Music at University of Ottawa/Université d'Ottawa

1931 - 68A School of Sacred Music was established in 1931 by Father Conrad Latour, founder and first conductor of the university's Schola cantorum, which existed 1934-43.


Music at University of Ottawa/Université d'Ottawa

 University of Ottawa/Université d'Ottawa. Bilingual institution founded in 1848 as the Roman Catholic College of Bytown by the Oblate Fathers of Mary Immaculate. It was renamed the College of Ottawa in 1861 and the University of Ottawa in 1866. Restructured and made non-denominational in 1965, it offers bilingual instruction and a wide range of undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Music Instruction

1931 - 68
A School of Sacred Music was established in 1931 by Father Conrad Latour, founder and first conductor of the university's Schola cantorum, which existed 1934-43. The school underwent several name changes: in 1932 it became the School of Music; in 1933 with the arrival of Laurette Larocque-Auger (b 1906, d 1965), a diction and drama professor recruited by Latour after the completion of her studies at the Sorbonne, it was renamed the School of Music and Elocution. Latour was succeeded by Father Jules Martel, who directed the school 1939-58, conducted the Schola cantorum 1939-43, and founded and conducted the Palestrina Choir. Other teachers included Roger Filiatrault and Hélène Landry. Until the 1950s music instruction concentrated on piano, organ, and strings, but most notably on church music. The school introduced diploma and degree studies in the 1950-1 academic year.

In 1958 the School of Music and Elocution was abolished, a department of sacred music was restructured within the Faculty of Arts (offering summer courses only), and the diction section became attached to the French department. Between 1965 and 1969 no music instruction was given at the University of Ottawa.

1969 - Present
A new, formal Department of Music (still within the Faculty of Arts) was established at the University of Ottawa under Françoys Bernier in 1969. The way was paved by Louis Applebaum'sProposal for the Musical Development of the Capital Region (1965), which encouraged the establishment of a music school. Luther Dittmer succeeded Bernier as chair in 1976, and Keith MacMillan succeeded Dittmer in 1977. Under MacMillan's guidance a strong emphasis was placed on choral music and ear training, the Calixa-Lavallée Choir was established, and small chamber opera productions were presented. Cynthia Millman Floyd was chair of the department 1983-91 (with Douglas Voice as acting chair 1989-90), followed by Robert Cram (circa 1993-8), Ingemar Korjus (circa 1998-2001), Lori Burns (circa 2001-5), David Staines (acting chair 2006-8), and Stéphane Lemelin (2005, 2008-). Full-time faculty members, numbering 19 in 2011, have included Jean-Michel Boulay, Yves Chartier, Gilles Comeau, David Currie, Murray Dineen, Laurence Ewashko, Steven Gellman, Jocelyne Guilbault, Nicole Labelle, Paul Marleyn, Paul Merkley, Christopher Moore, Dillon Parmer, Roxane Prevost, Carmen Sabourin, Jean-Paul Sévilla, David Stewart, and Andrew Tunis. Many of the departments part-time instructors have been members of the National Arts Centre Orchestra.

Music Degrees and Certificates

Student enrolment at the University of Ottawa music department increased from 90 full-time students in 1970 to 320 in 2008. Degrees offered at the undergraduate level were a B MUS (composition, education, musicology, theory or performance); a BA in music; and a BA with a major or minor in arts administration. Graduate programs included an M MUS (approved in 1988); an MA MUS (musicology, theory, performance; specializations are offered in Medieval and Renaissance Studies and Women's Studies); and a certificate in orchestral studies. Graduate and undergraduate certificates in piano pedagogy and piano pedagogy research, approved in 2003 and 2004 respectively, were made available to private piano teachers through distance education in 2008.

Music Facilities

Under Bernier's direction the department underwent considerable expansion, moving to the Pavillon Calixa-Lavallé in 1974. Beginning in 1988 it occupied Perez Hall, a specially designed building that includes the Isobel Firestone Music Resource Centre, the Lawrence Freiman Recital Hall, and the Piano Pedagogy Research Laboratory (inaugurated 12 Oct 2005). The department has continued to use the university chapel in Tabaret Hall and the Alumni (formerly Odeon) Theatre for larger performances.

Concerts, Masterclasses and Performance Ensembles

The music school at the University of Ottawa has sponsored recital series and such special events as the Festival Olivier Messiaen (including a lecture by Messiaen) in 1970, the Panorame de la musique franaise in 1972, and numerous seminars on contemporary music. Workshops and masterclasses have been given by such Canadian and international figures as Amanda Forsyth, David Jalbert, Anton Kuerti (visiting professor in 2006), Trevor Pinnock, Menahem Pressler, Sir Yehudi Menuhin, Calvin Sieb, Elyakim Taussig, and Edith Wiens.

Student performing groups have included the University of Ottawa Orchestra, University of Ottawa Chorale, Calixa-Lavallé Choir, University of Ottawa Concert Band, the Opera Workshop, University of Ottawa Jazz Ensemble, and a contemporary music ensemble. The department has also offered performance opportunities with the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra and Opera Lyra Ottawa.

Honorary Degrees and Alumni

The University of Ottawa has awarded honorary degrees to Sir Ernest MacMillan (LLD 1959), Wilfrid Pelletier (D MUS 1966), Léopold Simoneau (D MUS 1969), John Weinzweig (D MUS 1969), Mario Bernardi (D MUS 1974), and Jules Martel (D MUS 1974). During World Music Week in 1975 it conferred the honorary D MUS on four musicians - Harry Somers, Jean Vallerand, Sir Yehudi Menuhin, and Trân Van Khê. The honorary DU (doctorate of the university) was conferred on Maureen Forrester (1984), Trevor Pinnock (1993), Angela Hewitt (1995), Walter Prystawski (2001), Agnes Grossmann (2004), and Evelyn Greenberg (2005). Notable graduates of the University of Ottawas school of music are Angela Hewitt and Andrew Tunis.


Further Reading

  • Meredith, Joan. "University program studies contemporary composers' work," Canadian Composer, 61, Jun 1971

    Prévost, Michel. "D'hier, aujourd'hui," Anciens Alumni Ottawa, vol 38, Nov 1988

    Mayeda, Andrew. "Professors tune in to musicians pain," The Ottawa Citizen, 23 Feb 2005

    Daniels, Chris. "The finger fixer: Gilles Comeau," Time Canada, 13 Jun 2005

    "Higher music education guide," La Scena Musicale, Nov 2008

    Moskos, Peter. "Opera's classroom," Tabaret, Winter 2008

External Links