Meet "Leicestershire's very own answer to Gareth Malone". Lesia Smaditch may not look anything like the TV choirmaster, but when it comes to bringing communities together through singing, her and Gareth have a lot in common.
Having studied choral conducting with the Association of British Choral Directors, Lesia now conducts three adult choirs and a children's choir as part of Musical Village.
Earlier this year, Lesia's efforts in encouraging choral singing in the community were recognised when she was given an award by outgoing High Sheriff of Leicestershire, Richard Brooks, who likened her to Mr Malone.
There are not many hours in Lesia's life which aren't taken up by music - be it conducting, performing or arranging it. Lesia, who grew up in Manchester and now lives with her family in Leicester Forest East, has always been involved in community music, playing in orchestras, singing in choirs and performing as a soloist.
These days, much of Lesia's time is spent in St Andrew's Church, where two of her choirs rehearse and where many performances have taken place in the five years since Musical Village began.
With the church having an integral role in the life of Musical Village, it's no wonder it's Lesia's favourite Leicestershire location.
"Although it's not the most architecturally beautiful church in Leicestershire, St Andrew's has always been very welcoming and it's where I feel happiest, apart from home," says Lesia.
"I've conducted the Musical Village choirs and sung with them and the Bach Choir in many places in the city and county, including the cathedral, St Mary de Castro, St James the Greater, the Ukrainian Church, the Y Theatre and Brockington College. I love working in them all and some of them are architecturally very beautiful and represent so much of Leicester's long history.
"However, I started my first community choir at St Andrew's and I now work there several times a week.
"The church community is very welcoming. They believed in us from the beginning. For me, it has become a second home. I feel comfortable there and the work we do is very satisfying for everyone."
When she's not busy with the choirs, Lesia - who plays the violin and piano - teaches singing, recorder, violin and piano privately, and teaches singing, piano and the music curriculum at St Crispin's School, in Stoneygate.
Her musical passion is shared with her family. Husband Ihor plays the piano and accordion, son Christian, 14, plays the piano and French horn, eldest daughter Natalka, 13, plays the oboe and piano, while youngest daughter Sophia, 10, plays the bassoon and piano and is studying at Chetham's School of Music. All the family sing in Musical Village choirs.
"I'm very proud of what the choirs have achieved and the pleasure it brings to individual choir members and our audiences," she says.
"St Andrew's is where we have done so much. I go there with a smile and come away with so much more. It has been lovely to see so many people come together there, and even more for our concerts, especially at Christmastime."
.M: info: Musical Village's Christmas concert will take place on Sunday, December 15, at Brockington College, Enderby, beginning at 2.30pm. Tickets bought in advance are Pounds 5 adult, Pounds 2.50 children aged five to 16. Tickets on the door are Pounds 7 adult, Pounds 3 child 5-16.
Call Lesia on 07894 073621 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE JEWEL IN COUNTY'S CROWN? Go to: leicestermercury.co.uk/more
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