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Barrie pianist about to realize childhood dream

Amanda MacLeod finally gets her chance to play 'a magnificent piece of music' in front of an audience
Amanda big eyes
Barrie pianist Amanda MacLeod will play a concert with the Barrie Concert Band this summer. Sue Sgambati/BarrieToday

Amanda MacLeod started playing the piano when she was four years old and hasn't stopped.

The accomplished pianist practices every day for her "sanity," using an electronic piano with headphones for the sanity of her neighbours. 

"When I'm behind my instrument I feel most at home," said MacLeod.  "That is the person that I am"

MacLeod returned to Barrie four years ago after travels that included a stint in college in Toronto, two years playing on cruise ships and a year in Argentina. 

She has a relationship with a keyboard but it's difficult to articulate the magnetism of instrument to musician. 

The spell goes beyond slim fingers touching ivory keys. 

"It's bizarre in a lot of ways," she smiles turning thoughtful. "It's just becomes you and that instrument. It's like a constant sense of discovery. The world disappears if you're in that right place. It's just you and the sounds."

The 27-year old will be joining the Barrie Concert Band again as a special guest pianist for a show in June titled "Gershwin!"

MacLeod's face lights up with excitement as she explains they'll be playing Rhapsody in Blue.

The 20-minute long Gershwin composition from 1924 combines elements of classical music with jazz-influenced effects.

"It's a magnificent piece of music," MacLeod said. "From childhood it's the song I've always wanted to play for an audience. It's a really neat piece to play on piano."

During her first performance with the Barrie Concert Band last year, MacLeod played solo but this year her role will be part of the band in a "team effort."

MacLeod says she started to learn the iconic composition in January. 

"The longer you spend with it the more you get to internalize it," she explained. "Then it's more than just what's on the page."

The soft-spoken, humble talent says she suffers from "the worst stage fright ever" and is very grateful to be among those who make a living through music.

She currently teaches music in Barrie and at Base Borden, works with choirs, bands and does studio sessions.  

Barrie's music community is strong and has allowed her to flourish, she says. 

She has mentors but her family gets special credit when it comes to her musical career.

 "They had to put up with me," she laughs. "It's not easy living with a musician because you play all the time. Makes people crazy. Ask my father. He was a very patient man."


Sue Sgambati

About the Author: Sue Sgambati

Sue has had a 30-year career in journalism working for print, radio and TV. She is a proud member of the Barrie community.
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