Donald Patriquin (b. 1938, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada) was eleven when he began to compose, and though his musical career was briefly “interrupted” by studies in biology, he was always involved in music as composer, performer, teacher, accompanist, organist, and conductor.
He graduated from McGill and Toronto Universities where he studied composition with Istvàn Anhalt – once a pupil of Bartok and Kodaly - and John Weinzweig respectively. As professor at McGill’s Faculty of Music for many years, he taught theory, musicianship and arranging, and directed a variety of ensembles. He now free-lances from his native Eastern Townships in Quebec, Canada.
His output includes many choral and instrumental works, liturgical settings, a piano concerto, works for voice and piano, and music for theatre, ballet and mixed media. He is particularly well known for his folk music arrangements and for his many works written specifically for children’s choirs, his initial interest having been stimulated by his creation of the Children’s Musical Workshop while at McGill.
Internationally known, his eclectic output of choral works include a Caribbean Mass based on Caribbean traditions and instruments; Reflections on Walden Pond, commissioned by Pennsylvania’s Cantate Carlisle; and Psalms & Canticles of Prayer, Praise, and Peace, a major work commissioned by the Missouri chapter of the American Guild of Organists. His Antiphon and the Child of Mary was awarded first prize in the New York’s Melodious Accord Biennial Composition Search for New Choral Music.
In Canada, his choral arrangements include World Music Suite One, commissioned by the Toronto Children’s Chorus, and Canadian Mosaic, written for the English Montreal School Board Chorale. He was also commissioned by Les Grands Ballets Canadiens to write Hangman’s Reel, a ballet score based on the music performed by the Quebec fiddler, Jean Carignan.
His original works include Cycles - a setting of Frank Scott’s poetry; music for Tom Barnett’s Songs for the Holy One - a new translation of the psalms of David, and large-scale compositions such as Earthpeace One and Two, Celebration for the Planet Earth, and Requiem for the Titanic. Patriquin’s collaboration on a major historical musical, Louisa, with librettist Sunil Mahtani, was produced in April 2005, and most recently he wrote the music for Chickasaw, a musical comedy with a Canadian connection in the American Civil War as backdrop. Both are for a large cast He is currently working on a third, six-person musical, Miz Laurier, with playwright Joanna Gosse, as well as writing new repertoire for men’s chorus (TTBB). When he is not composing or gardening he enjoys playing with The Selkies, a trio that improvises and performs original and eclectic music on instruments ranging from dulcimers to djembes.
Patriquin’s music is found on many CDs and is frequently heard on radio. He is a member of the Canadian Music Centre, Canadian League of Composers, SOCAN, and Association of Canadian Choral Conductors. He was recently recognized through his inclusion in Who Is Who In Choral Music, the first ever compendium of world choral composers. He provided the concluding chapter to a recent book on Canadian choral conductors: In Their Own Words - Canadian Choral Conductors by Holly Higgens Jonas. In it he discusses such topics as copyright, composing/arranging, commissioning, Canadian choral identity, and choir loyalty. The book is available from Dundurn Press.