Marcel L’Esperance was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, of Canadian parents. He was the sixth of seven
children. The L’Esperances lived through the Great Depression in a small house in the center of Worcester. Marcel’
s mother encouraged her children to take music lessons. Among the children, there were two who studied piano,
two who studied violin, and Marcel, who studied saxophone and clarinet. There was much music to be heard in the
L’Esperance household. On Sunday afternoons, classical string quartets could be heard in the family living room. On
other occasions, square dances were organized. Whenever there were weddings, the L’Esperance players provided
the music at the receptions. The French Canadian immigrants had brought with them their folk songs, customs and
Marcel attended Catholic schools in the French language. All four boys acted as altar boys at church services.
After graduating from high school, Marcel decided to become a Catholic teaching brother but left the order after
two years. He was soon recruited into the U.S. Army and served in the Korean War.
After being discharged from the U.S. Army, he enrolled for courses at Boston College. During his four years there,
he joined the Boston College Glee Club, which was directed by Alexander Peloquin. Maestro Peloquin was a
dynamic and inspiring leader.
This experience proved to be a turning point in Marcel’s career. Upon graduating from B.C., he applied to Boston
University to pursue music studies with the goal of eventually becoming a choral director. Two years were spent
teaching at Canadian Academy in Kobe, Japan, after which he returned to the U.S. to pursue a Master’s Degree in
Music at Claremont Graduate School near Los Angeles.
After obtaining his M.A. at Claremont Graduate School, he taught music in the public schools. Then his wanderlust
took him to the island of Guam, where he taught high school music, conducted the community chorus and
organized a choir at the University of Guam. In 1977 he accepted a teaching position at St. Mary’s International
School in Tokyo, where he organized choirs, taught handbells and general music, and trained singers for the annual
In 1978 Marcel met Carol Melby at the University of Illinois. She came to Japan in 1980 and was soon hired as head
librarian at St. Mary’s International School. In 1980 the two of them started the Tokyo International Singers in
order to perform major choral works. L’Esperance founded four other choirs besides this group: the Yokohama
International Singers, the Tokyo International Women’s Chorus, the Chiba International Singers, and his own
professional ensemble The L’Esperance Singers.
Over the years Maestro L’Esperance has performed much of the standard choral literature, such as the requiems
of Brahms, Mozart and Fauré and the religious works of Haydn, Poulenc, Kodály, Rossini and Dvořák, as well as those
of Gounod, Mendelssohn, Schubert, Schumann and Bruckner. L’Esperance also began concerts of light music in
1990 (titled Summer Serenade) which have become a favorite for singers and audiences alike.
Tokyo International Singers