Dr. Leslie B. Dunner


Dr. Leslie B. Dunner is currently conductor of the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra. He is also interim artistic director of the South Shore Opera Company, where he has been music director since 2014, and resident conductor of New Jersey’s Trilogy: An Opera Company since 2018. His stirring performances with the Long Beach Opera of Anthony Davis’ historical work The Central Park Five received the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in Music.

Dunner served as music director of the Joffrey Ballet and music director for the symphony orchestras of Annapolis, Dearborn, and Nova Scotia. He spent 11 seasons at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO), first as assistant, then associate, and finally as resident conductor, while serving concurrently as music director of the DSO’s youth orchestra, the Detroit Symphony Civic Orchestra. Besides holding principal conducting positions at the Dance Theatre of Harlem, Harlem Festival Orchestra, and Louisville Ballet, he undertook a season as interim music director of the Orquesta Filarmónica de Jalisco in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Dunner’s guest engagements with major orchestras include two years with the Chicago Symphony and five with the New York Philharmonic as cover conductor, where he also assisted during a four-week European tour. He has appeared with such distinguished ensembles as the Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas, San Francisco, and Seattle Symphonies, the Cleveland, Minnesota, and Philadelphia Orchestras, as well as orchestras in Canada, Mexico, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ukraine, Russia, and South Africa. An avid ballet conductor, Dunner has taken the podiums of the American Ballet Theater, New York City Ballet, Michigan Opera Theatre, Royal Ballet at Covent Garden, Birmingham Royal Ballet, and South African Ballet Theatre, among others.

In addition to his professional conducting work, Dr. Dunner is a dedicated music educator. He began his career in music education as assistant professor at Minnesota’s Carleton College and has continued to lead youth orchestras throughout his career. The first American prize-winner in the Arturo Toscanini International Conducting Competition, he is also a recipient of the Leonard Bernstein American Conductors Award and the NAACP’s James Weldon Johnson and Distinguished Achievement Awards.

When not conducting, Dr. Dunner continues to perform as a clarinetist.