Because of their perseverance, the priority they give to their passion and their hard work, some people stand out, among the best, and reach the pinnacle of their art. This is particularly the case for the native of Sallaberry-Valleyfield Mélanie Léonard, appointed as musical director of Symphony New Brunswick.
(Photo Westmount Photography – Robert Provencher)
The young woman grew up listening to music. In the heart of the family home, there was always music that warmed the place. Her father probably ignored her at the time, but his love for classical music permeated his daughter’s heart. Then, one day, a harpist is invited to her elementary school. The girl is then completely subjugated. The end of classes announced, she returns to her parents and asks them for a harp. Ultimately, it is on the bow of a violin that her fingers will come to life. Mélanie Léonard will make music her art.
She has conducted several major symphony orchestras across Canada, including the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the National Arts Center Orchestra, the Metropolitan Orchestra, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and Les Violons du Roy. Currently, she is the Music Director of the Sudbury Symphony Orchestra and was Conductor in Residence and then Associate of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.
It is following an in-depth process spanning almost three years that Symphony New Brunswick (SNB) has selected Mélanie Léonard as musical director. “Mélanie has an exceptional range of experience and vision that will take Symphony New Brunswick to the next level. We know she has what it takes to help us become a major organization in the orchestral scene in Canada”, said Reid Parker, President of SNB.
Note that Mrs. Léonard was selected from among 50 conductors from Canada, from the United States and Europe. Maestra Léonard will therefore start working with the provincial orchestra this fall. SNB, which she conducted in 2018 as guest conductor, is the only professional orchestra in the province.
An essential role
As musical director, Mrs. Léonard’s role is essential. Her responsibilities are numerous. Briefly, the musical direction includes development including the artistic vision of the orchestra. Among other things, defining how the orchestra is established, involved and thought of in its community. In addition, it involves the choice of pieces, the choice of guest soloists, the understanding of who the audience is. The musical director also represents the orchestra to the media.
Of course, this role also includes that of conductor. The responsibilities inherent in this role are to establish musical priorities regarding artistic choices. “My role with the orchestra is to make sure that we all play in a unified way that we all play with one voice. It’s a team effort. The orchestra also has its vision and we must also let the orchestra speak”, said Mrs. Léonard.
The young woman explains that she has a lot of ideas and that she is eager to promote the artistic excellence of Symphony New Brunswick and to contribute to the richness of her vision.
“I am inspired by the idea of participating in our future by exploring new horizons, while respecting the traditions of the orchestra.”
Mrs. Léonard is joining Symphony New Brunswick at an opportune time. The recent 70th anniversary fundraising campaign was a great success, acquiring generous support for a provision fund that will give the orchestra financial stability. Despite the challenges of COVID-19, Symphony NB is one of the few orchestras in Canada that has continued to perform indoors over the past year.
At the baton for the first performance of Symphony NB on October 22nd, Maestra Léonard will conduct pieces by Mozart, Hétu and Schuber.
What pride for citizens of Salaberry-Valleyfied to witness the spectacular rise of one of our own. What an inspiration she is this woman who one day heard the melody of her destiny in her ear as she listened blissfully, a harpist slide her fingers over her majestic instrument.