Marie-Élaine Gagnon

Marie-Élaine Gagnon

Principal Cello

MARIE-ÉLAINE GAGNON is a strong advocate for music education and outreach. A French-Canadian cellist, she has taught at the University of South Dakota before joining the music faculty at the Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam in the fall of 2017; taught at the Université de Montréal for the Preparatory Program and earlier on at the Barry University in Miami. Her students have won first places in concerto competitions and held principal chairs in New York, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Pennsylvania States. Some have gone to prestigious music programs in Europe, Canada, and graduate conservatory programs in the US. Others have developed and enriched string programs in the Mid-West and the East Coast. Gagnon was an associate professor of cello and chamber music at the University of South Dakota from 2007-2017. 

Dr. Gagnon is a first prize-winner of numerous music competitions in Canada, which led to many solo performances in her native home. In 2000, she was chosen amongst many young candidates to perform a solo recital for the prestigious Canadian Broadcasting Company program: “Jeunes Artists.” Gagnon has participated and performed in many music festivals, including Le Festival  International du Domaine Forget, The Penderecki String Quartet Chamber Workshop, Orford Music Center, and The National Youth Orchestra of Canada. In May 2002, she was the first cellist to win a scholarship from the D. Robinson Foundation to study at the Aspen Music Festival. Her participation in these many music festivals allowed her to study with well-known cellists such as Sharon Robinson (Indiana), Desmond Hoebig (Cleveland), Janos Starker (Indiana), Phillipe Muller (Paris), Roland Pidoux (Trio Pasquier), Paul Watkins (London), and David Ellis (Quatuor Saguenay).

An avid chamber music player, Gagnon was a member of the Rawlins Piano Trio from 2007 to 2017, in residence at the University of South Dakota.  The trio formed a reputation as a preeminent interpreter of 19th and early 20th-century American music. Owing to its expertise, the ensemble has recorded four CDs of these works on the Albany Records label. The third disc– American Romance–was declared, “A real find!” by reviewer J. Scott Morrison. The fourth, American Discoveries, released in July 2009–is “…another winner from the Rawlins Trio…they continue their work of bringing us American composers’ music that is worth hearing…Their playing is artful, suave, and pleasing.” (Morrison) During her tenure with the Rawlins Piano Trio, the group has toured in Taiwan, South Korea, and Panama.  They have performed to prestigious music conferences such as the Chamber Music Society in New York and the College Music Society National Conference in San Diego. On many occasions, Gagnon has performed the Beethoven “Triple Concerto” with the Rawlins Piano Trio. Besides her collaborative work, she is also concertizing with a newly formed ensemble, the Zapateado Duo with Venezuelan-born pianist Angelica Sganga.

Raised in Québec, Dr. Gagnon has received her Diplôme d’Étude Supérieur I at the Conservatoire de Musique de Montréal, her Diplôme d’Étude Supérieur II from the Conservatoire de Musique de Québec, M.M. from Florida International University and finally her D.M.A from the University of Miami. Gagnon was principal cellist of the Sioux City Symphony for ten years prior to joining the Orchestra of Northern New York as guest principal in 2017. She owns a cello made in 1904 by the French Master Paul Bailly.