Leila Kelleher

March 15, 2009


Eastman alumni and Orchestral Studies Diploma certificate recipient, Australian violist Leila Kelleher is building an international reputation for her energy and versatility as a performer. She has appeared as a soloist with the Norwood Symphony, Elder Conservatorium Chamber Orchestra, and the Melbourne String Ensemble in both their Melbourne series and on their 2005 tour of Germany. Leila studied at the Elder Conservatorium in Adelaide, Australia and then completed her Masters degree and Orchestral Studies diploma at the Eastman School of Music.

Leila was Principal Viola with the Adelaide Art Orchestra from 2001 until her departure from Australia in 2005 and also performed regularly with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra including a contract for the acclaimed 2004 Adelaide Ring Cycle. While in Rochester, NY, she performed with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra both as a substitute player and in her capacity as an orchestral intern. In 2008, Leila gained a position as section viola with Orchestra London Canada. She currently lives in London, Ontario with her husband Peter, a music professor, and baby Eleanor.

What got you interested in the IML and the Orchestral Studies Diploma (OSD) program?

The IML was one of the main reasons I wanted to attend Eastman. I was concerned about my employability with a music degree and felt that the IML and OSD program would better prepare me for my career since performing positions are becoming scarcer.

How have your studies and experiences in the OSD program helped you in your professional career?

The Orchestral Studies Diploma gave me valuable experience in both performance and administration with the Rochester Philharmonic. After I completed my degree, I moved to London, Ontario, Canada and was able to get a position as Marketing Manager with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony. Without my amazing experience at the RPO with Amy Blum, this would have never been possible. Working on excerpts with Melissa Matson was also extremely valuable. She helped me gain confidence in my audition technique and I was able to prepare successfully for the Orchestra London audition when it was held.

What advice would you give to current students?

Don’t underestimate the experience and skills you learn in the internships. Even if you think you’re heading for an orchestral career, learn as much as you can from RPO administration. They are all experts in their field and who knows where you will end up? Life is unpredictable and orchestras are not the secure institutions they once were!

What skills did you gain from the OSD program that have served you well in your career?

I was able to really hone my excerpts with Melissa Matson. Her attention to detail and audition panel experience really informed me about what panels are listening for. Mock auditions also helped me deal with audition nerves and I now feel confident in my ability to independently prepare for auditions. This definitely helped me win my current position with Orchestra London.

What does Arts Leadership mean to you and your career?

Simply being a great player isn’t always enough these days as orchestras fold and live musicians are replaced with synthesizers. Having arts leadership means that you are able to find your own niche career as it isn’t always possible to have the job security that was once available. As I live in a regional city, it’s important to me to be multi-skilled and entrepreneurial.