The Totem contemporain ensemble was founded in 1995 by composer and musical-instrument inventor Jean-François Laporte, with the mandate to create his new musical pieces. Around 2000, he started to spend more and more time developing and building new musical instruments, which he placed at the heart of many of his new pieces. As the ensemble’s repertoire became more and more dedicated to the creation of pieces for invented instruments, the ensemble’s renown quickly soared. Soon it was being repeatedly invited on the international scene, mainly in Belgium, France, Italy and also many cities in Canada and the United States.
With its schedule getting fuller and projects coming in, a new step became mandatory in January 2003—to give the ensemble an official structure, providing a better way for it to operate and also opening it more to the outside world. This is how Productions Totem contemporain, a non-profit organisation focused on the creation, development, production and diffusion of invented instruments and sound-installations by Jean-François Laporte came into being. Since then, the organisation occupies a location, L’Espace Totem, which is both a workspace and a rehearsal space for the composer and his ensemble, as well as a place where artists, both local and from abroad, are invited for residencies. To this day, Productions Totem contemporain has allowed the invented instruments of this Montréal-based composer to be heard in many countries, mainly with tours in Japan, Sweden, Germany, Iceland, Lithuania, and also through participation in many multi-disciplinary international activities. (Translation: M. Ouellet)