From fiddler to classical violinist

Alicia Ingalls is the recipient of the 2021 Arts and Letters Club Scholarship to the Royal Conservatory of Music.  She grew up in Fredericton, New Brunswick where, at age three, she fell in love with the violin.  “I was at a Sunday market in Fredericton and saw buskers playing fiddle music,” she says.  “I asked my mom to play violin.  She gave me a ukulele at first.  But then I started lessons in fiddle at age four.”

Ingalls used to busk herself in Fredericton, playing fiddle tunes.  Having attended a French public school, when her family moved to Ottawa three years ago she went to L’école secondaire publique De La Salle which has an arts/music focus.  “I could take a violin/string class.  I still play fiddle music – it’s more relaxing to play than classical music.  There is less pressure.”

Her favourite composers are Bach and Tchaikovsky.  “The Bach solo violin pieces are so philosophical and individual.  They are meditative,” Ingalls says. “You can explore what you like with each of them.  No two people play them the same way.”  She appreciates the Tchaikovsky’s compositions for their technical aspects. “I like the flares and passion of his music.”

Ingalls has had her own challenges studying music during the pandemic.  “I didn’t realize how much I was missing.  All my lessons were online,” she said.

Asked with whom she would study she chose violin virtuoso Jascha Heifitz and violin teacher Ivan Galamian. “Heifitz’s style of playing is not very popular now but I’ve always found it to be impressive,” she says.  “The emotion is internal and runs through the violin rather than through showy movements.  He is also impressive technically.”

A teacher at the Juilliard School and founder of the Meadowmount School of Music in upstate New York, Galamian was renowned as a scholar and teacher.  Among his pupils were Itzhak Perlman and Pinchas Zukerman.  “Much of the music we’re playing today was edited for bowing and fingering by him,” Ingalls says.

As for which composer she would like to have met, she selected Ludwig van Beethoven in part because, for a renowned composer, there is much about the man that is still a mystery. “We know so much about the struggles Beethoven went through without knowing him personally.”

Ingalls has had her own challenges studying music during CoVID.  The fall of her first year of the pandemic was her first year at the Glenn Gould School (GGS). “I didn’t realize how much I was missing.  All my lessons were online,” she said.  “This year we have lessons in person. I was able to do my solo recital in person.  It is so much better to be able to hear people practicing next to you.”

Ingalls hopes to go back to class in person for the rest of her second year at GGS.  She is studying with Mayumi Seiler.  Ingalls hopes to take part in a summer camp at the end of this school year.  “I’ve applied to the NYO as well as a camp in Germany and one in Japan.”

Ultimately Ingalls’ goal is making a living as a musician. “I do want to study more — do my Master’s and possibly a doctorate. I have been focused on playing but it’s important to understand what you’re playing.  I also enjoy teaching so I might do that and play chamber music.”

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