(Joseph) André (Roger) Laplante. Pianist, teacher, b Rimouski, Que, 12 Nov 1949; B MUS (Montreal) 1968, M MUS (Montreal) 1970. André Laplante began studying piano at seven and continued after 1964 at the École Vincent-d'Indy with Natalie Pépin and Yvonne Hubert. In 1965 he won the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (MSO) Matinées prize for young performers, and in 1968 he took first prize at the MSO Concours and the Quebec Music Festivals. He continued his studies 1970-1 in New York at the Juilliard School with Sascha Gorodnitzki and, with the aid of Canada Council grants, 1971-4 in Paris with Yvonne Lefébure. For three summers he attended music camps in France, Portugal, and Hungary, giving recitals and performing with chamber music ensembles. He worked again 1976-8 at Juilliard with Gorodnitzki. By this time he had performed as soloist with several Canadian orchestras, and in 1974-5 had toured for the Jeunesses musicales of Canada (Youth and Music Canada).
Laplante's career accelerated after his success in several international contests; he took third prizes in the Marguerite Long-Jacques Thibaud International Competition in Paris (1973) and in a competition in Sydney, Australia (1977), and in 1978 he tied with the French pianist Pascal Devoyon for second prize in the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. His great popular success in Moscow, with 91 pianists from 23 countries competing, made him known around the world.
After a brief tour in the USSR Laplante returned to Canada and was soloist in Tchaikovsky's Concerto No. 1 with the Toronto Symphony at Ontario Place and with the MSO in the Joliette Cathedral; and 21 Oct 1978 he made his recital debut at New York's Carnegie Hall. He played the same program 13 November at the Place des Arts in Montreal and 24 November at Toronto's St Lawrence Centre. He later played Rachmaninoff's Concerto No. 2 with the MSO, and in October 1979 he repeated it with the Quebec Symphony Orchestra.
1980 - Present
Laplante's career continued to grow internationally, and he made important recital tours (including a second appearance at Carnegie Hall in March 1980) and gave concerts with orchestras in Canada, the US, Europe, Australia, and the Far East. In 1983 he toured Europe with the Toronto Symphony, and the following year he gave four recitals with the violinist Yehudi Menuhin in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, and New York (Lincoln Center). In 1988, he formed the André-Laplante Trio with Ernö Sebestyén (violin) and Martin Ostertag (cello). The ensemble performed in Montreal in 1991 for the Pro Musica Society.
In addition to performing with most major Canadian orchestras and many smaller ensembles, Laplante has participated in numerous festivals including Debussy (France), Pécs (Hungary), Cascaïs (Portugal), Salzburg (Austria), Varna (Bulgaria), Mozart (Vermont); in Canada at the Festival d'été international de Québec, Elora Festival, Orford Festival, and Festival international de Lanaudière; and at festivals in the US. He has been a member of several international juries, including including the CBC National Competition, the Honens International Piano Competition, and Australia's International Music Festival. A founding member of Piano Six, he has taught at Ohio State University and at the Orford Arts Centre.
Laplante's recordings have received great acclaim. He received two Félix awards for classical album of the year (1995 and 1996); a Juno in 2004 for classical album (large ensemble) for a recording of the music of Jacques Hétu; and a nod in Fanfare's best discs list for 1996.
Critics generally have praised his virtuosity. 'On the technical level, Laplante worked wonders. At least half his program was very demanding from the standpoint of virtuosity,' wrote Claude Gingras (Montreal La Presse, 14 Nov 1978). They occasionally have expressed reservations about his interpretation, however. Harriett Johnson described his performance of Prokofiev's Sonata No. 7 as 'an interpretation which encompassed the notes (no small feat) but communicated little of the ferocity of the first and last movements or the unsettled quiet of the Andante caloroso' (New York Post, 23 Oct 1978).
Laplante moved to New York in 1979. That year the Canadian Music Council named him Performer of the Year, and CBC TV presented 'Portrait d'André Laplante,' a documentary produced by Peter Symcox. He returned to Canada in 1996. He has received Opus awards for concerts (1999) and as performer of the year (2006), and was appointed an officer of the Order of Canada in 2004. Laplante is considered one of Canada's foremost concert pianists.