Founded in 1958 by Deschamps, Pierre Émond, and Charles Charrère, the Quebec Music Festivals/Festivals de musique du Québec (Festival national de musique du Québec until 1961) were the prototype for the national organization. Observing their development over a 10-year period as their director, and convinced of their worth, Deschamps had come to realize that a provincial boundary was a limitation in a program which hoped to prepare musicians for international careers. It was this realization which led him to approach advisers and patrons in Montreal and Toronto in 1970 in order to enlist support for a national organization.
In 1971 the Quebec Music Festivals - which continued under Deschamps's direction but henceforth functioned as the Quebec branch of the Canadian Music Competitions - changed their name to Quebec Music Competitions. An Ontario branch had been established at the same time as the national organization (1970), and branches followed in Alberta and Manitoba (1972), British Columbia (1973), New-Brunswick and Nova-Scotia (1977), Saskatchewan (1980), Newfoundland (1981), and Prince Edward Island (1982).
In 1990, the syllabus provided for competitions in piano, voice, guitar, strings, and winds for the competition, and piano, strings, winds, and voice for the International Stepping Stones/Tremplin international, the highest level for this competition. This section, created in 1971, allows the best candidates to prepare for the rigours of international competition, both in repertoire and standards of participation. By the time a candidate reaches the national finals he has prepared three complete recitals. In 1990, the first prize of the International Stepping Stones section, awarded to the winning performer, was $3000. A special prize of $300 was also awarded to the best performer of an imposed, unpublished piece.
The competitions draw approximately 4000 participants annually, of which about 50 reach the Stepping Stones level. Provincial governments, the federal Department of Communications, and the Canada Council subsidize these competitions and contribute to the bursaries. Among the winners, of whom some already have acquired national or international reputations, are the pianists William Aide, Suzanne Blondin, Henri Brassard, Gaston Brisson, Jane Coop, Jacinthe Couture, Marc Durand, Janina Fialkowska, Douglas Finch, Marc-André Hamelin, John Hendrickson, Angela Hewitt, André Laplante, Alain Lefèvre, Stéphane Lemelin, Louis Lortie, John (pianist) Mackay, Denise Massé, Diane Mauger, Lorraine Prieur, Claude Savard, Robert Silverman, Elyakim Taussig, and William Tritt; the violinists Martin Foster, Gwen Hoebig, and Chantal Juillet; the cellists Denis Brott, Desmond Hoebig, and Marcel Saint-Cyr; the oboist Bernard Jean; the horn player Jean Gaudreault; the singers Michèle Boucher, Clarice Carson, Céline Dussault, Marie Laferrière, and Nicole Lorange; and the guitarist Liona Boyd.
Author Cécile Huot
Samson, Marc. 'Claude Deschamps: éliminer toute compétition viola contre la vie elle-même,' Quebec City Le Soleil, 21 Jun 1975
Epstein, David. 'The Canadian Music Competition,' Musical America, Feb 1976
Novak, Barbara. 'Canadian Music Competitions,' Arts Bulletin, Oct-Nov 1976
Lafuste, France. 'Les Concours de musique du Canada: une pépinière de jeunes talents,' Montreal Le Devoir, 4 Jul 1987
Opus Two (Rhombus Media 1983)
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