The founding cellist of the Orford Quartet, as well as a viola da gambist, baryton player and educator was 85 years old


Marcel Saint-Cyr

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Marcel Saint-Cyr died on 30 December 2023 at the age of 85. The Canadian cellist was a prominent chamber musician, teacher and played a crucial role in the growth of chamber music in Canada, notably as a member of the Orford Quartet.

Saint-Cyr was born in Quebec City on 20 May 1938. He studied cello with Lucien Plamondon and Walter Joachimand continued his studies in Europe with André Navarra, Leo Koscielny, Paul Tortelier, Enrico Mainardi and in the US with Leonard Rose.

In addition to cello, Saint-Cyr also played the viola da gamba and baryton. He studied viola da gamba with Otto Joachim, Peggie Sampson and Wieland Kuijken, and pursued studies of the baryton with Riki Gerardy and Janos Liebner.

He was a founding member of the Orford Quartet in 1965, performing on six continents and creating over 60 recordings. The quartet’s active years from 1965 to 1991 saw the ensemble becoming one of Canada’s leading string quartets, with Saint-Cyr remaining until 1980.

’Much of the success of chamber music in Canada stands on the shoulders of the Orford Quartet who created a following for the string  quartet in Canada,’ commented the Banff International String Quartet Competition in a statement. ’They set a new high bar in Canada that had not been achieved and Marcel’s contributions to this incredible legacy are immense.’

As an educator, Saint-Cyr taught at the University of Toronto from 1968 to 1980 and the University of Montreal from 1981 to 1984. In 1984 he joined the faculty at McGill University, where he led the chamber music department for over two decades and was greatly responsible for its immense growth.

Saint-Cyr was also the cellist of the Franz Joseph Trio, with which he performed the complete cycle of the Haydn piano trios. He also served as the cellist of the Franz Joseph Quartet of Montreal.

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