Marie-Josée Simard has been leading a solo percussionist career for nearly 30 years. She has recently branched in a new direction by initiating the En trois couleurs jazz trio, together with the renowned pianists and jazz composers François Bourassa and Yves Léveillé.
It’s with her mother, when she was eleven years old, that she made her first steps in vibraphone playing. She then pursued her studies at the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal, thus becoming the first women holding a degree in percussion in Canada. She perfected her art in London, under the supervision of James Blades from the Royal Academy of Music, and Michael Skinner of the London Opera Orchestra. She pushed her training further with the renowned marimbists Leigh Howard Stevens (New-York, 1981) and Keiko Abe (Japan, 2007).
Marie-Josée Simard received the Prix Opus 2013 for the Best concert – Jazz, with the En trois couleurs trio. In 2003, she received the National Assembly of Québec medal. In 1980, she won the televised competition Maurier Search for Star in Toronto. In 1979, she was unanimously awarded First Prize at the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal.
The Fondation des arts et de la culture Comeau has established the Marie-Josée Simard Grant in order to foster the development of talented musicians from the Côte-Nord region.
Her deep commitment to the progress of her discipline has drawn the attention of many renowned composers: Pierre Max Dubois, Clermont Pépin, Denis Gougeon, Jacques Hétu, Serge Arcuri, François Dompierre, Rachel Laurin, Tim Brady, François Bourassa, Michel Lysight, François Richard, etc. She has also made personal transcriptions of more than thirty classical masterpieces for the vibraphone, marimba and xylophones.
Her numerous public performances include the followings : 1984, guest soloist, Toronto Symphony Orchestra concert in honour of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, and his Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh; 1992, soloist representing Canada, benefit concert for the New York Metropolitan Opera; 1998, premiere of Concerto pour marimba et vibraphone, created for her by composer Jacques Hétu, performed with the string orchestra I Musici in Théâtre Maisonneuve at Place des Arts, Montréal; 2005, duo with flutist Marc Grauwels, Kumho Arts Center in Seoul; premiere in 2010 of 3 Jazettes concertantes pour marimba et vibraphone by François Bourassa with the Trois-Rivières Symphony and in 2012 with the Orchestre Métropolitain at the OSM’s Maison Symphonique.
Her discography of nine CDs includes the recording of 10 new pieces by fellow composers, 4 pieces she has written and 27 transcriptions of classical masterpieces and world music.
Committed teacher, Marie-Josée Simard has trained young percussionist at the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal from 1991 till 2003. Between September and December 2015, she obtained the Sudio/Residency grant from Tokyo Wonder Site (Japan) from the Conseils des Arts et des lettres du Québec. Canada Yamaha Artist since 1992.