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About Louise Bessette

Canadian pianist Louise Bessette has built a career as one of the foremost interpreters of contemporary piano music. She has chosen a difficult path to follow, performing and championing music by relatively little known living composers like José Evangelista, Serge Provost, Michelle Gonville, and André Villeneuve. But Bessette has, for the most part, managed to achieve more than modest success in her career. Competition winner, recording artist, chamber music player, soloist, and recitalist in concert halls throughout Europe, Asia, and the Americas, Bessette has attracted the attention of contemporary composers needing a strong advocate for their works. In addition to those mentioned above, Raul Sosa, Bruno Ducol, Phillippe Boivin, Jacques Lejeune, and Claude Ballif have written major works for her. For all her progressive tendencies, though, Bessette has played her share of traditional fare, including works by Mozart and, via transcription, Johann Strauss, Jr., and Dvorák. She has also performed more mainstream modern music, particularly works by Ives and Messiaen. Bessette regularly collaborates with chamber music groups and appears often with major orchestras and conductors. She has made numerous recordings for various labels, including Analekta, Atma Classique, CBC Records, Mode, Les éditions Doberman-Yppan, and Montaigne.

Louise Bessette was born in Montreal, Canada, on June 20, 1959. She began piano lessons at five and from 1971 studied at the Conservatoire de musique du Québec à Montréal (CMM), where she was awarded first prize in chamber music performance in 1979 and first prize in solo piano in 1980.

Following her 1980 graduation she had advanced studies with Eugene List (New York) and Yvonne Loriod (Paris), the celebrated pianist and wife of Messiaen. Though Bessette won the 1981 Eckhardt-Grammatté Competition, it was her victory at the Concours international de musique contemporaine de Saint-Germain-en-Laye in 1986 that gave her broad international notice. Bessette's first recordings appeared in 1987, and included highly praised accounts of the Ives Concord Sonata and excerpts from Messiaen's Vingt Regards sur l'enfant Jésus, on the CBC Musica Viva label.

In 1991 Bessette was given the Flandre-Québec Award, for her efforts to promote contemporary music. Numerous other awards and citations followed, as well as a stream of recordings. Bessette began teaching piano at the CMM in 1996. In 2003 she founded her own record label, Sept Jardins, and issued her inaugural CD Tango Diablo! to wide acclaim. Among her later recordings is the 2008 collection of Messiaen works on Analekta entitled Les Oiseaux.

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