Passer au contenu

/ Music Faculty

Je donne


Mélanie Léonard

Conductor and music director of the Sudbury Symphony Orchestra and doctorate in conducting (2008)

  • In a few words, how would you describe yourself?

I grew up in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, in Montérégie. I’m impassioned about music, and impassioned in general. My background is full of detours to dance, to theater, to visual arts. I question myself, I observe, I reflect, and I step out of my comfort zone with pleasure. I like being confronted by my limitations, because that motivates me to grow both personally and professionally. I’m curious and I like to find out about various subjects ranging from science to psychology. I like to get lost reading poetry and unwind by playing video games or riding a motorcycle.

  • Which study programs did you do at the Faculty of Music?

I first completed my bachelor’s in writing techniques at Université de Montréal. I did a master’s in conducting at the Hartt School of Music in Connecticut. I came back to Université de Montréal for my Ph.D. I have a degree in conducting doctorate in conducting. I graduated with the honor of being the first woman to get a Ph.D. in this discipline at Université de Montréal!

  • What was your favorite thing at the Faculty? Which teachers inspired you most during your years at Université de Montréal?

All my teachers inspired me at different levels. The conducting groups are small. There were five of us in all studying in the master’s or doctorate  program. That fosters a much more personalized learning environment both in the exchanges between students and with our professors.

I’m grateful for everything my thesis co-directors, Paolo Bellomia and Jean-François Rivest , taught me. Above and beyond their teaching of educational material, they were always available to listen to me and fuel my thinking. To become a good conductor, you also have to have that space to grow at the human and philosophical level.

  • In what way have your years at the Faculty of Music influenced your life?

The Faculty of Music gave me all the tools I needed to succeed. Even after I finished my studies, my professors stayed available to answer my questions and recommend me when I applied for a position. Today I’m music director of the Sudbury Symphony Orchestra, in Ontario. I’m also guest conductor with other professional symphony orchestras in Canada. For example, I’ve worked with Les Violons du Roy, Orchestre Métropolitain, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa. I also conduct in the studio for different projects. One of the things I’ve done is participate in recording the music that accompanied the show Aura at Notre-Dame Basilica in Montréal.

  • What memories do you have of the Faculty of Music? Is there one you’d like to share with us?

I remember the community spirit and the friendly atmosphere in our common room at Café Le Triton. Besides what we were taught, I hang on to that impression of togetherness and how easy it was to exchange with the other students, because we discovered ourselves in our passion for music, our fears and our common hopes.

In our last class in the last year of our bachelor’s degree – I think it was a counterpoint class – we lit Bengal lights to celebrate in the classroom. Unfortunately, we set off the alarm and the entire Faculty had to head out to the parking lot while the firefighters made sure the premises were safe. We finished our degree with a bang!

  • How has the network you built at the Faculty of Music contributed to your career?

A number of my classmates are now professionals working in the same network as me. It’s really lucky and it’s a strength to be able to count on them. It’s vital to support and help one another. As in a number of fields, maintaining a network of contacts is crucial. We’re all part of the same ecosystem, in all disciplines.

  • What do you like most in your professional practice?

What makes me happiest in my profession is being able to contribute to my community while living from my passion. It’s a great privilege to be in a position to touch people through music. Music is an art, but above all it’s a great human experience.

  • What, in your view, are the three most important qualities for a conductor?

I would say three aptitudes instead:

  • The humility to recognize that each moment is an opportunity to learn
  • A sincere desire to share with others through music
  • A tireless perseverance

To learn more:

November 2020