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Seminarian Justin Leedy Earns Gonzaga Music Degree, Wins Gold at Musicfest Northwest

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SPOKANE, Wash.  – Seminarian Justin Leedy earned a bachelor’s degree in music from Gonzaga University on Sunday, May 12, and the next day, May 13, captured first place in the Young Artist Division for Guitar at Musicfest Northwest. A few days later, on May 15, the native of Kodiak Island, Alaska was among six finalists chosen to perform in Musicfest’s Young Artist Concert with the Spokane Symphony at the Bing Crosby Theater.

Leedy was instructed in guitar by Gonzaga music faculty Mellad Abeid and Michael Millham. The guitarist said another form of music has contributed most to his musicianship.

“The biggest help I’ve had in really understanding music has been learning Gregorian chant and singing it in the context of the Holy Mass and the divine office,” Leedy said. The divine office consists of the canonical prayers recited daily by priests. Leedy, the oldest of seven children, has learned the prayers through his priestly studies at Bishop White Seminary.

Leedy’s path toward the priesthood has been a circuitous one. He attended Gonzaga from 2005 to 2009 before taking a hiatus from school to contemplate a calling to the priesthood. While living in the Methow Valley of Washington state, he decided to enter priestly formation and returned to Gonzaga and Bishop White Seminary, located on Gonzaga’s campus. Leedy’s mother, Chelli Leedy, is a 1987 Gonzaga alumna; his uncle Mitchell Short is a Gonzaga University school of Law alumnus.

Musicfest Northwest, held at Gonzaga, is the largest festival of its kind in United States and includes musicians and dancers from elementary to postgraduate school. A panel of judges gives all participants a written and oral evaluation of their performances. The Young Artist Section is for more advanced musicians; division winners have an opportunity to receive scholarships. The highly respected Young Artist competition has produced some leaders in the artistic world, including renowned baritones Thomas Hampson and Frank Hernandez; symphony concertmaster Kelly Farris; pianists Stephen Drury and Greg Presley; mezzo-soprano Linda Adams Caple; and violinist Jason Moody – among others.

For more information, please contact Kevin Hekmatpanah, associate professor of music at Gonzaga, at (509) 313- 6734 or via e-mail.

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