Clavecin en concert has come a long a way since its inception by harpsichordist Luc Beauséjour in 1994 – from harpsichord recitals in private rooms to concerts featuring chamber music, choral music and opera. On Oct. 27, Clavecin en concert, winner of two Félix Awards and eight Prix Opus, will produce the first concert of its 26th year. Here’s a look back at the founder and artistic director’s journey and a quarter century of passion for early music.
From Solo to Ensemble
The Clavecin en concert journey started in Luc Beauséjour’s studio in the early 1990s. Because Beauséjour wanted to share his passion for the harpsichord with the public, he organized a series of four recitals that brought harpsichord lovers together year after year. Audiences were graced by Rameau’s complete harpsichord sonatas and Bach’s Wohltemperierte Klavier. After many positive reviews and requests from musicians to play in the series, Clavecin en concert gradually gravitated toward other musicians, paving a way for themselves on the early music stages.
“Of all the accomplishments Clavecin en concert has possessed, I am so happy to have hired renowned artists that were not as known back then,” Beauséjour said. “Some of these artists include Philippe Jaroussky, Karina Gauvin, Marie-Nicole Lemieux, and Philippe Sly.” Over the years, the repertoire has expanded, as have partnerships and guests. All the while fulfilling a mission to highlight music for harpsichord and other keyboard instruments, Clavecin en concert is settling in the baroque music industry across Quebec. During the 2019-20 season, Clavecin en concert will present three Bach concerts, a concert featuring works by Bach and Vivaldi, a recital by French harpsichordist Olivier Baumont, a concert by Les Songes quintet, and La descente d’Orphée aux enfers by Marc-Antoine Charpentier. Cellist Stéphane Tétreault, violinist Kerson Leong, and singers Aline Kutan, Philippe Gagné and Jacqueline Woodley are also expected to give performances.
Looking Toward the Future
Since Clavecin en concert is on the right track, now is the time to look toward the future. Beauséjour has many ideas to keep the organization alive. This year, he has set up an artist residency for upcoming artists, including harpsichordist Christophe Gauthier, a recent Université de Montréal graduate. “This residency makes it possible for young artists to take stock of mentoring and masterclasses to prepare for contests or hone their art,” Beauséjour mentioned. “In the future, we will increase such initiatives to pass the torch to younger generations.” This relationship with youth is not to be taken lightly. In addition to pursuing a career as a solo harpsichordist, Beauséjour works with hundreds of young musicians at the Université de Montréal, Conservatoire de musique de Montréal, and Cégep de Saint-Laurent.
Feathering his Nest
Beauséjour has grown wings – and harpsichords! – for some time. Masters of the instrument have produced sounds of yore with their detailed plucking work from plectrum to feathers. With the jack, a small tool known as a plectrum is made of plastic on modern instruments. This tool was once used to pluck bird’s feathers. Following training in the United States and having been convinced of the sound’s effectiveness, Beauséjour went out to find barnacle goose feathers. A few weeks later, hunters from the Saguenay provided him with a bag filled with feathers. From harpsichordist to feather tailor, he has feathered his keyboard instruments with perseverance. “Whenever I replace plastic plectrum with a feathered plectrum, I feel like I have just heard a new note,” Beauséjour says. Here lies a new-found, genuine know-how that gives his instrumental collection a specific character.
In keeping with the bird metaphor, Beauséjour’s next album will be titled Le rappel des oiseaux, after an excerpt from Rameau’s well-known Suite in E minor. The album assembles French music associated with birds. You will hear works by Couperin and Rameau alongside works by Louis-Antoine Dornel, Louis-Claude Daquin, and François d’Agincourt. The album will be released by Analekta in March 2020.
While waiting for the release, Clavecin en concert will present two concerts this fall: the first on Oct. 27; the second, Nov. 24. We’ll be pleased to see how this series will progress. We’ll also be pleased to see how this organization makes its mark on Montreal’s early music scene.
Translation by Dwain Richardson
As part of the Complete Cantatas of J.S. Bach Series presented by the Arte Musica Foundation, Clavecin en concert will present Bach cantatas BWV 8, 56, and 157 at Bourgie Hall on Oct. 27 at 2:30 p.m.