By Chrystal Smith (USAG Wiesbaden)July 21, 2011
WIESBADEN, Germany - One piano hopeful took his place in the front pew careful not to miss a note of “A Patriot’s Rhapsody.”
From the first pressing of the ivory keys, the audience members were captivated by the music flowing from the heart of a military mom.
Dr. Denine LeBlanc treated an audience of Wiesbaden community members to a piano concert July 9 in the Hainerberg Chapel that featured a mixture of spiritual hymns, classical compositions and Disney tunes.
“It’s a delight for me to do these concerts,” said LeBlanc, who said she looks forward to future opportunities to play for the military and their families.
A lot like the life of a Soldier, the chosen pieces were passionate, fast moving, then slow and careful, and suddenly powerful and vigorous. The featured compositions moved softly and delicately then focused and aggressive, showcasing the longtime music educator and performer’s technical aptitude.
The concert opened with renditions of traditional Christian hymns such as “Rejoice the Lord is King,” “Amazing Grace” and “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” seasoned with a classical styling.
Playing from memory, Leblanc gave the audience a taste of classical compositions by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Frederic Chopin and Franz Liszt.
She changed the pace and engaged the audience, testing its knowledge of Disney tunes. As she played you could see the consternation of many who either knew the movie, the song or the composer. “This one’s my favorite,” said Jennifer Hamrick as LeBlanc keyed the first notes of “A Whole New World.” “Is the composer Alan Menken?”
The concert culminated with two familiar compositions to American music lovers " Margaret Bonds’ “Troubled Waters” and George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.”
“I wanted to create a lot of different moods to inspire Soldiers and the audience,” said LeBlanc, whose son recently returned from Afghanistan.
As the concert ended, there was evidence in the eyes of the young enthusiast that her goal was achieved.
“I want to learn to play the piano,” said Carson Hamrick when asked by LeBlanc, and whose mother said it was his plan to attend the concert.
And while LeBlanc sought to inspire, she said she also gained more insight into the military during the three-community tour that included Vilseck and Grafenwöhr.
“Doing these concerts has made me much more aware of what the military has done,” she said, admitting that she was extremely apprehensive of the idea of her son, who is now 20 years old, joining the Army. “I really appreciated the structure and discipline in the military. … I don’t always see that in the civilian world.”
As Leblanc concluded, she left hopeful musicians and parents with a bit of advice.
“Practice five times a week,” said the accomplished musician who has been playing since the age of 8, encouraging parents to take advantage of their children’s motivation to learn to play a musical instrument. “The hardest part is getting to the piano. Get into a routine in order to stay in good physical and technical shape.”
Additionally, LeBlanc gave $400, on behalf of her students, parishioners and others from the United States, to the chaplaincy. She also performed for congregants the following morning