Modern day classic

Classical guitar virtuoso Rémi Boucher comes to Winnipeg

I’m famous in Europe: Through his travels, classical guitarist Remi Boucher has found that Europeans take to classical music easier than his home country of Canada.

It’s not easy being a classical musician in these times.

Popularizing the genre is not an easy thing to do among young people, but Rémi Boucher has been doing it for years.

The classical guitarist has been playing guitar since the age of 12, but brings experience from violin and cello to his music.

“I always wanted to be a musician and asked my mom for a violin when I was young,” said Boucher. “My mom was a guitarist as a hobby and taught me to play.”

Born in Rouyn-Noranda, Que., in 1964, Boucher quickly rose through the classical music ranks with help from grants from the Quebec government.

The Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec provided him with money to study guitar in places like Spain, Belgium and Switzerland.

In the span of less than 18 months, the guitarist won awards from Alessandria in Italy, Andrès Segovia in Palma de Mallorca in Spain, Havana in Cuba, Mauro Guiliani in Turin and Fernando Sor in Rome.

His passion on stage has won over European critics, who are generally more familiar with classical music than North American critics.

“I love the connection with the public – without the public I am nothing. The communication and emotions all together is my favorite thing about performing in Europe,” said Boucher.

In addition to having six albums already out, Boucher is currently recording with the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra.

“With the orchestra, even the little details are picked up,” he said. “It is quite different being with so many musicians in the studio.”

Having lived in Austria and in Europe for over a decade, the technically talented musician finds Europe easier to work in than Canada.

“Everything is closer, there are more people in Europe, but that does not mean it is easier to be a classical musician,” he said. “I have to be a good businessman and win competitions to get known. The classical world is quite big over here.”

One of his favourite places to play is Italy because of its culture’s love for guitar players.

Boucher wants to encourage young people to start listening to more classical music. He admits that it has not been easy being a modern-day classical musician, but that his passion makes up for it.

“The world is quite big and I want to travel. You have to build up a reputation and it’s very hard work, but I became known eventually,” said Boucher.

His advice for young musicians is to build up your chops, but also be business-minded so that you’re not taken advantage of in the industry.

“You need to practice very well, know what you are doing and organize your practicing. Train a lot and have a good idea how to do business and you will not fail,” he said.

Published in Volume 65, Number 23 of The Uniter (March 17, 2011)

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