Lorraine Prieur’s Tribute Concert: 70 Years at the Piano!

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At Maison Jésus-Marie (MJM), on April 16, on the eve of her 77th birthday, Lorraine Prieur, renowned musician and teacher, gave a two-part concert retracing her 70-year career at the piano.   Sister Marie-Paule Demarbre, master of ceremonies for this event, introduced Lorraine Prieur as the worthy heiress of Sr. Marie-Stéphane, foundress of the Vincent-d’Indy School of Music.  She was surrounded by her spouse, a singer, and invited guests.

Poster highlighting Lorraine Prieur’s performance at Carnegie Hall in New York on March 21, 1966.

In addition to this tour highlighting a flourishing career, the concert was also a fitting return to the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM). “They are my family. The Sisters have taken care of me since I was six years old and have supported me throughout my studies.” She also noted that, at the age of 21, she had won First Prize at the National Centennial Competition of Canada (1967).

Her talent, already impressive at the time, earned her the attention of French composer Pierre Max Dubois who dedicated to her a piece for piano called “Les fous de Bassan”.

At her first major competition, in which the SNJM’s had entered her, she, at the age of 12, won first prize. This success continued throughout her career as a chamber musician, teacher and accompanist. Today, she continues to give concerts, accompanies and helps young people, notably through the organization “La Montée des Arts” in Mont-Saint-Hilaire, which she founded with her husband, Luc Saucier.

Close ties with the SNJM’s

Her career was made possible by the intuition and initiative of her mother. Her mother had initially met with Sr. Paul-de-Jesus and asked if the Sisters could give piano lessons to her six- year-old daughter Lorraine. Coming from a modest home in LeMoyne, and not owning a car, Lorraine admits that she would never have had the opportunity to develop her musical talents without the unfailing support of the SNJM.

Grateful for their contribution, and for several years now, she has maintained ties with the Congregation by giving concerts to them. She also maintains a relationship with Sr. Maryse Moisan. “When I was 16-17 years old, I was the piano accompanist for the choir at Collège Durocher-Saint-Lambert where Sr. Maryse worked.”  A beautiful relationship between them was built over time.

In this brief overview of her 70-year career, Lorraine Prieur recalled many touching moments with the SNJM’s, one of which particularly concerns Sister Lucille Brassard, a few hours before her death. While practicing her piano exercises in her Montreal apartment, Lorraine had a very strong thought about Sr. Lucille, who was bedridden and had been in a coma for several days. She jumped into a cab and went to her bedside. “I put one hand on her forehead and the other on her tummy, at a time when it was rare to touch a Sister, and I said to her: I am bringing you all the love in the world, Sr. Lucille.” For a brief moment, Sr. Lucille opened her eyes and replied, “That’s so good.” This sequence of only a few seconds impacted both the musician and Sr. Lucille’s sister, who was there at the time.

Seeing the flowers in her garden bloom

In addition to these special moments, the SNJM’s approach has inspired her throughout her life journey. This solid foundation and all the positive and negative experiences of the French piano school still help her in her accompaniment of the youngest of students. Her time as a teacher-accompanist at the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal between 1979-2009 has undoubtedly had an influence on a great number of musicians who are pursuing their careers in Quebec and abroad today.

Celebrating her 70th anniversary as a pianist this year, provided a great opportunity to give a concert in which she highlighted her talent and which also included contributions by her family. Her husband Luc sang L’air d’Hérode by Berlioz, Neige by André Gagnon and Embarcadères, poems by Gilles Vigneault set to music by Louis-Dominique Roy.

During the second part of her concert entitled “Les fleurs de mon jardin”, (The flowers in my garden) one of her four daughters, Geneviève Deschamps, soprano, sang Omio Babbino caro by Puccini and Le Vaisseau d’Or (Nelligan) by André Gagnon. One of her six grandchildren, the young Raphaëlle Mallette, sang André Gagnon’s L’indifférence (Nelligan), accompanied on the piano by her father, Patrick Mallette. Louis-Dominique Roy, pianist-composer, completed this group of guests by playing Chaconne in E minor by Buxtehude.

The magical moments of this concert were captured on video. You can watch it below. Directed by Thierry Prieur and Roch Gallant.

Consult the concert program. To learn more about her career, consult the biography. (in French only)

From left to right in this picture taken in 1967, we see Lorraine Prieur, Pierre Max Dubois, Sr. Rachel and Claude Deschamps.

Photo credit: Sr Suzanne Brault


Concert at Maison Jésus-Marie