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Suzie LeBlanc, Concept and Creation; Célia Laguitton, Concept and Creation, Author & Actress; Rona Nadler, Music Director and harpsichord; Myriam Leblanc, Soprano; Sallynee Amawat, Violin; Susie Napper, Viola da Gamba; Alexander Belser, Bass wind instruments; Megan Chartrand, Soprano; Marie-Andrée Mathieu, Mezzo-soprano; Anne-Marie Beaudette, Soprano; Stephanie Manias, Soprano; Rebecca Dowd, Soprano
Marrying music with history, this tribute to the Hospitalières is a journey across time, weaving words from the archives of the first Hospitalières with the reflections of today’s nuns on the state of the world. The concert offers insight into the heroic lives of these women and the music from their religious establishments in 17th century France and Quebec. With the magnificent female singers of the Studio de Musique Ancienne de Montréal and the French actress Célia Laguitton as Sister Marie-Ange, this musical and theatrical creation honours the lives of those who took part in the foundation of the city of Montréal as we now know it, and of the Hôtel-Dieu, where the concert was filmed.
This concert is generously supported by Agnes Hohn & Brent Rinaldi
To accompany the story of Sister Marie-Ange
Nicolas Clérambault (1676-1749)
Chaconne in A major
François Couperin (1668-1733)
Tabesecere me fecit
Stephanie Manias &
Guillaume-Gabriel Nivers (1632-1714)
Beata es Maria
Megan Chartrand soloist
Michel Richard Delalande (1657-1726)
O Mors, ero mors tua
Marie-Andrée Mathieu soloist
from the archives of the Ursulines, Quebec Ave Joseph
Myriam Leblanc soloist
Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764)
Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687)
Stephanie Manias, Megan Chartrand,
Marie-Andrée Mathieu soloists
At the end of my street, perched on the Mont Sainte-Famille, as it was called in the ninteenth century, proudly stands the Chapelle de l’Hôtel-Dieu. I see it every day. And yet, until recently, I knew nothing about the history of the women who live in the adjacent buildings. I first met the sisters of the Hospitalières de Saint-Joseph at a concert directed by my friend Suzie LeBlanc. My curiosity was piqued. Who were these women? What did they do? What was their history? As I researched, I gradually discovered the captivating history of this heroic group of women, and became passionately invested in these questions. And so, with Suzie, we decided to create a musical and theatrical homage to Hospitalières around the globe.
It was one year ago in Verdun, by the water, that we first met to exchange ideas and lay the foundations for the project. After that, things progressed very quickly. Only a few months later, we had the honour of meeting Sister Mariette Chainey, the head of the Maison des Hospitalières de Saint-Joseph; I was also overjoyed to have several conversations with Sister Marie-Blanche Leblanc, the last sister to work for the Hôtel-Dieu, as well as with Sister Nicole Bussières, who manages the convent’s archives and was able to guide my research.
Following these conversations, I wrote a theatrical text which sheds light on the life and work of these women. Sister Marie-Ange is the main character you will meet. She represents the entire community of the Hospitaller nuns.
Together with Suzie Leblanc and Rona Nadler, we have worked to create an experience where listeners can immerse themselves in the universe of these exceptional women and their history, both inextricably linked to the story of the founding of Montreal.
- Célia Laguitton (translation, Ariadne Lih)
Drawing us into the world of Célia Laguitton and the Hospitalières is the classic allure of the chaconne, in which an inexorably repeating descending harmonic pattern underpins continuous melodic variation. Here, the violin and bass lines both evolve freely, with special pathos for the minor section in the middle.
The other pieces are a selection of delicacies from the French Baroque vocal repertoire, with the exception of Rameau’s “Les Tricotets” near the end of the program. This little harpsichord rondeau recreates a dance named for the word tricoter, to knit—so called because the feet must move as quickly as the hands do while knitting. Still, the program focuses on music written for women’s voices, and even for specific women. For example, Couperin’s psalm verses were performed by his cousin Marguerite-Louise and another soprano before King Louis XIV; scored exceptionally for two women’s voices with no accompaniment, “Tabesecere me fecit” bears the marking “Mademoiselle Couperin” on the upper line.
Guillaume-Gabriel Nivers’s “Beata es Maria,” meanwhile, appeared in a collection of petits motets (small-scale sacred compositions) specifically destined for nuns. An expert on Gregorian chant, Nivers published several volumes of newly composed plainsong for use in religious services. “Beata es Maria” belongs to a style called plain chant musical whereby plainsong melodies were embellished with delicate, typically French trills and agréments, and in this case supported by basso continuo.
According to the royal music librarian, Michel Richard Delalande’s Miserere à voix seule was written for an Augustinian convent in Paris called the Dames de l’Assomption, renowned for its musical services. Composed for Holy Week with small Lenten instrumental forces, the piece sets fifteen verses from Psalm 50 as heart-wrenching recitatives and airs. The other verses are sung in simple plainsong by the choir, here with a harmonization by Delalande’s contemporary Sébastien de Brossard. Most unusually, the Miserere does not alternate strictly between the dramatic expression of the soloist and the solemnity of the choir, instead reserving several pairs of adjacent verses for the voix seule and the instruments.
In a style similar to “Beata es Maria” and plain chant musical is “Ave Joseph” from the archives of the Ursuline nuns in Quebec. Dedicated to the patron saint of the Hospitalières, this motet alternates between unison chorus and two solo singers, either in unison or in simple parallel harmony. We were able to program this piece thanks to the doctoral research of Dr. Elizabeth MacIsaac.
For the final piece we return to the Dames de l’Assomption, for whom Lully’s motets for three treble voices were created. The “Regina Coeli” is a prayer for the end of Compline during Easter season; this setting unfolds in joyful streams of notes inégales (unequal eighth notes), and each verse ends with an alleluia.
Suzie LeBlanc, Concept and Creation
Suzie LeBlanc’s extensive international performing career includes recitals and performances with orchestras, opera companies, and early, traditional, and new music ensembles. She also received great acclaim as the protagonist in Rodrique Jean’s 2008 film Lost Song at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Ms. LeBlanc began her career as a performer of early repertoire and lived in Europe between 1987 and 1999 where she performed with leading ensembles in main stages and festivals. She returned to Canada in the year 2000 and recorded Mozart songs with Yannick Nézet-Seguin, as well as early works by Messiaen and Acadian songs for the ATMA label. In 2011, she commissioned Canadian compositions set to the poetry of Pulitzer-Prize recipient Elizabeth Bishop for the album “I am in need of music” which won an ECMA for Best Classical Recording.
Inspired by the migrations of her Acadian ancestors, she co-created mouvance, a multimedia performance with composer Jerôme Blais which sets the words of 13 contemporary Acadian poets to Blais’s original music.
An enthusiastic educator, Suzie LeBlanc was an early vocal music coach and Artistic Director of Cappella Antica at McGill University from 2017 to 2020. She is now the Artistic and Executive Director of Early Music Vancouver.
Célia Laguitton, Concept and Creation, Author & Actress
From a young age, Célia has been passionate about the performing arts. When she arrived in Quebec, she left her career as a lawyer to devote herself professionally to the theater. She had previously studied at the drama conservatory of the 9th arrondissement in Paris and later completed her training in Montreal with Danielle Fichaud. She also participated in several workshops in improvisation, singing and writing.
In 2017, she founded the company Minuit moins une Théâtre. The first show she created with her team won the 2017-2018 Parcours scene competition and was presented as part of the Vue sur la Relève Festival. In 2018, she participated in the workshops on diversity organized by Lorraine Pintal, director of the Théâtre du Nouveau Monde. In 2019 Célia joined the Jeune Troupe of the Théâtre de Quat’Sous, directed first by Mani Soleymanlou and then by Jérémie Niel. During 2020, due to the pandemic, the Troupe pivoted to presenting video clips. Célia chose to share a text from the “Remarquables oubliées” and juxtaposed her own story from the perspective of a newcomer to Quebec in 1680. In 2021, she is part of the production “A few tiny lives” directed by Jérémie Niel and presented at the Théâtre de Quat’Sous.
Rona Nadler, Music Director and harpsichord
Rona Nadler enjoys a multi-faceted career in the Montreal music scene as a harpsichordist, vocalist, and music director. She has performed across the United States and Canada as a member of the quartet Infusion Baroque, while also serving as Artistic Director of the vocal ensemble One Equall Musick. Rona has appeared in the Montreal Baroque Festival, Montreal Bach Festival, and Ottawa Chamber Music Festival, and has collaborated with ensembles such as Ensemble Caprice, I Musici de Montreal, and the McGill Chamber Orchestra. In addition to her work in the field of early music, Rona serves as Music Director and Cantorial Soloist at Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom in Westmount, Quebec.
Myriam Leblanc, Soprano
A graduate of McGill University, Myriam Leblanc obtained a master’s degree in choral conducting direction from the University of Sherbrooke. She was a First Prize winner and People’s choice Award winner at the Orchestre symphonique de Trois-Rivières Competition, a Jeune Ambassadrice Lyrique in 2014 (Prix Québec-Bavière), Audience Choice Award winner at the Canadian Opera Company Centre Stage Competition, Third Prize winner at the Ottawa Choral Society New Discoveries contest, holder of the Excellence grant given annually by l’Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal, First Prize winner in the Mathieu-Duguay Early Music Competition at the 2017 Lamèque International Baroque Music Festival. She has been working in the world of music for few years. Leblanc is recognized for the purity of her tone, a flexible and warm voice and her mastery of both technique and musical expressiveness.
In 2016, she made her debut with the Opéra de Montréal in the role of the High Priestess in Verdi’s Aida. La Presse music critic Caroline Rodgers described her voice as one of “rare beauty”. Her more recent performances (2017-2018) include Milica in Sokolovic’s Svadba with Opéra de Montréal, Micaela in Bizet’s Carmen with Opéra de Québec and concerts with conductors such as Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Kent Nagano, Matthias Maute and Jonathan Cohen. In 2018-2019, she sang a Gilda in Verdi’s Rigoletto, the soprano solos on Handel’s Messiah with Ensemble Caprice, the Mendelssohn’s Symphony No.2 “Lobgesang” with l’Orchestre Metropolitain under Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s direction. Recently, she was a soloist with Les Violons du Roy under Jonathan Cohen’s direction.
Sallynee Amawat, Violin
A native of Chicago, violinist Sallynee Amawat has enjoyed a career as performer and teacher in both Asia and North America. Having lived in Bangkok, Thailand for over a decade, Sallynee was a regular member of the classical music scene, performing, touring and recording with many ensembles, including the Bangkok Symphony and Chamber Orchestra. After returning to North America to pursue her studies, she received a Master's Degree in Performance and Suzuki Pedagogy at the Hartt School in Hartford, CT. Her love of early music and historical performance led her to Montreal where she attended McGill University and received both a Master and Doctor of Music in Early Music Performance. Sallynee is an active interpreter of early music in the US and Canada, performing with period ensembles such as the American Baroque Orchestra, Arion Baroque Orchestra, Pacific Baroque Orchestra, Ensemble Caprice, Haymarket Opera, Les Boréades des Montréal, and Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal (SMAM). She has also performed in festivals across the continent, including the Montreal Baroque Festival, Amherst Early Music Festival, the Boston Early Music Fringe Festival and EMA Young Performers Festival. In 2012, she founded Le Concert Montreal, an early music ensemble dedicated to outreach and performance practice, with their first concert and workshop held in Bangkok. She is also a founding member of ensemble Infusion Baroque, Grand Prize and Audience Prize winners of the Early Music America Baroque Performance Competition in 2014.
Susie Napper, Viola da Gamba
Cellist, gambist, continuo player par excellence, Susie Napper is known for her colorful, even controversial performances of both solo and chamber repertoire of the 17th and 18th centuries. Having spent her childhood in an artistic milieu in London, in her late teens she moved to New York to study at the Juilliard School, then to the Paris Conservatoire. San Francisco followed, where, after a foray into contemporary music, she co-founded and directed the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra.
Since then, she has spent two decades with a foot on either side of the Atlantic as principal cellist with several groups including Stradivaria in France, the Studio de Musique Ancienne de Montréal and Les Boréades in Montreal, and the Trinity Consort of Portland. Her concert tours have taken her as far afield as China, Japan, New Zealand, India, the Middle East, as well as most European countries.
As a member of the very active viol duo Les Voix humaines, she has discovered a new facet of musical expression in the form of musical arranging, thus providing an endlessly fascinating new repertoire for two viols. Susie Napper teaches at McGill University, and founded the Festival international Montréal Baroque which is presented in Montreal in June since 2001. She was awarded the Prix Opus 2002 for “Personality of the Year” by the Conseil québécois de la musique.
Her recordings, which include most of the known repertoire for two viols, can be heard on Harmonia Mundi, EMI, Erato, ADDA, CBC Records, Naxos, and most notably on the ATMA label. But her true vocation is not on the concert stage or the recording studio. The kitchen is the center of her domain, where she creates dishes both colorful and controversial for her own pleasure as well as that of her guests.
Alexander Belser, Bass wind instruments
Alexander Belser is a Montréal based musician who specializes in the serpent and ophicleide, bass wind instruments that are the ancestors of the tuba and euphonium. Alex is currently pursuing a DMus at McGill University’s Schulich School of Music in the field of Historical Performance. Before Moving to Montréal, Alex received a MA at the Royal Academy of Music in London, United Kingdom, and a BM at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York where he also earned an extra distinction in the form of a Performer’s Certificate. Alex’s main research interests involve the rediscovery and dissemination of the musical activities of the religious orders of Québec in the 17th and 18th centuries where they pertain to serpent performance.
Megan Chartrand, Soprano
Praised for her “light, fleet soprano” voice and “soaring, diamantine high notes” (Opera News), GRAMMY and JUNO nominated soprano Megan Chartrand feels equally at home singing early music, art song, chamber music, and concert repertoire.
Notable solo performances include Dalila in Handel’s Samson with the American Classical Orchestra and Mozart’s Requiem with True Concord, both in Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center. Chartrand has also sung Bach’s St. Matthew and St. John Passions at the Staunton Music Festival; Weil’s Seven Deadly Sins at the Kuhmo Chamber music festival in Finland, and Mozart’s Exsultate, jubilate with Tucson’s St Andrew’s Bach Society.
Megan has sung frequently with many of the most prestigious ensembles in North America including The Choir of Trinity Wall Street, The Clarion Music Society, The American Classical Orchestra, True Concord, The Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Seraphic Fire, and Blue Heron. She is currently based in Montréal where she performs with the A&P Choir, SMAM, Les Rugissants, and La Chapelle de Québec.
Megan graduated with a Master of Music specializing in early music and chamber ensemble performance from the Yale University Institute of Sacred Music. She also holds a Bachelor of Music from the University of Alberta.
Marie-Andrée Mathieu, Mezzo-soprano
Québécoise mezzo-soprano Marie-Andrée Mathieu is appreciated for her vocal agility and
remarkable musical expressivity.
Named “Jeune espoir lyrique québécois” by the Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques, she was invited to
sing in Germany, China, Slovakia and Italia. She was also a finalist at the Concours international de
chant de Marmande and at the Concours de l’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal.
On stage, she was Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, Sesto in La clemenza di Tito, Nicklausse in Les
contes d’Hoffmann and Zerlina in Don Giovanni. She is regularly invited as a soloist for recitals and
concerts, including Beethoven’s C major mass with the Slovak State Philarmonic Orchestra and
Bach’s B minor Mass with Arion Orchestre Baroque. She also sang at Festival de Lanaudière, for
Musique de chambre Sainte-Pétronille and for Les Concerts Couperin.
In the next months, she will be Hänsel in Humperdinck’s Hänsel et Gretel and Isolier in Rossini’s Le
Comte Ory for Tempêtes & Passions. She will also sing Händel’s Messiah with l’Orchestre classique
de Montréal, Vivaldi’s Gloria with l’Orchestre polyphonique and the Chœur des mélomanes, and
Bach cantatas with both Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal and Arion orchestre baroque.
Anne-Marie Beaudette, Soprano
Anne-Marie Beaudette first studied voice in Montreal before she attended the Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles (France) focusing on the baroque period and interpretation of french baroque music. She has worked with many of France’s leading early music ensemble such as l’Ensemble Pygmalion, le Concert Spirituel, le Poème Harmonique, less Paladins, les Cris de Paris, Les Monts du Reuil and les Musiciens du Paradis.
On stage, she sang at le Grand Théâtre de Caen, Luxembourg’s Grand Théâtre, l’Opéra Comique de Paris and at Angers-Nantes Opéra. She was La Paix, a warrior and a dryad in Campra's opera Tancrède at Opéra d' Avignon and the Royal opera house of Versailles. She sang the solo part in Bach's Christmas Oratorio with Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal and sang at the Festival d' Aix en Provence with Pygmalion.
Stephanie Manias, Soprano
Known for her lush voice and dramatic artistry, soprano Stephanie Manias is a frequent performer in the greater Montreal area. She is heard regularly as a soloist and chorister in some of Canada’s most celebrated ensembles, such as Studio de musique Ancienne de Montréal, the Chorus of the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, and La Chapelle de Québec. A versatile and flexible performer, some of Stephanie’s recent engagements include works by Bach, Monteverdi, Mozart, Haydn, and Strauss. During the 2017-2018 season, she sang Bach cantatas with Ensemble Telemann, Arvo Pärt’s Passio at the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul, and Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with Musica Orbium and Ensemble Caprice.
Rebecca Dowd, Soprano
Praised for her sweetness of tone and clarity of text, Rebecca Dowd is a soprano specializing in early music performance, both as a soloist and chamber musician. Born in Montreal, Canada, Rebecca began her musical career as a violinist and chorister, and actively pursued both until 2008 when she made the transition to full-time vocal study. She completed a Master’s degree (2014) in Early Music Voice Performance at McGill University and has performed with many of Canada’s premiere period ensembles including the Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal, Ensemble Caprice, Aradia, and Les Violons du Roy.