The scene is set on the balcony of the Central Hyatt Hotel in Montreal. On a sweet summer evening, Eric F Lemieux and I sit and discuss many interesting subjects in the deep white sofa. The sounds of vibrating Montreal coming from all places – we can look down at the squares and streets where the famous Jazz festival has brought thousands of people together. And as the sun slowly disappears – the characteristic cross at “Mount Real” becomes clearer in the little peephole between two compact mountains of towers. A little after sunset we can follow a rare astronomic phenomenon: The two planets Jupiter and Venus appear as bright stars that are easily observed even in the nightly light of the city Montreal. It’s a perfect place for a meeting with an extraordinary composer and guitarist like Eric F Lemieux. The sights and sounds and the mood somehow are encompassed in his music. Contrast, complex, rhythmic, spheric, meditative and spiritual are words that could describe the music of Eric F Lemieux’s as well as the sound and views of Montreal this fantastic summer evening on the balcony.
During the last two year, I have worked with the engraving of his three suites for guitar – three demanding masterpieces. They were originally written over a three years period in 1998 – 2001. In 2006, he published a CD playing all three suites and in 2014 he decided to publish the scores as well. I am very pleased that he chooses Bergmann Edition as his publisher (I know other publishers were interested too), and now in the spring of 2016, all three suites are ready for sale.
Eric F Lemieux was born into a family with a large interest in music: His mother and sister played the violin, and his father created an extensive collection of progressive rock and experimental music. Until the ages of 11, he was a heavy music consumer with absolutely no intention to play a musical instrument. But when a friend introduced him to the guitar he became fascinated by the instrument’s possibilities regarding playing harmonies, arpeggios, and chords. Later he realized the guitar had a strong emotional and human quality almost as a human voice and then it became his main instrument. He studied with different teachers and when he reached the moment where he could have studied guitar at university Eric felt he already was an advanced and skilled player with no need to do further formal studies of the instrument. Instead, he studied composition. As a composer, Eric sometimes wishes he had learned piano as his main instrument – but as a guitarist, new projects always start on the guitar.
Eric F Lemieux considers himself mostly as a composer, but he plays the guitar every day – it works as meditation for him! A particular practising scheme allows him to maintain a concert level program of impressive seven hours music doing only one to one hour and a half daily practice. Eric has prepared a workshop, approaching this practising program, which he intends to offer to guitarists and other instrumentalists as well.
His influences are many and run the gamut from Renaissance intimate Gaspar Sanz’s counterpoints to contemporary electro-symphonic and from classical forms to flashy modern fusion styles like Alan Holdsworth’s. He aims at bringing together and drawing parallels between styles and universes that may, at first, appear at odds with one another. Highly diversified musical studies have earned him a Master’s degree in musical composition under the supervision of Alan Belkin at the University of Montreal. Past teachers have also included Jacques Hétu, Michael Longtin, and Jose Evangelista. Some of his guitar music were published in prominent guitar magazines around the world, amongst others in the German publication “Akustik Guitarre”.
As young Eric F Lemieux was an advanced listener – his favourites were found among progressive rock bands like Yes, Emerson Lake & Palmer and Genesis. He also listened to fusion Jazz and some modern classical music like Ravel and Stravinsky. When Eric F Lemieux started to play the guitar, he didn’t feel much for the old masters like Sor and Guiliani. However he did most of them, but he always favoured the ancient music of the Renaissance and the baroque, as too with the moderns. I can tell Eric’s attitude towards mainstream classic, and romantic music hasn’t changed over the years. I still remember the face of disgust he showed me when I asked if he was interested in arranging some traditional Christmas carols… (I should have been wise and not asking such a question – I apologize for that)
Besides composing and occasionally doing concerts, Eric loves to teach. He gives private lessons to at least 25 to 30 students weekly. From all ages and all levels. It’s never the same approach to teaching for each student. Everyone has their needs and aspirations, and Eric wants to respect that.