Angèle Dubeau's impressive international career as a classical violinist got off to a flying start when she graduated from the Conservatoire de musique de Montreal. She had studied there with Raymond Dessaintes and had the honor of being named recipient of the First Prize from the school. Previously, she had studied at the esteemed Julliard School of Music in the United States with Dorothy DeLay, but left, in a gutsy and unorthodox career move, to study with Stefan Georghiu in Romania.
Although Dubeau's career took off early, she has avoided the trap of the "young wonder" and remains as popular and acclaimed today as when she emerged on the scene as a "young virtuoso" in the late 1970s. One reason for this may be that Dubeau stood out from the crowd from the very beginning.
"Of all the cliches ground out by performers' agents and concert publicists, surely the most tiresome is 'brilliant young virtuoso,'" Richard Todd wrote in the Ottawa Citizen in 1987. "If every artist who bears that label were to send a dollar to the Receiver General, Canada's federal deficit would vanish into the same oblivion that many of these musicians will face before their careers have run their course. Angèle Dubeau need not worry. No one who heard her play Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E Minor with the National Arts Centre Orchestra Friday night would slight her with such a description ... She is young, a qualified virtuoso, and capable of playing brilliantly, if not flawlessly, but there is much more to her than that."
Dubeau established herself early as the recipient of several prestigious awards, including First Prize at the Canadian Music Competition in 1976, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra Competition that same year, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Talent Festival in 1979. In addition to her widely recognized talent, Dubeau is known these days for the gloriously rich sound of her exquisite instrument, a Des Rosiers Stradivarius crafted in 1733 and valued more than one million dollars. The instrument was the subject of a legal battle that ended in 1987 when the Quebec Superior Court ruled that the Dubeau family had purchased the violin in good faith and the heirs to the previous owner had taken too long to stake their claim to the instrument, which had been purchased 40 years earlier by shipbuilding magnate Ludger Simard.
Nearly all of Dubeau's extensive catalogue of recordings have been released on the Analekta record label, which was founded by Dubeau's husband, Mario Labbe. The couple met in 1985 at the Festival International de Lanaudiere, an annual event that takes place just outside Dubeau's hometown of St-Norbert, Quebec. Labbe, an agent who had booked the Dave Brubek quartet for the festival, was recruited to give the young violinist a ride back to Montreal. He has been Dubeau's producer since 1988 as well. Dubeau is the successful label's best-selling artist, having garnered the impressive accomplishment of being the first living Canadian soloist to score a gold record for La Ronde des Berceuses, a recording of lullabies released in 1994. In addition to the accomplished musicians it supports, the label has received some press attention in recent years for its boycott of the Juno Awards. Labbe claimed Analekta's failure to be nominated even once demonstrates the bias of the Juno selection committee.
Dubeau added a new direction to her career—that of television host—in 1994 when she began anchoring the weekly CBC show Faites vos gammes (Do Your Scales). Dubeau approached the CBC with her idea for the show, which features musicians under 21 years of age, while pregnant with her daughter, Marie, who was born in 1990.
"When I was expecting my child, I started to watch television and I saw nothing about classical music," she explained in an interview in the Globe and Mail."SoI made a proposal to Radio-Canada, and a few months later I got a call. They said that they liked my idea and wanted me as the hostess." In addition to up-andcoming performers, Dubeau also features celebrities in other fields as musicians on her show. Quebec Liberal MLA John Ciaccia has played a Verdi piano piece and Olympic speed skater Sylvie Daigle performed Chopin on episodes featured in the spring of 1997. Already popular, the show has made Dubeau a household name. "People in the street say, 'Hello, Angèle! and kiss me on the cheek, because they feel they know me," she told the Globe and Mail.
Dubeau launched a second side project in the spring of 1997. She began serving as concertmaster for an all-female chamber orchestra, La Pietà. The group's name comes from the orphanage where Vivaldi conducted an all-female orchestra and wrote much of his work. Despite the wealth of projects she has slated for herself, Dubeau says she is at a time in her life where she can pick and choose offerings, allowing her to spend time with Marie. "I can let my CDs act as calling cards in different countries," she explained in Maclean's.
Dubeau and La Pietà won two Félix Awards for Best Classical Album of the Year; one in 1998 for Berceuses et jeux interdits, and another in 2000 for Let's Dance. Speaking to Helen Butterfly of Maclean's soon after the release of Violins du monde in 2002, Dubeau shared her feeling on her favorite compositions, many of which were included on Violins du monde. The pieces, she said, "express the richness, diversity and beauty of life.... Bach is jazz's neighbor. There shouldn't be any division between styles."
For the Record . . .
Born on March 24, 1962, in St-Norbert, Quebec; daughter of Jules Dubeau and Lucette (Dauphin) Dubeau; married Mario Labbe; children: Marie. Education: Graduated from the Conservatoire de musique de Montreal; attended the Juilliard School of Music, 1979-81.
First public performance at the Jeunesses Musicales of Canada contest, 1969; studied with Raymond Dessaints at the Conservatoire de musique de Montreal, 1970s; first public recital, 1977; performed as soloist with To kyo Philharmonic Orchestra, 1986; recorded albums and toured, 1980s–; created female string orchestra La Pietà, 1997; with La Pietà, released Let's Dance, 1999, Infernal Violins, 2000, and Violins du monde, 2002.
Awards: Canadian Music Competition, First Prize, 1976; Orchestre symphonique de Montreal competition, First Prize, 1976; Radio-Canada National Radio Competition, First Prize, 1979; Canada Art Council's Sylva-Gelber Award, 1982; Tibor Varga International Competition, First Prize, 1983; International Community of French Speaking Radio Awards for Soloist of the Year, 1987; Félix Award, Best Classical Album of the Year, Orchestra and Ensemble category, 1990; Félix Award, Best Classical Album of the Year, Orchestra and Ensemble category, 1993; Félix Award, Best Classical Album of the Year, Soloist and Chamber Music (with Alvaro Pierri), 1993; Félix Award, Best Classical Album of the Year, Soloist and Chamber Music, 1995; Félix Award, Best Classical Album of the Year, 1995; Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste, Prix Calixa-Lavallée, 1996; Félix Award, Best Classical Album of the Year, Soloist and Small Ensemble, 1996; Félix Award, Best Classical Album of the Year, Soloist and Small Ensemble (with La Pietà), 1999; Félix Award, Best Classical Album of the Year, Soloist and Small Ensemble (with La Pietà), 2000.
Addresses: Management— Jonathan Wentworth Associates, LTD., 100 Stevens Ave., Ste. 503, Mt. Vernon, NY 10550. Record company— Analekta Distributions, Inc., 364, Rue Guy, Bureau G-15, Montreal, Quebec, H3J 1S6. Website— Angèle Dubeau Official Website: http://www.angeledubeau.com.
(Prokofiev, Tchaïkovsky, Kabalevsky) Violin Concertos, Analekta, 1989.
(With Les Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal) Adoration: Sacred Music, Analekta, 1990.
(Schubert) Three Sonatas for Violin and Piano, Analekta, 1990.
(Sibelius, Glazounov) Violin Concertos, Analekta, 1991.
(de Falla, Paganini, Piazzolla) Works for Violin and Guitar, Analekta, 1992.
(Martinú) Promenades, Five Madrigal Stanzas and other Trio Sonatas, Analekta, 1993.
(Telemann) Twelve Fantasies for Violin without Bass, Analekta, 1993.
La Ronde des Berceuses, Analekta, 1994; released in English as On Wings of Song, 1994.
(Telemann) Sonatas for Two Violins, Analekta, 1995.
(Mozart) Opera for Two: Late 18th Century Transcriptions, Analekta, 1996.
(Mendelssohn) Violin Concertos, Analekta, 1997.
(Vivaldi) Per Archi: Concertos for Strings, Analekta, 1998.
Opus Québec, Analekta, 1999.
(Fauré, Leclair, Debussy) French Sonatas for Violin and Piano, Analekta.
(Brott) Works by Alexander Brott, Analekta.
With La Pietà
Berceuses et jeux interdits (Lullabies and Forbidden Games), Analekta, 1998.
Let's Dance, Analekta, 1999.
Infernal Violins, Analekta, 2000; rereleased with bonus DVD, 2003.
Once Upon a Time..., Analekta, 2002.
Violins du monde, Analekta, 2002.
Globe and Mail, December 7, 1996.
Maclean's, February 10, 1997; January 13, 2003.
Ottawa Citizen, January 24, 1987.
Angèle Dubeau Official Website, http://www.angeledubeau.com/ (April 20, 2004).