Alfred Bernier. Teacher, musicologist, choirmaster, composer, b Montreal 26 Oct 1896, d there 25 Apr 1953; BA (Montreal) 1919, PH D (Montreal) 1925, L TH (Montreal) 1932, D MUS sacred music (Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, Rome) 1939. He studied voice with Arthur Laurendeau and harmony with Louis Michiels. He joined the Jesuit order in 1921 and took on administrative responsibilities. Nevertheless, he remained active musically throughout his life. He studied liturgical music 1934-8 in Rome, after which he taught voice, choral conducting, and theory for the Jesuits in Montreal and at the Gregorian Institute of America in Toledo, O. With his thorough knowledge of polyphony and of vocal style he was ideally equipped to found in 1938, and direct until 1944, the Petite Maîtrise de Montréal. In 1948 he became the director of the Caughnawaga Choir.
Bernier in 1950 helped found the Faculty of Music, University of Montreal. He also taught at the faculty and served 1951-3 as the first dean. He was author of an important study, Saint Robert Bellarmin de la Compagnie de Jésus et la musique liturgique (Paris and Montreal 1939), and of other writings on music of the church. Jean Vallerand regarded him as 'an alert and informed musicologist whose writings are recognized as authoritative in all the serious musical circles of the world' (Montreal Le Devoir, 2 May 1953). Bernier's artistic and religious integrity gave weight to his opinions and made him a strong and determining influence on musical education in Montreal at the university level.
His compositions, all vocal, follow the tradition of the Roman Pontifical Institute. They often appear under the pseudonym J. Bernal. His cantata Ode à Marie, reine de Montréal (Le Messager canadien 1942) was written for the Montreal tricentenary. It was premiered 12 Jan 1942 at the Gesù Church, Montreal, and was repeated 10 May 1942 on CBC radio, performed with orchestra by the choir of the Petite maîtrise. Other choral works by Bernier also were published in Le Messager canadien.