He studied 1968-78 at the Cons de musique de Trois-Rivières under Thomas Cavanagh (percussion) and Armando Santiago (theory). On scholarships from the Canadian and Quebec governments, he pursued (summer 1977) composition studies at the Courtenay Youth Music Centre with Harry Freedman and 1978-80 at the Accademia nazionale Santa Cecilia in Rome with Franco Donatoni. Later on, he studied composition 1980-1 under Erich Urbanner at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Vienna. He was the recipient (1977) of the William St Clair Low Award/Fellowship awarded by CAPAC.
Bellemare has written works for various ensembles, including Musique 2 for horn, double bass and percussion (1975), recorded by Giulio Masella, Robert Leroux and Jacques Beaudoin; Non piu di trenta for orchestra (1979) and Zones for eight instruments (1980), premiered by I Solisti di Roma and broadcast on European radio: Trois chansons pour Radegonde (1981) on a text by Antonine Maillet; Argutie for six instruments (1982), commissioned by the new music ensemble of Austria and premiered in Salzburg with Alexander Mullenbach conducting; Modules for violin, horn and piano (1983), commissioned by the JMC (YMC); and Au pays des densités perdues for orchestra (1988), premiered on CBC radio with the composer on the podium.
Bellemare, an associate of the Canadian Music Centre, has also composed film scores and many arrangements and orchestrations of classical and popular music.
In 2004 Gilles Bellemare was asked by pianist Alain Lefèvre to transcribe the previously lost 4th concerto of André Mathieu into a workable musical score. The work was premiered by Lefèvre and the Tuscon Symphony Orchestra in 2008. Bellemare has also transcribed and orchestrated other works including Mathieu's Scènes de Ballets.
In 2010 Bellemare composed Verbes commissioned by the Claudel-Canimex Quartet for its twentieth anniversary. His works have been performed in France, notably in 2011 by the Trio du Nouveau Monde formed of his wife pianist Denise Trudel, cellist Jean-Christophe Guelpha and clarinettist Stéphane Fontaine.
In 1978, he became artistic director and chief conductor of the Trois-Rivières Symphony Orchestra, a position he held until 2005. Under his leadership, the orchestra premiered works by Pierre-Michel Bédard, Timothy Brady, Jacques Faubert, Anne Lauber, Antoine Padilla and Myke Roy, in addition to recording 19 songs by Félix Leclerc (arranged by Bellemare) with bass Joseph Rouleau.
In 1980, Bellemare was named 'outstanding artistic personality of the region of Trois-Rivières' by the Board of Trade of that city. In 2005 he was awarded a Prix Opus as artistic director of the year. He began teaching at the Cons de Trois-Rivières in 1984.
Author Michelle Quintal
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