The papers of Laurence Lesser are organized into fifteen series:
- Correspondence, General
- Correspondence, NEC
- Academic Department Files
- Administrative Department Files
- Committee Records
- Institutional Planning Records
- Curriculum / Accreditation Records
- Preparatory/Extension Division Records
- Special Event Files
- Travel Files
- Trustees/Overseers Records
- Performance Series Records
- Subject Files
- External Files
Laurence Lesser’s General Correspondence spans the years of his tenure, 1982-1996 and is organized chronologically. The NEC Correspondence includes: correspondence with individual faculty members; memoranda to the faculty community; files concerning faculty governance and sabbaticals; correspondence with NEC students; memoranda to students and parents; and memoranda to the entire NEC Community.
The Academic Department Files contain records for each of the academic departments under the college branch of the Conservatory. These files contain materials such as course descriptions/proposals, evaluations, surveys, reports, correspondence, and course staffing information. Among the larger academic department files are those of the Jazz, Music Education, Orchestra, Theory, and Third Stream Departments.
Series 4 consists of Lesser’s Administrative Department Files. Contained in these files are statistics, budget materials, department organizational materials, staffing materials, financial planning materials, facility materials, and policy materials etc. Among the topics of note covered in the administrative department files are the capital campaign for the restoration of Jordan Hall and named scholarship/fund records, both contained in the Development Office files. Also in the development files from 1987 is a fundraising study conducted by The Charles Webb Co.
Lesser’s files contain records of several NEC Committees active during his tenure including the Ad Hoc 295 Huntington Committee, the Facilities Committee, the Long Range Planning Steering Committee, the Diversity Committee, the Sexual Harassment Committee, and the Technology Think Tank.
Lesser's Institutional Planning Records document general and long range planning activities, primarily between the years 1983-1988.
The Curriculum/Accreditation files contain materials involving NEC’s two accrediting boards, NASM and NEASC. Also included in this series are records pertaining to the Artist Diploma, DMA, and Graduate Diploma degree programs as well as joint programs with Harvard University and Tufts University.
The Preparatory/Extension Division records contain information about the structure and operations of this division in addition to files relating to the large youth ensembles – the Youth Symphony and Youth Philharmonic, the Piano Technology Department, and the Summer School. This series also documents NEC’s community outreach programs with files relating to the Community Services Department and its events, Project Step, Project Zero, Walnut Hill School, and the Young Audiences program.
The most significant accomplishment of Laurence Lesser’s presidency was the restoration of Jordan Hall, completed in 1995. The Special Event files contain documentation about the reopening, as well as several events that took place as fundraisers for the capital campaign. These included the "Tribute to Jordan Hall", the "Music from the Source" festival, and "Fanfare". Another major event during Lesser’s tenure was the "Making Music Together" program which involved two exchange trips with Moscow Conservatory. There are many files devoted to this exchange program including publicity materials, scheduling, programs, reports, performer biographies, budget records etc. Another exchange program with the Toho Gakuen School in Japan also took place under President Lesser. Additional happenings involving NEC during this period included: Lesser’s inauguration, the International Conference on Women and Music, Seventeen Magazine’s National Concerto Competition, the New Works Competition, the Tchaikovsky Competition, and the Cello Feast (a Laurence Lesser tribute). In addition to these unique events, annual events included: Spring Festivals at NEC such as a "Festival of American Music", "Brahms-Webern Festival", "Festival of Music with Words", "Musik, a German Heritage", "Ives Festival", and commencements from 1983-1996. Many renowned artists were welcomed to NEC to receive honors or present master-classes while Lesser served as President. Among them were: Anner Bylsma, Michael Colgrass, Lorand Fenyves,Yair Kless, Witold Lutoslawski, Nathan Milstein, Seiji Ozawa, Marc Ponthus, Simon Rattle, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, Toru Takemitsu, and Barbara Westphal.
Also included in the Lesser collection are Travel Files detailing several promotional and recruiting trips that President Lesser made to Asia during his presidency, traveling to Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.
The Trustees/Overseers Records document President Lesser's interactions with the Trustees including correspondence with the chairman and the entire board, records of board meetings and visiting committee meetings, and Lesser's reports to the Trustees.
President Lesser’s records also document his involvement in establishing and continuing several Performance Series produced at NEC during his presidency including: "First Monday", "Lions of New Music", "Enchanted Circle", "July in Jordan", and "Chamber Music East".
The Subject Files contain information about important topics/projects at NEC during the Lesser presidency. There is a great deal of information regarding the Jordan Hall restoration in these files including correspondence, planning materials, designs, and cost estimates, as well as records concerning acoustics, lighting, and HVAC systems. There are also several files devoted to the Piatigorsky Competition. These contain lists of applicants, applicant biographies, historical materials, press releases, news clippings and programs. Some other topics covered in the subject files include the Krukowski recruiting/marketing study, the George Brown estate, paintings owned by NEC, the Voice of Firestone collection, various recording projects, the Jordan Hall organ, the property at 270 Huntington Ave, and the Thelonious Monk Institute. There is also one file containing biographical materials about Laurence Lesser.
Laurence Lesser served on the boards of, or was involved with many External
organizations during his presidency including: the Boston-Fenway Project, the Boston Music Education Collaborative, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Cultural and Scientific Director’s Group, NASM, NEA, MIT, Seven Springs and WGBH. The External Files contain a good deal of information from each of these organizations. These files also include materials relating to the Emerson Majestic theater, Boston Conservatory; Northeastern University, the Kodaly Center of America, various Massachusetts cultural and educational boards/commissions, the Toho-Gakuen School, the USIA Artistic
Ambassadors Program, the US-China Arts Exchange, and the U.S Department of Education.
The one folder of photographs contains 8 x 10 head shot publicity photos of Laurence Lesser. The only other photograph in the collection is of a group of five men, apparently Boston-Fenway participants, including Laurence Lesser and Boston Mayor Tom Menino. This photo is autographed by Mayor Menino.