Marc José Élysée
Marc Élysée, a violinist and conductor, is assistant professor and director of orchestral studies at Southwestern Adventist University, a position he has held since August 2012. He previously taught at Shenandoah Valley Academy in Virginia and James Madison University.
Marc was born in northern France, next to the youngest of four sons of José Élysée and Elisabeth Matton. His father, a minister, and his mother, an amateur pianist, had an interest in music and provided music opportunities for their sons. The sons played together frequently on an informal basis in the home, joined occasionally by guests who played instruments or would sing along with them.
Marc started violin lessons at age seven in Reunion Island, in the Indian Ocean, where his parents were serving as missionaries. After six months he stopped taking lessons because the teacher’s approach traumatized him. At age nine he resumed study with another teacher, who renewed his interest in the instrument, and in 1992 he won first prize for contestants in violin under age twenty in Radio France’s National Competition, Les tournois du royaume de la musique.
Following completion of a music degree at the Marc Bloch University in Strasbourg, where he studied musicology, and study on violin at the conservatories in Strasbourg and Nantes, France, Élysée moved to Montreal, Canada, in 1999, where he studied violin under Richard Roberts, concertmaster of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. He was a finalist in the concerto competition at the university in 2003, playing the second violin concerto by Shostakovich. He graduated from McGill University that year with a B.Mus. in violin, cited for outstanding achievement in violin performance.
While in Montreal he was a member of a professional string quartet that was very active in promoting appreciation for music to children and teenagers in public schools and concert venues. Having given over 150 performances in the Eastern and Northern provinces of Canada, the group was nominated for the Opus Prize by the Arts Council of Quebec as having the best outreach program in 2003 and 2004 and was compensated by Jeunesses Musicales International for its work.
During his time at McGill, he also pursued conducting study under Viennese maestro Alexis Hauser and then in 2005 studied at the Pierre Monteux School for Conductors and Orchestral Musicians. In 2007 he completed an M.Mus. in instrumental conducting at Andrews University, where he studied with Venezuelan conductor Claudio Gonzalez, taught violin and viola for the pre-college string program, and served as assistant conductor of the AU orchestra during the 2006-2007 school year.
Upon graduating from AU, Élysée accepted a position at Shenandoah Valley Academy, where in the next five years he developed a successful string and orchestra program that grew to include a sixty-piece symphony orchestra whose membership included only SVA students and faculty. They played major orchestral and choral works by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and other classical music composers as well as lighter works.
While teaching at SVA, he also served as assistant orchestra conductor at James Madison University, completing a D.M.A. in orchestral conducting, music pedagogy and literature at JMU in July 2010. He was also invited to join Pi Kappa Lambda, national music honor society, at the time of his graduation. Following completion of his degree he was hired to teach instrumental conducting at JMU and direct its opera and musical theater orchestra in staged productions of Carmen, Don Giovanni, Die Fledermaus and Sweeney Todd among other works. He held this position until 2012.
Sources:Interview with Marc Elysée, February 2013; James Madison University and Southwestern Adventist University websites (2012); Linkedin .com; other online sources.