The Conseil québécois de la musique has paid tribute to a leading figure who has left a significant mark on musical life in Quebec. Monique Dubé, who has spent close to 35 years cultivating chamber music on Montreal stages, is the 2019 recipient of the 23rd Prix Opus Hommage.
Because Dubé’s father was a music director in the Irish community of Montreal’s Rosemont neighbourhood, Dubé first discovered music through sacred choral singing. Back in the day, there was no reason to expect that Dubé would be called on to play a key role in the concert music industry. Although she was interested in the arts at an early age, attending symphony orchestra concerts and shows at the Gesù, particularly shows featuring the Compagnons de Saint-Laurent, her love for chamber music took flight during her tenure at Pro Musica.
After volunteering for many non-profit organizations, including the Quebec Lung Association, Dubé moved to the Pro Musica Society to organize fundraising events in the 1980s. In 1986, she became the general manager, replacing founder Gertrude Constant Gendreau, who had died a few years earlier.
While Dubé was at the helm of Pro Musica, she gave daily operations a professional character. Before graduate diplomas in management of cultural organizations came into existence, Dubé had to learn on the job, just like others before her. She learned everything from organizational administration to project management and computers. At that time, computers had just replaced typewriters.
Even though today’s young managers receive training and track progress through a sturdy framework, Dubé believed that specific components in the profession were easier in her time. “Competition was less cut-throat, especially in the chamber music industry,” she says. “Nowadays, the music supply has skyrocketed. One must continually vary repertoire and hold extra activities during concerts.” Today, as in the past, the challenge for chamber music lies in funding, an area Dubé is familiar with. “Because chamber music might be less appealing than repertoire for larger ensembles, more inward-looking and at times challenging for the listener, this musical genre struggles to find its way to sponsors and benefactors,” she said.
A good manager needs to be well surrounded. By recruiting Pierre Rolland, a familiar face in Quebec’s music industry, to the position of artistic director, the organization gained new momentum. From 1986 to 2011, Dubé and Rolland were outstanding team players, as Rolland’s bold artistic vision complemented Dubé’s efficient management skills. The teammates’ combined networks of professionals and friends allowed them to take stock of opportunities and benefit from talents that enhanced music in Quebec and overseas.
Dubé and Rolland created the Sapphire series for major concerts, the Emerald series for high-quality international artists, and the Topaz series for up-and-coming musicians. Created in partnership with Place des Arts, the Mélodînes series encourages music lovers to discover rising young musicians in a casual atmosphere.
Translation by Dwain Richardson