Jean Lesage pursued his musical training at the Conservatoire de Montréal with Gilles Tremblay for composition and analysis, Micheline Coulombe St-Marcoux and Yves Daoust for electronic music, Clermont Pépin for orchestration, and with Mireille Lagacé for harpsichord.
Jean Lesage is very active on the Montreal music scene: he has been an advisory member of the Association pour la création et la recherche électroacoustique du Québec, a program coordinator for the Société des concerts alternatifs du Québec, and since 1990, a member of the artistic committee of the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec. In 1997 and in 2008, he has been guest editorial director for Circuit, for special issues on Montreal composers and on the music of the 20th century.
From 1987 to 1995, he was also a reporter for the program Musique actuelle, broadcast on Radio-Canada’s FM radio. For the same network, in the summer of 1996, he produced and hosted Musique du Québec, a series of 12 programs on Quebec’s musical modernism. He is also on the editorial board of Circuit, Contemporary Music Journal between 2005 and 2011.
From 1995 to 2009, Jean Lesage has been regularly invited as a composer and a teacher at the Rencontre internationale de musique nouvelle at Domaine Forget. Since 2011, he teaches composition every summer at Orford Music. Since 1999, Jean Lesage has been teaching composition, music analysis and orchestration at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University.
To be noted among the 50-odd works he has composed so far are: Mare Fecunditatis (1986), for piano, CAPAC Prize 1987; Trois apparitions au désert (1988), for mixed choir and large orchestra, Robert Flemming Prize from the Canadian Music Council 1988; Le sentiment océanique (1989), for eight instruments, commissioned by the Ensemble contemporain de Montréal (ECM), presented at UNESCO’s 1995 Rostrum of Composers, in Paris; Les sensations confuses (1993), for chamber orchestra, commissioned by the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, premiered in Strasbourg at the Musica 1993 Festival; Masques et chimères (1996) for eleven instruments, commissioned by the ECM; Les représentations surannées (1998) for orchestra, commissioned by l’Orchestre symphonique de Québec premiered in Quebec at the Musique au présent Festival 1999; Le livre des mélancolies (1999) for clarinet and string quartet commissioned by the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec;Portrait of a Sentimental Musician in a Distorting Mirror (2000) for violin and piano, commissioned by the CBC for Duo Concertante; String Quartet I (2001), String Quartet II(2002) and String Quartet III (2005) commissioned by the Quatuor Bozzini; Les mécanismes multiples de l’ivresse et de la nostalgie (2004) for large orchestra, commissioned by Radio-France et Radio-Canada; Le projet Mozart (2006) commissioned by Trio Fibonacci; Plaisirs anciens (2008), for a capella choir commissioned by Viva Voce and Beatitudines (2011) commissioned by the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal; Quatuor à cordes IV (2014) commissioned by the Quatuor Molinari.