Orford Arts Centre/Centre d'arts Orford

Orford Arts Centre/Centre d'arts Orford (JMC Music Camp 1951-67; JMC Orford Art(s) Centre 1967-86). Summer music camp and cultural centre established in 1951 by the Jeunesses musicales of Canada (Youth and Music Canada) in Mount Orford Provincial Park near Magog, 112 km from Montreal. Covering 88.

Orford Arts Centre/Centre d'arts Orford

Orford Arts Centre/Centre d'arts Orford (JMC Music Camp 1951-67; JMC Orford Art(s) Centre 1967-86). Summer music camp and cultural centre established in 1951 by the Jeunesses musicales of Canada (Youth and Music Canada) in Mount Orford Provincial Park near Magog, 112 km from Montreal. Covering 88.8 hectares, it stands on land leased to it in 1964 for 50 years. It owes its existence to Gilles Lefebvre, Anaïs Allard-Rousseau and Laurette Desruisseaux-Boisvert, and Father J.H. Lemieux, who conceived the idea in 1949. The Quebec government placed two abandoned chalets at the JMC's disposal and the first JMC Music Camp took place in these in August 1951, with 10 campers and two teachers.

The centre gradually acquired new buildings, including a concert hall and some pavilions designed by the architect Paul-Marie Côté. The concert hall was inaugurated 21 Aug 1960 with a premiere of the first work commissioned by the JMC, Clermont Pépin'sHymne au vent du nord. The performance was by Raoul Jobin and an orchestra conducted by Sir Ernest MacMillan. (The hall was named Salle Gilles-Lefebvre in 1974.) The 500-seat amphitheatre with its excellent acoustics was built to accommodate concerts and theatre as well as meetings and lectures. Jean-Paul Mousseau designed special modules to light the foyer and an adjoining art gallery. The central pavilion was added in 1968 to house the administration, a cafeteria, a dining room, and a record library, in addition to a lounge which could be used for meetings. The JMC Pavilion at Expo 67, 'Man and his Music,' was moved to the centre in 1972, adding rooms for classes, meetings, and exhibitions, and administrative offices. Two residences with modern, comfortable quarters were built in 1970. In 1990 the Centre inaugurated a multifunctional pavilion containing 32 studios of different dimensions and a hall that can accomodate a symphonic orchestra or a ballet company, with a floor designed for dance specifications. This pavillion alsohas been equipted with recording equipment for the trainees. More than 30 chalet-studios are scattered through the neighbouring woods to allow the latter to work privately.

More than 300 students aged 14 to 30, including some from abroad, are enrolled each summer for courses in instruments and voice, pantomime, or theatre and to take part in chamber music ensembles, choirs, and orchestras. Instruction has been provided by a distinguished faculty of guest teachers including, at different times, Pierre Bernac, Victor Bouchard and Renée Morisset, Maurice Bourgue, Frans Brouw, Edgard Davignon, Norbert Dufourcq, Karl Engel, Guy Fallot, Lorand Fenyves, Claude Helffer, Walter Joachim, Raoul Jobin, Sylvio Lacharité, Alexandre Lagoya and Ida Presti, André Laplante, Marcel Laurencelle, John Newmark, Vlado Perlemuter, Alvaro Pierri, Menahem Pressler, Jacqueline Richard, Marcel Saint-Jacques, Claude Savard, Jean-Paul Sévilla, Gérard Souzay, and Paul Tortelier.

A string quartet formed at the centre in 1965 by four students became the Orford String Quartet, and its members subsequently taught there on several occasions. The Orford Festival has welcomed the public at concerts, lectures, public courses, and exhibitions, some of these held in the parks of neighbouring cities and at the St-Patrice church in Magog. The centre was host in 1970, 1976 and 1986 to the working sessions of the JM World Orchestra, in 1976 to the general assembly of the Fédération internationale des Jeunesses musicales, and in 1977 and 1978 to the OJQ which resided at the Centre during the summers of 1989 and 1990. The centre began to be open year round in 1972, thus providing accommodation to groups or organizations wishing to hold conventions or seminars outside the summer season.

Until 1972, Gilles Lefebvre directed the centre, and he was succeeded in turn by Gaston Germain 1972-9, Pierre Rolland 1980, 1982-9, Jean-Claude Picard 1981, and Agnes Grossmann 1989-. Beginning in 1972, the overall responsibility has been vested in a corporation independent of the JMC. Subsidized mainly by the MACQ, the centre has been assisted by the Canada Council, by corporations and companies, and by private individuals.


Further Reading

  • Papineau-Couture, Jean. 'Salle de concert du camp JMC,' CMJ, vol 5, Autumn 1960

    'La terre des jeunes du monde Orford,' interview with Gilles Lefebvre by Claude Chuteau, Musica disques, 134, May 1965

    Mollet, Pierre. Musique d'été: Centre d'art d'Orford, collection of photographs by Mia and Klaus (Montreal 1976)

    Siskind, Jacob. 'Young musicians blossoming at Orford,' Montreal Gazette, 16 Jul 1977

    Van Vlasselaer, J.J. 'Musical islands in the summer landscape,' Mcan, 34, Summer 1980

    Laurier, Marie. '40 ans de musique à l'ombre de l'Orford,' Montreal Le Devoir, 10 Aug 1991