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According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, the orchestra was created (and mainly funded) by the Québec Ministry for Cultural Affairs during the summer of 1977 and officially recognized several months later. It comprised musicians under 30 years of age, graduates of Quebec's various musical institutions, who were hired for a 25-week period and received a weekly salary. Membership could not exceed a period of three years, as as to allow more musicians to participate. The OJQ thus became a permanent orchestra based in Montreal and offering the regular activities, high standards and quality training needed to meet the requirements of professional orchestras.
The orchestra presented over 200 concerts between 1977 and 1991. Eugene Plawutsky (1981-4), Gilles Auger (1984-6) and Michel Tabachnik (1987-91) were appointed conductors in residence, and Auger was also conductor in training in 1983-4. Among guest conductors were Mario Bernardi, Franz-Paul Decker, Charles Dutoit, Serge Garant, Pierre Hétu, Uri Mayer, Otto-Werner Mueller, Michel Plasson, Joseph Silverstein, Simon Streatfeild, Georg Tintner, and Michelangelo Veltri. Guest soloists included Angèle Dubeau, Maureen Forrester, Rosemarie Landry, Louis Lortie, Philippe Magnan, and Sonia Racine.
The orchestra commissioned and premiered works by Canadian composers, among them Plages by Serge Garant, Mirages by Jacques Hétu, À deux by Michel Gonneville (1981), Lettre d'Étienne à Jacques by Michel Longtin (1983), Swiateo: un pas vers la lumière: in memoriam Claude Vivier by Michel-Georges Brégent (1984), and Konzert by Denis Dion (1987).
The program ended in 1991, with the musical institutions (notably, the network of provinciaal conservatories, McGill and the University of Montreal) standing up their own orchestras. Orchestral summer programs (Canada's National Youth Orchestra and the Orchestre de la Francophonie) have also filled the void left by the disbanding of the OJQ.
Today’s recording, made at St-Jean-Baptiste Church in Montréal, features Auger condicting the orchestra in two works: Respighi’s suite Gli Uccelli, and Schubert’s Third symphony.
Violinist Gwen Hoebig (who has been the Winipeeg’s Symphony’s concertmaster since 1987) acted as concertmaster on this recording, and her husband David Moroz (who received his Ph. D. in piano performance from the University of Montreal) plays the celesta on the Respighi. Gilles Auger (featured as the conductor on today's recording) continues to work with student orchestras in his native Quebec City.
The disc was nominated for Classical Albumn of the Year by the Association québécoise de l'industrie du disque et du spectacle (ADISQ) in 1986 (losing to the Montreal Symphony’s recording of Suppé overtures).