Marcien Ferland | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Marcien Ferland

Marcien Ferland. Choir conductor, composer, b St Boniface (today part of Unicity Winnipeg), Man; BA (Manitoba) 1964, MA (Manitoba) 1965, B SC (Manitoba) 1968.

Ferland, Marcien

Marcien Ferland. Choir conductor, composer, b St Boniface (today part of Unicity Winnipeg), Man; BA (Manitoba) 1964, MA (Manitoba) 1965, B SC (Manitoba) 1968. Younger brother of Armand, he at first began to learn the violin but at 14 turned to the trumpet, which he studied for three years with Albert Simoens. Self-taught in harmony, orchestration, and piano, he studied instrumentation with Marius Benoist and singing with Georges Paquin. During this time he was choirmaster in nearby parishes (at the churches of Ste-Famille, La Broquerie, St-Norbert) and at St Paul's College, and St Boniface Cathedral.

Ferland conducted various choirs including the Chorale des intrépides of St Boniface, a mixed choir which he founded and directed 1960-85 with about 30 members of the Association d'éducation des Canadiens francais (later Société franco-manitobaine), and which soon grew to more than 60 singers. It presented on tour (Edmonton, Ottawa, Regina, and Vancouver) a repertoire drawn largely from French-Canadian folklore. It has issued two LPs, Les Intrépides chantent (1970, private recording) and Les Intrépides au Festival du voyageur (1975, FDV 601). It took part in the 1977 performance in St Boniface of Ferland's La Basilique de St-Boniface (1977), a cantata for two choirs, dramatic soprano, and orchestra. Ronald Gibson reviewed it in the Winnipeg Free Press (22 Nov 1977): 'The writing for orchestra is effective, and the whole work shows much imagination'. Ferland conducted the premiere of two works by Benoist: Onadéga ou la tragédie du lac des bois in 1977 and Un acte de l'apôtre in 1981.

In 1970 Ferland was a co-founder of Mélo-Mani, a federation of the French choirs of Manitoba. He taught French 1966-73 at the University of Winnipeg and solfège in various institutions. On a 1977 Canada Council grant, he instigated music activities in French-speaking communities in the Winnipeg area. In 1983 he began teaching French at the Collège Universitaire de St-Boniface. His research into Manitoba folk music resulted in the publication of 130 Chansons à répondre du Manitoba (St-Boniface 1979). He also published a series of 65 articles on Métis life in St Boniface's La Liberté entitled 'Au temps de la Prairie'.

An active composer, Ferland has written mostly choral and vocal works. In addition to his cantata, there are two motets for mixed choir (with or without accompaniment), some religious pieces, and Canon des tonalités (1974). In 1976 he assembled several of his songs for voice and piano in Les Batteux (St-Boniface 1982), a historical operetta which won the 1982 Riel Prize awarded by the Société franco-manitobaine. His song 'Oui, je me souviens' (1973) won a prize in a CBC competition for composers. He has written various works for piano, a Marche triomphale (1974) for brass quartet, an Adagio (1976) for cello and piano, and a Thrénodie (1978) for soprano and instrumental ensemble. His Rhapsodie espagnole (1975) was performed in 1977 by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra under his direction. Ferland became a member of the board of directors of the CMHS in 1982.