A talented local musician will sit in one of five seats for cellists at the National Arts Academy Young Artist Program.
Bronwyn LeBlanc, age 16, has been playing the cello for five years after finding herself drawn to the instrument.
“It started because my sister wanted to play the violin. I saw the cello and it looked like a cool instrument. It really fascinated me from the beginning,” she said.
At first she played about 15 minutes a day but after joining her middle school music program, inspired to match another student’s talent, she started to invest more time into the cello.
And that work’s paid off. Only 50 applicants from around the world are accepted into the Ottawa-based Young Artist Program with only five being cellists.
“I am so excited,” says LeBlanc. “I will get to participate in a chamber group again. I’ve wanted to get back into that. I enjoy playing with other people and I haven’t been able to join with many groups since moving here.”
LeBlanc moved to Nelson from Victoria in October and started taking lessons from Jeff Faragher. Today, she spends two hours a day practicing, more on the weekends.
“Once I got more serious about it, it took off from there,” she says.
LeBlanc loves playing classical Baroque and Romantic pieces but has played a few from the 20th century as well. In her audition she played the Cello Concerto in E Minor by Edward Elgar and Cello Suite No. 3 by J.S. Bach.
“I really enjoy playing them,” she says. “The Elgar piece is a very familiar concerto. It’s an amazing piece, really emotional. And I just love Bach. The melodies are so well structured and amazing.”
The two-week camp starts June 17 and includes private lessons, chamber group rehearsals, master classes and performances. They will be immersed in music eight to nine hours a day, taught by top instructors under the direction of the renown Pinchas Zucherman.
“It’s definitely a very good opportunity for a musician,” says LeBlanc.
For the teen who’s never travelled beyond BC and Alberta, the opportunity to travel alone to the big city is fantastic. There are a few nerves but excitement overrides, she says.
Cello takes up most of LeBlanc’s time but she also likes to swim, which she used to do competitively, and draw and paint. No matter what she pursues, her mom is right behind her, she says.
“I wouldn’t be able to go without my mom helping me,” she says.
Shannon LeBlanc encourages her daughters to pursue music and is proud of Bronwyn’s opportunity.
“She’s certainly worked hard for this,” says Shannon. “This will help her to become more determined to continue her career in the cello.”
As she prepares for her trip to the National Arts Academy, LeBlanc is looking for a sturdy case to transport her cello via air to Toronto, something that’s hard to find in Nelson.
Nelson folks can hear LeBlanc play with the Selkirk Chamber Orchestra on May 25 in Nelson.