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Isabelle Bélanger-Southey

Bachelor’s student in performance (violin)


An encounter with Isabelle Bélanger-Southey, bachelor’s student in performance (violin) at the Université de Montréal Faculty of Music

  •  Could you summarize your background for us?

I’m a violinist, and currently doing the fifth semester of my bachelor’s degree in performance. At the age of six I started studying my instrument at the Petits Violons school, where I continued playing in string ensembles for 16 years In secondary I got to familiarize myself with the solo repertoire and play for the first time in an orchestra, experiences that encouraged me to continue my music studies at Cégep, then at university.  

  • Why decide to continue your studies at the Faculty of Music? Have you made any inspiring encounters here?

The bachelor’s in performance struck me as the best way to carry on with my goals and to move ahead with learning the violin so that I could play it professionally. What I like a lot about the Faculty is the spirt of camaraderie between male and female students. Colleagues encourage one another, pushing one another reciprocally towards their respective goals. 

A number of teachers I’ve worked with during my time here have given me valuable advice and lessons that have already proved to be decisive. One of the reasons I’ve been studying at the Université de Montréal Faculty of Music is my instrument teacher, Yukari Cousineau, who’s also concertmaster violin with the Orchestre Métropolitain. She’s one of the people who’ve had the most impact on my studies. Also, since I love ensemble music more than anything, the Orchestre de l’Université de Montréal and its conductor, Jean-François Rivest, have a special place in my curriculum.

  •  In what way is your stay at the Faculty of Music influencing your life?

How is my stay at the Faculty influencing my life? The question should be, how does my life influence my stay at the Faculty! Just like with a good number of my colleagues, during the academic year the Faculty of Music becomes something of a home away from home. In all seriousness , the bachelor’s in performance calls for a lot of hours of work and hours of daily practice. So it’s not unusual to eat both breakfast and supper at the Faculty. 

What significantly marked my first year at Université de Montréal was my violin class. Together we make up a very solid and close-knit group, even if some members of the gang have gone back to their respective countries when they finished their studies. Developing in so open and welcoming a violin class with such solidarity to it remains one of the most valuable things I’ve experienced in the Faculty.

  • Could you tell us about an experience you’ve enjoyed at the Faculty that you think will be unforgettable?

I was lucky enough to arrive at the Faculty of Music during the celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the Orchestre de l’Université de Montréal. I got the chance to play ‒ starting with the very first year of my bachelor’s ‒ some of the most beautiful works in the orchestral repertoire: Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6, for example, Prokofiev’s ballet Cinderella, and Mahler’s large-scale Third Symphony. Those musical moments won’t be leaving my memory for a long, long time!

  • Apart from music, what are you passionate about?

I love kids and I love teaching them. I find that you learn a lot through interactions with the very young and that they keep us awake to tons of beautiful things that sometimes we don’t pay much attention to anymore. I like the lack of seriousness that only they are capable of! I also really enjoy walking and exploring places, the countryside and the outdoors. 

  • Are there artists that you particularly like?

I let myself be captivated by different genres of music, by any number of performers, by lots of composers and by several different eras. I certainly have a strong liking for the romantic period in the history of Western classical music: Schubert, Brahms, Tchaikovsky… In terms of performers, the baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, like the remarkable violinists Hilary Hahn, Augustin Hadelich and Janine Jansen, have a special place on my playlist.

  •  What kind of plans do you have?

I intend making music until I’m getting up there in years, as much by sharing it with students as by creating it with 99 other musicians in playing a symphony of Mahler’s!

February 2021