Canadian pianist, Julien LeBlanc, dazzles with virtuosity and appealing enthusiasm. He is recognized for his great musical sensitivity and his ability to communicate the essence of the music. Based in Montreal, he is active on the Canadian musical scene equally as soloist, chamber music pianist and accompanist. Recently, he was critically acclaimed for his musical direction of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, presented by the “Against the Grain Theatre” in Toronto, and for his masterly interpretation of the work at the piano. He released his first solo piano recording, Mélancolies, in 2015.
“Guest music director Julien LeBlanc contributes fine piano accompaniment, playing with splendid feeling and authenticity, translucent, almost weightless in placid moments, orchestrally evocative in stormy, unbridled scenes. Pelléas et Mélisande’s five distinct mini-symphonic interludes are grippingly rendered. LeBlanc, a specialist in French repertoire is an artist of sweeping dimensions. Debussy, a pianist of no small accomplishment himself, would unquestionably agree.” (Opera Going Toronto) In 2002, Julien LeBlanc was awarded the Emerging Artist of the Year prize by the Arts Foundation of New Brunswick. Following his debut at the National Arts Centre (Ottawa) in 2003, he undertook a series of concerts including touring Canada with violinist Marc Djokic for Debut Atlantic and Jeunesses Musicales.
His concerts are broadcasted regularly on Espace Musique and CBC. He has received numerous grants from the Canada Council and the Province of New Brunswick. In recent years, Julien appeared at numerous festivals, in particular at theAcadémie Musicale de Villecroze (France) as well as in the series Été Musical de l’Église historique de Barachois (NB) where, since 2012, he acts as co-Artistic Director. Other New Brunswick festivals include theFestival de Musique de Chambre de la Baie-des-Chaleurs, theFestival Acadien de Caraquet and the NB Summer Music Festival in Fredericton. Music lovers also had the pleasure to hear him at theFestival de musique de chambre de Lachine (QC), at Festivoix (Trois-Rivières), the Indian River Festival (PEI), Three Churches Festival at Mahone Bay (NS), as well as the Elora Festival (Ontario) and Music and Beyond (Ottawa).
Julien is a founding member of the Trio Arkaède with violinist, Isabelle Fournier and flutist, Karin Aurell, dating from 2006. The broadcast of their first concert on CBC was so well received that it was released as a CD in 2008. In June of 2014, the Trio released a second CD, entitled “Tour de France”, dedicated to works by lesser-known French composers. Critics have responded to this Trio’s playing by “full of beauty and serenity, evoking perfectly and with style the ambiance of a concert performed in a French salon”. (Scena Musicale) Julien is particularly involved with the human voice, and collaborates with several Canadian singers such as soprano, Nathalie Paulin, with whom he has given several recitals of French songs and lieder, and with baritone, Peter McGillivray. He has appeared frequently with McGillivray in a whimsical program of opera arias and melodies entitled “Rogues, Rascals and Rapscallions”. In the autumn of 2014, Julien was touring the Maritime Provinces with soprano Miriam Khalil and mezzo soprano Lauren Segal, under the auspices of Debut Atlantic.
Julien has given master classes at several universities including Prince Edward Island, UNB in Fredericton, Dalhousie in Halifax, Memorial in St. John’s and the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. He has adjudicated at music festivals in Sackville (NB), the NB Competitive Festival in Saint John (NB), the Halifax Kiwanis Festival, the Greater Moncton Music Festival and at the provincial final competitions in both New Brunswick and Newfoundland. From 2005 to 2009 he was Artist in Residence at UNB in Fredericton; has taught at the Université de Moncton and was vocal coach at the Glenn Gould School in Toronto and the Université of Montréal. Currently, he is accompanist and vocal coach at McGill University.
Among his prizes in music competitions Julien counts First Prize in 2000 at the Concours musical du Cercle des Cent-associés in Montreal,Second Prize in the National Music Festival in Halifax and First Prize in the Ludmilla Knezkova-Hussey International Piano Competition in two successive years, 1994 and 1995.
Julien studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London, the Glenn Gould School in Toronto and the Université de Montréal. His principal teachers were Marc Durand, André Laplante, Malcolm Martineau and Paul Stewart. He has participated in several master classes in Europe, Canada and the United States, and was fortunate to have been able to work with Dalton Baldwin, Leon Fleisher, Susan Manoff, John Perry, Craig Rutenberg and Roger Vignoles.
Julien’s special interest is the French repertoire, particularly the music of Francis Poulenc. He is equally greatly appreciated for his interpretations of the romantic and modern repertoires.