin 1976-80, John Roberts 1980-3, Mario Duschenes 1983-5, Mavor Moore 1985-7, and Boris Brott 1987-9, succeeded by Joseph Rouleau in 1989. The JMC/YMC is administered by a national council made up of representatives of the provincial committees

The first three tours by Canadian artists 1949-50 occurred under the joint auspices of the JMC and Hélicon. The violinist Noël Brunet, accompanied at the piano by Suzette Pratte, the soprano Marthe Létourneau with the pianist Géraldine Lavallée, and the pianist Gilles Breton performed in the six founding centres during that first season. The first exchange of artists with France occurred during the 1951-2 season between the Canadian violinist Noël Brunet and the French pianist Pierre Sancan. In 1954 Gilles Lefebvre was elected for the first of three terms as president of the International Federation of the JM, which by 1990 included more than 40 member countries. The first world congress of the organization to be held in Canada took place in Montreal in 1955. A major expansion of the JMC outside Quebec, towards the eastern and western provinces, began in 1958. Starting in the late 1950s, centres and sections were active in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan. The Festival Concert Society, affiliated with the JMC, previously sponsored tours by JMC-selected artists in British Columbia. Newfoundland was a member of the JMC in the 1960s. In 1990, the JMC/YMC was active in nearly 40 cities in New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario, and its operations were co-ordinated by a national secretariat located in Montreal. In 1982 a secretariat was established in Toronto to manage activities in Ontario. The 50th anniversary of the JMC was celebrated in 1999 with a series of tribute concerts and events that included: a concert to mark the 70th birthday of Joseph Rouleau, the launch of the JMC book by Gilles Lefebvre, and a gala tribute concert in honour of Lefebvre featuring a commissioned work, Ouverture en forme de passacaille sur le nom de Gilles Lefebvre by C. Pépin.

Of the four founding members of the JMC, one who had a particular influence on the movement was Anaïs Allard-Rousseau (b Allard, m Rousseau). An administrator and teacher (b Ste-Monique-de-Nicolet, Que, 31 Oct 1904, d Fort-de-France, Martinique, 15 Feb 1971), she had studied music and pedagogy. She settled in Trois-Rivières at the time of her marriage in 1926 and in 1942 founded there a concert society, Les Rendez-vous artistiques, and a series of daytime concerts for young people under the name of Club André-Mathieu. She was vice-president of the International Federation of the JM (1952-5) and JMC delegate to the conventions of Geneva (1952), Hanover (1954), Brussels (1958), Palma de Majorca (1963), Paris (1966), Budapest (1969), and Copenhagen (1970). In Trois-Rivières she taught introductory courses in music and the fine arts at the École normale du Christ-Roi (1956-64), the Centre d'études universitaires (1963), and the École normale Maurice-Duplessis (1967). Her generous commitment also contributed to the founding of the Conservatoire de Trois Rivières (1967). She was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1969. The concert hall of the Centre culturel in Trois-Rivières bears her name.


Two major projects came to fruition in 1951: a summer music camp at Mount Orford (see Orford Arts Centre) and the Journal des Jeunesses musicales du Canada (variously titled, see general list of abbreviations for Jmc), whose editor 1951-61 was Andrée Desautels. Wilfrid Sauvé was responsible for producing the paper from 1961 to its discontinuance in 1971. Subsequently there appeared a Bulletin 1974-6, a Communiqué 1976-89, and Behind the Scenes/ En Sourdine 1989- all in separate English and French editions.

In 1961 the JMC launched a national competition open to pianists under 30 years. String and voice competitions alternated with piano in subsequent years. The competition was open to musicians who were taking advanced studies abroad or had completed their studies in Canada in the 12 months preceding the competition. Each participant was required to play an unpublished Canadian work. The Canada Council arranged concert appearances with as many as 10 Canadian orchestras for the winners, and the JMC also offered a recital tour in about 40 centres, a recording, and a tour in France under the aegis of the JM of that country. Winners were Marek Jablonski (piano, 1961), Andrew Dawes (violin, second prize 1962), Gloria Richard (singing, second prize 1963), and Dale Bartlett (piano, 1964). There was no competition in 1965 and 1966. Besides assuming direction of the Man and Music pavilion at Expo 67, the JMC also organized three national competitions for performers, as well as an international contest in composition. Robert Silverman, Andrew Dawes, and Annon Lee Silver were the winners respectively in the categories of piano, violin, and voice. The Austrian Josef Maria Horvath obtained the first prize for composition with Redundanz II for string quartet, and the Canadian Sydney Hodkinson received second prize for Interplay. Subsequently JMC competitions were continued only at the regional level.

The Club musical canadien du disque was founded by the JMC in 1956, but it was under the name of Club de disques JMC (CD-JMC) that LPs were produced, notably with the performers Dale Bartlett, Josephte Clément (CD-JMC-3), Marek Jablonski, Gloria Richard, Sylvia Saurette, and Robert Silverman. Three excerpts from Pirouette and Silent Measures by Blackburn were also recorded on this label. In 1954 the JM of France had started the Club national du disque, which recorded on the labels JMF (Pathé-Marconi) and CND; Maureen Forrester and the duo-pianists Victor Bouchard and Renée Morisset are among Canadian artists who have recorded on CND. To mark the 20th anniversary of the JMC in 1969 RCI and RCA Victor co-produced a set of 10 LPs, Jeunesses musicales 20 Canada (RCI 275-84), with the assistance of artists who had taken part in JMC concerts and the Orford Festival: Andrew Dawes, Karl Engel, Guy Fallot, Lorand Fenyves, Kenneth Gilbert, Claude Helffer, Anton Kuerti, Alexander Lagoya, the Orford String Quartet, the Pierre Bourque Saxophone Quartet, Hansheinz Schneeberger, and Ronald Turini.

The second congress of the International Federation of the JM to be held in Canada took place in Montreal during Expo 67. An international orchestra comprising some 100 young instrumentalists from many countries was conducted by Zubin Mehta and played Beethoven's Ninth Symphony at the PDA. Three years later the JM World Orchestra was created on the initiative of Gilles Lefebvre and the JMC, with financial support from the cultural arm of the Department of External Affairs of Canada. Made up of young instrumentalists between the ages of 17 and 25, selected from each member country of the international federation (of which there are over 40), the JM World Orchestra has been reassembled each summer in a different country and each winter in (West) Berlin beginning in 1988. Since its founding, the JM World Orchestra has performed on several occasions in Canada, notably at the opening concert of the Olympic Games (1976) under Pierre Hétu, and at the Festival International de Lanaudière (1990). The JMWO has appeared under the direction of conductors such as Charles Dutoit, Kurt Masur, Zubin Mehta, Leonard Bernstein, and Sir Neville Mariner.

In 1972, the JMC began its series 'Sons et brioches' at the Piano Nobile of PDA where the proximity of the public, sitting on the floor, promotes listening and communication with the musicians. A similar formula was adapted more recently for children, under the name 'Concerts-puces' at the PDA, 'Croque-musique' at the Grand Théâtre de Québec, and 'Cushion Concerts' at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto.

In 1975 the JMC introduced a new pedagogical approach: workshops devoted to the description, history, and repertoire of various instruments. In 1988 the formula was renewed under the name 'Concertino,' with the emphasis placed on listening to compositions. On request, professional artists visit the schools and work with groups of students. Before the presentations, the schools receive instructional material from the national secretariat to prepare the pupils for the workshops, and afterwards the performers themselves answer the young people's questions.

In collaboration with the city of Lachine, the JMC organized the Festival superphonique during the summer (1985-9), devoted to the new generation of musicians.

The organization of a JMC/YMC concert season is normally handled by a voluntary committee. Local organizers receive instructional material containing the necessary information about the instruments or the musical forms. The performance of each work is preceded by a historical and analytical commentary, often supplied by the performer himself. The JMC/YMC towns are geographically arranged in regions, within which the selected artists pursue their tours. The list of these artists is considerable and at various periods has included such outstanding Canadians as Gaston Arel, Adele Armin, Napoléon Bisson, Victor Bouchard and Renée Morisset, Lise Boucher, Hyman Bress, James Campbell, Angèle Dubeau, Michel Dussault, Maureen Forrester, Kenneth Gilbert, Richard Gresko, Marek Jablonski, Jean-Paul Jeannotte, Bernard Lagacé, André Laplante, Arthur LeBlanc, Joan Maxwell, the Morel-Nemish Duo, John Newmark, the Orford String Quartet, Louis Quilico, Charles Reiner, Joseph Rouleau, Claude Savard, William Stevens, and Ronald Turini. Among the foreign artists have been Karl Engel, Philippe Entremont, Guy Fallot, François Glorieux, Claude Helffer, John Lill, the Paul Kuentz Chamber Orchestra, Ida Presti and Alexander Lagoya, Henryk Szeryng, Paul Tortelier, the Stuttgart Trio, and Jean-Claude Vanden Eynden. Opera troupes like the Opéra de poche of Paris or dance troupes such as Entre-Six have also made tours. The JMC also has organized operatic productions, including Silent Measures and Pirouette by Blackburn (1960-1), Le Magicien by Vallerand (1961-2), and The Barber of Seville (1975-6). Pirouette and Le Magicien were commissioned by the JMC.

The JMC/YMC deposits its archives at the Bibliothèque Nationale du Québec in Montreal. Other documents relating to the Compagnons de l'art and to Hélicon are held in the Simone-Turner Collection of the Société d'histoire régionale de St-Hyacynthe. The goal of the Youth and Music Canada Foundation, which was established in 1984, is to ensure the work of the JMC/YMC, through such means as benefit concerts and fundraising.

There are more than 40 JMC centres and sections in eastern Canada that perform over 700 concerts at approximately 150 venues each year in Quebec, the Maritimes, and Ontario. Current JMC Concert Series for adults include: the Desjardins Concerts for audiences in suburban areas and metropolitan centres, Jouer dans l'île and La musique sur un plateau. The JMC also offers interactive and educational youth concerts for presentation in schools, and family-oriented concert series such as: Music With Bite presented at the Toronto Harbour Front Centre, Kinderconcerts for ages three to six performed at the Salon of the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, and Sons et Brioches concerts in Montréal at the Piano Nobile in Place des Arts. In 2000, the JMC opened its own performance venue in Montréal, with a 100-seat chamber music hall at Jeunesses Musicales of Canada House, thus enabling the organization to increase the scope of its activities. The hall, with its intimate setting, was designed specifically to suit interactive concerts and to feature the performance of lesser-known works of chamber music. The JMC presents several prizes including: the Cécile Mesnard-Pomerleau Award, the Joseph Rouleau Award, a composition prize in conjunction with the CBC National Competition for Young Composers, an award in conjunction with the OSM Competition, and the Jean Lafleur Bursary. 2002 witnessed the inception of the Jeunesses Musicales Montréal International Competition (JMMIC). The competition, co-sponsored by the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, alternates between voice (2002) violin (2003) and piano (2004). Many of the young musicians who have benefited from JMC support and exposure have gone on to become internationally renowned. They include: Joseph Rouleau, Maureen Forrester, Marek Jablonski, the Orford String Quartet, Louis Quilico, Kenneth Gilbert, Lyne Fortin, Richard Raymond, James Ehnes, Yegor Dyachkov, and Marie-Nicole Lemieux.


Lefebvre, Gilles. 'La Fédération internationale des Jeunesses musicales,' Jmc, 5, Mar 1959

Wilson, Elizabeth. 'Les Jeunesses musicales,' OpCan, May 1963

Fink, Laure. 'Trio D'Opéra, on tour in Quebec,' OpCan, Feb 1966

'Centennial year plans of the Jeunesses musicales,' CanComp, 10, Sep 1966

Kemp, Agathe. 'Les Jeunesses musicales marches on,' MSc, 238, Nov-Dec 1967

Potvin, Gilles. 'Jeunesses musicales du Canada,' Art and Culture (Montreal 1976)

Mollet, Pierre. Musique d'été: Centre d'art d'Orford, JMC. Montreal: Fides, 1976

JMC souvenir program, for the 30th anniversary (Montreal 1980)

Moisan, Daniel. 'Les Jeunesses musicales en plein essor,' (interview with Jean-Claude Picard), Aria, vol 5, Jul-Aug 1982

Angrignon-Sirois, Maryse. 'Les Jeunesses musicales... plus vivantes que jamais,' Aria, vol 8, Summer 1985

Davoine, Françoise. 'L'Orchestre mondial des Jeunesses musicales: vivre avec la musique!' Aria, vol 10, Summer 1987

Lefebre, Gilles, Rudel-Tessier Michel. La Musique d'une Vie. Saint Laurent: Édition Fides, 1993

Lefebre, Gilles. Terre des Jeunes: le premier demi-siécle des Jeunesses musicales du Canada et du Centre d'arts d'Orford. Saint-Laurent: Édition Fides, 1999


Youth and Music / Jeunesses musicales du Canada (NFB 1956)

Les Jeunesses musicales du Canada 1950-1980 (Ciné-Mundo 1980)

Magical Musical Days [JM World O] (Silverscreen International 1985)

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