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Leighton, Dr. Lesley

Lesley Leighton

Principal Guest Conductor


Lesley Leighton, noted conductor, singer, and music educator, is the Artistic Director of the Los Robles Master Chorale, and Director of Choral Activities at Cal State San Bernardino. Leighton has earned high praise from music critics for her “ravishing” (Los Angeles Times) conducting that leaves audiences “mesmerized” (Orange County Register) and merits “enduring applause” (Asia Journal). About one particular performance with Los Angeles Master Chorale, the Huffington Post proclaimed, “The Chorale’s Lesley Leighton stole (the) show.” In addition to curating and conducting the Los Robles Master Chorale’s own concert series each season, she has prepared LRMC for appearances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, New West Symphony, San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra, and American Youth Symphony, among others.

In addition to her work with Los Robles Master Chorale, Leighton has enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with the world-renowned Los Angeles Master Chorale, based at Walt Disney Concert Hall, for which she was named assistant conductor in 2010 and, a year later, was promoted to associate conductor, the first in the organization’s history, a post she held from 2011 to 2016. She regularly conducted the Los Angeles Master Chorale Chamber Singers and also created Los Angeles Master Chorale’s first Young Composer’s Competition in 2016, conducting the world premiere of the winning composition at the annual High School Choir Festival in April 2016 at Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Additionally, Leighton, a “seasoned musician” (USC News), has earned tremendous respect within the music industry for preparing choirs for Gustavo Dudamel, Esa-Pekka Salonen, John Adams, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Bramwell Tovey, Leonard Slatkin, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Grant Gershon for performances at the Hollywood Bowl, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Royce Hall, and Shrine Auditorium, among other major venues.

Leighton made her Los Angeles Opera and Los Angeles Philharmonic conducting debuts in the 2018-19 Season, conducting David Lang’s opera the loser, and his work for a 1000 voices, crowd out, respectively, in addition to preparing Los Robles Master Chorale for Ojai Festival (Stravinsky’s Rake’s Progress), Los Angeles Philharmonic (Lang’s crowd out), New West Symphony (Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky), and San Bernardino Symphony (John Wineglass world premiere Voices of the West). 

A principal solo artist for more than two decades, Leighton has performed as a soprano with many of the world’s eminent conductors, including Salonen, Dudamel, Tovey, and Frühbeck de Burgos, Pierre Boulez, Zubin Mehta, Lorin Maazel, and Simon Rattle. Her opera credits include principal appearances with New York City Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Köln Opera, Paris Opera, and Glyndebourne. Her voice can also be heard on more than 100 major film soundtracks, including most recently, Captain Marvel, Mulan, Sing2, The Secret Life of Pets, and Lion King.

A native of Los Angeles, Leighton studied conducting at Loyola Marymount University, where she graduated with a B.A. in conducting. Following graduate conducting a study at UCLA, she earned an M.M. in vocal performance, and a D.M.A. in choral music, both from the University of Southern California.

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