Vermandere, Joseph

Vermandere, Joseph (Émile) (Brother Placide). Composer, organist, critic, b Heule, Belgium, 18 Jan 1901, d Montreal 23 Apr 1971; B MUS (Montreal) 1932, L MUS (Montreal) 1935, D MUS (Montreal) 1945. He and his family emigrated to Canada and settled in Montreal in 1908. He entered the Congregation of the Holy Cross in 1912 and took his final vows in 1922. He studied with Benoît-F. Poirier (organ), Raoul Paquet (organ and harmony), and Alfred La Liberté (piano). He was organist and cantor 1919-37 at Saint Joseph's Oratory, and a teacher and the organist at the Collège Notre-Dame. With his brother Henri (Brother Séverin, also of the Congregation of the Holy Cross), who studied organ and composition with him, Vermandere founded in 1938 the boys' choir school of the Petits Chanteurs à la Croix de Bois. He was attached 1941-56 to Fides, the publishing house run by his community. In addition he served his order as provincial secretary, archivist, and director of publications.

Brother Placide's first published compositions were the motets 'Ecce fideles' (Annales de St-Joseph 1921) and 'Quicumque sanus vivere' (ibid 1922; reprinted in Messager du T.-S. Sacrement, March 1943). His Ode à Jacques Cartier for soloists, chorus, and organ on a text by Louis Bouhier (Archambault 1935) was performed in 1935 in Notre-Dame Church. Among his incidental music is a 60-minute score for soloists, chorus, and orchestra for Corneille's Polyeucte, performed in May 1934, as well as music for Arnoux's Huon de Bordeaux (1947) and for Barbier's Le Roi Cerf (1948). His Te Deum for soloists, chorus, orchestra, and organ was commissioned for CBC radio and broadcast 13 May 1945 under J.-J. Gagnier to celebrate the Allied victory in World War II. It was revived in 1947 and 1957 at the Collège de St-Laurent. He composed a Mass in E for choir and organ (1938), a De profundis published in Chants et motets pour les défunts (Quebec City 1938), and various folksong harmonizations, motets, and hymns.

Between 1955 and 1960 Brother Placide published numerous poems and articles, as well as music criticism under the initials J.P. in the Montreal weekly Notre Temps. The Catalogue of Canadian Composers gives a partial list of his compositions.