Arthur Lapierre, singer, folk musician, and actor (November 3, 1889- September 1, 1968)

Arthur Lapierre was born November 3, 1889, and began his acting and singing career at the turn of the century. Around 1908, he teamed up with Conrad Gauthier and Sylva Alarie (the father of renowned Canadian soprano Pierrette Alarie) to form the Cercle Lapierre. This ensemble performed in Montréal and the surrounding areas until the 1920s. Arthur Lapierre also sang with his wife, Aurore Larose, and was a frequent guest soloist at religious events; notably, he sang in Pelletier's Stabat Mater at Saint-Jacques church in April 1917.

In January 1918, Arthur Lapierre played the role of Léveillée in La basoche (Messager), the first and only production of the Société nationale d'opéra comique. On November 18 and 21 of that year, he sang with the Troupe canadienne d'opéra in Carmen, alongside Sarah Fischer, Cédia Brault, Victor Desautels and Ulysse Paquin.

In January 1919, he sang excerpts from Philémon et Baucis (Gounod) and Les noces de Jeannette (Massé) in Lewiston, Maine, where he shared the stage with Blanche Gonthier, Honoré Vaillancourt, and Armand Gauthier. The following month, he played in Le caïd (Thomas), alongside Blanche Gonthier and Ulysse Paquin. At the same time, Lapierre was performing at the Théâtre canadien-français with Armand Gauthier, in Allons-y, brunette, a five-act musical review the two performers had written together.

In March of 1919, Arthur Lapierre sang in Bonsoir voisin (Poise) at Salle Lafontaine, alongside Léonide Létourneux. In April, he appeared in Les dragons de Villars (Maillard) at the Monument-National, where he shared the stage with Fabiola Poirier and Jeanne Maubourg. He performed a recital of excerpts from this operetta with Fabiola Poirier in Lewiston, Maine, the following month. During this time, Arthur Lapierre became a member of the Quatuor Octave-Pelletier, along with Rodrigue Gauthier, Jean-Marie Magnan and Joseph-Henri Thibodeau.

In 1920, these four singers formed the Quatuor canadien, completed on occasion by Arthur Gagné or Émile Lamarre (the latter of whom later joined the Quatuor Alouette). On March 22, 1921, Lapierre performed in Le chemin de croix, by Alexandre Georges, alongside Fabiola Poirier and Armand Gauthier. The singers were accompanied by the 125-member combined choir of the Association des chanteurs de Montréal and the Chorale Saint-Euzèbe as well as a 30-piece orchestra under the direction of Jean Goulet. The following month, Lapierre played the role of Pierre LeRoux in Rose et Cola (De Monsigny) at the Monument-National.

Arthur Lapierre began his solo recording career in 1918. His first recording was of two songs for Columbia Records, in New York. He subsequently recorded about a dozen romantic ballads for the Starr label in Montréal and two folk songs for His Master's Voice, also in Montréal, with Conrad Gauthier.

During the 1920s, Arthur Lapierre sang in a number of performances with Gauthier's troupe, Veillées du bon vieux temps, and in works put on by the Société canadienne d'opérette, headed by Honoré Vaillancourt. Records show that the singer lived and worked as a choirmaster in Falls River, Massachusetts, for a number of years. After returning to Quebec in 1927, Lapierre recorded songs for children under the Mignon label (a subsidiary of Starr) as well as a number of his own compositions ("La chanson du R-100" and "C'est l'R-100") on the Starr label. It is known that, in December 1947, Arthur Lapierre was still teaching voice at his studio, located at 6330 Delorimier Street, in Montréal.

Arthur Lapierre composed a number of works, including the Messe à trois voix égales pour les défunts.

Source: Unpublished research notes by Robert Thérien, music researcher, Montréal

Selected recordings available

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