Potvin was one of the founders of Minute Opera and its administrator 1949-53. He spent the 1953-4 season in Europe, having received a scholarship from the Quebec government. He worked in various theatres and festivals including in Aix-en-Provence, and was correspondent for The Gazette. On his return he was appointed instructor for the McGill Opera Studio, where he staged Purcell's Dido and Aeneas in 1957.
Active also as an impresario, Potvin presented a 1944-5 Quebec tour by André Mathieu. He was associated 1951-3 with the Musical Arts Series and presented recitals by Walter Gieseking in Canada and New York 1952-5 and, together with Francoys Bernier, recitals by Wilhelm Kempff 1961-4. He also presented the pianists Solomon and Ross Pratt, the organist Fernando Germani, and the Montreal String Quartet.
In 1946 he had begun writing reviews in Montreal newspapers and periodicals such as Le Quartier latin, Notre Temps, Le Passe-Temps, and L'Autorité. In 1949, he began contributing to the Montreal daily The Gazette. A Montreal correspondent for Musical America, Opera Canada, and Opera (London), he also contributed to Châtelaine, the Journal musical canadien of the JMC (YMC), and other publications. At different periods he provided program notes for the MSO, the Pro Musica Society, and the Opéra du Québec. After working in 1961 as critic for the daily Le Nouveau Journal, he was regular critic for the dailies Le Devoir 1961-6 and 1973-85, and La Presse 1966-70.
In 1970 Potvin began to conduct research into the life and career of Emma Albani, and he published an annotated translation of her autobiography Forty Years of Song under the title Mémoires d'Emma Albani (Montreal 1972). Potvin was managing editor 1970-6 of the Canada Music Book and contributed to Thirty-four Biographies and Contemporary Canadian Composers as well as to Sohlmans Musiklexikon and The New Grove. At the request of the Canada Council, he acted as consultant for the study entitled An Assessment of the Impact of Selected Large Performing Companies upon the Canadian Economy (Ottawa 1974). Also in 1974 he was a member of the task force headed by Jean-Paul Jeannotte on the state of symphonic music, opera, and dance in Quebec. He also was a member of the task force on the NAC and contributed to its report in 1986, and he was a member of the jury for the first Glenn Gould Prize. In 1990 he was appointed member of the consulting committee on the Performing Arts Museum created by the Ministry of Communications Canada.
Potvin was a member of the board of the CMCouncil 1968-77 and national president of the JMC 1976-80. In 1982 the CMCouncil awarded him a special prize for the publication of the first edition of the EMC, then in 1987 it conferred on him its medal. He received the 1983 Prix de musique Calixa-Lavallée, was elected member of the Royal Society of Canada in 1984, and was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada, also in 1984. He was named an honorary member of the Canadian Music Centre in 1990. He was also a founding member of the Canadian Musical Heritage Society. His work as editor of EMC earned him much recognition, including the 1998 Award of Merit from the Association for Canadian Studies. His fellow editor Ken Winters wrote Toronto (Globe & Mail 8 Sep 2000) that Potvin "was, first and foremost, the guardian and champion of Quebec's musical legacy."
'La jeune musique canadienne: Jean Papineau-Couture, compositeur,' P-T, Nov 1946
'Alexander Brott compositeur,' P-T, May 1947
- and Kendergi, Maryvonne, eds. Aspects de la musique au Canada (Montreal 1970)
'Emma Albani,' Opera, Apr 1972
'Albani,' Perspectives, 15 Apr 1972
'Albani - ma vie,' Maclean, Dec 1972
'Éviola Gauthier: il y a 50 ans, elle fit découvrir Gershwin aux Américains,' Perspectives, 27 Oct 1973
'Symphony orchestras and opera in Canada,' 'Jeunesses musicales du Canada,' Arts and Culture (Montreal 1976)
A short history of opera in Canada,' Mcan, 44, Fall 1980
OSM: The First Fifty Years (Montreal 1984)
'La Musica italiana in Canada,' (transl A. Teodorani), Il Veltro, Rivista della civiltà italiana, vol 29, May-Aug 1985
'Les Canadiens au secours d'Emma Albani,' Présentation à la Société royale du Canada, 40, 1985-6
'Maurice Ravel au Canada,' Musical Canada
'Radio Canada International: the voice of Canada after forty years,' Hello Out There! John Beckwith and Dorith R. Cooper eds, CanMus Documents 2 (Toronto 1988)
Evans, Gwynneth. "Canadian studies awards for two close associates of the National Library," National Library News, Oct 1998
Winters, Ken. "The music man of Quebec," Globe & Mail 8 Sep 2000
Lefebvre, Marie Thérèse, ed. "Hommage à Gilles Potvin," Cahiers de la Société québécoise de recherche en musique, 2000, vol 4 no 1
Author Betty Nygaard King
Laurence, Monique and Clément, Josephte. 'Entrevue avec M. Gilles Potvin,' Coups d'archet, Nov 1961
Royer, Jean. 'L'Encyclopédie de la musique au Canada,' Montreal Le Devoir, 9 Apr 1983
Shawnadithit grew anxious waiting for her uncle, Longnon, to return to camp at the junction of Badger Brook and the Exploits River, deep in the wilds of Newfoundland...