Geneviève Couture

When music is a part of you, it’s hard to go without it! And while life’s challenges may sometimes take us away from music, in the most difficult times we understand its true importance.

Photograph of Geneviève Couture

Photograph: Personal collection of Geneviève Couture

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has passionate employees, experts in their fields. However, few of us realize that they are also athletes, artists, dancers, actors and musicians. One such person is Geneviève Couture, an archivist with LAC’s Private Archives Branch, who leads a very full musical life outside the office. While she refers to herself as an amateur musician, Geneviève has devoted many years of her life to music and continues to do so!

At the age of four, Geneviève discovered the violin, and music has been an integral part of her daily life ever since. In Sherbrooke, she attended a music elementary school before continuing to concentrate on music at the secondary level. Over the years, she added the piano, French horn and choral singing to her repertoire. Unfortunately, once she reached the CEGEP and university levels, her growing responsibilities meant that she had to set music aside.

Photograph of choir

Photograph : Richard Tardif

When Geneviève arrived at LAC in 2007, she found not only new professional challenges, but also opportunities to reconnect with music. A colleague at the time, Andrew Rodgers, tried to convince her to join the Chœur classique de l’Outaouais, an elite choir to which he belonged. Geneviève turned down this first opportunity, but thought she would get back to choral singing at some point, since she had been a member of a similar choir in Sherbrooke

Life has a way of springing surprises that cause us to retrace our steps. Eight years later, a serious depression motivated Geneviève to join the Chœur classique de l’Outaouais, where she reconnected with Andrew, her former colleague. Since she was on sick leave, Geneviève had the time to focus on her passion, but was nervous about her health and about the fact that she had not sung in a choir for 20 years.

She nevertheless passed the audition with flying colours and has been singing with the choir for over two years. Last summer, to celebrate its 30th anniversary, the choir toured France and Germany. “We sang in Paris at Notre-Dame-de-Paris, at l’église de la Madeleine, and at the Jardins du Luxembourg, and in a number of churches in Hamburg and Lübeck. It was an absolutely incredible experience.”

Next summer, Geneviève will be going to Edinburgh and London to sing works by contemporary British composer John Rutter with a different choir. Another LAC employee, Anna Lehn, will be making the trip as well. Geneviève will also have an opportunity to sing with her mother, something she hasn’t done in 22 years. And that’s not all: she is also a member of the LAC Choir, an initiative of her colleagues Gilles Leclerc, Rachelle Chiasson-Taylor and Joseph Trivers. In addition, on August 13, 2017, Geneviève and the Chœur classique de l’Outaouais will perform in the final concert of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra’s Classical Spree, where they will sing with the orchestra under the direction of Kent Nagano.

In short, for Geneviève, as for so many of us, the most difficult times in our lives sometimes open the door to new experiences that take us back to our roots.

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