Music in Joliette

City situated 75 kilometres to the north-east of Montreal, incorporated on 18 October 1863. In 1991, Joliette had a population of about 31,000 inhabitants.

Joliette, Que

Joliette, Que. City situated 75 kilometres to the north-east of Montreal, incorporated on 18 October 1863. In 1991, Joliette had a population of about 31,000 inhabitants. As early as 1850 the archives mention the participation of the college 'Bande' at the arrival of the first train of Barthélemy Joliette, the city's founder.

From the time of its opening in September of 1846, the Joliette College taught choral singing and and offered an introduction to instrumental music. Brother Louis Vadboncoeur started the band in 1871, while brother Étienne Desserres established an orchestra there in 1896. Ernest and Gustave Gagnon and Charles-Marie Panneton were among the first pupils of the institution. The Congrégation de Notre-Dame opened a convent in 1875, where music was taught from the very first. Two nuns from this convent would later establish the École normale de musique in Montreal in 1926, Joliette also welcomed such artists as the very young Emma Albani (1857), Calixa Lavallée and Frantz Jehin-Prume (1876). In 1892 singers were gathered together to form a 'philharmonic society, which, under various names, marked the solemnity of feast days. Certain families of musicans left their mark on the 19th century, including the Beaudoin family, Gaspard (father), Antonio and Hector. Equally important is the educational role played by the Paul family, Damis, Louis-Camille and Georges. The latter (18451876), cleric of Saint-Viateur, is the composer of numerous choral and instrumental works, such as Cantate à Barthélemy Joliette.

The Joliette Band was active from 1893 to 1901, first under the direction of Jean-Baptiste Lafrenière, then under that of Adélard Ringuet. In 1901 the latter took over the direction of the Union musicale de Joliette, founded in the same year. Émile Prévost directed it from 1907 to 1955; it was subsequently conducted by Paul Dionne, Father Rolland Brunelle and Léo Ricard until its activities ceased ca 1975. Meanwhile the Symphonie de Joliette (1910), established and conducted by Prévost, and the Musique des Zouaves (1918), conducted by Joseph-Albert Contant, brother of Alexis Contant, were established. The Association des chanteurs (1925-38) made possible the performance of a good number of operettas and comic operas which showed to advantage the musicians and singers of the period, in particular the Orchestre Asselin, the soloists Eugénie Chevalier, Paul Courteau, Anita and Laurette Gravel, Aline Wodon, Estelle Masse, and Mesdames Jos. Désormeaux and Jos. Lafortune. Among the musicians and professors of this era were Mme. D. C. Roberge, Alma Lavallée, Stéphanie Garceau, Thérèse Alarie, Élodie Paquette, J.-A. Contant, Maurice Ducharme and Thérèse Gadoury.

The construction of a spacious academic hall in 1926 (today the Salle Rolland-Brunelle), gave even more encouragment to the expansion of theatre and music in the Joliette College by then become a seminary. The application of these arts reached a kind of peak in 1947 with the performance commemorating the centenary of the arrival of the St-Viateur clergy : an open-air theatre, created by the architect and painter Wilfrid Corbeil, celebrations stretching over three days and the mobilisation of more than 800 extras and singers created an event that was unprecedented in Joliette's history. The biblical drama Jonathas, with music by Gabriel Cusson, was performed on this occasion. The Orchestre symphonique du séminaire, made up of musicians from the college and the town, as well as members of the Symphonie de Montréal, had already made great strides during the time of Father Lucien Bellemare, who controlled its fortunes from 1936 to 1939. It was owing to Father Brunelle, who became its conductor in 1940, that it was maintained and expanded. The establishment of the Amis du séminaire (1944-56), and later of the JMC/YMC (1951 -), promoted the coming of Canadian artists and distinguished foreigners. Beginning in 1965 Father Fernand Lindsay has conducted the Chanteurs de la place Bourget, which was established by René Martin in 1953. Professors Jean Riddez, Lucien Bellemare, Wilfrid Corbeil, Étienne Marion and Father Brunelle have contributed to the training of a great number of singers and musicians, such as the families Asselin, Brinelle, Dionne, Guérard and Desroches.

The many musical undertakings initiated by Father Lindsay, added to the many-sided educational activities of Father Brunelle, have earned the city of Joliette the title of 'sol de musique'. Notable among them are the creation of the Festival-concours (1962), the Camp musical de Lanaudière (1967), the Orchestre symphonique des jeunes de Joliette (1971), the École de musique du Centre culturel (1972), the Festival international de Lanaudière (1978), of which the major part of its summer activities take place in a splendid amphitheatre inaugurated in 1989, and the Orchestre symphonique de Joliette-Lanaudière (1984). Musicians born in Joliette or in the region include Angèle Dubeau, Yoland Guérard, Élaine and Chantal Marcil and Émiliano Renaud.


Further Reading

  • Locat, Raymond. La tradition musicale à Joliette: 150 ans d'histoire (Joliette 1993?)