I was born in Zenon Park, a francophone village in east-central Saskatchewan, as the eldest of three children. When I was four my family moved to Lake Lenore, a two-hour drive southeast of Saskatoon. My interest in music began at the age of four when I began piano lessons with a wonderful teacher and woman, Mrs. Amundsen. It was a special joy to study with her because she also taught theory and voice lessons which I greatly enjoyed. She would travel from town to town in this region of Saskatchewan, maintaining a large studio.
Over time, with her encouragement, I entered local, regional and provincial competitions, in addition to making radio and television appearances with the children's chorus that she also directed. I feel very fortunate to have benefited from such a comprehensive education early on.
When I was eleven, the family who played the organ at St. Anthony's Roman Catholic Church (2-manual 1920's Casavant) in Lake Lenore moved away and the church was looking for a new organist. Although I only had a background on the piano I was intrigued and fascinated by the opportunity to play at the church, especially as the cantor was willing to guide me in the right direction! During the same time I also assumed the position at St. James's Church and in turn played Sunday morning services in both churches.
I was especially fortunate to attend Rivier Academy, a private girls school in Prince Albert, SK. It was at Rivier that I met one of my most important teachers, Sister Marie Reine Ricard, a French Canadian nun who taught piano, organ, theory, counterpoint and music history. Although she was sight-impaired, she maintained the highest musical standards and had an inspiring ability to detect the slightest nuance of phrasing which brought about a great sense of self-discipline in my subsequent study.
As an undergraduate, I attended the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon and it was during this period that I first encountered music of the Anglican/Episcopal tradition. My organ teacher, Mary Wedgewood (now at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC), suggested that I contact the Cathedral organist to try and arrange for practice time. As a result, I became the Organ Scholar and would accompany for rehearsals, services and concerts. I later worked at St. James Anglican Church as Director of Music and oversaw an Adult Choir and Children's Choir.
With undergraduate studies completed (Bachelor of Music in Music Education with distinction), and the Associateship diploma from the Royal Conservatory of Music, I auditioned for the post of Assistant Organist at the Cathedral Church of the Redeemer in Calgary, Alberta. At the Cathedral I worked with the choir of Men and Boys under the direction of Dr. Terence Fullerton. During this time I also worked as the rehearsal accompanist for the Calgary Philharmonic Chorus and occasionally played as a member of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Mario Bernardi and others.
After four years at the Cathedral I worked as the senior staff accompanist for the Calgary Girls Choir, under the direction of Elaine Quilichini. This was an exceptional opportunity to work with one of Canada's leading vocal ensembles and to tour with them throughout Canada, United States and Europe. A highlight of these three years was the International Youth and Music Festival in Vienna where the choir was awarded first prize. Concurrent with this position I also worked with and made recordings with the Calgary Boys' Choir under the direction of Gerald Wirth, formerly associate conductor of the Vienna Boys Choir.
Whilst in Calgary I began to develop a solo career as an organist, performing regularly at Jack Singer Concert Hall and elsewhere in the province. I also undertook additional study at summer courses at McGill University, Montreal and St. Paul's Cathedral, London and performed in masterclasses of Bernard Lagace, Olivier Latry, Simon Preston and Dame Gillian Weir.
For graduate studies, I attended the Manhattan School of Music as a student of Professor McNeil Robinson, where I received the Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees. I was honoured to be twice awarded the Bronson Ragan award.
For current information on Maxine Thevenot, please click