Harpsichord & artistic director Ensemble Masques
Olivier Fortin graduated with distinction from the Québec Conservatory in 1995. He continued his training with Dom André Laberge, obtained a Master Degree from University of Montreal under the direction of Réjean Poirier, and received several scholarships for studies in Paris with Pierre Hantai and in Amsterdam with Bob van Asperen. In 1997 he was awarded top prizes at the Montreal Bach Competition and the Bruges Festival. He is in demand as a soloist and chamber musician, touring and recording throughout Europe, China and South Korea, the United States and Canada with Masques, Capriccio Stravagante and Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra.
He also performs with Skip Sempé and Pierre Hantaï in programs of music for two and three harpsichords. Olivier Fortin has appeared in the Festivals of Berkeley, La Roque d’Antheron, Utrecht, Aldeburgh, Regensburg, Zermatt, Montreal Baroque; Music Before 1800 and the Frick Collection in New York, the Cite de Musique in Paris, the Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles, BOZAR Music in Brussels, the Folle Journée in Nantes, Bilbao and Lisbon and the Festival Bach de Lausanne. As both solo harpsichordist and featured collaborative artist, he has recorded more than twenty CDs for Alpha, ZZT, Analekta, Atma, Paradizo, Alpha and Teldec.
Olivier Fortin is the founder and director of the Montreal-based ensemble Masques. Since 1998, the ensemble has become a strategic meeting point for young Canadian and European musicians. From 2004-2008 he taught harpsichord and chamber music at the Conservatoire de Musique de Quebec, and he currently teaches at the Tafelmusik Summer Institute in Toronto.
Skip Sempé grew up in New Orleans, studied music, musicology, organology and the history of art in the United States at the Oberlin Conservatory and completed his training in Europe with Gustav Leonhardt in Amsterdam. He remained in Europe to embark on his own pioneering reconsideration of well and lesser-known repertoire ranging from 1500-1750.
Sempé quickly earned a reputation as a musician whose knowledge of historical instrumental techniques provided the basis for a renewed interpretive conception of sonority and improvisation that had its origins in the music of the Renaissance.
Harpsichordist and conductor, he created Capriccio Stravagante in 1986, which now includes three ensembles: Capriccio Stravagante, the Capriccio Stravagante Renaissance Orchestra and Capriccio Stravagante Les 24 Violins.
Skip Sempé is particularly known for his interpretations of the French classical harpsichord literature including Chambonnières, d’Anglebert, Forqueray, Louis and François Couperin and Rameau, for his adventurous Bach and Scarlatti, and for the earlier virginalist repertoire of Byrd and his contemporaries.
He is regularly invited as a guest director, and has performed with Julien Martin, Josh Cheatham, Sophie Gent, Olivier Fortin, Pierre Hantaï, Doron Sherwin, and the ensembles B’Rock, Collegium Vocale Gent, Chœur Pygmalion, Chanticleer, Les VoixHumaines, the Studio de MusiqueAncienne de Montreal, the Helsinki Baroque Orchestra and the AkademiefürAlteMusik Berlin.
In founding the Paradizo label in 2006, Skip Sempé adds the role of impresario and recording producer to his ever-growing list of activities as harpsichordist, musical director of Capriccio Stravagante, guest musical director, teacher, coach and lecturer. Paradizo also undertakes special projects, including a documented homage to Wanda Landowska and a volume of Skip Sempe’s Essays on Music and Performance.