The McGill Percussion Ensemble was founded in 1969 by Pierre Béluse, Professor of Percussion in the Faculty of Music at McGill since 1967. The ensemble performs a wide variety of repertoire, with a strong commitment to the performance of new music. Along with its regular concerts on campus, the ensemble performs frequently in other locations and for CBC Radio’s English and French networks.
In 1979, the group’s first recording titled Percussion, produced on the McGill University label, won the Grand Prix du Disque-Canada for chamber music, awarded by the Canadian Music Council. This success was followed by a recording in 1980 for Radio Canada International which featured the work of Canadian composers Walter Boudreau, Vincent Dionne, and Claude Vivier. In 1988, the ensemble recorded its first compact disc with works by Edgard Varèse, alcides lanza, Jo Kondo, Francois Morel, Mantel Hood, and Pierre Béluse.
In 1992, the ensemble won the Darius Milhaud Prize at the Concours d’interprétation de Musique Française de Montréal. In 1996, a second CD was recorded featuring works by Osvaldo Budon, Alberto Ginastera, and Pierre Béluse.
During the 1997/1998 season, the ensemble premiered several new works, including two by James Harley and pieces by graciela paraskevaidis and Victoria Maidanik. The group also recorded a concert of music by Canadian composers for CBC radio. In the Spring of 2000, the group performed a concert to celebrate the birthdays of composers alcides lanza and Marlos Nobre. More recently, the ensemble participated in the MusiMars 2004 contemporary music festival, under the direction of D’Arcy Philip Gray