Marius Benoist. Conductor, choirmaster, composer, administrator, customs broker, b Ste-Anne-des-Chênes, near Winnipeg, 1 Oct 1896, d St-Boniface, Man, 13 Jan 1985. He studied piano and organ with Rodolphe Pépin in St-Boniface, and took courses at the Schola cantorum in Montreal. Returning to St-Boniface he served as organist-choirmaster at the Roman Catholic cathedral for nearly 40 years (until 1965).and was a leading figure in that city's musical life. An ardent champion of French music, he founded the Société lyrique Gounod, which presented Gounod's Mireille and Roméo et Juliette, and Berlioz' L'Enfance du Christ. He also organized a youth orchestra, the Cercle Calixa-Lavallée, and a Sinfonietta which, under his direction, performed L'Arlésienne with the Cercle Molière and Peer Gynt with the Winnipeg Little Theatre.
Benoist composed more than 100 scores for radio plays produced by CBC Winnipeg. He wrote four operas: Le Secret des Amati, La Rencontre dans l'escalier, Saint-François d'Assise, and Onadéga ou la tragédie du lac des bois. Onadéga was premiered in November 1977 at St-Boniface Cathedral with Napoléon Bisson as Onadéga, and with local singers and the Chorale des Intrépides under Marcel Ferland, a former instrumentation pupil of Benoist. Benoist also wrote the oratorio Mère d'Youville, and the lyric drama La Légende du vent (libretto by the Manitoba writer Léo Brodeur). La Légende was telecast in 1974 by the CBC, earning Benoist the Prix Anik of that year, and was shown also in Poland and Hungary. Among his other works - all unpublished - are the ballet Great Bear; Erivadnus for voice and orchestra; La Fin du maître-chantre and La Vérendrye for choir and orchestra; a Te Deum (1938) performed in 1977 by the Chorale des intrépides, an Ode to Spring (1949) for voice, chorus, and orchestra; and Sérénade (1953) for small orchestra.
Marius Benoist, 'Souvenirs de la musique à Saint-Boniface, 1818-1935,' 'Louis Frasse de Plainval (1871-1880),' Chapeau bas, vol 1 (St-Boniface 1980)
'Une histoire d'amour qui date de loin,' 'Souvenirs d'une vie musicale (1927-1975),' ibid, vol2 (St-Boniface 1985)