The beauty of a sound, the grace of silence. Music.
Colours of distant landscapes
A flower blooms.
Infinite rhythms of the sea
A beluga’s smile. Emotion.
Thanks to the bird that sings of life.
O precious life.
One star goes out, another is born.
Full moon, softness of your light.”

--—Louise Bessette (autobiographical poem)

Érik Cimon directs documentaries, drama, music videos and commercials. He has earned two Gémeaux awards: best documentary direction (2006) for Les citadins du rebut global, and best arts and culture documentary (2016) for Montréal New Wave. He is currently working on the third instalment in his trilogy on Quebec counter-culture.

Louise Bessette

2019 Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award (Classical Music )

Pianist Louise Bessette is recognized worldwide as an outstanding performer and promoter of 20th- and 21st-century music. A versatile and engaging artist, she has had a significant impact on the field of contemporary classical piano, and has introduced the works of Quebec and Canadian composers to audiences across North America, Europe and Asia. She has premiered works written especially for her by such esteemed Canadian creators as Serge Arcuri, Simon Bertrand, Lorraine Desmarais, François Dompierre, José Evangelista, Anthony Rozankovic, and Raoul Sosa, to name only a few. With remarkable talent, passion and determination, she has forged a career path that is unique in Canada.
Ms. Bessette was born in Montréal, in 1959, and trained at the Conservatoire de musique du Québec à Montréal (CMQM). She was immediately attracted to the contemporary repertoire, particularly by French composer Olivier Messiaen, and her recordings of his works have won international critical acclaim. Always working to encourage the growth of music, Ms. Bessette has toured extensively, participated in several juries of international competitions, and given master classes around the world. She has a long association with the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec and, since 1996, she has been professor of piano at the CMQM.
In 2013–14, she undertook an ambitious project: to celebrate the 25th musical season of the Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur—the cradle of much of Montréal’s innovative music—she presented 25 ans de musique québécoise avec Louise Bessette, a series of four piano recitals providing an overview of Quebec music from 1988 to 2013. She performed 25 works (one for each year) by 25 different Quebec composers; the event was hailed as a milestone in Quebec’s musical history, and earned Ms. Bessette an Opus Award for Performer of the Year.
Louise Bessette is a Member of the Order of Canada, an Officer of the National Order of Quebec, and a Canadian Music Centre Ambassador. Her other awards and honours include top prizes at numerous international music festivals, nine Opus Awards, and Woman of the Year (Arts category) at Montréal’s Salon de la femme. In 2015, CBC Music named her one of Canada’s 25 best classical pianists.