Chantal Leverton - Viola
SPORTY and clever, Chantal Leverton, who won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, is passionate that Escala should become role models to help break down prejudices among the young about classical instruments.
“It is so important to show children that it can be cool to play them.
“It does work because after the finals of Britain’s Got Talent, I went back to the school where I taught and so many girls and boys who had seen us on television came up said how they really wanted to learn viola and would I teach them.”
Chantal was seven when she was introduced to music. “My mother took me to a music shop and asked what instrument I would like to play. I picked up a violin because I’d heard them in The Proms which were on at the time and I’ve never looked back.”
Brought up in north London, the daughter of a lawyer, she was educated at King Alfred’s, a progressive independent school in Hampstead. She took music seriously – at the age of 12 she started attending the junior department of Trinity College of Music.
When she was 16, a teacher encouraged her to switch to the viola and it was the following year that the importance of music hit her.
“I auditioned for the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and it was the first time I realised what I had got myself into. There were 250 young musicians in the hall who knew each other from the previous year and were taking it very seriously. I decided to go with it but it was sink or swim time.”
She spent two years with the orchestra, making appearances at the Barbican Centre and the Royal Festival Hall, before her scholarship to the Royal Academy. And then, two years into the course, she had to make a tough decision when she was invited to join a new manufactured crossover band, Wild. Fatefully, she decided to go, Wild made a recording but didn’t last long. “I had decided that if you get any opportunity in this business, you take it. You can go back to college later.”
Chantal was hired to join a string quartet to back the boy band McFly on a UK tour. The other members were Izzy, Tas and Victoria. The foursome got on so well that when the tour was over they decided to stick together. Escala was born.
“I value the chemistry and friendship between us so much. It is amazing to perform with my best friends and to experience this journey with them.”
After Escala reached the final of Britain’s Got Talent and won a contract with Sony BMG, she says: “We’re incredibly happy. Not to sound arrogant, but I feel we deserve it as a group. We have put in so much discipline and dedication and I am so glad that we have been recognised.”