Fanfare magazine described the music of composer David Leisner as “rich in invention and melody, emotionally direct, and beautiful.” Guitar Review wrote, “Not many composers manage to be equally satisfying to the hands, the ear and the mind as Leisner has.”
Leisner’s music has been performed around the world by such eminent artists as Sanford Sylvan, Paul Sperry, Juliana Gondek, Susan Narucki, D’Anna Fortunato, Eugenia Zukerman, Benjamin Verdery, the St. Lawrence String Quartet, the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, the Cavatina Duo, the Arc Duo, the Pearl and Gray Duo, and the Saturday Brass Quintet and orchestras including the Fresno Philharmonic, the Springfield Symphony (in both Massachusetts and Missouri) and the Amarillo Symphony. Dances in the Madhouse, in its original version for violin or flute and guitar and as an arrangement for orchestra, has received hundreds of performances. Leisner’s complete works for flute and guitar have been recorded by the Cavatina Duo on the much acclaimed Acrobats album for the Cedille label, and Leisner has recorded his complete solo guitar works on Self-Portrait for Azica. Other works currently available on CD are on the SonyClassical, Dorian, Centaur, Town Hall, Signum, Acoustic Music, ABC, Athena, Fleur de Son and Barking Dog labels.
Recent works and commissions include A Timeless Procession for baritone Wolfgang Holzmair, the string quartet Of Darkness and Light for the Stones River Chamber Players, Vision of Orpheus for the St. Lawrence Quartet and Leisner as part of the 20th Century Unlimited series, Embrace of Peace for the Fairfield Orchestra, Battlefield Requiem for solo cellist Laurence Lesser and the New England Conservatory Percussion Ensemble, Fidelity for tenor Bruce Fowler, baritone Robert Osborne and pianist Warren Jones, and Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam for the Saturday Brass Quintet.
Leisner has received composition grants from the American Music Center, the Alice M. Ditson Fund, the New England Foundation for the Arts and Meet the Composer. His works are mostly published by Theodore Presser Co., as well as G. Schirmer, Doberman-Yppan and Columbia Music.
Leisner also maintains a busy career as a concert guitarist, performing in recital and as a soloist with orchestras around the world. Winner of top prizes in international guitar competitions at Geneva and Toronto, he is a featured solo artist with Azica Records, and he has recorded chamber music on the Telarc, Koch and Etcetera labels and concertos for Naxos and Opus One. Leisner is currently the co-chair of the guitar department at the Manhattan School of Music and taught at the New England Conservatory for 22 years. A regular composition juror for the BMI Student Composer Awards, he has also been a juror for the New York Youth Symphony’s First Works commissions. A graduate of Wesleyan University, he studied composition with Richard Winslow, Virgil Thomson, Charles Turner and David Del Tredici.