On February 8-9, the National Arts Centre Orchestra’s Jacques Hétu Celebration honours the life and music of one of Canada’s most esteemed and frequently performed composers

In two special free concerts on February 8 and 9, the National Arts Centre Orchestra celebrates the life and music of French-Canadian composer and educator Jacques Hétu. The Celebration marks the second anniversary of Hétu’s death on February 9, 2010, age 71.

An exhibition chronicling the composer’s life and career will be in the foyer of Southam Hall
from February 7 to 17

One of Canada’s most esteemed and frequently performed composers, Hétu’s catalogue includes some 80 works, including symphonies, opera, choral and chamber music, and concertos for numerous instruments. This versatile repertoire marks Hétu as one of the most frequently performed Canadian composers, as well as one of the most influential – both in Canada and internationally.

Jacques Hétu’s relationship with the National Arts Centre began in 1977, when the NAC commissioned Antinomie, which the Orchestra performed under the baton of Mario Bernardi. Pinchas Zukerman chose two works by Hétu to showcase on the Orchestra’s landmark European tour in 1990 and on the 2006 Quebec tour. In 1992, the NAC commissioned a flute concerto to be performed by principal flute Robert Cram. The National Arts Centre had commissioned a major new work from Jacques Hétu, but his untimely death intervened.

Hétu described his music as incorporating “neo-classical forms and neo-romantic effects in a musical language using 20th-century techniques.” He also had a great love of the theatrical, which led to the dissemination of his works among a broad concert-going public. Jacques Hétu garnered many honours, winning SOCAN’s Jan V. Matejcek prize seven times, as well as both a Western Music Award and a 2004 JUNO Award.

CONCERT 1: Wednesday February 8, 2012 – 8 p.m. – NAC Southam Hall
Pinchas Zukerman, conductor/National Arts Centre Orchestra
Music by Jacques Hétu : Antinomie, Trombone Concerto with Alain Trudel,
Les Clartés de la nuit for soprano and orchestra, with Nathalie Paulin, Symphony No. 3

CONCERT 2: Thursday February 9, 2012 – 8 p.m. -- National Gallery of Canada
This chamber music concert features works by Hétu and his teachers. Performers include soprano Nathalie Paulin, the NAC Wind Quintet, NACO principal flute Joanna G’froerer and Emily Marks (flute), principal double bass Joel Quarrington, Louise Bessette (piano), and the Quatuor Bozzini. The program includes Sérénade, Op. 45 for flute and string quartet, and Quintette, Op. 13 by Jacques Hétu; Excerpts from Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus by Olivier Messiaen; J’ai fermé les yeux  for soprano and piano from Cycle-Éluard by Clermont Pépin; Ainsi la nuit for string quartet by Henri Dutilleux;  and For Toru for flute, string quartet and double bass by Lukas Foss

Both concerts are free, but tickets must be obtained in person at the NAC Box Office.

Jacques Hétu was born in Trois-Rivières, Quebec, on August 8, 1938. He died in Saint-Hippolyte on February 9, 2010. In 1956 he was accepted into the Montréal Conservatory where he studied composition with Clermont Pépin. In 196l he completed his studies at the Conservatory, winning prizes in harmony, counterpoint and composition. In the same year he won the composition prize of the Festival du Québec, the prestigious Prix d'Europe and a Canada Council award. From 1961 to 1963 he studied with Henri Dutilleux at the École Normale de Musique in Paris and took Olivier Messiaen's class in analysis at the Conservatoire de Paris.

Hétu gave priority to poetry, emotion and to coherent discourse; he was also sensitive to the plastic aspects of sonority and the structural rigour of his contemporaries. Within traditional forms, he arranged elements in a cyclical manner based on the affirmative force of the thematic material, rigorous writing and the requirement for unity. In later life, Hétu was preoccupied with simplifying his language by broadening his framework and also developing ever more lyrical expression.

After 1967 he wrote only commissioned pieces. These include compositions for a number of artists and ensembles, including James Campbell, Robert Cram, Yegor Dyachkov, André Laplante, Alvaro Pierri, Joseph Rouleau, Robert Silverman, Alain Trudel, the symphony orchestras of Montréal, Toronto, Quebec city, Edmonton and the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec, the Vancouver New Music Society, Jeunesses Musicales of Canada, the Montréal International Competition, the Canadian Music Competitions, and for CBC / Radio-Canada.

The works of Hétu include four symphonies; concertos for piano (1969, 1999), bassoon (1979), clarinet (1983), trumpet (1987), ondes Martenot (1990), flute (1991), guitar (1994), trombone (1995), marimba (1997), horn (1998), organ (2001), oboe and English horn (2004), and a Triple concerto for violin, cello and piano (2002); works for voice and orchestra including Les Abîmes du Rêve (1982) and the Missa pro trecentesimo anno (1985) for the Bach tercentenary; an opera, Le Prix, as well as several chamber pieces.

In 1990, Pinchas Zukerman invited Jacques Hétu to tour with the National Arts Centre Orchestra to Germany, Denmark and Great Britain. Zukerman had chosen two of his works to be performed: his Third Symphony (1971) and Antinomie (1977). In November, 1990, Images de la Révolution (1988), commissioned by the Montreal Symphony Orchestra for the bicentenary of the French Revolution, was performed by the New York Philharmonic, under the direction of Charles Dutoit. In May, 1992, Kurt Mazur and the New York Philharmonic presented the U.S. première of the Trumpet Concerto, with Philip Smith as the soloist. The following year, Le Tombeau de Nelligan (1992) was premiered in Paris by l'Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio-France. In 1995, also in Paris, his Concerto for ondes Martenot was premiered by Jean Laurendeau and l'Orchestre National de France conducted by Charles Dutoit. His Concerto for organ was written for the inauguration in September 2002 of the new organ of the Winspear Center for Music in Edmonton and his Triple Concerto was premiered by The Trio Hochelaga and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra in July 2003.

Jacques Hétu lived near Montreal where, between 1979 and 2000, he taught at the University of Quebec in Montreal. From 1964 to 1978 he taught at Laval University in Quebec City. Hetu was a member of the Royal Society of Canada (1989) and an Officer of the Order of Canada (2001).

Discover the new NACmusicbox TIMELINE: 200 orchestral works, 80 Canadian compositions,
1 interactive TIMELINE that provides a visual representation of our rare online archival collection and encourages the exploration of music connections. The NACmusicbox TIMELINE has been specifically designed to showcase the works of Canadian composers within the history of orchestral music and offers cross-curricular content with classroom-ready activities and lesson plans developed by teachers for teachers. Visit NACmusicbox.ca today.
The National Arts Centre gratefully acknowledges the financial investment by the Department of Canadian Heritage in the creation of this online presentation for the Virtual Museum of Canada.
We also thank our partner CBC Radio 2 for generously providing broadcast-quality recordings of the NAC Orchestra’s archival performances.

For additional information, visit the NAC website at www.nac-cna.ca

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Information:  Gerald Morris
Communications Officer, NAC Music
613-947-7000, ext. 335   
[e-mail]  gerald.morris@nac-cna.ca

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