Obituary: Monique Lesenne

By on the 21 Jan 2014

It's with great sadness that we inform you that Monique Lesenne has passed away. She was an integral “player” in the field of choral music in Europe. She was intimately involved in planning and implementing so many projects and was an active force in IFCM.

Mother, Motivator and Monument

In memoriam Monique Lesenne by Koor & Stem

‘There’s still so much groundwork to be done!’

Although this last message from Monique may be short and straightforward, it sums her up perfectly. She, like no other, knew the choral world like the back of her hand. For the singers, she may have acted as a mere volunteer, but she was constantly urging them on to push back their artistic boundaries. Hers was the ear that listened to countless concerts and competitions, where she always had constructive criticism to offer. And if she couldn’t be there, her absence was genuinely felt. Choirmasters valued her personal opinion and her telling comments always contained a dash of humour. Mieke Martens summed up Monique Lesenne’s lovely character traits succinctly in the words to the song ‘Ad Monicam’, which was put to music by her companion, Vic Nees: ‘Zij is zij, om en nabij, zozeer zij’ (‘She is she, round and about, so very much she’). With the passing of Monique Lesenne, the choral world has lost a mother who was always ready to stand up for her choral friends.

Monique Lesenne was also the organiser of a whole series of dazzling national and international choral events: choral weeks, choir competitions, festivals and courses. When Monique Lesenne put her weight behind an idea, there was no stopping it. Her determination and enthusiasm were such a formidable combination that in the end, no one dared say ‘no’. Her sheer persistence meant that children and young people from all over the world were given the chance to meet each other and sing together. As an organiser, she was self-effacing, preferring to stress ‘the quality’ of what was being sung. Monique Lesenne as the tireless motivator behind countless choral events is an image that will stay with us forever.

Monique Lesenne was not only a welcome guest and passionate organiser, she was also able to put her practical experience to good use in terms of directing policy. For many years she dedicated her time and effort as a volunteer in local, regional, national and international organisations. In so doing, Monique Lesenne and those of her generation formed the foundations of an international choral community in which music and the sheer force of singing together conveyed a message of respect, tolerance and peace. She was also totally aware of how to guide and prepare an organisation for the future. Step by step she developed organisations until they became powerful contributors to the world of choirs. The Vlaamse Federatie van Jonge Koren (Flemish Federation of Young Choirs) – her VFJK – is probably the best example of this. But she also played an important guiding role in Europa Cantat and Koor&Stem. And so it was that Monique Lesenne grew from being ‘just a volunteer’ to become a true monument in the choral world.

The national and international choral community is very grateful to Monique Lesenne for what she meant to us. With her passing, we lose a mother, a motivator and a life-size monument.

On behalf of the Board of Directors of Koor&Stem vzw


Short biographical outline

Monique Lesenne was born on 25th July 1937 in Ronse.

She studied archaeology at the University of Ghent, where after graduating she also worked in the archaeology department. But it was music, and especially choral music, that was her passion.

From 1967 she began working as a volunteer for the Vlaamse Federatie van Jonge Koren (Flemish Federation of Young Choirs) (VFJK). From the outset she took an international role and became active in the European Federation of Young Choirs  - Europa Cantat. She was a director of this organisation from 1997-2003, which gave a boost to the international image of Flemish choral music.

Monique Lesenne took part in organising choral weeks, competitions, projects and courses. She was also very closely involved in the representation of Flemish choirs in international choral works and competitions and in organising the triennial Europa Cantat Festival.

On her 65th birthday, she officially retired – although you’d hardly have noticed the difference.

She continued to organise choral weeks in Ghent and elsewhere, choral days for children, various masterclasses for conductors and a session of the World Youth Choir. Monique Lesenne also contributed to the merger of the VFJK with the other Flemish federations, as well as the foundation of the Koor&Stem non-profit organisation.

On her 75th birthday, she decided to slow things down a little. She “limited” her activities to being a member of the Board of Directors of Koor&Stem, presiding over VFJK vzw, organising preliminary competitions in the province of East Flanders, supervising choral days for children, international choral weeks, attending competitions and festivals at home and abroad, keeping an eye on new talent in various music schools and the World Youth Choir.

Monique Lesenne died rather unexpectedly on 16th January 2014. With Monique’s passing, the national and international choral community mourns a genuine life-size monument.


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