Faculty & Staff
Sewanee Symphony Orchestra Conductor, Assistant Professor Music
Bachelor’s degree in Music Performance from Javeriana University in Bogotá, Colombia; Master’s in Instrumental Conducting from Florida International University; Ph.D. in Musicology from the University of Kentucky
65 Georgia Avenue
Sewanee, TN 37383
Guerry Hall 122
Dr. César Leal holds a Ph.D. in musicology from the University of Kentucky, a Bachelor’s degree in music performance from Javeriana University in Bogotá, Colombia, and a Master’s in instrumental conducting from Florida International University. Dr. Leal is currently the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Sewanee Symphony Orchestra at Sewanee: The University of the South. Additionally, he teaches and develops courses in musicology and music history.
His dissertation offers one of the first sustained examinations of Gabriel Astruc (1864–1938), a French impresario of Jewish background, mostly known for his collaborative work with Sergei Diaghilev and his Ballets Russes. For this project, and thanks to the support from the University of Kentucky and l'Institut Mémoires de l'édition contemporaine (IMEC) in France, Leal conducted archival research in France between 2011-2012. Recently his book chapter “Gabriel Astruc, Wagner and the Wagnerianism of the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées” was published in a commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées. His work on Astruc has been featured in Musicology Now, an online publication by the American Musicological Society which, besides musicologists, targets a broad interdisciplinary audience.
Leal’s activities as a Musicologist and Conductor often intersect. In September 2013, in collaboration with the Lexington Ballet, he directed a full-stage production devoted to Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes. This tribute included performances of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, Chopin Sylphides, and Debussy’s Afternoon of a Faun. In 2011 and 2012 he was the assistant director of the Congrés Mondiale d’Écologie Sonore, an event devoted to music research and performance. For his debut with the Panama National Symphony Orchestra in July 2014, Leal programmed works from the fin-de-siècle that bridge European and Latin American musical traditions.
His research interests include fin-de-siècle cultural life in Paris, Latin American contemporary music, and the significance of soundscapes to music history. Leal is currently the artistic director of EnVaGe (the Ensemble of Variable Geometry). He has led ensembles in the U.S., Panama, Colombia, France, and the Ukraine. He has recorded works by several Latin American composers and has presented scholarly papers in the U.S., Canada, Peru, Greece, and Switzerland.