Conductor of the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra, Leslie B. Dunner has also been artistic / music director of the South Shore Opera since 2014 and resident conductor of New Jersey’s Trilogy Opera since 2018. He conducted Long Beach Opera in the world premiere of Anthony Davis’s historical work The Central Park Five, which received the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in Music, and his 2013 production of William Grant Still’s Troubled Island was rated No.1 by the Chicago Sun-Times for Chicago’s best classical music / opera moments of 2013.
In 2014 Dunner led the premiere of Nkeiru Okoye’s Harriet Tubman with American Opera Projects. Other engagements include South Africa’s PACT Opera (Johannesburg), Starlight Pop Opera with the KZN Philharmonic (Natal), Mexico’s Opera / Ballet Gala in Bizet’s Carmen for the 2011 International Pan Am Games, and Opera Africa’s 2007 tour of Mzilikazi Khumalo’s Princess Magogo kaDinuzulu at Den Norske Opera in Oslo, Norway.
Dunner has conducted virtually every major orchestra in America over his career. An avid ballet conductor, he’s been the Joffrey Ballet’s music director and Louisville Ballet’s principal conductor; led performances for Princess Diana and Nelson Mandela, among others, with Dance Theatre of Harlem; and guest conducted London’s Royal Ballet, Birmingham’s Royal Ballet, South African Ballet Theatre, and Michigan Opera Theater. In 2013 he served as interim music director of the Jalisco Philharmonic in Guadalajara.
Leslie B. Dunner judged The International Jordania Conducting Competition in Ukraine, where in 2003 he had been the first and only multiple prize winner, receiving the orchestra, audience, and founder’s favorite prizes. His honors include the NAACP’s Distinguished Achievement and James Weldon Johnson Awards, National Association of Negro Musicians Charles Stone award, proclamations from New York, Michigan, and Maryland, and he has been named Cincinnati Conservatory’s Distinguished Young Alumnus, Detroit’s Man of the Year, and Spirit of Detroit.
A clarinetist and composer, Dunner performs in the United States and abroad. His Motherless Child Songs are available, on Innova, and Magical, Mystical Mouse (San Diego Symphony), on Pro Arte. He performed Alvin Singleton’s BluesKonzert with pianist Ursula Oppens and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra with Neeme Järvi on the critically acclaimed album Ellington and the Great Masters, on Chandos. On his two most recent recordings, he leads works by Mary Watkins and Florence Price for the Center for Black Music Research, on Albany records.
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