Haitian Artists Unkonwn to the HMI: David Bontemps

 

David Bontemps was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Music lovers, his parents enrolled him in private piano lessons very early. Most of his training in piano performance and music theory was given by the renowned pianist-composer Serge Villedrouin. 
To evaluate his musical studies he participated in piano competitions: in 1998 he won the first medal at the Medium Level 2 of the Inter-Caribbean Piano Competition, in Guadeloupe, awarded to the unanimity of the jury, then in 2001, the bronze medal at the Superior Level 2 of the Port-au-Prince National Piano Competition. 
 
In 2000, he successfully gave his first recital at Salle St. Cecile of the Holy Trinity School of Music of Port-au-Prince. Bach, Mozart, Chopin, Ravel, Rachmaninoff and Haitian composers Ludovic Lamothe and Justin Elie were part of his repertoire. He also performed his own compositions. 
 
In 2002 David moved to Montreal where, in November, the musicologist Claude Dauphin presented him to the members of the Society for Research and Dissemination of Haitian Music (Société de Recherche et de Diffusion de Musique Haïtienne comme) as "The new hope of Haitian music composers". 
 
He accompanied the soprano Chantal Lavigne for the creation in 2005 of "Offrandes Vodouesques" (Voodoo Offerings), 24 melodies of the Haitian composer Werner A. Jaëgerhuber, recorded and launched in 2007. Within The Major Third, he plays with pianists Ohini Byll-Cataria and Sylvain Ransy as well as their guests, such as Rafael Zaldivar, to enforce the Caribbean piano. 
 
In 2006 he founded and directed the world-jazz quintet Makaya for which he composes and arranges most of the titles. This group, winner of the bronze medal at the Syli d'Or of World Music Contest in 2007, released its first independent album in May 2009. Thanks to this eponymic album, the quintet was nominated for the TD Grand Jazz Award at the International Jazz Festival of Montreal in June 2010. 
 
In April 2010, Yves Bernard wrote in Le Devoir: “David Bontemps is a real hope of Creole music. [...] He sets a seamless universe performing traditional tunes of his home-country and voodoo songs as well as jazz or other Western and Haitian classical musics [...] The inspiration is abundant and David Bontemps will leave his mark.” 
 
Alongside these collaborations, this "refined Port-au-Prince pianist” returns to his solo piano in the objective of disseminating his compositions for this instrument. To this end, in 2011 he obtained a grant from the Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec and the Canada Council for the Arts to produce VIBRATIONS, a disc dedicated to his best piano works.