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Jacques Després



Jacques Couillard Després extraordinary musical talent has been noticed as early as 1963 by legendary Canadian conductor Wilfrid Pelletier. Following his winning of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra competition in 1978, and the Prix d’Europe in 1981 from the Académie de musique du Québec, Couillard Després has led a varied artistic life. He has appeared as soloist with orchestra, recitalist, chamber musician, collaborative artist, lecturer, educator and musical director of the Summer Serenades at the University of Stony Brook’s Staller Center in New York.

Worldwide critical accolades noted in Couillard Després’ musical approach a rare combination of virtuosity and artistic integrity. Couillard Després’ repertoire is broad and eclectic. Most notably are his two-world premiere recordings of Joseph Martin Kraus complete piano works and The New Goldberg Variations with cellist Tanya Prochazka. The Kraus performances, on Naxos, received world critical acclaim. He followed up for the same label with a two compact discs recording of the complete chamber music works by Kraus, a recording he edited.

Highlights of the past few seasons include performances of Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini, the Brahms’ Piano Concerto no. 2; performances in Hong Kong, Beijing, Manila, Seattle, Montreal, New York, Chicago, Reno, and Sacramento. Couillard Després has presented master classes at leading institutions in North America as well as the Central Conservatory in Beijing, lectured at Juilliard on the use of the landmark Ekier edition of Chopin's ballades, and served as the Daniel Ericourt Artist-in-Residence at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro. Since his hiring at the University of Alberta in 2000, Couillard Després worked with some of the most talented Canadian and foreign students. In 2009 one of his students became the first music performance doctoral student in Canada to receive the Vanier scholarship from Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

He was awarded a Premier Prix à l’unanimité au Conservatoire de Musique du Québec, earned a Master’s degree from the Juilliard School and holds a DMA from the University at Stony Brook. He also received the Artist Diploma with Distinction at Indiana University. His teachers were Christiane Sénart, Gyorgy Sebok, Adele Marcus and Gilbert Kalish.

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