Arion’s long-serving Artistic Director wins Orchestras Canada’s 2019 Betty Webster Award

Claire Guimond is the winner of the Orchestras Canada Betty Webster Award for 2019. Mme Guimond will receive the award on Friday, October 18th, at the opening concert of Arion Baroque Orchestra’s 2019-20 concert season. 2019-20 marks Mme Guimond’s final season as Artistic Director of the Montreal-based ensemble.

The Betty Webster Award is presented each year to an individual or organization that has made a sustained and significant contribution over a number of years to the Canadian orchestral community, with an emphasis on leadership, education and volunteerism. It was established in 2002 to honour Orchestras Canada’s founding Executive Director and is a tribute to Mrs. Webster’s visionary leadership and her extraordinary contributions to the health and vitality of orchestras right across Canada.

Mme Guimond founded Arion with three McGill University colleagues in 1981. Initially a quartet, over time the group expanded into one of North America’s best-known baroque orchestras. The orchestra features both established and emerging soloists and conductors along with Arion’s accomplished musicians in a busy program of concerts in Montreal, national and international touring, and recordings.

Mme Guimond has served not only as artistic director and flutist with Arion, but also as executive director for much of her time with the orchestra. A strong supporter of young musicians, she maintains a full calendar of teaching through masterclasses and private lessons.

The 2019-20 season will mark Claire’s 39th and final season at Arion’s helm. This year she is joined by co-artistic director Mathieu Lussier who will succeed her in 2020-21. It is a tribute to Mme Guimond’s hard work and success with Arion that Montreal is now seen as a thriving centre for early music that both attracts renowned international soloists and supports the baroque musicians that perform there.

In response to receiving the award, Claire Guimond said, I am touched and honoured to receive the Betty Webster award from Orchestras Canada. I would also like to express my appreciation of Orchestras Canada for their important contribution to the vitality of our Canadian orchestras. I am grateful and would like to thank all those who believe in, work for, support and enrich musical life in Canada. Together we make a difference! I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Arion’s board members who have generously supported the orchestra for almost 40 years.” The award includes a plaque and a donation to an orchestra of the winner’s choosing. Mme Guimond has asked that this year’s donation be directed to Arion Baroque Orchestra.

The national jury was chaired by OC board member and Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra Director of Artistic Operations, Jennifer MacDonald, and included orchestral managers Hugh Donnan (Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra), Jean-François Phaneuf (Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra) and Joanne Harada; musician and arts manager Françoise Henri (Société pour les arts en milieux de santé – SAMS Montréal); and accountant and OC secretary-treasurer Karen Wilkinson, FCPA, FCA.

Speaking about the Award, jury chair Jennifer MacDonald noted, “the jury was touched with the number of impressive contributions being made to the orchestral landscape by individuals and organizations across Canada. The jury was particularly struck by the work accomplished by Mme Guimond as an artistic director, as an administrator, and as a musician in building Arion from a small, talented ensemble to a full baroque orchestra. Because of her vision, she and Arion have proven themselves capable of attracting international talent to a flourishing local early music scene; putting Montreal, Quebec and Canada on the baroque music world map.”