Armonia’s Conductor – a Profile
Augustin Medan graduated from the G. Dima Conservatory of Music in 1972 and from the History-Philosophy Department of the Babeş-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, in 1980. He worked with the G. Dima Conservatory of Music and with the Music School in Cluj-Napoca until 1986 when, accompanied by his wife, he fled the Communist Regime in Romania. They lived in France for two years.
In Paris, he founded and conducted the Choir of the Romanian House. In December 1987, the choir presented a few Romanian Christmas Carols in front of an unexpectedly high number of Romanians in exile – first at the Byzantine-Catholic Mission and then at the Orthodox Church in Paris.
At the first concert, the choir presented a special carol of the prisoners of the Communist regime. The carol was prepared in a very short time. A former political prisoner had sung it to Mr. Medan, who then wrote it up while on the train on his way home, and arranged it for choir. Many people, who had suffered because of the Communist regime, cried when they heard that carol, and the singers cried with them.
The Romanian writer and political personality Neagu Djuvara, who at that time was in exile in Paris, thanked Mr. Medan personally for his efforts, and then expressed his hope in a future collaboration.
The Romanian House 30.12.87
I wish to send you and your wife, along with these modest wishes for good luck in 1988, our repeated thanks for the wonderful success of the small choir which you put together in such a short time, and which was applauded with such enthusiasm by all – Romanians and non-Romanians alike.
We must continue together. Our President, Alexandru Ghica, will contact you to discuss some small projects we are working on, and which could make you better known on the French “market”.
With warm wishes and sincere appreciation,
Neagu Djuvara – Secretary General
Following this invitation, Mr. Medan put together a concert of songs inspired by traditional Romanian music, which he found with difficulty at the Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris. The choir performed this concert in June 1988, at a Symposium on the influence of the folklore on the Romanian literature, which was organized at the Sorbonne University by exiled Romanians.
Mr. Medan and his wife were present at the demonstration against the Communist government of Romania in November 1987, in front of the Romanian Embassy in Paris. Mr. Medan was the one who conducted the choir formed there spontaneously to sing Romanian hymns, which at that time were prohibited in their native country. Although his son was still in Romania at that time, he did not hesitate when important personalities of the Romanian exile asked him to conduct the mass of people protesting the repressive measures taken by Ceauşescu, then Romania’s dictator, against the workers who had the courage to strike in the Romanian city of Braşov.
In 1988 Augustin Medan and his family immigrated to Canada. Shortly after they arrived in Toronto, he tried to found a choir at the St. George Church, then the only Romanian church in this city. For the first Christmas he spent in Canada, he was able to put together a vocal ensemble, which presented a carol concert at St. George Church. With the same vocal ensemble, he prepared a few pieces of music on the lyrics of Romania’s national poet, Mihai Eminescu, and presented them at two events organized in Toronto and Hamilton respectively, to celebrate Eminescu’s 100th death anniversary.
Since 1989 Mr. Medan has worked as a teacher, first for the Catholic School Board and currently for the French Public School Board in Toronto. He participated in many international music festivals along with renowned Romanian musicians.
Ever since his university years he has had a great passion for choral music. He founded a few choirs, sang in some and conducted some others – the first one being the Romanian Choir in Paris in 1987-1988, and the most recent one the Armonia Choir in Toronto.