Interview: The recorder is anything but lowly at the hands of Vincent Lauzer


23-year-old recorder player Vincent Lauzer is a featured guest at the Canadian Music Competition gala concert on July 6 (Alex Tran photo).

Only two years after finishing his Masters degree at McGill University, 23-year-old recorder player Vincent Lauzer describes his life as a “tornado of things happening.”

“It’s been a great couple of years,”says of taking the $10,000 first prize at the Canadian Music Competition’s Stepping Stone competition a few weeks ago, and being named Breakthrough Artist of the Year by Quebec’s Opus Awards earlier this year.

Lauzer also has an impressive list of other competition wins to show off. It’s not bad for someone who plays what some misguided souls consider to be the lowliest of instruments.

Earlier this year, Torontonians had the opportunity to hear two of the world’s great recorder players — Marion Verbruggen with Tafelmusik, and Maurice Steger at Koerner Hall.

The city’s own Alison Melville should be proof enough that the recorder can be a weapon of mass musical enlightenment. But, in case there are any holdouts, Lauzer is in Toronto this coming week to show off how it’s done to a younger generation.

As part of his Canadian Music Comeptition win, Lauzer performs with orchestra at the Toronto competition’s gala concert at University of Toronto’s MacMillan Theatre on July 6, at 7:30 p.m. He will play a Vivaldi recorder concerto, as well as something modern.

It’s one more opportunity to be an apostle of the recorder.

“It’s often seen as an elementary-school instrument — as an instrument made for teaching not performing. People think you can’t become a professional musician by playing the recorder,” says Lauzer. “But I think, more and more, people are aware of the Early Music scene, where the recorder has its place and you can do some fantastic things with it. I think that is making it a little more respected.”

The Montrealer started lessons at age 5, and was fortunate to have been connected with virtuosa Sophie Larivière (best known here for her work with Montreal’s Ensemble Caprice). “She had played recorder for her whole life, so it never occurred to her that I should play on something else, and I never felt the need to choose another instrument.”

At McGill, Lauzer studied with Matthias Maute, also a member of Ensemble Caprice.

Besides enjoying early and Baroque repertoire, Lauzer actively pursues new repertoire.

“It’s important to vary what you do,” he says of frequent forays into new music. He says that although early Music provides a wide range of styles, “it is a great challenge and something completely different to show something new, especially in a competition.

“In Canada, we have a lot fewer players focused on newer repertoire,” he adds. It’s a situation he is determined to change.

He has had two new pieces written specifically for him and the ensemble, Flute Alors! co-founded in the late-1990s by Larivière as part of a student exchange. Lauzer, who first played with them at the age of 13, now leads the flexible quintet.

Lauzer and Flute Alors! have a half-dozen concert dates this summer, followed by a 45-concert Jeunesses Musicales Canadian tour next season. This is in addition to his own growing list of solo engagements.

Lauzer has also begun to teach. “I’m enjoying it and want to keep this as part of my life, as well,” he says, as he tries to figure out exactly how many different things he can do in a single week.

For more information about the July 6 concert, click here. You’ll find the Canadian Music Competition’s awful website here.

Here’s an excellent (French-language) video about Flute Alors!, followed by an example of Lauzer (at age 20) performing a funny 2007 piece by Glenn Shannon with fellow students of Maute’s at McGill:

John Terauds

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