Mélanie Léonard will be guest conductor October 15, 16, 17 Bravo Series Concert, English Elegance.//
What inspired you to become a conductor? // Qu’est-ce qui vous a inspiré à devenir chef d’orchestre?
I had a very artistic and varied background. I always felt nourished by all the different types of art. I did ballet as a child and later in life, I competed in amateur ballroom dancing. I passed all my violin exams at the McGill Conservatory in Montréal, but when it came time to choose a discipline in CEGEP, I decided to study Arts and Litterature and graduated with a major in visual arts and a minor in theatre. Following that, I missed being immersed in music and started my bachelors in musicology, but completed it in music theory, since it was a good background to become a conductor. As I was thinking back on what made me the happiest, I remembered always feeling alive while performing on stage with other people. I am also very creative, full of ideas and entrepreneurship and I enjoy being in a leadership role and working with a big team. I loved my experience playing in a youth orchestra and conducting seemed to reunite everything that I was excited about. I started to take private lessons with Maestro Paolo Bellomia at Université de Montréal during my bachelor degree. Then, I completed a masters and a doctorate in orchestral conducting. It was my true calling and every time that I am on stage, surrounded by my friends and talented colleagues and in front of a full audience of music lovers, I feel fulfilled and grateful for living my dream.
How do you get ready for a concert?// Comment vous préparez-vous pour un concert?
C’est un travail de longue haleine! La préparation commence souvent un an d’avance avec le choix du répertoire. Puis, je commence à travailler mes partitions quelques mois avant un concert. Plus je m’approche de la date de la première répétition, plus j’étudie l’oeuvre en profondeur pour me l’approprier. J’aime vivre un certain temps avec une oeuvre pour l’intégrer et pour qu’elle devienne une seconde nature. De cette façon, quand je l’interprète, la musique s’exprime de façon organique et l’émotion n’est pas contrainte par l’intellect. J’aime avoir le sentiment que la musique entre dans mon ADN. L’étude demande aussi beaucoup de planification, car j’ai souvent plusieurs programmes de concerts différents à préparer en même temps.
What are your interests outside of music? //Quels sont vos intérêts en dehors de la musique?
Je suis une passionnée de musique, de poésie et d’art! En dehors de la sphère artistique, j’adore faire du kayak et de la randonnée en montagne. J’aime aussi beaucoup les jeux vidéo et la science-fiction!
What, for you, is the most fulfilling aspect of your life as a conductor? // Pour vous, qu’est-ce qui est l’aspect le plus enrichissant de votre vie en tant que chef d’orchestre?
L’expériene humaine. La possibilité de toujours pouvoir évoluer et grandir comme interprète et personne au contact des musiciens et du plublic de partout au pays. J’aime l’opportunité d’avoir à me dépasser à tous les niveaux.
Who had the biggest influence on you as a musician? // Qui a eu la plus grande influence sur vous en tant que musicien?
There are a lot of musicians who I admire and who inspired me. Leonard Bernstein and Arnold Schoenberg are two of them. Of course, I never had the chance to meet them in person, but it is their work, music and philosophies that I connected with. However, I have to say that the person who provoked the deepest relfection and thought evolution in regards to my own work and philosophy as a musician, conductor and artistic leader is performance artist Marina Abramovic. I was deeply touched by her work “The artist is present” and loved her other works as well. Her art is thought provocative and always comes from a place of authenticity. She was never afraid of her own ideas or convictions and pursued on her path despite the resistance she was met with. Today, she is highly respected for her work. Her views on the importance of being present in the moment and always honest and authentic in who we are with ourselves and in front of an audience inspire me greatly. I find myself in this philosophy and keep it at the forefront of my approach in music.
What do you look forward to most in your trip to New Brunswick? // Qu’attendez-vous de votre voyage au Nouveau-Brunswick?
I look forward to the music of course, and having the chance to work with Shauna Rolston for a second time in my career. I look forward the journey that I will share with the orchestra in between the rehearsals and the performances and the sharing of what will come of it with the audience. When I visited New Brunswick in the past, I felt welcomed and I am excited to share a musical moment with the people that will come to the concert.