Jeunesses Musicales du Canada/Youth and Music Canada

Founded in 1949 in Saint-Hyacinthe, Québec, by Gilles Lefebvre, Father J.- H. Lemieux, Anaïs Allard-Rousseau and Laurette Desruisseaux-Boisvert, this non-profit organization's mandates are to promote the arts in Canada by making music accessible to audiences of all ages and to help young professional instrumentalists, singers and composers develop their careers at national and international levels. Gilles Lefebvre served as the first director-general of the organization from 1953 to 1972.

The JMC was modelled after Jeunesses Musicales Internationales (JMI), which was founded in Brussels during World War II as a response to the growing indoctrination of youth by the Nazi movement. Today, the JMI comprises over 40 member countries and is the most important youth cultural organization in the world.

The JMC collaborates with international groups such as the World Youth Choir (est 1989) and the JM World Orchestra. The JMWO, founded by the Canadian Gilles Lefebvre in 1969, is made up of musicians from JMI member countries between the ages of 17 and 25. The group participates in annual tours and has performed under the direction of conductors such as Charles Dutoit, Kurt Masur, Zubin Mehta, Leonard Bernstein and Sir Neville Mariner.

There are some 40 JMC centres and sections in Canada that perform over 700 concerts at approximately 150 venues each year in Québec, the Maritimes and Ontario. Also offered throughout the year are several musical programs, including tours, workshops, recordings and a variety of concerts. Current JMC Concert Series include the Desjardins Concerts for audiences in suburban areas and metropolitan centres, Jouer dans l'île, and La musique sur un plateau. The JMC also offers interactive and educational performances programmed for youth in schools (begun in 1975), and family-oriented concert series such as Sons et Brioches concerts at the Piano Nobile in PLACE DES ARTS in Montréal (established in 1972), Music with Bite (previously known as the Cushion Concerts) at the Toronto Harbour Front Centre (established in 1981), and Kinderconcerts at the Salon of the NATIONAL ARTS CENTRE in Ottawa. In 2000, the JMC opened a new building in Montréal, at Jeunesses Musicales of Canada House, with a 100-seat chamber music-hall.

The JMC also presents several annual awards, including the Cécile Mesnard-Pomerleau Award, the Joseph Rouleau Award, a composition prize in conjunction with the CBC National Competition for Young composers, an award in conjunction with the OSM Competition and the Jean Lafleur Bursary. The inaugural year for the Montreal International Musical Competition (originally the Jeunesses Musicales Montréal International Competition) was 2002. The competition, co-sponsored by the ORCHESTRE SYMPHONIQUE DE MONTRÉAL, alternates between voice, violin and piano.

Many of the young musicians who have benefited through JMC support and exposure have gone on to become internationally renowned. They include Joseph Rouleau, Maureen FORRESTER, Marek Jablonski, the ORFORD STRING QUARTET, Louis QUILICO, Kenneth GILBERT, Lyne Fortin, Richard Raymond, James Ehnes, Yegor Dyachkov and Marie-Nicole Lemieux.