13. January 2010 · Comments Off on Leslie Dunner · Categories: Conductors, Symphony

… will be joining Symphony Silicon Valley for two sets this year. First it’s Porgy & Bess (scroll down), which we are doing for two weeks, so if you can’t fit it in with that link’s dates, try this, and later a Mozart/Mahler set (scroll down). Turns out that’s not all he’s up to. He’s a candidate for Peoria Symphony Orchestra as well. But wait! That’s not all!

Leslie Dunner, the next candidate for music director of the Peoria Symphony Orchestra, has plunged hundreds of feet over southern Africa’s Zambezi River. He’s jumped out of planes. He’s scuba dived with sharks.

And that’s what he does for relaxation.

“At one point I was seeing my doctor about all of this, and he said, ‘You know, what you do professionally is so rigorous and so regimented and so detailed and so exact that you reach points where you’ve got to break away, and so you go overboard,’ ” said Dunner, who leads the Peoria Symphony Orchestra in a concert of Rachmaninoff and Mozart on Saturday.

“After the shark cage diving, I was volunteering in a project in South Africa. I was placed working in an old age home. That was something I had never, ever imagined myself doing – taking care of people. There were 78 residents between the ages of 67 and 95. I worked with them for three weeks.”

Such ventures aren’t merely ways of blowing off steam. Back in the early 1990s, Dunner was touring with the Dance Theatre of Harlem and realized that he was visiting a lot of countries considered “exotic” for an American but not learning anything about the people, the land, the culture or the environment. He decided that every year he would try to make a trip that would help him learn about the planet, another culture or himself.


Now I’m thinking of all sorts of imaginative and thrill-seeker ways he could land on the podium when he’s here. Hmmm.

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