“I believe it is beyond important for youth to have leadership opportunities,” said Malena Lorenson, 2019 NUFSICISUM Award winner from Red Deer, AB. “Leadership helps youth see their impact on the world, and understand that it is possible thanks to their strengths and skills… In music programs, leadership opportunities develop better musicians and ensembles, as it encourages everybody to consider how they define success in their music and motivates them to put effort in what they do.  It helps students understand the importance of music in everybody’s life which improves the environment and overall relationship of the ensemble.”

Malena, a bass trombonist and Grade 11 student, knows a thing or two about leadership in music. According to her music teacher, she takes every musical opportunity available to her, is an active member of her school’s band and choir programs, and serves as part of the music program’s leadership team. In the fall of 2018, on the recommendation of her teacher, Malena participated in a music student leadership conference. She left with many new insights and ideas, and was able to implement what she learned in her band program. 

She credits being a part of her school’s music program with helping her to overcome her shyness, and said that “when I felt welcome in the music community, I felt comfortable talking openly to any musician and have become less shy in school classes and other environments.” The positive experiences she’s had in her music program have shaped her views on what it means to be a leader, especially in music. “I believe music leadership means creating a welcoming and safe environment to everybody in the program and helping yourself and others do their best to succeed in the ensemble.” 

In addition to being an active member of her school’s music program, Malena is also involved in the music community outside of school. She takes private lessons from trombonist Dr. Jim Bicigo, and is the trombone section leader and assistant concertmaster for the Red Deer Royals Marching Show Band, a community band that performs locally and throughout Alberta, and sometimes internationally. Malena had an eventful summer with the Royals, first competing in the World Championships of Marching Showbands at the Calgary Stampede, and then performing in a tour of England and Ireland. She also spent time performing in Alberta with her dixieland combo Wildrose Dixie, a group that she formed with some friends in the summer of 2018.

Malena has a lot to look forward to this year. In the fall she will join the inaugural Alberta Jazz Ensemble honour band, and she’ll continue to be involved with as many school and community ensembles as possible. She will also be visiting Cuba with her school’s band and choir programs, performing in the Red Deer Festival of the Performing Arts, and conducting the Red Deer Royals in a piece of her choice, which she may compose herself! 

Looking beyond her high school years, Malena hopes to continue her music education at the post-secondary level (she is putting her $200 NUFSICISUM prize towards tuition). She doesn’t know yet what school she’d like to attend, but she’s already doing her research, and is “open to any school with a good brass performance program.” In the meantime, she’ll be busy practicing, performing, and continuing her leadership roles. Leadership, she acknowledges, is hard work. But it’s work that is valuable and always worth it. “You gain what you give to it.”