Leslie Dala

Leslie Dala’s resume is as impressive as his busy cultural calendar. He currently serves as Musical Director of both the Vancouver Bach Choir and the Vancouver Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra. Equally at home with symphonic music, opera, and contemporary music, Leslie is steadily in demand across the country.

Albert Herring Cast
[Albert Herring cast photo by David Cooper; courtesy of Pacific Opera Victoria]

He’s also about to conduct the Vancouver Opera Orchestra in Albert Herring at the Queen E Theatre on November 30, December 5, 7, and 8, in a co-production with Victoria’s Pacific Opera. 2013 also marks Herring’s composer, Benjamin Britten’s 100th birthday! Composer, conductor, and pianist Britten is known as Great Britain’s greatest opera composer.

For eight years, Dala served as Music Director of the Prince George Symphony, the longest serving conductor in that organization’s over four-decade history. He’s been with the Vancouver Opera Music staff since 1996, and looking back at international appearances, the list is illustrious.

Here’s just a few of his many appointments and concerts:
– L’Opera National du Rhin, Strasbourg, France
– Santa Fe Opera
– Canadian Opera Company
– Opera as Theatre program at Banff Centre
– Led the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra at 2011 MusicFest Vancouver’s opening gala featuring award-winning vocalist Sarah McLachlan
– Conducted Suor Angelica for the Centre for Opera Studies in Italy in 2012

Vancouver Bach Choir

Two well-loved Vancouver Bach Choir holiday concerts are just around the corner: Christmas with the Bach Choir on Sunday, December 1 and the highly anticipated return of Handel’s Messiah on Saturday, December 14

Christmas with the Bach Choir is an annual event with heartwarming seasonal works as well as an audience sing-along of traditional carols. Both concerts will be held at the historic Orpheum Theatre.

After a two-year absence, the Vancouver Bach Choir is bringing Handel’s Messiah back to Vancouver. As I write this article, I try to imagine the thrill of being mere feet away from a 130-voice symphonic choir during the singing of the Hallelujah Chorus.

Leslie Dala with Vancouver Bach Choir
[Leslie Dala with Vancouver Bach Choir] 

I asked Leslie what some of the highlights of presenting this piece to Vancouver audiences are, and how the 2013 performance differs from two years ago.

“The Messiah is such a spectacular work, with music that is so dramatic and which conveys such a wide emotional range. Both the arias and the choruses feature such brilliant vocal writing and the musical landscape over the three parts creates such a rewarding emotional journey. The last time we did the Messiah we did it without cuts which ran for a full 3 hours. This time around, we will make a lot of the traditional cuts which keeps the piece moving and shortens the work by about 30 minutes. Also, every time I have the chance to perform a work again, I try to approach it with fresh eyes and ears with regards to tempos, phrasing and articulation. With a total of 50 individual parts to the Messiah, that makes for a lot of choices to be made!”

Is there a process you specifically use when choosing your soloists? I noticed in the program notes that four young Canadians – Rachel Fenlon (soprano), Sylvia Szadovszki (mezzo-soprano), Martin Sadd (tenor), and Aaron Durand (baritone) – have been chosen.

“First of all, we almost always try and hire Canadian soloists, as there are so many outstanding ones! Our four wonderful soloists this year were all members of Vancouver Opera’s inaugural Young Artist Program of which I am also the Program Director so I know their work extremely well. They are all extremely talented singers who are at the start of their professional careers and it will be exciting for us and for our audience to hear them at the crucial stage of their careers.”

Can you name a production – one that you’ve not yet conducted – that would be a dream to realize in Vancouver?

“There are quite a few operas that I would love to conduct and there are a few dream pieces which I hope to do with the Bach Choir in the coming seasons, including Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis and Bach’s St. Matthew Passion.”

Photos by Karen Tregillas.

1 Comment

  • Comment by maryam asgari — November 25, 2013 @ 8:12 pm

    mr. Lesley Dala is AMAZING conductor he is too too TALENTED and our whole family respect him too much your very very truly maryam asgari and kiymars mazkouri

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