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Arts and Literature

Jean-François Rivest

Chef d'orchestre, directeur artistique de l'OUM (Orchestre de l'Université de Montréal)

Professeur titulaire

Faculté de musique

Pavillon de la Faculté de musique, room B704


Research expertise

Outre sa fonction de professeur de violon (occasionnellement), Jean-François Rivest enseigne la direction d'orchestre à la Faculté de Musique de l'université de Montréal ainsi que divers séminaires d'interprétation avancés. Il est le chef d'orchestre principal (fondateur) et directeur artistique de l'Orchestre de l'Université de Montréal (OUM).  En plus d'oeuvrer depuis près de 30 ans à la faculté de musique, Jean-François Rivest est un chef d'orchestre en demande sur la scène nationale et internationale.  Il dirige également l'ensemble à cordes I Musici de Montréal.


In perfect control of the whole orchestra, Rivest led the OSM (Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal) to the most unbearable limits of silence and immobility (Mahler, 9th Symphony).  Suddenly, people were frozen, as if they had ceased to exist…  an incredible atmosphere that Rivest had established everywhere in the hall only with the power of his concentration and a few gestures…

Claude Gingras, La Presse, Montreal

Québec conductor Jean-François Rivest is renowned for his energy, his extremely precise technique, his style, which is passionate, moving and deeply involved, and his great communication skills.  His discography serves as proof to the ease with which he masters a large variety of musical genres ranging from the baroque era up to today.

He was recently appointed Principal Guest Conductor and Music Advisor of Quebec’s premier chamber orchestra, I Musici de Montréal.  He has been Artistic Director of the Orchestre Symphonique de Laval, (10 years) and of Ottawa's Thirteen Strings Ensemble, (5 years), as well as Conductor in Residence of the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal (OSM) where his tenure has been particularly significant.

Jean-François Rivest firmly believes that the next generation of musicians must rely on performers that are also active as pedagogues. He has worked for several institutions and has been teaching violin, orchestral conducting as well as a variety of advanced performance classes at Université de Montréal since 1992. He is the founder, Artistic Director and principal conductor of the Orchestre de l'Université de Montréal (OUM).

From 2009 to 2015, he has been Artistic Director of the Orford Arts Centre, (now Orford Music), nearby Montréal where he presided over the destiny of Orford’s prestigious International Academy and Festival.  His period at the head of the Arts Center is unanimously seen as a time of tremendous artistic renewal and growth.  In the 2012 Opus Prizes Awards ceremony, he was given the Opus Prize for the Artistic Director of the year (2011).

Mr. Rivest, who trained at the Conservatoire de Montréal and at the Juilliard School in New York, quickly established himself as one of the foremost Quebec violinists of his generation. His main teachers were Sonia Jelinkova, Ivan Galamian and Dorothy DeLay.

Being the father of four children, family is at the center of his life. He is passionate about nature and outdoor activities, such as scuba diving, kayak, climbing, trekking and photography. He has even participated in several expeditions of a challenging level. He holds a Private Pilot License and flies his good old Cessna regularly. Jean-François Rivest believes that the many facets of nature are a vital source of artistic inspiration!

Awards and recognitions

First Prize, Violin, Montreal Symphony Orchestra (OSM) competition (1976)

Prix d'excellence en enseignement (Agrégé) (1998)

Felix for the best classical recording (2000) Adisq Gala

Opus Prize, Artistic Director of the year (2011)

Several Opus Prizes

Affiliations and responsabilities


Research projects

2017 - 2025

Observatoire interdisciplinaire de création et de recherche en musique (OICRM)

Lead researcher : Michel Duchesneau
Funding sources: FRQSC/Fonds de recherche du Québec - Société et culture (FQRSC)
Grant programs: PV129894-(RG) Programme Regroupements stratégiques


Publications and presentations


  • Music

Areas of expertise

  • Conducting
  • Performance of early, classical and contemporary music
  • Violin