Prix Opus 2021: CQM unveils the winners

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Owing to government restrictions to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the Conseil québécois de la musique (CQM) was obliged to organize its 24th Gala des prix Opus online, a first for the ceremony. The webcast was made public on Feb. 7 on the Facebook page of the Fabrique culturelle de Télé-Québec. The setting was unchanged: Bourgie Hall in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. A total of 26 laureates were recognized for their achievements during the 2019-2020 season, before and during the pandemic.

Exceptional circumstances led to an exceptional tribute to Kent Nagano, former music director of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, in office from the 2006-2007 season until August 2020. Along with an award, this tribute highlights the commitment of the American conductor, who for 15 years contributed to the dissemination of classical music in Montreal and Quebec. Note that the MSO as an orchestra and an institution did not receive an award this year.

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Cellist Elinor Frey won the Opus for Performer of the Year, while the saxophone quartet QUASAR won the Overseas Outreach award for its tour of British Columbia, Europe and the United States. Already honored through the Paramirabo Ensemble in the album Alone and Unalone, which was nominated for a Juno award for Classical Album of the Year, James O’Callaghan received the Opus for Composer of the Year, an award that includes a $10,000 grant from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec. Singer Djely Tapa, winner of the Inclusion and Diversity Montréal prize, receives an equivalent grant from the Conseil des arts de Montréal. She has already won an Juno for record of the year in World Music for her album Barokan.

In the realm of original productions, the Les p’tits mélomanes du dimanche organization won the Production of the Year – Young Audience award for its show Jean-Sébastien et la marche à pied and a $5,000 grant from the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications. In addition, the CQM awarded the Orchestre symphonique de l’Estuaire the new Opus Régions prize for its achievements with young audiences, carried out during the 2019-2020 season, and the Palais Montcalm the new Opus Québec Prize for its production of the Concerto For Group And Orchestra by Jon Lord. On the occasion of this notable Canadian premiere, which took place in November 2019, the Orchestre symphonique de Québec, under the direction of British conductor Paul Mann, shared the stage with Bruce Dickinson, star singer of the metal band Iron Maiden.

As for concerts of the year, the CQM awarded an Opus to the Arion Orchestre Baroque in the Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque music category, as well as to the Orchestre Métropolitain, in the Classical music – Romantic, Post-romantic, Impressionist – category. Under the direction of Yannick Nézet-Séguin, who also received the Artistic Director of the Year Award, the musicians of OM welcomed mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato for a unique concert at the Maison symphonique in November 2019. In modern and contemporary music, the concert Hommage collectif III à Gilles Tremblay on Jan. 24, 2020, which brought together the Ensemble contemporain de Montréal, the Paramirabo Ensemble, Magnitude6 and the pianist Louise Bessette, is the one that leaves with CQM honours.

Among the award-winning albums this year, we should mention the Quatuor Molinari and ATMA Classique, winners for a program of the complete string quartets of Henryk Górecki. Composed of Olga Ranzenhofer, Antoine Bareil, Frédéric Lambert and Pierre-Alain Bouvrette, the Montreal group here receives its 22nd Opus, according to the quartet’s website.

Other Opus Awards include:

Composition of the year
Eleven super (petits) totems 
Jean Derome, SuperTotem 
Productions Totem contemporain, Productions SuperMusique 
Oct. 24, 2019

Discovery of the year
Ariane Brisson

Specialist producer of the year
Festival des Arts de Saint-Sauveur

Musical event of the year
Mini-concerts Santé
Ensemble Caprice, Ensemble vocal Arts-Québec 
June to September 2020

The ceremony included several performances. Soprano Karina Gauvin and contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux, accompanied by pianist Olivier Godin, performed the “Duo des fleurs” from the opera Lakmé by Léo Delibes. They then gave way to the jazz trio Emie R Roussel, which distinguished itself in an original composition by Nicolas Bédard, the group’s double bass player. Finally, to close the event, the Quebec traditional music group Le Vent du Nord presented “Au Régiment,” a song by Georges Comeau.

For the complete list of winners and further details, visit

This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)


About Author

Justin Bernard est détenteur d’un doctorat en musique de l’Université de Montréal. Ses recherches portent sur la médiation musicale, notamment par le biais des nouveaux outils numériques, ainsi que sur la relation entre opéra et cinéma. Membre de l’Observatoire interdisciplinaire de création et de recherche en musique (OICRM), il a réalisé une série de capsules vidéo éducatives pour l’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. Justin Bernard est également l’auteur de notes de programme pour le compte de la salle Bourgie du Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal et chargé de cours à l’Université de Sherbrooke. Par ailleurs, il anime une émission d’opéra et une chronique musicale à Radio VM (91,3 FM).

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