Arion Ensemble. Quartet founded in Montreal in 1981 and made up of Claire Guimond (baroque flute), Chantal Rémillard (baroque violin), Betsy MacMillan (viola da gamba) and Hank Knox (harpsichord). It specializes in 17th and 18th-century repertoire. Tenor Edmund Brownless belonged to the group originally. The ensemble took its name from a cantata by André Campra, in which the myth of Arion is related. Arion has presented a regular concert season in addition to performing frequently on CBC radio. Beginning in 1984, it has attracted attention with concerts given throughout Canada. The group made its European debut in 1984 at the International Competition in Bruges. A tour in Mexico in 1989 was followed by a second European tour in the summer of 1990. In 2000, the ensemble toured the Canadian Prairie provinces, as well as the Maritime provinces, the east coast of the US, and Europe (with a performance at the SouthBank Centre in London).
Their concert series in Montreal also features guest ensembles and soloists. The most notable have been the Kuijken Quartet from Belgium; Sequentia from Cologne; bass Michel Ducharme; baritone Max van Egmond; sopranos Danièle Forget, Valérie Kinslow, Suzie LeBlanc, and Agnès Mellon; flutist Marion Verbrüggen; countertenors Matthew White and Daniel Taylor; violinist-conductor Monica Huggett; and conductors Jaap ter Linden, Hervé Niquet, Stephen Stubbs, and Barthold Kuijken.
Since the mid-1990s the Arion Ensemble quartet has expanded to form a baroque orchestra, calling upon guest conductors for their series concerts, tours and recording projects, although they still perform as a quartet with the original four members, and have done so for over 20 years.
The Arion Ensemble has made over 20 recordings and been the recipient of numerous prizes and awards: both the Felix Award 2003 (ADISQ) in the soloists/chamber ensemble category, and the International Handel Recording Prize (UK) were awarded for Handel: Love Duets (ATMA 2002 recording - ACD 2 2260). Arion also won the OPUS Award 2003 Record of the Year (awarded by the Conseil Québécois de la Musique in the Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque category) and Early Music Record of the year honours for 2004, awarded by Opus Magazine (for their 2003 early-music.com recording Maria, Madre di Dio - EMCCD 7757).
Arion has received support from the Conseil des arts et des letters du Québec, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Conseil des arts de Montréal and the Musicaction Foundation.