Possessing a repertoire of over forty-five operas and musicals ranging from Mozart and Puccini to Rodgers & Hammerstein and Stephen Sondheim, pianist and conductor Jesse Leong is a musician of uncommon breadth and versatility. His conducting has been called “taut and assured” by Opera Today. Mr. Leong was recently named the 2019 Julius Rudel/Kurt Weill Conducting Fellow by the Kurt Weill Foundation. In this capacity he served as Associate Conductor to Tony Award®-winning Artistic Director of MasterVoices (New York City) Ted Sperling on Lady in the Dark featuring another Tony winner, Victoria Clark. 2019 also saw Mr. Leong’s return to Cincinnati Opera, assisting David Charles Abell on Porgy and Bess. He debuted with Cincinnati Opera in 2018 assisting Christoph Perick on Der Fliegende Holländer as well as with Pacific Opera Project (Los Angeles), conducting La traviata.
Mr. Leong serves as Associate Music Director of Queen City Opera (Cincinnati, OH), having joined at the company’s founding in 2012 as Assistant Conductor. His passion for social justice, community activism, and the contemporary relevancy of performing arts led to QCO’s collaborations with Planned Parenthood, Jewish Family Services, the Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Everytown for Gun Safety, and Moms Demand Action. Mr. Leong is also strongly committed to diversity and representation in the arts. His programming as Music Director of the University of Maryland Repertoire Orchestra focuses on women composers, composers of colors, and LGBTQ+ composers in concerts thematically integrated with classical masterworks.
In the summer of 2017, Mr. Leong returned to The Glimmerglass Festival (Cooperstown, NY) as Conductor of the nationally acclaimed opera Scalia/Ginsburg by Derrick Wang, and Assistant Conductor on The Siege of Calais and Oklahoma! He debuted there in 2016 as Assistant Conductor on Puccini’s La bohème, Robert Ward’s The Crucible, and the world premiere of Wilde Tales by Laura Karpman and Kelley Rourke.
An enthusiastic grammarian and linguist, Mr. Leong has authored a book entitled, “La bohème: A Connotative and Grammatical Translation.” Having been described as “Nico Castel plus,” Mr. Leong’s book has been praised by singers, conductors, coaches, and directors alike. It will eventually be part of a double trilogy of Connotative and Grammatical Translation books on the Puccini-Illica-Giacosa operas, La bohème, Tosca, and Madama Butterfly, and the Mozart-Da Ponte operas, Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Così fan tutte. Selections can be found below.
Mr. Leong assumed the position of Interim Music Director of CCM’s nationally awarded Opera d’arte for the 2016-2017 season, conducting Britten’s Albert Herring. He served as Assistant Conductor for the 2015-2016 season, conducting a performance of Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda. During the summer of 2015, Mr. Leong was a Studio Artist Pianist, Coach, and Conducting Fellow at Opera Saratoga, working on Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, Rossini’s La cenerentola, and the world premiere of Jeremy Howard Beck and Stephanie Fleischmann’s The Long Walk. He was a Resident Artist Pianist at the Pittsburgh Festival Opera in the summer of 2014, playing Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos.
Mr. Leong made his sixth appearance in December 2018 conducting Emmy®-nominated Marco Panuccio’s O Holy Night ~ An Evening of Holiday Song, having made his professional conducting debut with O Holy Night in 2013. As a strong advocate for new music, in addition to the world premieres of The Long Walk and Wilde Tales, Mr. Leong has performed the music of John Adams, John Corigliano, Jake Heggie, Libby Larsen, William Bolcom, Nico Muhly, Tom Cipullo, and many others.
Other artists with whom Mr. Leong has worked include Apo Hsu, Arthur Woodley, Brian Mulligan, Christoph Perick, Donna Loewy, Elisabeth Pridonoff, Francesca Zambello, Gary Thor Wedow, Jamie Barton, Jay Hunter Morris, James Lowe, Jon O’Conor, Jonathan Eaton, Jose Maria Condemi, Joseph Colaneri, Jun Märkl, Keith Lockhart, Ken Lam, Leah Crocetto, Marcy Stonikas, Marie-France Lefebvre, Molly Smith, Morris Robinson, Nathan Berg, Nmon Ford, Nicole Paiement, Talise Trevigne, Thomas Baldner, Thomas Hammons, and William Burden.
Mr. Leong received a Bachelor’s of Music degree in Piano Performance at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and a Master’s of Music degree in Orchestral Conducting studying with Mark Gibson, both summa cum laude. At CCM, Mr. Leong served as graduate assistant with the CCM Orchestras and CCM Opera, conductor of opera, symphony orchestra, and ballet, vocal coach, rehearsal pianist, assistant conductor, recital accompanist, and administrator. At CCM, Mr. Leong received the William D. Black Prize in Piano, the Patricia A. Corbett Award, the Meyer Scholarship, and the Cincinnatus Scholarship Competition Voorheis Founders Award. He was a member of the University Honors Program, from which he received nine Creative Arts project grants, and the Music Director of the Eta-Omicron Chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.
Mr. Leong is currently a doctoral candidate in Orchestral Conducting at the University of Maryland, studying with David Neely. In addition to serving as Music Director of the University of Maryland Repertoire Orchestra he serves as Orchestra Librarian and a Dean’s Fellow. Also an avid home chef, he currently resides in New Carrollton, MD.
Please visit jesseleong.com for more information.
Updated 09/24/2019. Please discard previously dated materials.