Yesterday marked the beginning of a new career for former astronaut Julie Payette. In a ceremony on Ottawa yesterday, she officially stepped into the role of Canada’s 29th Governor General.
To mark the occasion, a new coat of arms was unveiled for Payette. The design process included a close look at her passions, which beyond science, includes a close connection to classical music.
As a student in Montreal, Payette learned the piano, and sang in le Chœur polyphonique de Montréal. After moving to Toronto, she became a member of the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir between 1989 and 1992.
To mark Payette’s passion for music, particularly from the Baroque era,`. The notes (complete with a mordent on the note B) echo her description of her time singing with Tafelmusik as one of the most significant periods in her life.
As the first Canadian astronaut at the International Space Station, she brought along recordings by Tafelmusik (Handel’s Messiah, Alessandro Marcello’s Concerto for Oboe in D Minor) as well as a recording of Chopin by pianist Marc-André Hamelin. The recordings helped her pass the 611 total hours she spent in space aboard the space shuttle Discovery (1999) and Endeavour (2009).
Coming from someone who has been to space, and now is the Governor General of Canada, I think it’s safe to say baroque music lovers have one of their own in Ottawa.