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Leona Francombe

Brussels-based pianist and author Leona Francombe has pursued music and writing all her life. Guided by these twin muses, she can be found most days searching for narrative in music and melody in words.

“Waterloo Meditation” is a companion piece Leona composed for her novel "The Sage of Waterloo", published by W.W. Norton in June 2015. The ancient farm of Hougoumont was a pivotal site during the Battle of Waterloo, and has been restored to its pre-battle condition to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the conflict. It was the haunting atmosphere of the old, crumbling farm, however, that inspired the setting for "The Sage of Waterloo". Leona performed her composition to accompany a series of photographs by digital artist Nicholas Maxson. The result is the music video also entitled “Waterloo Meditation”.

Leona was born in England of Czech and English parents and grew up in the United States, where she graduated magna cum laude from Bryn Mawr College and received a Master’s degree from Yale School of Music. In 1987, she was invited to Belgium by the European Cultural Foundation to create and perform with an international chamber ensemble, Concorde East/West, for which she also received grants from UNESCO and the Franz Josef Foundation of Liechtenstein. She has lived in Brussels with her family ever since.

As pianist, Leona has given solo recitals in the U.S., Czech Republic, Belgium, England, Germany and France, and performed in collaboration with: The Prague String Quartet, Prague Chamber Orchestra, Fine Arts Quartet, Marienbad Symphony Orchestra, Lewes Concert Orchestra, South Bohemian Chamber Philharmonic, among others. She gave her debut with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra at the age of sixteen.

Most of Leona’s essays and fiction are inspired by European themes and moods. Her writing has appeared in Writers’ Forum, Symphony Magazine, The Bulletin, Humanities Magazine, UNESCO’s Reflections, Explore Magazine and Banff Letters, among others. In 2010, she was asked to write and record a series of European essays for Wisconsin Public Radio for the show “Here on Earth”, hosted by Jean Feraca. Her first novel, "Dancing with Swans", was published in German translation by Goldmann Verlag in 2013.