June 26, 2013
Tell your friends:
Lawrence Leighton Smith
Music Director Emeritus Lawrence Leighton Smith is one of the most respected American musicians of his generation. He has been Music Director of the Sunriver (OR) Music Festival since 1995, was Principal Guest Conductor of the New Jersey Symphony from 1997 to 2000 and Music Director of the Colorado Springs Symphony.
His conducting career started in 1973 when he was one of the first prize winners in the Dimitri Mitropoulos Competition.
As Music Director of the Louisville Orchestra from 1982 to 1993, Mr. Smith earned wide recognition and critical acclaim for his work both in concert and on record. Previously, he served as Artistic Advisor and Principal Guest Conductor of the North Carolina Symphony, Principal Guest Conductor of the Phoenix Symphony and Music Director of the Austin, Oregon and San Antonio Symphonies.
As guest conductor, Mr. Smith has appeared with virtually every major orchestra in the United States, including the Baltimore, Cincinnati, Grand Rapids, Honolulu, Quebec, Saint Louis, Dallas, Rochester, Syracuse, Indianapolis, Tampa, Santa Barbara, Miami and the New York Philharmonic. He has also conducted at the Eastern Music Festival and was Music Director of the Music Academy of the West for eight years.
Mr. Smith has appeared abroad with the Orquesta de Tenerife and Las Palmas and with symphonies in Spain, Mexico, Germany, Korea and South America. His 1996-97 season included fifteen performances with orchestras in Japan.
In March 1999, Mr. Smith recorded for BMG Classics with the Warsaw Philharmonic in Poland. In the summer of 1986, he became the first American conductor to record with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra. The set of recordings, entitled “The Moscow Sessions” featured the music of Glinka, Mussorgsky, Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich, and was issued to great acclaim by Sheffield Labs. With the Louisville Orchestra he has led a number of its series of First Edition Recordings of American contemporary composers. He made his RCA recording debut with the London Symphony and clarinet soloist Richard Stoltzman.
With the Kentucky Opera, Mr. Smith has led productions of Salome, Norma, Lucia di Lammermoor, The Pearl Fishers, La Bohème, and Le Coq d’Or. His recent New York appearances have included two Absolut Contemporary programs at Avery Fisher Hall, a Carnegie Hall concert with the American Composers Orchestra and soloist Emanuel Ax, and a program at Alice Tully Hall with violinist Itzhak Perlman and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. Known for his commitment to working with student musicians, he has also led many performances at both The Manhattan School of Music and the Yale University School of Music, where he was Conductor-In-Residence and head of the orchestra conducting and teaching program, leading the Yale Philharmonia for ten years.
A native of Portland, Oregon, Mr. Smith initially trained as a pianist and went on to perform both as a soloist and as a recital partner for such celebrated vocalists and instrumentalists as Renata Tebaldi, Franco Corelli, Sherrill Milnes, Walter Trampler, Zara Nelsova, Jennie Tourel, Ruggiero Ricci and Pinchas Zukerman. He began his conducting career at Tanglewood as a musical assistant to Erich Leinsdorf. He also spent time at the Peabody School of Music, winning a Ford Foundation Grant for Conducting, working under the guidance of George Szell.
Lawrence Leighton Smith has been a music staff member of the Metropolitan Opera, The Berkshire Music Festival at Tanglewood, The Aspen Music Festival, the Festival of Two Worlds at Spoleto, Italy, and on the faculty of the Mannes School of Music.
He is the recipient of three honorary doctorates and, with the Louisville Orchestra, fourteen awards for adventuresome programming from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. He received the Ditson Award for service to American music from Columbia University.
In 2003, he joined with the musicians of the former Colorado Springs Symphony and prominent community leaders to become the first Music Director of the Colorado Springs Philharmonic. Most recently, Mr. Smith has guest-conducted the Indianapolis Symphony, the Santa Barbara Symphony, the Bloomington Camerata, the West Los Angeles Symphony, the Manhattan School of Music Sinfonia, the Dayton Symphony and the Riverside (CA) Philharmonic, and served on the Music Panel at the National Endowment for the Arts. He is currently on the faculty of Denver University, where he heads the conducting program and conducts the Lamont Symphony Orchestra.
His “Moscow Sessions” CDs have been re-released, as well as a recent Angel Records CD of the complete two-piano music of Ferruccio Busoni with Daniell Revenaugh. He is working on his Op. 5 — a symphony.
Larry calls Colorado Springs his home with his wife Leslie.