Viola, Chamber Music
Leanne was born in Falmouth, MA, and studied violin and cello before realizing the viola had her heart. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Eastman School of Music, where she studied viola with George Taylor and chamber music with the Ying Quartet, John Celantano, Zvi Zeitlin and Charlie Castleman, among others.
Upon graduation she relocated to Boston and began teaching and performing around New England, in ensembles such as the Rhode Island Philharmonic, Symphony New Hampshire, Brockton Symphony, and Juventas New Music Ensemble. She is a member of the American String Teachers Association and the American Viola Society.
Her students can be found performing in many groups in the greater Boston area, including BYSO, NEC and Rivers youth orchestras as well as Northeast, Eastern, Southeast and Central District junior and senior festivals, along with All-State (when they’ve practiced enough!). They regularly participate in ASTACAP exams, for which Leanne was a member of the curriculum revision team at the national level.
When not rehearsing, teaching or practicing, she can frequently be found with her nose in a book, tangled up in a complicated knitting project, or up to her ears in ingredients in the process of a culinary experiment. She lives in Jamaica Plain with two thoroughly ridiculous cats.
- How/what age did you start your instrument?
I started on violin at 7 1/2, after begging for lessons for about four years thanks to Big Bird Discovers the Orchestra. In junior high I picked up cello because we didn't have any at school, and then viola for string quartets. So it took me a little while to sort myself out but by 15 I was exclusively on viola and have stayed there ever since!
- Did you come from a musical family?
Not even a little bit, I'm a total anomaly in my mostly sports-oriented heap of cousins.
- Best or funniest (or even worst!) musical memory from childhood?
In one very rough day of rehearsal when I was about 14, I somehow broke THREE strings AND my bridge, one after the other all day long! It was some kind of weather-adjustment issue (I'd flown from the east coast to the west coast for a summer camp) but I was very glad I'd followed advice and packed extras of all of them!
- A highlight or two from your performing career:
Sitting in as second viola for the Brahms B-flat Sextet with my longtime mentors the Colorado Quartet was an amazing experience; touring Kentucky with my own string quartet was an eye- and ear-opening time as well. But playing a whole program of film music with John Williams himself on the podium was a total nerd dream!
- What do you love about teaching?
Watching someone else fall in love with something you love will never get old! Passing on all the knowledge and history and details my own brilliant teachers lavished on me is also deeply satisfying, and forges one more link in the chain back to legendary performers and pedagogues of the past. And watching a student's eyes light up when they "get it" and suddenly produce something gorgeous absolutely makes my day.
- What would you like your students to know about you?
I take teaching very seriously, and though I don’t expect all (or necessarily any) of my students to go on to a professional career in music, when they graduate from high school I want them to be equipped with the skills to enjoy playing music for the rest of their lives, whether in a community orchestra, in chamber groups with friends or siblings (or spouses or children, but none of them are that old yet!), or just as a release in the evenings after a high-stress day as a doctor-lawyer-what-have-you.
- Can you share a non-musical fun fact about you?
I'm a hardcore Knitter (with a capital K) and come winter I'm usually wearing something handmade (ask me about my Telemann Concerto scarf or my alto clef practice mitts!). You will also frequently find me in the kitchen because I absolutely love to cook; I took advantage of lockdown to learn even more techniques and recipes so I hope my Italian grandmother would be proud!