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Conducting Her Way to the Top

Geneviève Leclair (CFA’11) wins conducting competition and scholarship

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Geneviève Leclair has won the Sir Ernest MacMillan Memorial Foundation conducting competition. Photo by Onnig Cavoukian

Geneviève Leclair is no stranger to conducting. The school of music doctoral student founded the orchestra Ensemble Euterpe, apprenticed with the National Orchestra of Canada, and was assistant conductor for the BU Opera Institute production of Thérèse Raquin.

In March, Quebec native Leclair (CFA’11), competing against two other finalists, won a $12,000 scholarship from the Sir Ernest MacMillan Memorial Foundation, named for a former conductor of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. The competition is open to young conductors under the age of 30 from across Canada.

Leclair says she is greatly encouraged by being recognized by judges she admires. “Having expert eyes who profoundly understand your art approve of your work feels like a confirmation that you belong in the field,” she says.

The finalists conducted the University of Toronto Orchestra in selections from Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique. Competitors received a list of excerpts to perform and rehearse 15 minutes before taking the podium, and the excerpts had to be conducted in a specific order. Leclair says that made it difficult and crucial to be well prepared.

From 2005 to 2008, Leclair was the artistic director of Montreal-based Ensemble Euterpe. She has also conducted the BU Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra.

After receiving a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in flute performance from the University of Montreal, Leclair came to BU to study conducting. She says BU’s music program is fantastic and the conducting professors highly recommended.

“It is important to surround yourself with artists and teachers that you can trust,” she says. “They help shape the type of artist you become.”

Tom Vellner can be reached at tvellner@bu.edu; follow him on Twitter at @tomgvellner.

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