La Scena Musicale

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Jacqueline Richard (Obituary)

Obituary: Jacqueline Richard (March 8, 1928 - August 2, 2015)
Jacqueline Richard, prominent Canadian operatic coach, accompanist, choir director, organist and orchestra conductor died August 2 in Montreal at the age of 87 following  short illness.
Madame Richard’s career spanned five decades beginning at the age of 14 when she became the studio accompanist for the legendary Canadian soprano and teacher, Pauline Donalda. At the same time she was the piano student of another legendary Canadian musician and teacher, Marie Therese Paquin.
In the years that followed she earned a music degree from the University of Montreal and became very active in the city’s music scene. She gained  great deal of experience working with Radio Canada,   the Opera Guild of Montreal  as well as with Jeunesses Musicales for whom she travelled extensively as accompanist most notably for the violinist Gilles Lefbevre who was the founder of the organization. This led, in 1953, to her receiving the Medaile du Lieutenant Gouveneur du Quebec.
In 1963 she founded he Boutique d’Opera which had a mandate to provide performance opportunities for rising young singers, many of whom became known in the operatic world.
In 1964 Jacqueline received a grant from the Canadian Arts Council to study conducting in Nice with Hans Zwarowsky, a well known conductor and teacher who  worked also with Claudio Abbado and Zubin Mehta.
In 1965 she was invited by the then Manager of the Canadian Opera Company ,Herman Geiger Torel, to join the organization as repetiteur. Her contract included working with the students at the Opera School of the University of Toronto.
In 1967 she was engaged as repetiteur at the Oper Deutsche am Rhein in Dusseldorf where she was for  a few years before moving to the Hamburg Staatsoper where she met Rolf Liebermann who was General Manager and who asked her to go with him to Paris as repetiteur when he was made General Manager there. After Paris she spent time with the Bayreuth Festival.
Through these years she also returned to Canada for engagements which included as Director of the Courtney B.C. Music Center, advisor for voice for the Canada Council, and eventually Director of the Opera Studio and conductor of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra.
In 1982 she entered the Benedictine Convent of Solesmes in France as a novice. She remained there for one year before leaving for health reasons.
In 1984 she returned permanently to Montreal where she co-founded the Atelier lyrique d’Opera de Montreal. Then, in 1985 she retired to private teaching and coaching until  she closed the book on working in 2008.
Her final years were marred by failing eyesight and a loss of hearing, but she never lost her enthusiasm for music and was always happy provide insights and help for the next generation of musicians.
She received the Order of Canada in 2004.

by Lois McDonall

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