As both a singer and conductor, Lesley Leighton embraces a broad range of music, although she is particularly dedicated to 20th and 21st century compositions. She has performed more than 100 film soundtracks, albums, and Disney theme-park vocals, most recently Frozen 2, The Lion King, The Lego Movie 2, and Mulan. She has prepared choruses for Gustavo Dudamel, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Bramwell Tovey, Leonard Slatkin, Zubin Mehta, Pierre Boulez, Michael Tilson Thomas, Laura Jackson, and John Adams. Ms. Leighton has premiered more than 65 works as a conductor since 2009, most recently collaborating with composer Michael Barry for the premiere of his newest work for chorus and orchestra, Arise; and premiered composer and pianist Vicki Ray’s newest work, Zenspiel, in March 2020. In 2019, Ms. Leighton made her conducting debut with the LA Opera for the West Coast premiere of David Lang’s opera, the loser, along with her Los Angeles Philharmonic conducting debut in Lang’s performance art piece for 1,000 people, crowd out, at the Walt Disney Concert Hall as art of the Fluxus Festival. Ms. Leighton also recorded Lang’s opera, the loser, which was released in early 2020. She made her debut with the Ojai Music Festival preparing the chorus for Barbara Hannigan’s production of The Rake’s Progress.
Ms. Leighton was named the first associate conductor in the history of the Los Angeles Master Chorale in July 2011—following a year as assistant conductor—a post she held until 2016. She was appointed artistic director of Los Robles Master Chorale in 2008, and served as interim director of choral activities at La Sierra University during the 2013–14 academic year; at UCLA as director of choruses from 2014–16; and was a guest lecturer in choral music (2016–17) at California State University, San Bernardino, where she is currently director of choral activities in a tenure-track position. Ms. Leighton is in her 12th season as artistic director of Los Robles Master Chorale, and is the director of music at Covina United Methodist Church and music director for high holidays at Stephen S. Wise Temple.
Ms. Leighton earned her doctor of musical arts in choral and sacred music, and her master of music in vocal performance from USC, and her bachelor of art in choral conducting from Loyola Marymount University.