|& Gaston Bernard
Benoît BourqueBursting with energy and an infectious joie de vivre, musician-dancer Benoît Bourque has been conquering audiences for the past 23 years. Performing first as a member of the famed ensemble Eritage, with whom he toured all over the continent, he made five recordings (three for children), and appeared with the group on TV and radio. Eritage had their own television pro gram for three years in Québec City. Benoît later became known as a dancer, choreographer, and teacher in numerous festivals and music camps at home and abroad. Among these are Augusta Heritage, the Pinewoods Fiddle & Dance camps, Champlain Valley Festival, Old Songs, folk - festivals in California and Alaska, Expo 1986 (Vancouver), Palma de Mallorca Festival (Spain), festivals in Denmark, the Moscow International Folk Dance Festival-where Benoît won the Public's Prize, and Kolobrzeg Folk Dance Festival-where the Polish national Newspaper Gazetta, awarded Benoît a prize "for individuality, grace, smile and spontaneity."
As a member of Eritage, and then by himself, Benoît has presented many workshops for children, in elementary as well as high schools, and even in nursery schools. From twos to teens, he bewitches them all.
Benoît recorded Le Gigue, a cassette and book especially made for learning French Canadian step dancing. Since 1980, Benoît has been the artistic director of Les Eclusiers de Lachine, a folk dance group that has gained international acclaim. He is also one of the founders of Le Carrefour Mondial de L'Accordion, an international accordion festival where he acts as artistic counselor, master of ceremonies, and a performer. The festival received the "Touristic Award" for its first and second years, in 1989 and 1990, and its audience grows bigger and bigger every year.
From 1993 to 1994, Benoît was on the Board of Directors of Le Conseil Québecois du Patrimoine Vivant (The Live Heritage of Québec Council). In January, 1994 he joined the new French folk music ensemble Ad Vielle Que Pourra, touring with them all over Canada and the United States. Although Benoît specializes in dancing, ``Calling'' dances, and traditional percussion playing (bones and spoons), he plays other instruments, including guitar, recorder, mandolin and accordion. He is an unbeatable entertainer.
Benoît has been the recipient of numerous grants, from sources such as the Maine Arts Commission as a Master Artist in Traditional Arts, Catamount Arts for Touring in Vermont, the Maine Arts Commission for the Portland Performing Arts Center project Ragout d'Pattes de Cochon, in collaboration with the modern choreographer Ann Carison and the Portland Performing Arts Center House Island Project.
Gaston BernardMontrealer Gaston Bernard, born of Acadian parents, grew up in a large family where musical gatherings were commonplace. His earliest memories are of his grandmother playing reels on the harmonica while foot-tapping in time. His Acadian background accounts for his fluent English, which is unusual in the Québec culture. This aspect has permitted him to work in a variety of musical projects, ranging from French music to Greek and African music, throughout America and Europe.
Gaston's first instrument is the mandolin but he is also an excellent performer on fiddle and guitar and often accompanies Benoît's dances with the traditional Québecois style of tapping percussion while seated in a chair.
His stint with Greek Canadian George Sapaounidis in 1987 went on to become the nucleus of the group Ouzo Power. The duo earned recognition in the Canadian folk scene and received various grants, including Cultures Canada, which enabled them to further explore the common Celtic roots between Québec and Crete.
Gaston has performed with a number of well known Irish musicians such as uilleann piper Davy Spillane and the Celtic rock group Hothouse Flowers. He spent a year and a half in Ireland working on various recording projects and music videos.
In Montreal, he was part of a music production with jazz singer Karen Young, that stretched his versatility to greater lengths, playing in her worldbeat show as well as her Celtic folk program.
Gaston met Benoît Bourque while performing with Ad Vielle Que Pourra. Their common `kitchen music" backgrounds could be felt as soon as the first notes were played. Benoît's stepping abilities add an other dimension to this powerful mix of percussive dance together with Gaston's unique approach to the music of his heritage. For the past two years Benoît and Gaston have been working as a duo, as well as performing together with Ad Vielle. Their common Québecois heritage and mutual love of the traditional music of French speaking Canada unites them in a vibrant, culturally unique performance.
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bourque-bernard Since June 4, 1997
Updated Sunday, October 15, 2000