Gaston Arel | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Gaston Arel

Gaston Arel. Organist, teacher, b Trois-Rivières, Que, 10 Sep 1928; lauréat in organ (AMQ) 1948.

Arel, Gaston

Gaston Arel. Organist, teacher, b Trois-Rivières, Que, 10 Sep 1928; lauréat in organ (AMQ) 1948. He began piano studies at five with Cécile Dufault (Sister Saint-Gaston, Présentation de Marie) in St-Hyacinthe, Que, and continued with Conrad Letendre (piano 1941-7, organ 1945-54) in both St-Hyacinthe and Montreal. He was the organist 1945-53 at the cathedral in St-Hyacinthe. He studied piano 1947-8 at the CMM and 1947-51 privately with Arthur Letondal. In 1949 he won the third prize of the Casavant Society. A scholarship from the Quebec government made it possible for him to study organ 1953-4 with André Marchal in Paris. On his return he became the organist at the Immaculée-Conception Church in Montreal, serving in that position until 1974. In 1955 he married Lucienne L'Heureux. In 1960, on scholarships from the Canada Council, the couple went to Hamburg for training with Charles Letestu (with whom they studied again in 1964).

In 1955, Arel began to be heard frequently on the French and English networks of the CBC, notably in the series "Organ Works of Bach" and "Organists in Recital." He also has been a regular guest of the Amis de l'orgue de Québec, Ars Organi (of which he was a founding member and 1960-73 secretary-treasurer), the Concerts spirituels of St-Joseph Oratory, the JMC, Pro Organo Society, and other concert-giving organizations. He has accompanied Léopold Simoneau and Pierrette Alarie (1952) and Maureen Forrester (1953) as well as many other singers and instrumentalists.

A teacher at the Séminaire de St-Hyacinthe 1951-64, at the Cons de Trois-Rivières 1964-9 and 1976-7 and at the JMC Orford Art Centre 1973-9, Arel joined the staff at the CMM in 1964 and continues to teach privately.

Arel was president 1946-9 of the Compagnons de l'artof St-Hyacinthe, first national president 1949-50 of the JMC, president 1949-53 of the St-Hyacinthe Centre and president 1974-80, 1981-4, 87- of the AMQ. He served in 1975 on the jury of the Canada Council and 1975-6 as vice-president of the Montreal centre of the RCCO.

One of the leaders in the revival of the mechanical traction organ, Arel advised on the installation of several organs in Quebec, notably those at the Immaculée-Conception Church in Montreal and at the chapel of the Cistercian Abbey at Oka, where he became organist in 1984.


Couperin Messe à l'usage des paroisses. 1981. Siscom SC-06105

Daveluy Concerto in E. CBC Montreal orch, Daveluy conductor. 1981. RCI 560

Matton Suite de Pâques, Tu es Petrus. (1987). 5-ACM 29

Prévost Variations en passacaille.(1987). 6-ACM 28

Vierne Symphony No. 2 for organ. 1987. 2-REM 11047 (CD)