Canadian Conservatoire faces closure

Alexis Hauser, artistic director of the symphony orchestra at McGill University, fired off an open letter to the Quebec government today, urging it to reconsider reported plans to shut Montreal’s Conservatoire of Music.

‘Created in the image of its mother institution in France,’ Hauser argues, the Conservatoire feeds ‘local talents… into the world-class OSM.’ That, Hauser adds, should be ‘a cause of enormous pride.’

The institution has accumulated debts of $14 million. Has the appeal come too late?

conservatoire quebec

 

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  • Yannick Nezet-Seguin fired his letter last Thursday.
    Karina Gauvin on Friday.
    Marie Nicole Lemieux was on Radio Canada Friday.
    Alain Trudel, Olivier Godin and many others did so last week because debate was to take place last Friday.
    And the problem is huger, as all the Conservatoires in smaller towns are in jeopardy.
    All artists are certainly happy that Mr Hauser joins the group…

  • The Conservatoire does not “face closure”. It is a rumour that has been making the rounds, and also covers more than the Montréal Conservatoire, it also covers 5 regional ones.

    People have already started reacting to this rumour with mobilization and activism.

    That said, the Montreal Symphony doesn’t get many of its musicians from the Conservatoire de Montréal, since a very large percentage of its players are from out of town.

    The Orchestre Metropolitain de Montréal – another top flight orchestra – would probably be more likely notice the closure as it is mostly made up of local musicians.

    And making such a huge hubbub about a possible closure of Conservatoires in the province makes light of the high standards of musicians who come out of at least two of Montréal’s universities: McGill and Université de Montréal, both of which have advanced programs in performance (and significant orchestras of their own).

    • I strongly disagree that the existence of McGill and U de M’s programs have any bearing on the importance of the Conservatoire. McGill and the Conservatoire have extremely different cultures– one a big-box anglophone university and the other a distinctly Québécois conservatory. Many of the students who thrive at the Conservatoire either don’t want to study music in a university setting, or want to study in French. And as an alumna of the McGill music program, I know that the existence of the Conservatoire enriches the cultural life of the students at the other schools too.

      And, although of course the advent of screened auditions diluted the number of Québécois musicians in the OSM, they are still there, and Conservatoire grads are still significant contenders in OSM auditions. My teacher from my undergrad, a principal player in the OSM, received a premier prix from the Conservatoire and now teaches both there and at McGill. Regional culture and sound in orchestras is kept alive by local teaching traditions carried on by places like the Conservatoire.

  • a quick survey of the OSM roster shows that at least 25 of its current musicians attended one of the schools in the quebec conservatoire system, either as kids or teenagers in the pre-college classes, or for their undergrad or concours degrees.

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