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Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra Names Dr. Leslie B. Dunner as New Conductor

Interlochen Center for the Arts has announced that Dr. Leslie B. Dunner has been named as Conductor of the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra. Dr. Dunner comes to Interlochen from Chicago, where he has been Music Director of the South Shore Opera Company since 2014. His appointment marks the most recent in a series of major investments in the music program at Interlochen Center for the Arts, which will also fund the opening of a new 65,000-square-foot music building in the spring of 2019.

Kedrik Merwin, Director of Music at Interlochen Center for the Arts, said:

“Dr. Dunner has an extraordinary professional conducting and teaching career. He had an inspiring rehearsal with our orchestra, and the enthusiastic response and support from our music students helped to confirm and reinforce his selection, as did his interest and commitment to collaboration with all of the arts divisions at Interlochen.”

Trey Devey, President of Interlochen Center for the Arts, explained:

“The appointment of Dr. Dunner represents another important step forward for our music program. We are dedicated to being the leading destination for aspiring, motivated young musicians and artists, and bringing on Dr. Dunner reinforces this commitment.”

In addition to his South Shore Opera Company tenure, Dr. Dunner has served as Music Director of the Joffrey Ballet and the symphony orchestras of Annapolis, Dearborn, and Nova Scotia. He spent eleven seasons at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO), first as Resident, then Associate, and finally as Assistant Conductor, while serving concurrently as Music Director of the DSO’s youth orchestra, the Detroit Symphony Civic Orchestra. Besides holding principal conducting positions with the Dance Theatre of Harlem, Harlem Festival Orchestra, and Louisville Ballet, he undertook a season as Interim Music Director of the Orquesta Filarmónica de Jalisco in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Dr. Dunner’s guest engagements with major orchestras throughout the world include two years with the Chicago Symphony and five as Cover Conductor of the New York Philharmonic, where he assisted during a four-week European tour. He has appeared with such distinguished ensembles as the Atlanta Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Dallas Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, and Seattle Symphony, as well as orchestras in Canada, Mexico, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ukraine, Russia, and South Africa. An avid ballet conductor, Dr. Dunner has taken the podiums of the American Ballet Theater, New York City Ballet, Michigan Opera Theatre, Royal Ballet at Covent Garden, Birmingham Royal Ballet, and South African Ballet Theatre, among others.

In addition to his professional conducting work, Dr. Dunner is a dedicated music educator. He began his career in music education as Assistant Professor at Minnesota’s Carleton College and has continued to lead youth orchestras throughout his career. The first American prize-winner in the Arturo Toscanini International Conducting Competition, he is also a recipient of the Leonard Bernstein American Conductors Award and the NAACP’s James Weldon Johnson and Distinguished Achievement Awards.

Dr. Dunner holds a Bachelor’s degree in clarinet performance from the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, a Master’s in music theory and musicology from Queens College at the City University of New York, and a Doctor of Musical Arts in orchestral conducting from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati.

About Interlochen Center for the Arts

The nonprofit Interlochen Center for the Arts is a recipient of the National Medal of Arts and the only organization in the world that brings together a 2,500-student summer camp program; a 500-student fine arts boarding high school; opportunities for hundreds of adults to engage in fulfilling artistic and creative programs; two 24-hour listener-supported public radio services (classical music and news); more than 600 arts presentations annually by students, faculty and world-renowned guest artists; and a global alumni base spanning eight decades, including leaders in the arts and all other endeavors. For information, visit Interlochen online at

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© 21C Media Group, June 2018

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