The Hnatyshyn Foundation

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2012 Adjudicator

Classical music (piano)
Louise Bessette

Louise BessetteAn exhilarating and elegant concert pianist, Louise Bessette stands out as one of the pre-eminent performers of music from our times. Her combination of eclectic repertory and impeccable delivery has earned Louise Bessette several of the most prestigious honours, including the First Prize at the Eckhardt-Gramatté Canadian Music Competition (1981), the First Prize at the Concours International de Musique Contemporaine in Saint-Germain-en-Laye (France, 1986), and both the First Prize and the Special Prize for Piano at the International Gaudeamus Competition (Rotterdam, 1989). The Conseil Québécois de la Musique awarded her the Prix Opus 1996-1997 in the category «conductor or soloist of the year» for her recital devoted to the Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus by Olivier Messiaen. In January 2010, she received two Prix Opus: « Performer of the year », and « Musical event of the year » for Automne Messiaen 2008, and in January 2012, the Prix Opus « Disque de l’année – Musiques moderne, contemporaine » for the CD Serge Arcuri – Migrations (ATMA Classique).

Born in Montréal, Louise Bessette began studying piano at the age of five. She won five first prizes from the Montréal Conservatory, including chamber music (1979) and piano (1980) (Georges Savaria and Raoul Sosa). After perfecting her skills in New York (Eugene List), she set her sights on Paris, where she studied with Yvonne Loriod, Claude Helffer, Jay Gottlieb and Dominique Merlet.

Whether in recital or as a soloist with orchestras or chamber formations, Louise Bessette makes regular guest appearances in concert halls throughout all of Europe and America. Most recently, she was invited as a guest performer and teacher at the 4th International Piano Festival of Shanghai. She has made twenty recordings, and has contributed to the advancement and dissemination of new music by her noted participation in international music festivals and by the premiere performances she offers of works specially written for her by, for example, the Canadians Serge Arcuri, Silvio Palmieri, Serge Provost, Raoul Sosa, and André Villeneuve, and French composers Claude Ballif, Bruno Ducol and Jacques Lejeune.

Louise Bessette has earned numerous distinctions, including Woman of the Year, Arts Category, at the 1989 Montréal Salon de la Femme, and the 1991 Flandre-Québec Award in recognition of her contribution to contemporary music. In October 2001, she was received as a Member of the Order of Canada, and appointed, in June 2005, Officier of the Ordre national du Québec. In November 2009, she was named Ambassador of Canadian Music by the Canadian Music Centre. Since fall 1996, she has been Professor of piano at the Montréal Conservatory of Music.



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