Music for Christmas Day — Sunday, December 25 2022

Postlude sur un Noël: Un flambeau, Jeannette, Isabelle – Denis Bédard (b. 1950)

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This Christmas carol dates from 1553 from the Provençal region of France with text Venès lèu, Vèire la piéucello; Venès lèu, Genti pastourèu! by Nicolas Saboly. Jeannette and Isabelle in the song title are two female farmhands who have found the baby Jesus and his mother in a stable in Bethlehem. Excited by this discovery, they run to a nearby village to tell the inhabitants, who rush to see the new arrivals.

This postlude was written by Denis Bédard, a Canadian composer and organist. Bédard was born in Quebec City in 1950, first studied music at the Conservatoire de musique de Québec, graduating with first class honours in organ, harpsichord, chamber music, counterpoint and fugue. He continued his studies in Paris and Montreal, as well as in Amsterdam with Gustav Leonhardt, and was laureate of the “Prix d’Europe” in 1975 and of the CBC Radio Talent Competition in 1978. A professor at the Conservatoire de musique de Québec from 1981 until 1989 and organ professor at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver from 2001 until 2004, Denis Bédard was organist at St-Coeur-de-Marie church in Quebec City for 19 years and then became organist at St-Roch church, also in Quebec City, in September 1997. In September 2001 Denis Bédard was appointed organist and music director at Holy Rosary Cathedral in Vancouver, a position from which he retired in 2021. As a concert artist he has given recitals across Canada, in the United States, in France and in Brazil.

Denis Bédard’s compositions include more than twenty chamber music works as well as orchestral and vocal music and many organ works. He has received commissions from Radio-Canada, the CBC, the Québec Symphony Orchestra and various professional musicians in Canada, England, France, Switzerland, and the U.S. Many of his works have been performed internationally, particularly at international organ and saxophone conventions, and several have been recorded on CD. His music, essentially tonal and melodic, is characterised by a concern for formal clarity and immediate communication with as vast a public as possible.

PJ Janson