Mandate & History

Centre d'Expérimentation Musicale

Centre d'Expérimentation Musicale
114 rue Bossé,
Chicoutimi, QC
G7J 1L4
(418) 815-6941

Guillaume Thibert,
Executive Director


Founded in 1980, the Centre d’Expérimentation Musicale aims at fostering the growth of emerging and new music’s scene in Saguenay (Québec, Canada). With its creation, production, dissemination and training activities, the CEM offers professional support for creators in an environment fostering research and musical exploration. True laboratory in which the style’s hybridization is put forward, the CEM’s artistic work breaks down barriers between avant-garde rock, electronic music, jazz, contemporary music, songwriting, noise music, world music and electroacoustic. Concert music and digital audio production are CEM’s main fields of work.


The Centre d’Expérimentation Musicale was founded in 1980 by the musicians Jean-Pierre Bouchard, Claude Fradette, Pierre Dumont, and Pierre Lavoie, as well as by the poet Alain-Arthur Painchaud. The CEM is one of the few organizations producing new music located outside Canada’s major urban centres. For more than 37 years, it has contributed to make Saguenay a region where creation is put forward. New music’s influence is now palpable in the work of local artists and in the openness of the public.

Since its foundation, the CEM has produced about 400 concerts and interdisciplinary productions, thus reaching over 40 000 spectators. Supporting its members, the CEM has contributed to the production of a multitude of film music and radio creation, as well as many soundtracks for theatre and dance productions. Many albums have been released on the CEM label and almost a hundred creation workshops have taken place. For the last three decades, the CEM has been working with many renowned Québec, Canadian, and international artists. In 1989, the CEM created the Festival des Musiques de Création (FMC). For its second edition, the festival became an independent organization.  Long-standing partner, the FMC disseminates local, national and international current music creation.

Among the projects which were presented in the last decade, we underline l’Ensemble FI (collaboration with Séquence), PlanB (guitar ensemble with Bernard Falaise), Musiques dérives (with Tour de Bras from Rimouski), Musiques immédiates (whith Yannick Rieu, Jean Derome et René Lussier), Face-à-face (12 musicians directed by Guillaume Thibert), Le Gros Groupe (modern jazz big band), Royaume créateur (l’ensemble contemporain du CEM), le Commando (improvised music ensemble), Pulsation (closing of Festival des Rythmes du Monde), La Femme aimée (opéra électro), Stellaire (electro-folk song project of Sara Létourneau) et Rétroviseur (rétrospective of Jean-Pierre Bouchard's works).

Artistic Direction

CEM’s mandate is clear: to develop new and emerging music’s scene in Saguenay. Through an impressive high quality programming – over 60 concerts and events between 2011 and 2016 – the CEM presents to the public original works in various styles. Sole non-classical music producer in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean recognized by the CALQ, the diversity of current music practices stands at the centre of its artistic vision.

In the last seasons, the CEM has explored plenty of styles, ranging from free improvisation to contemporary music, to modern jazz and film music, not to mention lyric art, electronic music or contemporary songwriting. Gathering the various influences of its members, the music presented by the Centre is hybrid.  Above all, the CEM promotes experimentation, research, avant-garde, interdisciplinarity, and risk-taking. Improvisation is also central to CEM’s aesthetic and is part of many of its productions.

The artist members are at the centre of our actions: the Centre is a place for musicians to gather together and exchange. The CEM is a beacon for creative projects, a booster for research-creation in Saguenay, a place where experimentation and risk-taking is put forward. Furthermore, since it supports networking between artists, the Centre is an incubator for plenty of projects that go beyond the organization’s mandate.

The artists involved in our productions do not always have a creative music background. Many of them are originally classical or jazz musicians and some of them are songwriters or even work in other fields.  This research-creation work expands their horizons by breaking down barriers between practices.  We also help musicians to enrich their practices by exchanging with artists and organizations from other disciplines. This linking is made through interdisciplinary creative projects and many collaborations with partner organizations.

The CEM also puts forward a new generation of artists; the average age of the artists involved in our productions is about 35 years old. That being said, nearly all the projects establish a dialogue between generations: the CEM confronts and continuously establish linkings between the next generation of musicians and experienced artists. These linkings are formative for everyone and contribute to the originality of the works.

The organization also fulfils its mandate through the training offered to the members. Presented in a workshop format, these intensive trainings focus on creation. These workshops often lead on to public presentations, to concerts, and often result in new collaborations, as well as new projects. The workshops are also gathering places and contribute to networking between members and trainers, which are renowned artists.