Gilles Tremblay: An Exceptional Contribution

News Item

It is with great sadness that we have learned of the death of composer, pianist, ondes Martenot player and teacher Gilles Tremblay. As Artistic Director of the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ) from 1986 till 1988, and president as well as a member of the Board of Directors, Gilles Tremblay was without question one of the major figures in Québec contemporary music. On behalf of the SMCQ, Artistic Director Walter Boudreau offers his sincerest condolences to Gilles Tremblay’s family, particularly his wife Jacqueline, and his friends.

Walter Boudreau, alumnus of the composer, defines him with admiration. “Gilles Tremblay’s music makes us “sense” the river! (St Lawrence…). Enamoured of all that lives and breathes, wide open spaces, water, fire, sky and earth, Gilles Tremblay proposed seeking ecstasy and surpassing ourselves. His works reached summits of purity, expressiveness and inventiveness with a profound respect for tradition. Gilles was a major humanist, a tempering of a Fernand Dumont, a Gaston Miron or a Pierre Perrault. He was an integral part of Québec history and music.”

Back in 2009-2010, within the framework of its Homage Series, dedicated to Gilles Tremblay’s works, the SMCQ presented about sixty activities across Canada, including 50 concerts.

An internationally renowned composer, Gilles Tremblay stood out for his personal approach marked with spirituality. A genuine sound magician, his music celebrated the beauty and mystery of nature and universal brotherhood. Among approximately forty of his works, meriting special mention are Souffles (Champs II) (1968), «… le sifflement des vents porteurs de l’amour» (1971), Fleuves (1976), Triojubilus (1985), Les Vêpres de la Vierge (1986), Avec, Wampum symphonique (1992, for Montréal’s 350th anniversary), L’arbre de Borobudur (1994), Les pierres crieront (1998), À quelle heure commence le temps? (1999), and L’eau qui danse, la pomme qui chante et l’oiseau qui dit la vérité (2009). In 1968 his “Sonorisation du Pavillon du Québec” at Expo 67, based on natural sounds recorded throughout Québec, garnered him the Prix de musique Calixa-Lavallée. As an artist engaged within his community, Gilles Tremblay also received the Prix Denise-Pelletier (1991), the Prix Serge-Garant (1997) and the Prix Opus “Hommage” (2002).

Born in 1932 in Arvida ( Saguenay), Gilles Tremblay studied at music conservatories in Québec and Paris. There he benefited from working with Claude Champagne, Jean Papineau-Couture, Isabelle Delorme, Jean Vallerand, Germaine Malépart, and Olivier Messiaen. His stay in Europe also allowed him to attend summer classes in Darmstadt and to familiarize himself with pillars of 20th century music including Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Iannis Xenakis, and Pierre Schaeffer. A comrade-in-arms of Serge Garant, Otto Joachim, Pierre Mercure, and François Morel, Tremblay was an exceptional teacher who trained several generations of composers including Claude Vivier, Michel Gonneville, Yves Daoust, Isabelle Panneton, Serge Provost, Jean Lesage, Estelle Lemire, and Kiya Tabassian.

With an acute awareness of his times, Gilles Tremblay profoundly made his mark in contemporary music through a cohesive melding of tradition and modernity.

News posted Friday, July 28, 2017