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Bontemps, David

Composer and pianist David Bontemps is a native of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Music lovers, his parents enrolled him early in private piano lessons. Most of his musical training was with the renowned pianist-composer Serge Villedrouin.

In 1998, he won a first medal at the Inter-Caribbean Piano Competition in Guadeloupe, awarded unanimously by the jury, then in 2001, the bronze medal at the upper level of the National Piano Competition in Port-au-Prince.  In 2000, he gave his first recital in Port-au-Prince: Bach, Mozart, Chopin, Ravel, Rachmaninoff and the Haitian composers Lamothe and Élie were in his repertoire, as well as his own compositions. 


In 2002, he moved to Montreal where the musicologist, professor emeritus, Claude Dauphin presented him as «the new hope of Haitian composers», then ranked him among the classical composers of the new era in the essay Histoire du style musical d'Haïti, in 2014.

He accompanied the mezzo-soprano Chantal Lavigne for the creation and recording of the Offrandes Vodouesques (Voodoo Offerings), a 24 songs cycle by the Haitian composer Werner Jaëgerhuber (1900-1953), released in October 2007.


In 2010, Yves Bernard wrote in Le Devoir: «David Bontemps is a real hope for Creole music. [...] He traces an open universe by sailing as well on the tunes of the terroir and voodoo songs as on jazz or western or Haitian art music [...] The inspiration is abundant and David Bontemps will leave his mark.» 

He released two solo recordings:


- Vibrations, released in 2012 on the label Nuits d'Afrique, a disc dedicated to his piano compositions for which he received a grant from the Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec and the Canada Council for the Arts. Praised by the press (Magazine Audio ranked this album at the top of its preferences of the year), Vibrations has been presented in many recitals: in October 2012 to a full hall at McGill University’s Redpath Concert Hall and at the Canadian Museum of Civilization Theatre in  2013.


- Gede Nibo, 2017, distributed by Sélect, is a disc devoted to his variations on the famous theme of the Haitian composer Ludovic Lamothe (1882-1953), with which he supported a piano festival in Jacmel, the Haiti Piano Project, led by the pianist Célimène Daudet. With this repertoire he also performed the first part of a recital by pianist Alain Lefèvre in 2018, then performed in a joint recital with violinist Er-Gene Kahng in California in 2019.

On IciMusique (CBC-Radio-Canada), Frédéric Cardin wrote in 2017 that the recordings of the pianist David Bontemps help "discover an unsuspected part of Haitian music: classical music!" then, in 2022, Marie-Christine Trottier described him as a “master of the decompartmentalization.”


In 2006 he founded and directed the Creole jazz quintet Makaya for which he composes and arranges  most of the songs. This group, winner of the Bronze Medal at the Syli d'Or World Music Competition in 2007, released its homonymous first record in May 2009. Thanks to this album, the quintet was finalist at the TD Grand Jazz Award at the International Jazz Festival of Montreal in 2010.

With a second album, Elements, distributed by Sélect and released in 2016 with a grant of the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, Makaya collected enthusiasm and admiration: topping jazz and world music airplay on IciMusique and CIBL radios, among best performances in the 2016 FIJM by Le Devoir, and the Vision Diversity and CIBL prizes.  In 2018-19, the quintet toured 14 houses of culture in Montreal as part of the Conseil des Arts de Montréal en tournée.


In 2015, he composed and recorded the music for 12 short films from the Through Positive Eyes project, UCLA, to counter the stigma of HIV-positive people. 

In 2020, he arranged and orchestrated 10 Haitian folk songs for string quartet, featured on baritone Wilbert Chancy’s album Envitasyon (Invitation).


His suite Traces was chosen by Toronto choreographer Kevin A. Ormsby for a commission from the National Ballet of Canada. The world premiere of the work took place on April 27, 2021, with stage performances at the Harbourfront Centre in August 2021.


The Tulsa Opera, Oklahoma, USA, has programmed two of its melodies Il a neigé and Secret  for the Greenwood Overcomes commemorative concerts on May 1 and 2, 2021. The recording of the concert is nationally broadcast in the United States as of June 2022.


In 2020, he composed the opera La Flambeau on an eponymous drama by Faubert Bolivar. He associates with the Orchestre Classique de Montréal and the Hamilton BrottOpera to present the world premiere in Canada in 2023, and to record the work to be released on the Atma Classique label.








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