David Leisner

Performance Year: 2015

David Leisner is an extraordinarily versatile musician with a multifaceted career as an electrifying performing artist, a distinguished composer, and a master teacher—”Aamong the finest guitarists of all time,” according to American Record Guide. David Leisner’s career began auspiciously with top prizes in both the 1975 Toronto and 1981 Geneva International Guitar Competitions. His recent seasons have taken him around the US, including his solo debut with the Atlanta Symphony, a major tour of Australia and New Zealand, and debuts and reappearances in Japan, the Philippines, much of Europe, Puerto Rico and Mexico. An innovative three-concert series at Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall included the first all-Bach guitar recital in New York’s history. Currently he is the artistic director of Guitar Plus, a New York series devoted to chamber music with the guitar.

Celebrated for expanding the guitar repertoire, David Leisner has premiered works by many important composers, including David Del Tredici, Virgil Thomson, Ned Rorem, Philip Glass, Richard Rodney Bennett, Peter Sculthorpe and Osvaldo Golijov, while championing the works of neglected 19th-century guitar composers J.K. Mertz and Wenzeslaus Matiegka.

A featured recording artist for Azica Records, Leisner has released seven highly acclaimed solo CDs. Naxos produced his recording of the Hovhaness Concerto with Gerard Schwarz and the Berlin Radio Orchestra. Other CDs include the Koch recording of a Haydn quartet with the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and Hovhaness’s Spirit of Trees for Telarc with harpist Yolanda Kondonassis. Mel Bay Co. released a solo concert DVD called Classics and Discoveries.

Mr. Leisner is also a highly respected composer noted for the emotional and dramatic power of his music. Fanfare magazine described it as “rich in invention and melody, emotionally direct, and beautiful.” Recordings of his works are available on the Sony Classical, ABC, Dorian, Azica, Cedille, Centaur, Town Hall, Signum, Acoustic Music, Athena and Barking Dog labels. The Cavatina Duo’s recording of his complete works for flute and guitar, Acrobats (Cedille), was released to exceptionally strong reviews.

David Leisner is the co-chair of the guitar department at the Manhattan School of Music. Primarily self-taught as both guitarist and composer, he briefly studied guitar with John Duarte, David Starobin and Angelo Gilardino and composition with Richard Winslow, Virgil Thomson, Charles Turner and David Del Tredici.

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