Musicians reaching out to Okotoks

Music: CPO outreach program will offer entertainment and education on Feb. 16

By: Tammy Rollie

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014 08:38 am

Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra violinist Lenora Leggatt looks <br />forward to bringing the orchestra’s outreach program to the Rotary Performing Arts Centre in Okotoks on Feb. 16 at 2 p.m.
Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra violinist Lenora Leggatt looks
forward to bringing the orchestra’s outreach program to the Rotary Performing Arts Centre in Okotoks on Feb. 16 at 2 p.m.
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Two musicians with one of Alberta’s most prestigious orchestras are combining music with education this weekend.

Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO) cellist David Morrissey and violinist Lenora Leggatt will not only play compositions from such great classical musicians as Reinhold Gliere and Benjamin Godard, but will talk about their music, instruments and themselves at the Rotary Performing Arts Centre in Okotoks on Feb. 16 at 2 p.m. Youngsters will have the opportunity to try some instruments before the show.

“It will include a lot of standard repertoire and hopefully inspire a little bit more about music,” said Morrissey of the performance. “When they walk away they will feel they learned something and understood something.”

Morrissey and Leggatt perform in rural communities across Alberta through the orchestra’s outreach program, often going on stage in community centres and school gymnasiums to get people of all ages excited about music.

“I really enjoy that aspect of the orchestra, being able to go out there and have an impact,” Morrissey said.

Leggatt said CPO’s outreach program is a highlight of her musical career.

“It’s really fun playing with someone from the orchestra, getting to know them and performing for the chamber music setting,” she said. “You get to do your own repertoire. You can actually hear yourself play. It’s kind of an adventure on its own.”

Performances like this weekend’s in Okotoks aren’t less work than being part of a 70-member orchestra, said Leggatt.

“It takes a lot of research to find music written for one or two instruments,” she said. “You have to be creative for that.”

The outreach program is one of Leggatt’s favourite parts of being a member of the CPO, especially seeing the interest from the younger members of her audience.

“It’s really fun to see the kids,” she said. “When they try playing and they hear the sound come out it’s really cute.”

Leggatt learned to play the violin at age seven and was a natural. She played in the school, youth and community orchestras throughout her childhood and, at the age of 16, entered and won a competition with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.

After high school, Leggatt knew she wanted to continue with music in post secondary school.

“It was my favourite thing to do so I decided to go for it,” she said. “I wanted to see where it went.”

After taking music at Eastman School of Music in Rochester and the Cleveland Institute of Music, Leggatt joined the Ohio Chamber Orchestra, which consisted of the Cleveland San Jose Ballet and Cleveland Opera.

“There were concerts all the time and solos and ballets and 22 nut crackers during Christmas,” she said. “I was very diverse from the ballet and then the chamber orchestra - a lot of different types of music.”

Leggatt has performed in orchestras across the United States and last year joined the CPO.

Morrissey joined the CPO five years ago after spending three years in the New World Symphony in Miami Beach.

He said being a part of Calgary’s 70-member orchestra is hard work with musicians often tasked to learn one to two new programs each week.

“It can at times be very stressful but you have to learn how to manage that stress,” he said. “Preparing these programs and trying to have your life outside of the orchestra, it takes a while to learn to balance.”

The CPO became a possibility for Morrissey after his friend joined the orchestra two years prior. Upon further research, he learned the city offered plenty of opportunities to fulfill his love of the outdoors.

“The Olympics in ’88 was the only thing I knew about Calgary,” he said. “I didn’t just want to be in a city that had a great orchestra, I wanted to be in a city that inspired me outside the orchestra as well. When you move to a new city it’s a pretty drastic change, especially to a different country.”

Morrissey began playing the piano at the age of seven, a year after his older brother started playing the violin.

Sibling rivalry had Morrissey determined to outdo his brother, but playing the piano wasn’t all fun and games.

“I did not enjoy practicing when I was a kid but my mom was a stickler,” he said. “As much as I wanted to go out and play with my friends she made me practice.”

In high school Morrissey began playing the cello and loved it.

After studying music at Northwest University near Chicago the summer after high school, Morrissey decided to pursue music professionally and studied at Indiana University and New York University.

“I found myself wanting to do more and more,” he said. “I knew music was going to be involved in my life. It was all I did for most of my life.”

Tickets to see Leggatt and Morrissey perform cost $15 in advance and $20 at the door. To purchase tickets call 403-938-3204.

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