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Biography

Leslie B. Dunner, conductor

One of the premiere American conductors of his generation, Leslie B. Dunner enjoys an international career, distinguished by the breadth of his repertoire as well as his electrifying and critically lauded performances.

Celebrating his inaugural season as Principal Conductor of The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, Leslie B. Dunner's current season is also highlighted by performances with the Evansville and Prince George's Philharmonic Orchestras, San Jose's Symphony Silicon Valley and Chicago Sinfonietta, as well as another three-week engagement with the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra and debuts with the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra and Cape Philharmonic Orchestra. Of special note is Dr. Dunner's return to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra for a gala concert celebrating the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture. This special program, including Bill Cosby, Nnenna Freelon, James Earl Jones, Montel Williams, the Morgan State University Choir and the Sandtown Children of Praise, will be seen and heard worldwide.

Early in 1999, Leslie B. Dunner ended an 11-season association with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, having held the posts of Resident, Associate and Assistant Conductor. During this time, he led the Orchestra in every type of program, from subscription and tour concerts to Pops, Educational and Young People's Concerts. In addition to leading successful performances during the DSO's 1998 tour of Japan, he served as producer of its 1997 holiday CD, Joy! In 1999, his live-recording performance of Alvin Singleton's BluesKonzert with pianist Ursula Oppens and the DSO was released to critical acclaim on the album Ellington and the Great Masters.

From 1996-1999, Dr. Dunner was Music Director of Canada's Symphony Nova Scotia; subsequently, he served five seasons as Music Director of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, where he reinvigorated that institution and brought it national recognition for its artistic achievements, wide-ranging programming, composer-in-residence forum and innovative educational experiences.

From 1994 through 2001, Leslie B. Dunner served as an assistant conductor to Kurt Masur and the New York Philharmonic, accompanying them in this capacity on their 1995 10-city European tour. From 1987 to 1994, he was Music Director of the Detroit Symphony Civic and Dearborn Symphony Orchestras, Music Advisor for the Harlem Festival Orchestra and a cover conductor for Erich Leinsdorf at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In addition, he was Principal Conductor of the renowned Dance Theatre of Harlem, leading performances throughout North and South America, The United Kingdom (including a gala performance for Diana, Princess of Wales), Austria's Salzburg Festival, Denmark's Tivoli Festival, the former Soviet Union and on the troupe‚s historic 1992 debut tour of South Africa, during which they performed in the presence of Nelson Mandela. With DTH he also served as music advisor for several European television productions.

Leslie B. Dunner's guest conducting engagements have taken him around the globe. He has conducted the New York and Louisiana Philharmonics, the Atlanta, Baltimore, Charlotte, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Delaware, Grant Park, Hartford, Indianapolis, Madison, Nashville, National, New Haven. New Jersey, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Richmond, Saint Louis, San Antonio, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco and Seattle Symphony Orchestras, Baltimore and San Diego

Chamber Orchestras and the Cleveland, Minnesota and Louisville Orchestras. He has also led performances by the Edmonton, Québec and Windsor Symphony Orchestras and the Mexico City Philharmonic. Abroad, he has conducted Russia's St. Petersburg Philharmonic and Camerata, the Estonian National Symphony, South Africa's National and Transvaal Symphony Orchestras and KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra Sinfonica dell'Emilia-Romagna "Arturo Toscanini" in Italy and the Symphony Orchestra of Madrid on tour in Portugal. In 1996, he stepped in as a last-minute replacement for Lord Yehudi Menuhin on the Warsaw Sinfonia's debut tour of South Africa, earning enthusiastic critical acclaim for three "Mostly Beethoven" programs.

Equally at home with ballet and opera, Leslie B. Dunner has led performances with American Ballet Theatre (at New York City‚s City Center and The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC), Dance Theatre of Harlem, New York City Ballet, The Washington Ballet, The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago (in Chicago and at Los Angeles‚ Dorothy Chandler Pavilion), The Royal Ballet at Covent Garden, The Birmingham Royal Ballet (at home and on tour throughout England), Michigan Opera Theatre, State Ballet of Missouri, Ballet Internationale and South Africa's PACT Ballet, while opera productions have been conducted in Pretoria, South Africa and with Opera Ebony in New York City.

Leslie B. Dunner is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including both the "Distinguished Achievement" and "James Weldon Johnson" awards from the NAACP, the 1996 "Distinguished Young Alumnus" award from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, proclamations and commendations from city and state chambers throughout Maryland, Michigan and New York as well as the National Association of Negro Musicians. In Detroit, he has also received the "Man of the Year" and "Spirit of Detroit" awards from Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. Dr. Dunner was the first winner of the Colorado Philharmonic National Conducting

Competition and the first American prize-winner of the prestigious Arturo Toscanini International Conducting Competition. In 1994, he was chosen to participate in the American Symphony Orchestra League's "Leonard Bernstein American Conductors' Program."

A native New Yorker, Leslie B. Dunner holds advanced degrees in music from the University of Cincinnati‚s College-Conservatory of Music, Queens College in New York City and the University of Rochester's Eastman School of Music.

When not conducting, Leslie B. Dunner composes and performs as a clarinetist. As a clarinetist, he has been heard in the United States and throughout Canada on CBC Radio, while his compositions have been successfully performed, throughout the United States and abroad. His Motherless Child Songs, recorded by the Minnesota Composers Forum, are available on the Innova label, and his 1993 recording with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra, Magical, Mystical Mouse (music from animated films), is available on the Pro Arte label.

   

 

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