Antoine Ouellette (b. 1960, Montreal, Quebec, Canada) has brought to the world of music a unique perspective informed by his training as a scientist and musician, and expressed through an impressive body of creative work in which the world of nature and the world of man harmoniously interpenetrate. After completing his undergraduate degree in biology in 1982, Antoine went on to earn a master's degree in musicology (1990), and taught music history courses at the University of Quebec at Montreal. He was one of seven authors, calling themselves "Les mélodistes indépendants," whose advocacy of music in which melody plays a prominent communicative role came to fruition in the book, Pour l'amour de la musique (Montreal: Éditions l'Essentiel, 1996) In 2006, Antoine earned a doctorate in musicology at the UQÀM with a dissertation titled Birsdong: How the Music of Birds Becomes the Music of Man ( Le chant des oyseaulx. Comment la musique des oiseaux devient musique des hommes. )
Antoine's earliest works were composed for the instruments he had learned to play—piano and cello. His mature compositional style reveals a broad spectrum of influences: medieval plainsong ( Deux chants grégoriens de la Pentecôte ), the music of Asia (Éperviere ), popular song, post-serial techniques, and the natural soundscape. In general, Antoine's scores are distinguished by neomodal sonorities, and sometimes require unusual instruments (e.g., the native American flute in Siyotanka —the second part of the five-movement "Westron Wynde" cycle composed for James Pellerite in collaboration with other members of the Delian Society) or unorthodox combinations of familiar instruments (Paysage , for four pianos). With the 1997 publication of his extraordinary flute solo, Bourrasque (1991), Antoine became the first Canadian composer whose music was printed by Éditions Henry Lemoine of Paris. Among his major works now available on CD are the Suite celtique (1988) for harp; the Seconde Sonate, for cello and piano (rev. 1990); Bourrasque (1991); and Une messe pour le vent qui souffle (1993). His Bonheurs album, featuring Éperviere (1994), Bonheurs (rev. 1992), and Horizon (1992), was brilliantly performed by Latvian-Canadian virtuoso pianist Valentin Bogolubov, recipient of the Delian Society's 2005 Orpheus Award.
Antoine's commitment to tonal/modal music rests upon profound spiritual convictions:
My works are rooted in the long Western Classical tradition. In the first place, familiarity with Gregorian chant revealed much to me about my own strengths: the art of monody, the nature and variety of rhythm, the importance of resonance, modality, and consonance... This musical affinity was felt even more acutely because it was coupled with an equally intense spirituality that defies the time separating one era from another. Like the Christian thinkers of the Middle Ages, I see in music the most fundamental and accessible expression of the principle of unity whereby the Creator has ordered the cosmos. Like them, I believe that the harmonious combination of sounds can make man conscious of his own unity and balanced relationship with nature.... (From L'amour de la musique, p. 88, trans. Joseph Dillon Ford)