Lesley Leighton, Cal State San Bernardino assistant professor of music and director of choral activities, has been named principal guest conductor of the San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra.
“As the San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra continues to expand, it is critical that we add a world-class principal guest conductor to share artistic responsibilities on the podium and give our orchestra and our audience an extra musical perspective,” Anthony Parnther, the orchestra’s music director and conductor, said in a news release.
“In this role, Maestra Leighton will serve as a cover, share concerts with me and begin to conduct on her own SBSO series as we branch out into the Inland Empire even further,” he said. “We’re all tremendously excited to have an artist of her caliber joining the ranks of our organization.”
Leighton, who has collaborated with Parnther before both on the stage and in the studio, said she is looking forward to what they can bring together to the music scene in the Inland Empire.
“I am super excited to be working with my good friend and fantastic conductor, Anthony Parnther, artistic director of SBSO, and with all of the wonderful players of the symphony,” she said.
Leighton is also looking forward to working with executive director Anne Viricel and board president Dean McVay, who, she says, “have brought the orchestra into the Inland Empire spotlight through their combined vision.”
Leighton served as the associate conductor of the Los Angeles Master Chorale, and taught at CSUSB, UCLA and La Sierra University before accepting a tenure track position as director of choral activities at CSUSB in the 2019-20 academic year.
Leighton is also the artistic director of the Los Robles Master Chorale. In addition to curating and conducting the Los Robles Master Chorale’s concert series each season, she has also prepared the organization for performances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, New West Symphony, American Youth Symphony and the San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra, among others.
Leighton has also prepared choirs for various conductors, including 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 venues.
She made her conducting debut with the Los Angeles Opera in the 2018-19 season with David Lang’s opera, “The Loser,” and her Los Angeles Philharmonic conducting debut with Lang’s “Crowd Out.”
Leighton has also performed as soprano with opera credits and principal appearances with New York City Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Köln Opera, Paris Opera and Glyndebourne.
Her voice can be heard on more than 100 film soundtracks, including most recently, “Captain Marvel,” the live action film “Mulan,” “Frozen II,” “The Secret Life of Pets” and the latest version of “The Lion King.”
A native of Los Angeles, Leighton studied conducting at Loyola Marymount University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in conducting. Following graduate conducting study at UCLA, she received a Master of Music degree in vocal performance and a doctorate in choral music, both from the University of Southern California.
To learn more about the San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra, visit its website.