Doctorat honorifique - Éloge de Maryvonne Kendergi*

par Marielle Nitoslawska, juin 2004

Mr. Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you Mrs. Maryvonne Kendergi, Distinguished musician and musicologist.

Mr. Chancellor, I have the honor to present to you Madame Maryvonne Kendergi, communicator, professor, agent of change and cultural activist on the boards of numerous public institutions.

Our cultural fabric is woven not only by artists, but by those who dedicate themselves to advocating the importance of art in life. Maryvonne Kendergi's illustrious career, spanning almost seven decades, has traced multiple trajectories which have sprung from her deep passion for music, her indomitable will and her spirited individuality. Recognized as one of the initiators of contemporary music in Quebec and in Canada, she has created curricula, research programs, musical societies, and foundations that simply would not have existed without her vision and her determination. As a champion of 20th Century Music, her radio broadcasts became an important platform for fostering a rich public dialogue and understanding of modernity.

Née en Arménie sous l'occupation turque en 1915, année de la tragédie du génocide arménien, Maryvonne Kendergi, dont la famille s'exile alors en Syrie, s'établit par la suite en France où elle poursuivra ses études musicales et universitaires à Paris. L'École normale de musique lui décerne deux licences, l'une en exécution pianistique et l'autre en enseignement de la musique. Elle obtient également un baccalauréat ès arts de la Sorbonne et un diplôme supérieur d'histoire de l'art. Parmi les maîtres qui auront sur sa carrière de pédagogue l'influence la plus déterminante figurent deux éminentes personnalités de l'époque Alfred Cortot, pianiste de renom et fondateur de l'École normale, et la grande Nadia Boulanger, à qui toute une génération de brillants compositeurs européens et américains doivent leur formation musicale.

After the Liberation in 1945, Maryvonne Kendergi resumed her career as a concert pianist and became Director of Cultural Activities at the Cité Universitaire in Paris, where she introduced composers such as Pierre Schaeffer, John Cage and Edgar Varese as well as artists such as Jean Cocteau and Jean Vilar, modernists who came to be known as historic pillars of 20th century art.

In 1952, she set off for a three month visit to Canada, to join her parents who had emigrated to Saskatchewan, and stayed for four years to conduct a daily local radio program on contemporary French music and literature. On her way back to Paris via Montreal in 1956, she was recruited by Radio Canada to host a weekly program, Festivals d'Europe. The show became famous during its ten year run as the warm and welcoming home of Madame Kendergi, inviting her listeners to experience the vibrant new voice of contemporary music. Of the hundreds of interviews she conducted with composers and performers all over the world, many have become legendary, such as those with Igor Stravinski and Olivier Messiaen.

En 1966, Mme Kendergi est invitée à se joindre à la Faculté de musique de l'Université de Montréal, où elle instaure les premiers cours offerts au Canada sur l'histoire de la musique québécoise et canadienne. Son intarissable énergie l'amène à créer simultanément la série des Musialogues, fusion de la musique et du dialogue, une tribune internationale où la parole est donnée aux compositeurs aux musiciens, aux musicologues ainsi qu'au public montréalais. La série se poursuit au-delà de 1981, année où Mme Kendergi se retire, après avoir été nommée professeure émérite.

Among her many great accomplishments, Maryvonne Kendergi is one of the co-founders of the seminal Société de Musique Contemporaine du Québec which, at its inception in 1966, was the first society of its kind in North America. She has also been President of the Canadian Council of Music, Vice-president of the Canadian Conference of the Arts and co-founder of the Association pour l'avancement de la recherche en musique au Québec, over which she presided until 1983.

Ses talents de communicatrice, de professeure et de « militante » culturelle lui ont mérité, entre autres distinctions, celles de membre de l'Ordre du Canada et de chevalier de l'Ordre national du Québec. C'est grâce à son dévouement que nous savons mieux aujourd'hui qui nous sommes et que nous connaissons mieux la communauté à laquelle nous appartenons. Mme Kendergi a transformé à jamais notre paysage culturel en offrant une tribune et un tremplin à toute une génération de musiciens canadiens et québécois et en formant une cohorte entière d'étudiants et de chercheurs en musique au pays.

We are blessed that we can benefit from all that Madame Kendergi's grace and tireless energy has given to our Canadian and Quebec society, and today we try to give something back. Mr. Chancellor, on behalf of Senate and the Board of Governors, it is my privilege and an honor to present to you Maryvonne Kendergi, so that you may confer upon her the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

Mr. Chancellor, on behalf of Senate and the Board of Governors, it is my privilege and an honor to present to you Mrs. Maryvonne Kendergi so that you may confer upon her the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

* décédée