Grace Welcomes Dr. Leonard Lehrman As New Organist, Choir Director and Composer in Residence

By: kcynar

10/05/21 11:47 AM
Category: General

Dr. Leonard Lehrman brings a rich and varied background to Grace Episcopal Church.


Grace Welcomes Dr. Leonard Lehrman As New Organist, Choir Director and Composer in Residence

Dr. Leonard Lehrman our new Organist/Choir Director/Composer-in-Residence, the most prolific composer living on Long Island today, brings a rich and varied background to Grace Episcopal Church. His 12 operas, 65 translations, 21 church anthems (including the Prayer of St. Francis, which the Choir will sing at his first service with us, October 10, 2021), and 223 other works have been heard on 6 continents, 18 CDs, and 4000 YouTube videos, with over 1,000,000 views, to date. A protégé of Elie Siegmeister from the age of 11, he has degrees from Harvard (A.B.), Cornell (M.F.A. & D.M.A.), and LIU (M.S.L.S.), plus equivalencies (B.M. Piano, M.M. Choral Conducting) from Indiana and certificates from the Ecole Normale in Paris and "Mozarteum" in Salzburg, where he studied with Nadia Boulanger and Erik Werba.

On the recommendation of Leonard Bernstein, with whom he worked privately, he became Assistant Chorus Master at the Metropolitan Opera, and then went on to positions in Heidelberg, Augsburg, Basel, Vienna, Bremerhaven and Berlin, where he became the first Jew to conduct Fiddler on the Roof in that city, and founded the Jüdischer Musiktheaterverein Berlin. Other conductors he has worked under include John Motley, Abraham Kaplan, Peter J. Wilhousky, Thomas Sokol, David Stivender, Richard Woitach, and James Levine. Other choruses he has been invited to conduct include the Oceanside Chorale, Workmen's Circle Chorus, and Blaue Jungs/Hanseaten Deerns German Chorus in East Meadow.

A member of the American Guild of Organists since 1992, he became the first President of the Long Island Composers Alliance (1991-8), and on November 15, 1998 produced the first Interfaith Concert of Music by Long Island Composers, combining the choirs of North Shore Synagogue in Syosset and Malverne Community Presbyterian Church, where he served as Music Director/Composer-in-Residence for 11 years.

He has held faculty positions at Cornell, SUNY-Geneseo, and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, where his Biblical opera Hannah received its NY premiere in 2014. Other Biblical works he has adapted and directed include Adam & Lilith & Eve and most recently Damn! That Apple! based on an 18th-century Swabian retelling of the Creation story, in which he played God.(!) In 2018-19 he was Artist-in-Residence at Trinity Church in Roslyn.

Since 1995, he has worked as a Reference Librarian at Oyster Bay-East Norwich Public Library. In 2003 he became Minister of Music at Christ Church Babylon, the first of five Episcopal churches where he has worked as Director of Music/Composer-in-Residence, the others being St. George's in Hempstead; St. Mary's in Castleton, Staten Island; Church of the Savior in Denville, NJ; and All Saints in Leonia, NJ. He has also worked for Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Synagogues (including the Metropolitan Synagogue in Manhattan, since 2014); Reformed, Christian Science, Methodist, Moravian, Catholic, Baptist and 3 Lutheran churches - in Mannheim, Germany and most recently in Rocky Point and (since 2014) in Rosedale, Queens.

He and his wife, soprano Helene Williams, Co-Founder of the Bronx Opera, have performed on four continents, in 17 languages, and just performed their 666th concert together, as part of an annual series of 10 monthly recitals, funded by NYSCA Decentralization grants and presented on Zoom with the Henry Waldinger Memorial Library in Valley Stream, where they have lived and taught privately since 1999.

 Dr. Lehrman also founded The Metropolitan Philharmonic Chorus, which has performed 52 times since 1988, including the Manhattan premiere and four other performances of Elie Siegmeister's I Have a Dream cantata, and will be featured in the NY premiere of his completion of Marc Blitzstein's opera Sacco and Vanzetti, postponed twice because of COVID, but featured in a "Retrospective Preview" on Zoom as part of Hofstra's Italian American Lecture Series, October 19 & 21, 2021. He is looking forward to making music with the very talented singers and musicians in our church community. Website: ljlehrman.artists-in-residence.com