Tribute to Lili Boulanger


By Steve Ambler

The first concert of the Hudson Chamber Music Series’ 36th season takes place Sunday, October 14 at 4 p.m. in St. James Church Hall, 642 Main Road in Hudson. Soprano Joan Fearnley will present a very special recital with a programme inspired by composer Lili Boulanger’s gazette of letters from the trenches of the Great War and songs by various French composers, accompanied by Frédéric Lacroix on piano and with readings by Marianne Dostaler.

Joan Fearnley is a regular soloist and conductor at Notre Dame Cathedral in Ottawa where she leads the Women’s Choir and the Children’s Choir. She also conducts the Bytown Voices community choir. Audiences have been impressed by the beauty of her tone, superb musicianship and communicative stage presence. Her musicianship extends beyond the music itself as she strives to develop cohesive and exciting recital programmes, of which Sunday’s programme is a good example. A selection of Joan's performances can be found on

Frédéric Lacroix has performed in Canada, the United States, Europe, and Asia as a soloist and chamber musician. He has made regular radio appearances on the CBC, Radio Canada and NPR. Following the University of Ottawa’s purchase of a fortepiano in 1997, Frédéric has devoted part of his time to the study and performance of music on period keyboard instruments, for which he was recognized as the Westfield Center Performing Scholar for the 2008-09.

Marianne Dostaler has a B.A. in vocal performance from the University of Ottawa. She is currently the choral scholar of the Women’s Choir of Notre Dame Cathedral and sings with the Conservatoire de musique de Gatineau. Since 2010 she has been producing her own original children’s stories in partnership with Les Plaisirs du Clavecin in Gatineau, and currently teaches music at St-Jean Bosco primary school since 2016.

Lili Boulanger was the first woman to win the coveted Prix de Rome in 1913. She and her sister Nadia set up a charity during the First World War to come to the material aid of composers at the front or somehow affected by the war. They published the Gazette des classes du Conservatoire National from 1915 until Lili’s tragic death at the age 24 just before the end of the war. The Gazette published letters from these composers, providing an invaluable historical record of the impact of the war on French musical life. The letters recount the horrors of war, the longing to make music, the isolation from their peers and the redemption found in music. The programme includes songs by both Lili and Nadia as well as by Camille Saint-Saëns, Gabriel Fauré, Erik Satie and Maurice Ravel and other French composers active at the time of the war. Marianne Dostaler will play the role of Lili Boulanger and read a selection of the letters.

As we approach the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War on November 11, this concert is particularly timely.

Individual tickets for Sunday’s performance will be available at the door for $25 ($20 for seniors). Tickets for the group’s four-concert season will also be on sale at a considerable saving of 30% or 32% ($70 adult/$55 senior).

For further information, contact Anne (450) 458-5107 or Karen (450) 458-4088 or visit the group’s web site at The web site has the complete concert schedule of the 36th season, more detailed bios of the musicians and links to their personal websites, and much more.

As always, the Hudson Chamber Music Series offers world-class chamber music without the commute to the city and without big-city prices.