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
Colombian born conductor and musicologist César Leal is currently the artistic director and conductor of the Sewanee Symphony Orchestra in Sewanee, TN, where he also serves as faculty member of the Sewanee Summer Music Festival. He has led ensembles across the U.S., Panama, Colombia, France, and the Ukraine.
Maestro Leal’s activities as a Conductor and Musicologist often intersect and his interest in interdisciplinarity and collaboration often inform his scholarly and artistic projects. In collaboration with the Lexington Ballet (KY), he directed a full-stage production devoted to Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes (2013). This tribute included performances of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, Chopin’s Les Sylphides, and Debussy’s Afternoon of a Faun. In 2011 and 2012 he was the assistant director of the Congrés Mondiale d’Écologie Sonore (Switzerland), an event devoted to music research and performance. Leal’s program for his debut with the Panama National Symphony Orchestra in July 2014 featured works from the fin-de-siècle (1880-1913) that bridged European and Latin American musical traditions. Most recently (2017), Leal collaborated with the American Spiritual Ensemble in a concert version of George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. In 2019, he will collaborate with baritone Reginald Smith Jr., Metropolitan Opera National Auditions Winner (2015) for a performance of Pilgrimage, a rarely performed Cantata for orchestra and baritone, by American living composer Carlisle Floyd (b. 1926). He has recorded works by several Latin American composers and has presented scholarly papers in the U.S., Canada, Greece, Japan, Italy, France, England, Peru, Colombia, and Switzerland.
An advocate of young musicians, Maestro Leal often teaches conducting workshops and acts as a guest clinician with youth orchestras in the U.S. and abroad. Since 2015, he teaches a conducting masterclass at the KIIS summer program in Salzburg. For the 2017-2018 season he was named artist in residence for the prestigious orchestral program at Stevenson High School in Chicago. As an adjudicator, Leal is often invited to be part of important national and regional competitions such as the Midwest Young Artists concerto competition (Chicago, IL), Jacqueline Avent concerto competition (Sewanee Summer Music Festival), as well as the CSO youth orchestras (Chattanooga, TN) and the Tennessee Tech University (Cookeville, TN) concerto competitions.