She's young, talented, and a rarity in a highly traditional field. Meet Lucie Leguay – a female conductor on her way to international success. In our three-part video series, we follow her from Amiens, France, where she works as an assistant conductor, to the Verbier Festival Academy.
You could hear a pin drop in the spacious rehearsal room, which is flooded with sunlight. Lucie stands on the podium and gathers herself for a few seconds. She is surrounded by the musicians of the ‘Orchestre de Picardie’ in Amiens, France, who are awaiting her signal to begin. All eyes rest on Lucie. The Orchestre de Picardie is one of three orchestras for which she works as an assistant conductor (the other two are Orchestre National de Lille and Orchestre national d’Île-de-France). Today, she takes over the rehearsal for the Chief Conductor, Arie van Beek.
She slowly lifts her hands, and then the magic begins: the young conductor presides over a large repertoire of expressive gestures and motions that flow with the rhythm of the music. It seems as if her body reflects every single note. You can feel the energy between her and the orchestra. “My instrument is the orchestra,” she explains. “As I can’t touch my instrument, I distribute energy and receive energy back in return.” Lucie’s duty is to interpret the scores in a personal way, set the tempo and ensure that the members of the ensemble add their unique contributions. “I manage everyone so that we reach our shared objective,” she says. “It really doesn’t matter if you’re male or a female. As long as you do your job, the musicians simply see you as a conductor."
Growing up with music
It was a long way for Lucie to get to where she stands today. It all started at the age of three when her father, a piano teacher himself, introduced her to classical music. At the age of six, he enrolled her at the Conservatoire de Lille to take piano lessons. She then visited several music schools and finally decided to complete her bachelor’s degree in Musicology. It was also in Lille, where she met Jean-Sébastien Béreau, a conductor who had collaborated with musicians such as Leonard Bernstein, Pierre Boulez, and Aldo Ciccolini. Béreau was the one who passed on his passion to Lucie and coached her over a period of five years. Her next step was her move to Lausanne, Switzerland, where she completed her master’s degree in Orchestral Conducting in 2018.
On tour with Wax Taylor
Since 2014, Lucie has regularly performed with various orchestras in France and abroad. “One of my personal highlights so far was the collaboration with hip-hop producer Wax Taylor,” she remarks. The project is called ‘Wax Tailor & The Phonovisions Symphonic Orchestra’ and mixes hip-hop and classical music live on stage. The show is supported by impressive visual effects. “When I first received the request to begin a collaboration, I thought that Wax Taylor must be a musical tenor. It turned out that I was completely wrong,” she says while breaking out in laughter. What started off as a crazy idea became a success story with concert halls sold out all over France and a gig in Bogota, Colombia. A video of the show hit almost half a million views on YouTube. “It was an amazing experience and I would love to participate in more innovative projects like this in the future,” she says.
Summer in Verbier
One of Lucie’s next big projects will be her participation in the Verbier Festival Academy, taking place in July and August. The Verbier Festival is an international classical music event taking place each summer in the mountain town of Verbier, Switzerland. The Festival’s mission is to build a community of exchange between great masters and young artists from all over the world by providing meaningful music education programmes. The Academy identifies, encourages and nurtures the most talented solo pianists, violinists, violists, cellists, chamber ensembles, singers and orchestral musicians and conductors from around the world.
Lucie stood out from more than a hundred applicants and managed to obtain one of four spots in the Academy’s highly competitive conducting programme. “I applied for the Verbier Festival Academy because it’s one of the most important festivals of the world,” Lucie explains. According to Stephen McHolm, Director, Academy & Unlimited, she will have access to and be mentored by some of the most distinguished conductors of our time while in Verbier, will be encouraged to identify what makes her style unique and, from being around a who’s who in the music business, network and develop essential skills to help her propel her career even further forward. "I’ve never been to Verbier and am very excited to come back to Switzerland. I expect it to be a wonderful experience and hope to make a lot of new friends and important connections,” Lucie remarks. After having seen her performance with the Orchestre de Picardie in Amiens, we are sure that we will hear pins drop again.
Julius Baer and the Verbier Festival
Bank Julius Baer has been a supporter of the Festival’s Artist Training Programmes since 2010, and, since 2016 has been a Principal Festival Sponsor. Julius Baer shares the Verbier Festival’s commitment to future generations through the development of young talents. The support ranges from a financial engagement and organisation of a ‘basics of financial management’ seminar for Academy and Orchestra musicians to producing a documentary mini-series about a young musician on her transformative journey as part of the Academy.